7 Days, 7 Interviews
So as promised, we’re back with this amazing ‘one week interview program’. Sounds amazing… doesn’t it? Yeah, we know. And to start this amazing series, we have none other than the bestselling author, Mr Shomprakash Sinha Roy.
So let’s see what Mr Somprakash has in store for us. Enjoy the chit-chat session.
- So Mr. Shomprakash, let’s start with a brief introduction of yours. Tell us something about yourself, your daily life etc. Well… I would best describe myself as a fanatic for everything that’s logical. It’s not one of the finer traits of an author; people expect us to be surreal and cryptic all the time, but I believe in an open conversation system. I sometimes fancy myself as someone who can change at least a few of our society’s archaic ideologies. It’s not tough- but I look at that as the prize in exchange for a few less hours of sleep every day. Other than that, I’m as normal as you can imagine. I work in the Dell Social Media & Content Development team, I write for Grapevine India, I eat, sleep and I go to bed. Sometimes I try to find time for my reading habit. That’s very important to me.
- Tell us something about ‘The Pink Smoke’ and it’s sequel ‘Life served hot’. How’s the response from the readers? You tell me about the response! People who have read the books have generally had a mixed response about the story. The biggest hurdle that I see now, is to be able to distinguish my reality from the story of my protagonist Siddhant Roy. The story runs dangerously parallel to the trajectory of my life, yet there are phases in the story which I cannot relate to, in my present persona. To be fair, it was written in a haze of anger and delirium, and when I read the book now, I can see where the world of Shomprakash ends and where an unchallenged, untamed Siddhant is let loose. I guess that’s why people call it initial work. I think I have a lot to learn from the books. I’m happy for the positive response, for the chart reports which made my day, for everyone who got back to me with pictures of the book and reviews and kind words. That justifies the effort that went into the books. I’m also happy about the criticism, it helps me in funneling out that which is bad and to sustain what’s good in my line of work.
- How does it feel to be ‘The Shomprakash Sinha Roy’. What’s your dream now? What is there which you feel is yet to be achieved? There’s no “The” Shomprakash Sinha Roy, at least from where I see it. I’m still a guy who works five days a week, takes a cab home, hangs out with friends on weekends, misses his loved ones, watches his favorite sitcoms, cries when he watches emotional movies – the works.My dream – that’s another question. I told myself when I was very young, that I wanted to go places. Not metaphorically – I literally wanted to see the world. I guess that’s something I want to do – except as a kid I wanted to run alone, and now I want to bask in the company of that one special person with whom my life seems complete and meaningful.Yet to be achieved – I’m yet to do a lot of things. I have all the regular to-do lists like other people, you know. But what I think is extra on my plate, is that I want to stop forced marriages in India. I want to start an organization that will help and aid people in love who want to get married. I want to stop the dowry system. I want to make sure that girls in families are not suppressed, that they enjoy the same freedom as boys do. There are a lot of things that I want to do in that domain. I want to make sure that people understand the difference between loving their parents and being afraid of them. Because trust me, man – there is a difference. Maybe I’ll have to start when I have children, to ensure that they grow up the right way. Or maybe my books will let me do it early – who knows?
- Tell us something about your new venture #21TAR. As it’s now out in the market, you have become a new ‘Love Guru’. What’s your say?
Nobody plans labels for themselves J It’s really very weird when someone calls you that. But I find it amusing to respond to queries. It’s endearing. Like the other day, a 25 year old girl wrote to me about her 27 year old beau and how they were having trouble in getting married due to an apparent kundli mismatch. There are so many people out there, just afraid of the social shackles that bind them. I have no problems if you label me as the guy who stands as a wall to protect the interests of those in love. Someone has to do it. I see no point whatsoever in following the old system which tells us what to do, in the interest of imaginary rules. If my love matters the most to me, it’s the same for other people. I just find a lot of dignity in being able to defend that.
- You seems to be a ‘Potterhead’. Can we, in future, expect fantasy novel from your side? Maybe. Although, like I had explained in a seminar where a gentleman from the UK got me into an extremely lengthy conversation about Potter – it’s not just the fantasy/magic element that attracted me. Rowling had a way with words that wouldn’t let me lose hope. Every time I picked up a Harry Potter book, I always managed to read the same message. Love wins over fear. There is something called good and bad, and the easiest way to find out which side you’re on, is to believe in love. If I write fantasy, I would like to retain that sentiment in my work.
- In one interview you said that your father quoted to you once that, “Writing good literature is very similar to puncturing a rather bad wound, to let the pus flow. That’s what Kafka did. That’s what you need, before you can write well.” What would you like to say about it? My father & I have shared an extremely ‘laurel-hardy’ type of view about my writing. It’s nobody’s fault – because I used to dream of being a writer at the age of seven, when I finished reading Love In The Time of Cholera by accident. And there was this whole new world- you know? The world of Florentino Ariza, of ships and lovers. An onslaught of particularly adult-themed novels had followed my reading palate, and my obsession with books had become a source of concern for my parents. My mom actually went ahead and told me no Harry Potter Book 7 till my CBSE 12th Boards were done. Every time I would quote an author or present a statement of my own, my father maintained his position of setting higher standards. Franz Kafka, by far – has had the highest honors as far as my father’s compliments are concerned. Plus, there’s the added mystery of him dying so young – he told his roommate to burn all his manuscripts before he died. He was an author who never wanted the world to see his novels. His roommate published them, and the rest is history. Half the world’s horror/grim movies have been based on Kafka-themes. The Oxford Dictionary has a word (Kafkaesque) dedicated to his memory. Isn’t that the ultimate fantasy? I mean yeah, it kinda sucks to be dead at twenty seven, but so did Kurt Cobain, and he is immortal. So maybe the best way to describe Kafka is that he is my Literary Cobain.
- What’s the source of inspiration behind your writing, i.e., what inspired you to take on this ‘writing’ journey? You caught me on a bad note there! I was angry, depressed, suicidal when I started writing my early pieces. My personal life was in shambles and I don’t think I was in a position to trust anybody. I’ll let out a closely guarded secret – When I wrote my first novel, I had used the title The Exfiltration of All Things Pink. That later became The Pink Smoke based on a very good audience analysis by Durjoy Datta, whom I will always thank because he saw that I was writing out of anger and he did well to calm me down.
- How do you manage your day? Where does writing fit in? Writing fits in during interstices. We have 24 hours in a day, and we procrastinate a lot (Who am I kidding- I do it too!). But once in a while, mostly sooner than later, I find myself pulling all-nighters for writing sessions, sometimes when I am travelling, sometimes when I’m partially depressed (Although dad says I really shouldn’t write when I’m depressed, it only brings out the morbid stuff) but hey – writing was my first vent, and I would like to keep it that way.
- Besides writing, what are you passionate about? What are your hobbies? I like listening to my dad sing – he’s one of the best singers that I’ve ever seen. I try to imitate him at times, but that hardly works. And I read. As much as possible. Whenever I find time.
- So we’ve heard that you are an avid reader. What’s your favorite genre in reading? Favorite author? Favorite book? I don’t have a favorite genre. I don’t think I can ever choose a genre, that way. I like most of the books that I read, except books that have poor grammar. I get annoyed when that happens. But otherwise, I like romance, mystery, inspirational books, and then there are three separate special categories – John Green’s books, JK Rowling’s books and The God Of Small Things by Arundhati Roy. They belong in a separate class altogether. If god was a literature enthusiast, he’d probably build them a museum in heaven.
- What are your plans for future? Are you planning to continue Siddhant Roy’s journey or you have something else in the store? Honestly, I don’t think I’m equipped to handle Siddhant for now. Mainly because the trajectory on which he was headed and the way on which I’m headed are very different. He has traces of my past, which can be very destructive for me if not controlled. I’ll focus on some non-autobiographical fiction & non-fiction for now. There are a lot of engaging stories out there, and I want all of them heard out. Plus I want to write a few books that make people laugh, sit up and scream, you know- books that make you buy a cup of coffee. Good books. Siddhant will have to wait till I’m like fifty or something. And then, If I’m alive, I’ll call Sid for coffee.
- What’s your advice for budding and emerging writers? How should they move on in this field? Three steps –
- Embrace the language. Make English the air you breathe in and breathe out.
- Read as much as you can – No amount of good international literature is “Enough”. Don’t stick to one genre. Pick up all kinds of work. Watch Sitcoms, Good Hollywood movies. Appreciate the finer arts that surround us from all over the globe. Understand the world of both Julia Roberts and Marilyn Monroe; of both Jim Carey and Al Pacino.
- Never write with a sad frame of mind. Write to make yourself happy. Write with a glass of juice, a glass of milk, a cup of coffee. You can always think of Mr. Jack from Tennessee, but that would be cheating, right? (Wink)
- What are the problems faced in publishing a book? How was your experience with your publishers? Frankly, I didn’t face a lot of issues in getting published. Grapevine has a group of brilliant editorial staff, who’re postdoctoral students of English from Ivy League universities like Yale & Oxford – my first editor was like a dream editor – She just understood why I had used the word Exfiltration in the title and she loved it. You don’t always get to work with such wonderful people in your career and I’m glad that I did. Our illustrators have always done better than the last one, Durjoy is the kindest man I know in the industry, Sachin is the best thinker.From a general perspective, I think most manuscripts get rejected because many writers do not focus on the most important part of the book – language. Grammar is important, people. And everyone who has ever come to me for advice has received the same list – movies, books, sitcoms, sitcoms, books, movies. I’m not against Hindi – ShahRukh Khan is my favorite Bollywood hero. But if you want to get published in English and if you want it to work, you haveto be as good at English as Guy Ritchie himself.Earlier, writers used to say that there weren’t many quality publishers, and these days the situation has gotten better – There are tons of excellent publishers out there, there’s an eBook publishing revolution just waiting in Jack’s box, and it’s a very exciting time. People need to have faith in the world of Indian Writing.
- People have started comparing you with other writers. What are your views on it? Will you take it as a competition? It depends. I’d have to be barking mad to let myself be compared against people who mentored and launched me. Durjoy-da & Sachin-bhai will always be like gods. Rohit Gore is a friend, philosopher and a true guide, and always a better writer than me. Aakash Saxena (Author of Dude We’re Screwed) is so talented that he probably doesn’t know it himself. He has written a book which is beyond fantastic. But yes, there are some other people in the industry with whom there always will be a on-and-off competition. We can’t help it, it’s the law of the jungle.
- What are your views about ‘The Author’s Blog’? Well, for starters this is probably the most interesting interview that I’ve ever had to face – It’s not generic, you guys did your research and you’ve asked me questions that made sense to me – That’s new! And looking at your portfolio, you guys will go places too! Just don’t ever ever ever stop writing good things about me and my books, okay? (Wink again)
So that was all with Sompraksh. We hope you guys must have enjoyed the session. And yeah, the thing doesn’t end here. 6 more interviews to go. So stay tuned and enjoy the amazing chit-chat sessions with current market sensations.
You can buy his book, Life Served Hot, from various online retail stores here –