Sumit G Sehgal has a vast literary experience of eleven years with twenty-nine e-books. He heads a literary hub. A multi-talented person, Sumit’s varied experiences in the project design and management and strategic development lead him to meet many different people and face productive settings. Sumit is also the member of organizing committee for Kumaon Literary Festival, planning board member of Delhi Poetry Festival and Nature’s Jamboree, Delhi’s first environment festival.
Sumit has been nominated for Rex Global Fellowship and Karamveer Chakra Award 2016 for his contribution to the Indian Literary World.
What inspired you to start writing?
“When you read a book, be it fiction or non-fiction, make sure to bear in mind that you are not reading a prescribed school book. The purpose of reading these books is to release all the pent up stress from your body and your mind. When you start reading, you would unknowingly take your first step to venture into another world. A world created by the author. When you finally finish reading the book, you will realize that you just experienced living someone else’s life and often, many lives at once.” These words still come back alive as if she’s sitting right in front of me and telling me the difference between a schoolbook and a storybook. Today I see many children shying away from literature simply because they do not understand this vital difference.
My late grandmother was an avid reader. And thanks to this, my daily routine as a toddler would include sipping a glass of milk in her lap, every morning and evening, surrounded by vivid characters from thousands of stories as she narrated them to me. Addicted to stories by the time I learnt to read and comprehend text on my own, I must say that I got into the habit of reading ‘Champak’ and ‘Chanda-Mama’ all because of her. The narration gradually gave way to highly engaging discussions about those short stories and dreaming about the lives of our favorite characters together. A decade later, via a transit in language and script, I became fan of ‘The Secret Seven’, ‘Famous Five’ and ‘Nancy Drew’. Till ninth grade, I would read these books late at night, as they had become my stress busters following long study hours. Eventually I started working towards improving my grasp and comfort with English, one new word after another. Needless to say, the bulky, dog-eared dictionary soon became my best friend.
Thereafter, in spite the many twists and turns that coursed through my life, there was never a phase wherein reading was not a daily essential for me. I was your next-door bookworm, secretly living and breathing through a lot more than what life had served on his plate. And surprisingly, no matter how hard I tried, I couldn’t pin point one favorite genre, for it was the sheer pleasure of good reading that I craved. Be it romance, crime fiction, thriller, fantasy fiction, creative non-fiction, short stories, novella, poetry, contemporary, a coming-of-age novel, I read as many as of them as I could lay my hands on.
And one fine day, this young boy who marveled at his favorite authors’ ability to play with words so fearlessly and effectively, decided to play with a few of his own. And voila! Before I knew it, I became a writer by profession with ghost writing, poetry and short stories being my first foray into this completely new and yet familiar world of words. Gradually, I got involved in a multitude of enriching activities associated with this passion of mine. Within an ever-growing circle of like minded avid readers, many of them soon to become close friends, I found myself scrutinizing writing styles, discussing nuances of penmanship, reviewing books, talking about empathy, color writing, themes, plots and numerous other fascinating aspects of reading and writing. Hence, a pleasurable experience that hasn’t ceased to engage and amaze me till date.
So far I have lived thousands of lives, spread across eons in the past, present and future, enacted many of my favorite characters either for fun or to avoid facing the music for causing the nuisance I did and it has been quite a rewarding experience, personally as well as professionally.
And finally, once I felt ready to take on the challenge, the time came to pen down my own first book, My Chameleon Soul. A piece of fiction based on a contemporary family saga full of emotions, laughter, drama and strings of inspiration attached to my own life and lives of my loved ones.
What did you like to read when you were a boy?
I used to read fiction, mainly fiction, from Enid Blyton books to Nancy Drew to Secret Seven. My first adult novel was ‘If Tomorrow Comes’ by Sydney Sheldon when I was in class eleven.
What is the greatest challenge in writing a book?
It is not about just writing a book. It is all about giving yourself time to write everyday. Even if it is two hours of writing and for many, even that’s the biggest challenge. One has to be organized. You can’t just linger on with the thoughts.
How much research do you do before writing the book?
My book is a realistic fiction. From the beginning I knew what I was going to write, how many characters will be there. The complete structure was swaying in my mind. The only research I had to do was little bit about bisexuality, one of themes I explored in my book.
What motivated you to write the book ‘My Chameleon Soul’?
That’s too personal to share it on a public forum. All I can say is that it took me four years to finally convince myself to write this story. I have tried to make it as fiction as possible.
Can you tell more about your latest book ‘My Chameleon Soul’?
It is about a woman looking for a new beginning after she realizes that her children, now grown up, are moving on in their respective lives and her responsibility, as a single mother is not much required. Now, she has time for herself and how she comprehends that it’s been more than three decades and she’s been so lonely.
It is about a man looking for the right direction. He keeps making mistakes throughout his life, only to realize it later that such blunders were meant to happen. This young man, growing up without a father in a present-day conservative India with the trauma of not knowing whether his dad is alive or not and how he further overcomes this to forgive him. It is also about taking your own sexuality and accepting it wholeheartedly.
It is about a girl who is looking for a streak of sunshine. She blames herself for everything. Because of her missing dad, her mother’s misery and her brother, who keeps making mistakes and how she overcomes this aspect of negativity, that it is not her fault. Such circumstances were meant to happen.
This story is in three parts, along with a medley of 31 poems, in a format of combination of diary writing, narrative and prose revolves around these three characters; Kiran Malhotra and her children, Samay Malhotra and Samaira Malhotra. Relationships are complex and adventurous. People come together, spend some pre-destined time in each other’s lives, and fade away! What they leave behind are memories and influences – soft, robust or aggressive! Just when you believed you are ambitiously in control of your life, some force somewhere spills disaster with child-like innocence and laughs watching you rebuild it yet again. How they find their individual miracles and most importantly, how their chameleon souls, unexpectedly, reach out to each one of them when they need them the most. How they get help in shaping up a lifespan for themselves and understand it and start following.
How did you come up with the idea of writing fiction genre book?
It’s been my dream since childhood. I will always wanted to write fiction and now, realistic fiction for most of my life.
Who are your favorite authors?
Oh! There are so many but let me give my top three. In, Indian Literary Circle: it is Manju Kapur, Vikram Seth and Anita Nair. International: it is John Green, Rainbow Rowell and Jeffrey Archer.
How much time do you dedicate for writing on a daily basis?
I dedicate minimum two to maximum four hours daily with about writing two thousand words on daily basis. I read more.
What words of wisdom would you like to give to aspiring writers?
Read as much as you can. I follow what Manju Kapur told us in our creative writing class that we should read at least one book a day. It took me sometime but I follow that. I still do that. I read one book a day. And, a writer needs to have patience. You, as a writer, need to have lot of patience. Also, you can’t just write a couple of poems or short stories, win a few competitions and see yourself as a part of anthologies and consider yourself an author and become egoistic. This is happening so often now. Get some guidance or best is to have a mentor.
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