Author Interview with Kajol Aikat

Author Interview with Kajol Aikat

interviewed on Jan 4, 2021 Gurgaon
Q. How would you describe yourself?
I am a 26 years old author currently based out at Gurgaon. I was born and brought up in Hazaribagh (Jharkhand). I mostly write fiction, ie, I am pretty good at making up stories that are totally unreal yet sense worthy. Also, I am that runaway traveller who likes to draw portraits, read books, and maybe binge eat or watch when its mood.
Q. Tell us something about the books that you have written and the story behind them.
I have authored 2 novels- Unsocial Amigos (2014) and Reason to Live (2015), and 4 short stories- Life Isn't a Fairytale (2015), The Cotton Seed (2017), Soul Break Part 1 (2017) and Soul Break Part 2 (2018), so far.

• Unsocial Amigos is a romance fiction based on live-in relationship and highlights majorly on the stigmatized reception of the same from the society. It was more an effort to show how a taboo is born and to what extent it might impact people, through a contemporary romance-fiction's narrative.

• Reason to Live is again a romance fiction but unlike Unsocial, it was sketched on a lighter note. It is a true-blue romance drama that intends to tell how love can inspire in life and transform someone entirely.
• Both novels were published under Amazon Publishing UK.

I have always found love, grief, and rage, 3 very powerful and basic emotions of any human life and I often try to sketch something interesting around them.

Unsocial Amigos, was though, a very naked take on societal bullying. It came out of a fact that our society by default is extremely conservative. Sometimes, it bothers people. I have been a victim of bullying so I know that any act of oppression sucks big time. I felt like talking about it.

• That brings me to Life Isn't a Fairytale, which I wrote as an entry in a contest held by Write India Publishers. It was a short story based on uprising of a bullied teenager, suffering from epilepsy. It got shortlisted and was published in the anthology- The Unbreakable You by the same publisher.

• Later, in 2017, I wrote another short story (contemporary period drama) with Amazon Publishing UK, called The Cotton Seed , which was based on woman empowerment.

• And, by 2018, my last two short stories came as part of a single series called the Soul Break Duology. It was a crime thriller series and was published by Amazon Publishing UK.

How I became an anuthor?
It all started since the age of 5. I believe a storyteller is always a reader first. So, my father used had a lot of stories for the bedtime when I was a kid. I used to listen to them before drowsing off to sleep and eventually I developed a flair for stories. When I grew up, I started reading novels like Alice in Wonderlanf, The Jungle Book, Harry Potter etc. and somehow all of it used to reflect back. I started getting ideas of stories that I wanted to tell someday. So, even though as a side hobby, I started writing poems and short stories during my highschool days. It was also a profound escape for me from all worldly troubles at times.
Later, I understood that this world needs more good stories- stories which can go beyond rudimentary values and challenge certain establishments. I also developed a knack for debating later. Both of these came together and formed Unsocial Amigos.
I was inspired by life to be honest. All that happens around us. To me, every single one of us is a story in him/herself.
Also, I came in terms with I didn't want to do in life after joining sales & marketing in 2016. Like, I was sure for hell that I wasn't going to be a manager. Thus, going for a full time career in writing was a voluntary choice.

Recently, I have also completed a voluntary research on sustainable socio-economic development of LGBTQIA+, recognised by UNITED NATIONS POPULATION FUNDS ASSOCIATION, in 2020.
Q. What place does writing hold in your life, how has been your writing journey so far?
Writing is meditation for me. I can't process without writing something in a day. For example, I have this diary with me with which has my handwritten journals or random thoughts. Sp, that helps me to channelize my day through every thing that comes across.

However, publishing is different ballgame altogether. Publishing is not a personal affair unlike just writing. It's more like representing my few thoughts to the whole world and end up making a living out of it.
It has been decent so far but there's always another mile to walk when you're upto represent somethin. So, that's that!
Q. What is your writing process, a typical writing day routine?
This begins with some insane idea kicking my butt out of nowhere. So once something like that hits me, I start thinking about it. I plot, structure and decide narratives. I build the characters, make improvements, and, start the real thing- writing.
After I am done with the first draft, I edit, re-edit, re-re-edit... until I get the best version of that work. That's it!
Q. What book marketing techniques have been most effective for you?
I would word of mouth works fine anytime. The challenge is to get people talking. So for that any online or offline technique that can reach out to a relevant mass and repeatedly advertise your work, what like, 10 times every day is fine. More people see your work, more they talk about it, more they talk about it, more is the hype and thus the chances of converting (some or all of) them into go-and-buy readers.
Q. What do you think makes a book sell, or makes a reader buy it?
As I said, even a shit book would sell if marketed well. But, that only works until the hype is. Hype is trend based so that's really not a long term plan to be honest.
What would make your book truly last for years and years is its originality. Any book that is original, intresting, relatable, and quality driven will pass the test of the time. And, I think it is better to get a slow yet sustainable reader base than to have a fast yet short lived one.
Q. What's the most moving or affecting thing a reader has said to you?
So, I was in this sessions back in 2015, and I was addressing a good amount of listeners. I suck at public speaking so I was nervous too. Inherently, the session bombed.
When it ended, I could see everyone frowning or felling as though 'should we call out?' I ended up exhausted and I knew how bad it went.
But suddenly, one of the listeners from the crowd started clapping. Noone else did. But, he kept doing until I welled up. I knew it was not out of appreciation but to not let me down.
So yeah that was moving. The next time I attended such crowd, I made sure each of them felt giving me their time. Everyone claps now.
Q. What are your favourite three books, and why?
That's easy- Harry Potter, Wuthering Heights and The Jungle Book
The books I love are mostly the books I found not just another read but an experience that I must live. Like, books which you don't want to end or you're like, 'how's it gonna end? I want to keep knowing about this story.'
These 3 rank the highest for me in all those parameters.
Q. Who are your favourite three authors and what do you like the most about them?
JK Rowling, Emily Bronte and Ruskin Bond.
So, these 3 writers are the writers I somehow grew up with. Noone can replace them now.
Q. Tell us about the books that you are currently writing and their progress.
After 2018, I decided to take a break from mainstream writing and invest more on learning and expansion of my conceptual abilities. Side by side, I also needed to establish a full-time career in content. Later, when I joined my present firm as Content Developer, I came across the concept of diversity hirings. In the same course, I came across an idea to invest into understanding this starta of minority genders and sexualities. So I did a voluntary ground research on developing sustainable socio-economic models for LGBTQIA+. I pitched the same reasearch to UNPFA and post validation, it got recognised.
I am now planning to draft my next work of fiction on the same topic.
Q. What challenges do you think are faced by writers, what's the worst thing about the book industry according to you?
I think getting into the book industry is a challenge in itself. There is reluctance in the industry for new talent until theya re super rich or super achieved already. Sometimes, you are asked for payments passing a lakh or more in name of traditional contracts even by the biggest of publishers.
So, yes the industry is a bit corrupted on that note.
Q. Apart from writing, what goals do you want to achieve in life?
Umm, earn good, buy an island, and spend my retirement there. That's my final fantasy.
But, I'd also love to have a meaningful life. Any achievement that could make my life a good and well-loved story, would work for me.
Q. At QwertyThoughts.com, we are trying to bring authors and readers under the same roof, to connect, discuss and socialize over books. What's your take on this?
It's commendable actually. More so, recently I have seen the reading culture slowly getting eroded due to many different factors like the change in popular media, rise of OTTs, lack of physical gatherings etc.

But people still need stories. They need another reason to cry or smile or laugh... let their tears drop on some page or break laughter on another. They need to revisit books.
Engaging people over books needs a serious take and I think QwertyThoughts is a step in right direction. I see hope for all of us. Thanks for calling me in!
Q. What message do you want to share with budding writers?
Don't quit reading.

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