Author Sudipta Mukherjee – Once a theme germinates in my mind, I let the characters take precedence and guide me.
A brief about Sudipta Mukherjee, author of The Crossroads and The Space Between Us.
Sudipta stepped into the literary work with her first novel, The Crossroads. Her second novel, The Space Between Us, is due for release this year, by one of the fastest growing publishing houses of India. Recently, she has ventured into screen writing for films and other visual media. Sudipta lives in Pune with her husband and daughter.
How long did it take you to get your first novel published?
Two years straight, from conceptualization to Amazon and Flipkart. Out of this span, of course, a great deal had been spent hunting for a publisher. I was new to the domain, and my naiveté did cost me time. I did not know where to look at. Most of the time I did not know the do’s and the don’ts. It was like learning on the job. I understood and learnt many things, as I went ahead in my journey. And the deeper I went, the fuller my understanding turned out to be.
What mistakes did you make with the publishing of your first book which you try not to repeat?
I am slightly reluctant to call any of the moves pertaining to my writing life as a mistake. Because, I believe, in life there are no mistakes made, only lessons learnt. I have learnt my lessons, and learnt them well. What I am today is because of them. No complains, no regrets! If anything, they have helped me remain grounded and wise.
Can you focus on working on two books or stories at the same time?
I, as a writer, have not tried this so far. I mean writing two stories simultaneously. When I write a story, I am completely into it, I live in that moment totally, feel the characters, their situations, their problems, their dilemmas, even if I am not sitting at my desk and actually writing it. If I have to write two stories at the same time, this won’t be possible. I mean, one cannot be in two different places, facing two different situations, living two different lives at the same time. Technically, even emotionally it is not possible, if not confusing. It will do justice to none. The emotions will get muddled up, and so will be the characters.
I write one story at a time. It works fine for me, even if it takes more time. In the process of writing a story, I live the story, totally, actively and joyfully. When it’s finished, at least the first draft, I take a short break. That’s the time I need to come out of the story, emotionally. In other words, detach myself from the story. It is then I venture to scribble the next one.
Is there a modus operandi you follow and formulate before you actually start writing your book?
I write the story that comes to me first, I mean thought wise. I don’t believe in engineering a story. I go the other way round. My stories, whether they are short stories, or novels, are essentially organic in nature. Once a theme germinates in my mind, I let the characters take precedence and guide me. I merely follow the path they show me, and in the process develop plots and sub plots or whatever is needed to narrate it in the most believable way. A story is the outcome.
Does the writer’s block actually exist? Any tips you would give to come out of it?
Well, if there is such a phrase called, writer’s block, I am sure there is a meaning to it. And for some, it must be a reality too, a battle in its own right. As for me, I have never faced writer’s block so far, touch wood. If I know what to write, the story flows though me naturally. I never had to spend too much time pondering upon writer’s block, or dealing with ways of coming out of it.
But if you would ask me, if on a certain day, my thoughts get struck, and obstinately refuse to move my story further, what do I do? Well, I read. Reading is the best antidote for anything; and for me, it is the creative anchor of my life. Whether it is fiction or non-fiction, biographies or autobiographies, I am a sucker of books. For me genre does not matter, as long as the content makes sense. I read and read, day and night, until I feel my own thought-buds once again start blooming inside my head, and a story emerges out.
What was the book that influenced your life and why?
Out of the galaxy of books that I have read so far, if I have to point my finger on the book that influenced my life, I will raise two of them.
The Bhagwat Gita is the first one, if I take the liberty to call the great scripture, a book. My relationship with it is complicated, I admit. There are moments, when I am forced to stop reading it, given its scriptural complexity, and of course, the language (Sanskrit), which I understand little, and my peanut intellect to top it all. But I return to it nonetheless, after a break, with renewed determination and enhanced hunger to feed my agile mind.
The second one is The Tibetan Book Of Living and Dying by Sogyal Rinpoche. I read the book for the first time in 2012, in a book store. Since then there has been no looking back. Over the years I have read it so many times, that actually I have lost the count. I could read it one hundred times more, and I am certain that the book would not bore me. It’s just the reverse. It holds before me new ways of looking at and understanding life. It gives me new eyes.
Now why did these two books influence my life? It is a difficult question to answer. Because if I start enlisting my why’s then, I am afraid I would have to stop giving this interview and talk exclusively about these two books. Let’s keep it for another day.
There is one more reason. I believe, each individual has to discover his own set of why’s. Every man has his unique journey to make, his own life to live. My whys may not be match with your whys. Nooks and crannies from where I have discovered the meaning of my life may look totally meaningless to you. And it is perfectly okay, if you say that the things I am telling you, today, make no sense to you. I totally understand.
How often do you read other novels? Who are your favourite authors?
I read all the time. When I am not writing, I am reading. And by reading I mean both, fiction and non-fiction. As I said earlier, I am a sucker of good books. For me there is no such thing as favourite authors. A good book written by anybody is good for me.
Sales link of my book, The Crossroads: https://www.amazon.in/Crossroads-Sudipta-Mukherjee-ebook/dp/B01950TAII/ref=sr_1_1?dchild=1&keywords=The+Crossroads+by+Sudipta&qid=1588685568&sr=8-1