Some privileges are like blessings. And, to interview author Sutapa Basu for my personal blog was definitely one such. I have always been a fan of her writing. An ardent admirer. She weaves magic, and I say this from the bottom of my heart. I had my good luck to read and review her first two books. And, her third novel Genghis Khan just released a few weeks back. This interview is a humble attempt to know and understand Ms. Basu’s understanding about writing good and meaningful literature. And not to mention, knowing what goes behind the mind of this prolific writer when she decides to pen a subject. Here we go, in talks with Ms. Basu :
ME: Ma’m to begin with, why Genghis Khan?
SB: After writing Padmavati which was received with great interest, I wanted to raise the bar and write about a world history figure. When I scrutinized the range of impressive personalities, my gaze fell on this world conqueror, Genghis Khan, who came from Asia yet held the whole world, especially the western world, in thrall. When I began to research about him, there was no looking back. He is such a mesmerizing personality that I was hooked. Besides, I realized very soon how little was known about the real man other than his blood lust. I was fascinated as each fact about his life was revealed. It became a passion to find out more and more about him. When I began to write about Genghis Khan, I couldn’t stop.
ME: This is interesting. If I may ask you then, what did you find the most fascinating thing about this historic character?
SB: His indomitable will to rise above the terrible circumstances of his childhood and youth. He is truly a veritable example of what Man can achieve if he is determined to fight fate and carve his place out in this world. His journey is most inspiring.
ME: Alright. Ma’m, Dangle was a psychological thriller/romance, then came Padmavati. And, now this. Why a historical novel again?
SB: Since childhood, I have been a voracious reader. I read all genres but my favourites are thrillers and historical fiction. After trying my hand at the psychological thriller, Dangle, it was natural for me to take up historical fiction. The success of Padmavati spurred me to another, a little more ambitious, historical fiction. But all said and done, I would like to try out all genres. I shall not stick to writing in one genre.
ME: And, we shall look forward to that. Ma’m writing history isn’t easy. What do you find most challenging while dealing with a historical character?
SB: Getting to the core of the character. After all, I cannot interview either Padmavati or Genghis Khan and find out what or how they think. I have to analyse events, their reactions to specific situations and slowly build the characters brick by brick, emotion by emotion. I find it most challenging to get into the minds of my historical characters. Yet this is the most important part of my research. I want to write about the historical figures as the kind of human beings that they were. To do that, I need to dive into them, delve about them and find out what makes them tick.
ME: And, do you think it is possible to stay unbiased and talk about history?
SB: Why not? Historical facts are undisputed, and I am very careful not distort any facts. My fiction is usually woven through the factual evidence like fine zardosi work. All my passion is poured into the fiction aspect of my story. The history part remains untouched and unbiased in my books.
ME: Yes, we can see that vividly. Well, out of all the three novels you have penned till date, which one intrigued you the most. And why?
SB: Penning each one was intriguing in a different way because all three books are different. So it is difficult to say which of my babies was the most interesting but exploring Genghis Khan was certainly a revelation. I just kept falling in love with the man.
ME: I can’t wait to fall in love as well ! Madam, do you think India is reading as well as writing much more than it used to do say a decade back?
SB: Yes, India is reading and writing much more than she used to a decade ago. Unfortunately, the reader tastes need to improve and publishing standards must become better.
ME: How do you see the changes in publishing scenario in the country now?
SB: Well, many more people and talented ones are writing now, but the publishing industry is not really getting out of the rut it has been in for years and years. The multi-national publishing giants need to pull up their socks and publish real talent not just celebrities. I believe, it is the smaller and start-up publishing houses that are really making a difference in this industry. They connecting the passionate writers with the equally passionate readers. One of them, I am glad to say, is Readomania.
ME: How have been your experience with Readomania?
SB: Excellent. They have been true to their mission of publishing talented new authors usually not taken up by the publishing giants. Also, they are very particular about maintaining and bettering publishing and marketing standards.
ME: Fantastic. And Last something that I always wanted to ask you, few golden tips for budding writers if you could give?
SB: At the end of the day, every writer is on his/her own. I can only say what has helped me to write.
One: Read, read, read all the time.
Two: Write something, even terrible stuff, every day.
Three: Take your writing seriously. It is not a hobby. If you don’t take your writing seriously, nobody else will.
Thank you ma’m. It was an absolutely pleasure to have a chat with you. Blessed I feel. Keep penning. Keep inspiring.