Sujata holds masters degree in Human Rights. She also holds a Post Graduate Degree in Travel and Tourism Management. Sujata Prashar is currently an Executive Board Member/ Programme Facilitator/Consultant of Empowering Minds (A Delhi based NGO).
She has won the Storyteller of the year award for her short fiction – ‘Wake me only when the sun is high,’ in a national short story contest held by Pomegranate Events and Entertainment in 2011.
She has also won the Poetry book of the year award for her poetry collection – ‘Poetry Out And Loud,’ by Butterfly and the Bee, a Delhi based literary agency in 2012.
What inspired you to start writing?
I am an accidental writer. My first novel started as a scribble on my laptop. Something I was writing for myself. Or to share with close friends and family. But half way through the manuscript I realised that merely writing it was not enough and I should at least try getting it published. That was when I started approaching different publishers in Delhi. Fortunately for the book, Rupa and co. liked the manuscript that I’d submitted and the rest is history. It became a national best – seller in less than a year. In those days the ‘best – seller ‘ tag still made people look at you in awe and admiration.
What did you like to read when you were a girl?
The first book that I remember reading was ‘The Wishing Chair, by Enid Blyton.’ I loved the story so much that I re read it several times. That did not satisfy me enough. I went back to the army library (my dad served in the army) and got myself two more books by Enid Blyton. There was no looking back after that. I was hooked to storybooks. Enid Blyton remained my favourite author throughout my childhood. In my teenage years, I turned to romantic novels and classics. Barbara Cartland, Jane Austen, Catherine Cookson, D.H. Lawrence. I am still a die – hard romantic.
What is the greatest challenge in writing a book?
Well, according to me –
- To sit still and maintain focus.
- To use the right expression.
- Editing your first draft.
How much research do you do before writing the book?
My first book was totally based on an experience; actually an interaction with some married women from the lower strata of the society whom I was interviewing under a project I was working on. But the story, if you read, is about a couple from the upper middle class. Basically, I think the story was brewing inside me and my interaction with those helpless women (uneducated and totally dependent on their husbands) just pushed me in to writing my story. I believe I have a very fertile imagination and that is what helped me write the first book. But for my second ‘pursuit,’ I’d to do some research. The book deals with teenage issues and drugs about which I had little knowledge and I had to be sure of a few things. However, the trigger for my third book was another book — a non fiction — which I’d picked up in Singapore. There was a term in the book that got my attention: LAT short for Live Apart Together. The terms was used in the book by the author to describe such married couples (a micro trend in Great Britain and parts of Western Europe) who despite being married maintain different residences, bank account etc. even while living in the same city. They meet during weekends, holidays and family functions but prefer living apart at other times.
What motivated you to write the book “In Pursuit of a Lesser Offence”?
As I mentioned above, the trigger for IPLO was a well – researched book on trend spotting called ‘Micro trends’ with the tag line: the small forces behind tomorrow’s big changes. The author Mark J Penn says that one of the micro trends that will catch up and become a major trend around the world in intimate relationships is LAT – Living Apart Together. I developed that idea to create my fictitious tale on marriage and modern day relationships.
Can you tell us more about your latest book “In Pursuit of a Lesser Offence”?
In Pursuit of A Lesser Offence or IPLO for short is my third book in the Pursuit series. As you might already, I write about modern day relationships. My first dealt with the subject of infidelity from a modern woman’s perspective. The second focussed on youth – parent relationship. However, IPLO tries to explore the relevance of marriage in current times. It also tries to focus on and raise questions on some other relevant issues like single motherhood, infidelity, idea of love and most important of all, do people marry for the right reasons.
Actually, this was to be the last book in the series. But many of my readers and well – wishers wrote back to me and urged me to continue with the series and so after considerable thought I have decide to continue with it. Although, for now I am taking a break from my’ Pursuits. ‘ My next is a short story collection and the next full – length novel, (which I am currently working on), will be totally a different story and genre.
How did you came up with the idea of writing relationship fiction genre book?
As I said nothing was planned. I wrote a story that probably had to be written through me. Now you can call it a ‘relationship fiction’ or anything else it’s all marketing. Personally, I do not like to be slotted though. I write poetry, short stories and also penning a non – fiction. As a writer, I would like to experiment with different styles, forms and genres. Categorising the authors or their books hamper their creativity. But then the marketing guys will give you a different perspective on this. And they are not wrong either. So I do not interfere there. I do what I’m best at: storytelling. Now it’s up to the publishers to choose a category for my books. As I said I’ll contine with my ‘Pursuit’ series but I’ll not restrict my creative flow.
Who are your favourite authors?
The ones I can immediately recall are: Vikram Seth, Jane Austen, Elizabeth Gillbert, D.H Lawrence, Steig Larsson, Saratchandra Chattopadhyay, Mohammed Hanif, Manju Kapoor and many more…
How much time do you dedicate for writing on a daily basis?
When I am writing I devote about 4 to 5 hours in a day. At a stretch. However, this year due to my travels and other commitments I have been really missing on my writing. Hopefully, it will pick up from August.
What words of wisdom would you like to give to aspiring writers?
Believe in what you write. Read more than you write. Do not write to become popular/famous. And never say never!
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