We interviewed Tanushree Podder, an author and a freelance travel writer. In a unique way she explains her journey of how she became an Author. Here goes Tanushree`s story in her own words:
Eight years in the corporate sector after my management, when the routine work stopped exciting me, I decided to listen to the call of my heart. And so began my journey into the world of words…
Roadblocks were aplenty, nevertheless I took tiny steps across new frontiers. I stumbled and fell, and then I got up, dusted myself and started all over again.
I began with what I loved best. Humour, I discovered was my forte. Hundreds of ‘middles’ in almost all national newspapers followed. Then the constant human urge to conquer new frontiers took me to travel writing. A romance with all kinds of writing – from political satire and interviews to book reviews and serious articles continued in between.
From there to books was a natural progression. My flirtation with books began with a dozen nonfiction offerings as I tested unknown waters and grappled with the complexities of the publishing industry. Contracts, royalty statements and figures were baffling terms that needed to be dealt with.
Once I got a grip over them it was time to step into the world of fiction and I did so with enthusiasm.
Nurjahan’s Daughter was followed by Boots Belts Berets and then Escape from Harem. All three found favour with the readers and reviewers and now On The Double, a sequel to Boots Belts Berets is likely to hit the bookstores by June end.
I love travelling so I work as a freelance travel writer besides being an author. I am a management graduate with specialisation in HR.
What inspired you to start writing?
Ever since I was in school, I loved writing short stories. Some of them were downright silly but my family encouraged my creative efforts. It was my mother, a post graduate in literature, who inspired me to continue writing.
What did you like to read when you were a girl?
My mother was a voracious reader and our house always had a few new books to read. From her, I learnt to appreciate the writings of great masters across board. Be it in Hindi, Bengali and English, I read them all. Although I loved Enid Blyton and Erle Stanley Gardiner during my childhood and teenage, I also read Maithili Sharan Gupt, Munshi Premchand, Tagore, Sharat Chandra and Bankim Chandra alongside Leo Tolstoy, Shakespeare and Jane Austen.
What is the greatest challenge in writing a book?
The greatest challenge in writing a book, according to me, is to have a strong story line and a credible protagonist. Many books start well but falter after a few chapters. To hold the readers’ interest till the last page is the biggest challenge.
How much research do you do before writing the book?
The quantum of research depends on the genre. A historical fiction requires much more research than say a contemporary romance. That is not to say that those don’t require research but writing about an era in which we live is much easier. The author of historical fiction cannot afford to go wrong with the dates and events in the background. All three historical books, Death of a Dictator – the Story of Saddam Hussein, Nurjahan’s Daughter and Escape from Harem required extensive research.
That doesn’t mean Boots Belts Berets or On The Double didn’t require research. I had to research deeply into the life and regimen of cadets at the NDA and IMA for these two books. Perhaps, I have a yen for books that require research 🙂
What motivated you to write the book “Escape from Harem”?
Although a science student, history has always fascinated me. While visiting the old forts and palaces, I have always wondered about the lifestyle of the rulers and their families. When I began writing Nurjahan’s Daughter, I came across a huge cache of data and details about the Mughals, especially about the harems. That served as the motivation to write Escape from Harem.
Can you tell us more about your latest book “Escape from Harem”?
Escape from Harem is the story a beautiful, young girl who is forced to satiate Jahangir’s carnal desires for two fateful nights. After those two nights, she is discarded by the emperor but her life changes forever. Neither concubine nor slave, Zeenat’s status in the harem is undetermined and uncertain.
stifled in the golden cage, she wants to escape from the harem. Such an act is an unheard and unthinkable, punishable by death. However, the girl dares to defy Jahangir and joins the camp of his mutinous son, Shahjahan.
From the harem of Jahangir to Shahjahan’s golden age of architecture and Jahanara’s boudoir, Zeenat’s life is a dizzying roller coaster of events, with moments happy and sad. Set against a backdrop of Jahangir’s reign and Shahjahan’s revolt, the book traverses the span between circa 1610 and 1650 ending with the construction of Taj Mahal. It is the narration of the events through the eyes of the protagonist.
How did you came up with the idea of writing Ancient Romance thriller genre book?
It was waiting to happen. After all the interest generated by Nurjahan’s Daughter, I was asked repeatedly by readers if I was planning to write another historical fiction. That plus the amazing amount of information unearthed by me, led me to write the historical romance.
Who are your favourite authors?
There are so many of them that it is almost impossible to list my favourite authors. If I were to give you five names, they would be PG Wodehouse, Ayn Rand, Jane Austen, Sharat Chandra Chattopadhyay and Munshi Premchand. I do have a list of my favourite contemporary writers but they are too many to name.
How much time do you dedicate for writing on a daily basis?
I am a very laid back person so I work in fits and starts. Some days I work for a couple of hours and then I may not work for weeks. There are no rules, really. While I appreciate the discipline many writers follow, sadly, I am unable to follow their example.
What words of wisdom would you like to give to aspiring writers?
Like in every other field, there are no shortcuts in writing and one should be prepared to work very hard. It is a very competitive field so there are bound to be disappointments. Even if you are a known writer, doors don’t open up easily. It is very important not to allow setbacks to dishearten you.
Here’s a link to a short clip of her book – Escape from Harem :
You can buy her book now: