Paromita Goswami is a science graduate. She is currently a Novelist, Kids Storyteller and Director at Book Studio. She is the winner of a short story contest organized by Lafango. Let us know more about her writing.
What inspired you to start writing?
Writing is in my genes. I inherited it from my father. His work kept him away from family and each time he returned he would open up his bundle of stories for us. He was a BSF man and books kept him occupied when he missed his family. When he was home each night after dinner we, children, would circle around him till late night listening to his stories. Some he had written some he had read. He was a big fan of Bengali author Shankar. When we grew up a little we would anxiously wait for him to come back so that we could show him our piece of work – that would be a simple story, a poem or a painting. Later when we were adults and took to our path the writing remained as our best friend. It was a means of our emotional outlet – a place where we could do what we wanted, play, dress, freak out, romance, crib and no one would be there to admin us. That is the beauty of writing. Later when I took up writing as my career it was so much fun. Slowly I became more organized and professional.
What did you like to read when you were a girl?
My school library had a huge collection of classics, thanks to our librarian for that. I grew up reading Jane Eyre, Ben Hur, Oliver Twist, Great Expectations, Little Women, Pride and Prejudice and many more. My love for drama is definitely because of my school librarian. Other than that I loved reading crime fiction. Agatha Christie and Enid Blyton were my favorite authors during my growing years.
What is the greatest challenge in writing a book?
Choosing a proper genre for my work has always been a big challenge for me. I don’t write with a certain genre in mind. My plots and characters are very independent. They make their progress,I don’t interfere. As a writer I know the end of the story. How a character reaches there is entirely his or her decision. That said, I consider myself as a very good storyteller first, so if I say I am doing a ghost story the first thing that comes in mind is horror but it turns out to be a beautiful love story. So it takes a while to know where to shelf it – Horror as in Ghost or paranormal romance.
How much research do you do before writing the book?
I consider a book to be reflection of the society. Whatever genre you choose to write your book is incomplete without facts and figures. I feel the readers will connect with your book only when you mix your facts with fiction. Therefore, a thorough research is mandatory. I gather information from books, articles, online research which is very handy these days. The best means is to speak with the master of the field. Like in my book, Shamsuddin’s Grave: The story of a homeless, I had to write about Child Trafficking. Bachpan Bacho Andolan, an NGO based in Delhi helped me out with my research work in that field.
What motivated you to write the book “Shamsuddin’s Grave: The Story of a Homeless”?
Shamsuddin’s Grave was born way back in 2011. A small article in Times of India about the condition of graveyards in metros ignited the idea. It was a short story of only 11000 words. Later with encouragements from my well wishers who saw my work it was developed to a novel of 70,000 words.
However, the book has been more than word count for me. It is the story of a community whose facts are lesser known and needs to be heard. Also the story narrates at length the economic condition of the North-east India.
Every year whenever, the Indian Railways announces its arrival in one of the big cities of India, a huge chunk of youth from the North-eastern states can be seen leaving the exit gates of the railway station. They are not welcomed in the new city, are discriminated against, even harassed. Yet they migrate every year, leaving the comfort of their hometown, to these cities to cherish a dream. My book Shamsuddin’s Grave: The story of a homeless, speaks about youth migration.
Can you tell us more about your latest book “Shamsuddin’s Grave: The Story of a Homeless”?
“Shamsuddin’s Grave: The story of a homeless” is based on real life incidents. The plot is based in Assam, Northeast India and speaks about the plight of people both pre and post Independence. The state of Assam was part of undivided Bengal and played a prominent role during the British Empire. The division of Bengal and later the birth of Bangladesh saw lots of bloodshed in both Assam and Meghalaya. This led to insurgent groups that are still active in these territories. The book looks into the lives of people who have migrated to India from Bangladesh. Even after generations of living in the country their state is more or less the same. Blame it to the poor economic growth, instable government, insurgency and natural disasters. The people are bound to migrate to bigger cities for livelihood. But how many can really achieve their dream?
The book has two protagonists – Shamsuddin, a daily wager, who represents the youth of rural background and Latika, an MBA social activist who represents the urban youth. The story compares their two worlds, their needs and dreams. Ideally this book is apt for those who love to read critical issues and consider facts and figures above fiction.
How did you come up with the idea of writing fiction genre book?
Fictions have always fascinated me. I could never think of any other genre other than it. However, my next book is a horror thriller, a collection of short stories on jungle theme.
Who are your favourite authors?
Drama, Crime fiction, thrillers have always been my fascination. Lately, I have figured my interest in horror fictions too. Author in these genres have always intrigued me. My favorite authors in Bengali classics are Sarat Chandra and Ravindranath Tagore. Others I love to read are Danielle Steel, Sydney Shieldon, Amitav Ghosh and khaled hosseini.
How much time do you dedicate to writing on a daily basis?
I am a visual person. So even when I am working out my daily chores, my mind is wandering elsewhere – figuring out a plot, a dialogue or a scene maybe. I do not have the habit of jotting down everything that goes in my mind straight away. I let it play for a while. Let it be more rigid. In a day or two I get what I have been looking for. Then I put it down on paper. This helps me more in rephrasing myself.
So coming back to your question, I do not dedicate myself to writing on a daily basis but if you talk about my writing work, then the answer is yes about couple of hours or so, especially when I am brain storming.
What words of wisdom would you like to give to aspiring writers?
Publishing industry has undergone a tremendous change in the last couple of years. Unlike previous decade publishing a book is no longer a distant dream. One can produce a book now with only a click. Said that comes the dirty truth- all that glitters is not gold. Sometimes, in the race of getting published, the writer makes a mistake in choosing the publisher and ends up losing both money and faith in the industry. I would suggest, one should thoroughly check the list before signing a contact. One should take the help of established authors, lit agents, and publishers to understand the process. Social media groups have come a long way to offer help in this regard. Bottom line is, survey first and then take the plunge so that you make the most out of it. Also, the manuscript needs to be thoroughly edited. So, don’t hesitate to invest money in polishing your work. It will always benefit you.
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