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BookChums interviews Smita Sahay

Post by: Kabita Sonowal














Smita Sahay’s writings have been featured on Ripples: Short Stories by Indian Women Writers by APK Publishers, Asia Writes and Muse India. In this exclusive interview with BookChums, she discussed the inspiration behind her short stories titled Black Blood and The Caretaker from the Ripples collection, her favorite writers, earliest writings, suggestions to aspiring authors and much more.



Thank you for the interview with BookChums. What has been the inspiration behind Black Blood and The Caretaker?

It's my pleasure talking to BookChums. Thank you.

Black Blood – was inspired by a newspaper report about an eight year old child, a leukemia- patient dying because the blood used for his blood transfusion was HIV infected. If blood banks mess up, whose fault is it? And The Caretaker was inspired by my school teacher narrating how Tsunami 2004 had wreaked havoc in Nagapattinam; I wanted to explore whether man is helpless in the face of natural calamities.



Tell us about your earliest writings.

I remember having written about rabbits, diwali diyas and Juhi flowers as a young child. They were full of imagination and wonder. Even now I can't resist writing about orange candies.


How long do you take to complete a story?

Sometimes a story completes itself in a couple of days or a week and sometimes it takes much much longer.  At times, a story pulsates like a living creature and then you have to let it take the time it demands for taking final shape. At times a story begins with a pin prick of light, though it feels complete. But once you get closer, you might fall into a window full of light and new aspects come into focus, like a revelation. It's important to not let go of a story until the author and the story agree that nothing else needs to be done.



What comes to you first: the character or the plot?

Most of the times, it is characters. Their idiosyncrasies and interaction with more characters and situations are the things my stories explore and which in turn propel the stories forward, or backward.



Do you face any challenges while writing a story?

Going back to half written stories is something that I find very difficult. Mostly because re-establishing the same thread of thought does not happen easily. I also find writing about very personal emotions very difficult because that requires a certain determination to detach myself to ensure that it is not 'autobiographical'.


How do you divide your time between being a consultant, a verbal-ability instructor and a writer?

I was working full time at Accenture and on Saturdays as a verbal ability instructor. I used to write whenever I could, at coffee shops waiting for a friend, in the mornings, and during vacations. But now I have given up my day job and divide my time between my freelance writing assignments and my own writings. I now try to spend equal time in reading, doing book reviews and writing.



What authors and genres have influenced you the most?

I shall not point out particular genres because I read everything that holds my attention. There are a number of masters we have grown up reading and naming them will require a lot of space. Among contemporary authors, Priya Sarukkai-Chabria, Anil Menon, Anjum Hasan, Amitav Ghosh, Jerry Pinto and Barbara Kingsolver are the ones I keep going back to.



Any advice to aspiring authors?
Write as often and as much as you can, read without stopping. Think fearlessly, undaunted by preconceived notions and ideas. Take feedback from fellow writers. If you don't have writers around you, take advice from the masters, study how they tackled a particular scene or characters in your favorite books.


Add Your Comment:

Congratulation's!! You Express very beautifully .... Read both of your stories .......

Wish You all the very best in your career .....
Thu,Apr 18th 2013 2:44 PM
Preeti Nath
Wow....congratulations....keep up with your amazing writing!Lots of good wishes......&many more interviews to come your way!
Tue,Apr 16th 2013 2:57 PM
Amazing, Smita I feel so proud of you :)
Mon,Apr 15th 2013 12:11 PM
Exceedingly fine.I m greatly impressed.I m proud of you.
Mon,Apr 15th 2013 12:03 PM
interesting n excellent interview. congratulation .
Mon,Apr 15th 2013 11:55 AM