Thursday, September 5, 2013

Author Interview: Arindam Dey, author of Forever In My Heart

His first book, Forever In My Heart, is a love story, but with a fresh, imaginative and mesmerizing plot. In conversation with author Arindam Dey :

Congratulations on being a published author, and doing such a good job with the story! How does it feel to be a published author? 

Thank you so much Samarpita! Ah, I would say, relieved! It has been somewhat a long wait for the last 3 years since I first came close to publishing the novel in 2009-10. So, really, relief is the first thing that hits me at this point of time. And, of course very happy to see the dream finally come true.

Did you frame the characters based on people from everyday life, or built them on a fresh mould? Were the situations based on real life?

I would say the characters of FIMH were mostly built on a fresh mould. And the situations were almost all imagined, barring two. There are actually two small episodes of Rishav and Saanjh in the book, from their school days, that were partially inspired by real life events. 

A love story from a 25-year old. With no clichés, and a very imaginative plot. About people, cities and situations out of your regular life, very impressive. How did this plot shape up?

Well not exactly 25. I am over 26 now. Anyway, for a long time, I had this basic plot in my mind about a woman separated from her lover 18 years ago suddenly finds hope of finding him back and her subsequent journey in quest of that. At first I didn’t think it had the makings of a novel. More of a long ‘short story’ or at most a small novella. But as I sat down writing it, new ideas grew up, subplots crept in, Josephine, Ankit and a whole lot of other characters came into life, and before I realized it I was looking at a 64-65 thousand word piece.

Every second author is writing love stories these days. How difficult was it to stay out of the regular track and keep the plot original?

Well, I do read a bit of current fiction and so I somehow had a fair idea in my mind about how I wanted to write my story, and what I wanted to stay away from. But as I said, when I sat down writing the story I only had a basic plot in my mind. So I didn’t give much thought to take that extra care about being original. I had a story to tell and I wanted to put in on paper, and that was it. At that time I didn’t bother whether this was an original plot or if it had been used earlier. The only time I started thinking about it was when I was through with the final manuscript and forwarded in to my editor. I wanted her feedback, besides everything else, on whether the plot seemed any different to her from all the others that she had been reading. And every time we had a conversation I would keep asking her, if she really thought that this story sounded different.

Tell us something about your struggle with getting published. We have a fair idea that it isn’t a cake walk. But how was the real deal for you?

Well, I have learnt a few lessons even before I got my first novel published. I wish it was a pleasant one, but then destiny had planned otherwise. As I told earlier, I once came close to publishing my first novel almost 3 years back. But due to some issues, I retracted from publishing with them on grounds of moral differences. 
However, a few months later I discovered that the same publisher had given the title and tagline of the novel I forwarded them to a novel from another new author at that time (without even the knowledge of that author, as I was informed later, and I hold nothing against that author for the incident), just to take some kind of revenge on me for not going ahead with publishing my novel with him. Taken aback, I was not sure whether my novel was safe anymore with them knowing the basic story. So I re-wrote the entire novel from the scratch. It did test my patience somewhat and at times the fact that I was conned did hurt and frustrate me to an extent that I would think about quitting. But my family and friends gave all the support during this time and the result of which is already there with you. Now I actually thank my luck for having shown me one of the ugly sides of the publishing world very early in my life. 
And this time, when I met representatives of Paperclip Books in the Jaipur Lit Fest in January 2013, things started moving very smoothly with them, and I really thank all of them for their support and hard work to finally make my dream come true.

How and when did you decide to be a published author? Was it always a plan, or did you start thinking on the lines when you thought you had a plot with you?

Being a writer was always a dream. The idea of being able to connect to people without seeing, meeting or even knowing them was something that always fascinated me and I wanted to experience that feeling someday. I used to write a lot of short stories and send them to different literary magazines. However, the idea of actually realizing this dream of being a published author started to grow upon me only after I started writing this novel.

What do you do apart from writing? Give us a sneak peek into your life!

Apart from writing, and my office, I love reading a lot. Travelling, bit of photography, bit of sketching, but I am still a novice at both. I have always been a gadget freak. And at times, I simply sit back and enjoy looking at all the people around me, watching their behaviors and interactions, and so on. On a social front, though I love meeting new people, but I would confess, I feel somewhat reserved to begin with at times. But once that is out of the way, I am told that I am a very talkative guy. Haha!

Is it difficult to write with a full time job?

It is, to some extent. But then mostly I have my writing hours clearly marked out at night, which I try to maintain very strictly. It is exhausting at times, more so mentally. There are days when I would just love to wrap up everything quickly and hit the bed. But I do make it a point to write at least a thousand words every day, whatever be it. It’s some sort of discipline that my passion demands from my comfort. 
But I must also add that I have got a great atmosphere in my office, with all my colleagues who are very supportive and are always coming up with new ideas for me. 

Who do you read, who are your favorites?

My favorite author is Paulo Coelho. I absolutely adore his works. And I loved Robert James Waller for The Bridges of Madison County. Besides that, I do not choose much. I enjoyed reading the works of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, and then Gabriel Garcia Marquez, Richard Bach, and more recently Haruki Murakami and some others. I am a big lover of poetry and nothing fascinated me more than W.B.Yeats and later Pablo Neruda. 
Back home obviously Tagore inspires all Bengalis in all forms of literature, and I am no exception. I also love the works of Sarat Chandra Chatterjee, R.K.Narayan, and also the written works of Satyajit Ray.  

What next? 

I am working on my second novel at this moment. I have also been working on a poetry collection for some time now. Let’s see how that shapes up. 

When can we expect your new book? Tell us something about it.

I started working on the second book right after the first one came out. Can’t say much about the timeline as I am still on the first draft itself. All I can say about it at this point is that, it’s a love story and a major part of it is set in the Sunderbans, land of the Royal Bengal Tiger.

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