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BookChums Interview with Prionka Ray

Post by: Deepti Khanna

Interview with Prionka Ray

We chatted up with debutant author Prionka Ray who has penned Sia, a novel that tells us about the different hues of the relationship shared by sisters. The book is also a departure from the kind of novels being released these days. 

In the conversation, author Prionka Ray talks about being an educator, living in many cities and what kind of writing appeals to her.

You have written on your blog that biographies in general are real, inspirational and way more interesting than fiction. Please elaborate. Also could you share anything you have picked up from someone’s biography that has had an impact on you?

Biographies are real and you know that they happened to someone, somewhere, so you end up believing the most bizarre of the situations and the most remote of possibilities. If the same had happened in a fiction, you would take it with a pinch of salt. The point is- true stories make a believer out of you!

Aung San Suu Kyi
was one of the first biographies that I had read and that started me on a Biography trail so that remains an important milestone in my life. The second important one was Richard Branson's biography because he didn't fit the mould of the usual  inspirational people I had read. I kept thinking that this man is crazy but hey, he made it work!

How has living in so many places (she has lived in Hongkong, Singapore, India and Switzerland) influenced your writing style?

When you live in different places, you break out of your comfort zone, expand your thinking and tend to be open to new ideas more easily.  I think I have become less judgemental, having seen how people in different places have different perspectives. This gets reflected in my writing as well.

You have written that professionally you are an educator and counsellor. You use drama as a tool to teach speech. Could you share your vision and the course of action you use?

A bit of dramatisation can lower people's defenses, a bit of structured playacting can help bring hidden insecurities to the surface and a bit of shared fun can make a friend. Drama in a structured and subtle form can become an effective teaching tool, especially to help the shy and the inhibited.

Confident speech comes with the belief that 'I am worth listening to' and positive experiences as a child can shape a personality forever, this in turn effecting how a person reacts and communicates in the society.  I am of the opinion that positive communication boosts a child's self- worth. When someone believes that they are worth it, they can move mountains. My sincere effort remains to instill this self worth in whatever little way that I can.

On your blog many posts talk about stories of courage, hope and motivation. Are you a firm believer of the theory of positivity and law of attraction?

Yes, I am. I also believe that all of us are stronger than we think and whatever be the trouble, we have the capacity to bounce back.

You freelance for publications in Singapore and India. Is there any difference in the style of writing journalistic pieces? What subjects do you usually write on?

I have written on issues, mostly pertaining to women and children. Strangely, most of the concerns, problems and aspirations of women tend to be similar in both the countries. I have also written poetry, pieces on travel and education.

I read somewhere that you had almost completed the first draft of the book and then stopped writing the manuscript when your father passed away. What made you complete the book after a gap of four years? Did you rewrite the first portion of the book?
I didn't feel like writing after my father passed away. In fact, I wrote nothing in those four years, not even an article. Those were emotionally trying times and I had lost three family members in quick succession that year. Before I could handle the problems faced by my fictitious character, Sia, I had to stabilise my own emotional state. After four years, my grieving process was over. I was ready to go back to writing.

I didn't rewrite the first portion of the book though I did change a bit of the end. Abir's character got a bit of loving makeover, when I went back to my manuscript after the break.

What made you write a novel based in Benares and Mumbai, two contrasting cities?

Exactly, the contrast made me write about these two cities. I found the contrast fascinating and I wanted to emphasise how different cities have different sensibilities.

Which is your favourite book? Why?

It's impossible to pick favourites. I have liked many books and each one for a different reason so I will pick a few that have left something of them in my me. Celestine Prophecy (James Redfield), Shantaram (Gregory David Roberts), The Wreck (Rabindra Nath Tagore), Doctors (Eric Segal), David Copperfield (Charles Dickens), Life of Pi (Yann Martel), If Tomorrow Comes (Sydney Sheldon), The Namesake (Jhumpa Lahiri), Golden Gate (Vikram seth) and I have just finished reading the Hunger Games (S Collins). There are many more authors that I have really, really enjoyed but the ones I have mentioned here have served some purpose in my life in certain ways and I am therefore, indebted to them.

Advice for budding writers.

Write what crosses your mind and don't brood on a thought for too long. If it has flashed in your mind, it needs to be captured. You can change, polish and improve later on.

Are you working on your next book?

Yes, I am..... but what will it finally shape in to, remains a mystery to me too.


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