Author Interview with Niladri Mitrainterviewed on May 26, 2020 India
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Q. How would you describe yourself?
An introvert and a thinker who loves to observe the complexities of human behavior and describe it as accurately as possible through his writing.
Q. Tell us something about the books that you have written and the story behind them.
I have written three books so far - two novels and a poetry collection - though I also have a novella which wasn't properly released. My first book- Autumn Leaves- is a drama about three friends and the different paths they go in life and how they reunite for an evening. "Letters Of Nine" my second novel was about a serial killer who starts sending letters to a struggling writer chronicling her life. I got drawn to the idea of it because I really wanted to tell the story from the killer's point of view instead of that of an investigating officer or someone of that sort as is usually the case with these kind of stories. It's deeply psychological and explores the complexities of the two main characters and the mental journey they go through. My third book "Songs Of Dusk" released last year through Amazon and it's a collection of fifty two poems that talks about a wide range of subjects from love to heartbreak to social and environmental issues. I have been writing poetry for a long time now, it was the first form of writing I indulged myself in as a kid, and it just felt like the right time to compile some of my works and release them as a book.
Q. What place does writing hold in your life, how has been your writing journey so far?
Writing holds an extremely important place in my life. I'm not a very vocally expressive person and so most of my thoughts and imaginations find their voice through my writing. It's like a release for me, a way to share with the world the different ideas and sentiments that keeps brewing in my mind. I'm also very interested in certain things like thr human mind and time. I'm fascinated by the concept of time, the subjectivity of it, and the deep layers and complexities of the human mind and it's a only through my writing that I can explore the ideas I have about them. As for my writing journey, It's been uneven as far as the financial aspect of it goes but from an internal standpoint it's been fulfilling though, I believe, there's still a long way to go before I'm anywhere near being content with my work.
Q. What is your writing process, a typical writing day routine?
I don't really have a routine. I write whenever and wherever the inspiration strikes me. I'm not a plotter, I don't do any outline work, and when starting a story I only have the beginning and a vague idea of the end in mind. The rest I fill up as I go along. I like the story unraveling itself to me as it would to the reader. I don't set a predestined path for my characters to follow but instead allow them to chart their own way and take the story forward.
Q. What book marketing techniques have been most effective for you?
Well, Twitter has been an extremely helpful medium for marketing. I have a decent follower base and I'm quite active in the Twitter Writing Community which is a wonderful network of writers from all around the planet. So most of my marketing and promotion has been through Twitter. Also I have realized that getting honest reviews for your book in as many platforms and marketplaces as possible really helps. They tell the buyer how others have reacted to a book and what to expect from it. Reviews create a target readership and going forward it's that very readership that helps you to expand the scope of your sales.
Q. What do you think makes a book sell, or makes a reader buy it?
An attractive cover, an interesting blurb, an efficient marketing campaign, are all things that can help you sell your book initially but after a point they all are just ornamental factors and what really makes a book succeed in the long run is the content of it, the story and the characters, and how they are presented to the reader. I believe a person buys a book for one reason and one reason alone and that is to read good content and for a book to do well it's imperative for it to have stuff in it that the reader will find themselves invested in. Everything else is secondary.
Q. What's the most moving or affecting thing a reader has said to you?
Well, someone wrote to me saying a poem from my book was like an exact description of a phase of her life and she cried after reading it. She thanked me for bringing that memory back to her. It was extremely touching.
Q. What are your favourite three books, and why?
It's difficult to name only three but if I have to pick then my top most would be If Tomorrow Comes by Sidney Sheldon because of the journey the protagonist takes and the fast paced, almost visual, style of its storytelling. The second one would be To Kill A Mockingbird by Harper Lee. That book touched on very sensitive topics like that of racism and rape and depicted them through the eyes of a small girl which, I think, is an extraordinary feat. And lastly, The Hound Of Baskervilles. To keep Sherlock Holmes absent for the better part of the book and to yet always have his presence lingering about and to blend elements of pure horror in detective fiction and keep the suspense up right till the end is a storytelling achievement of epic proportions. These are easily my top three.
Q. Who are your favourite three authors and what do you like the most about them?
Sidney Sheldon. That man was a pure storyteller. Reading a Sheldon book has always felt like watching a movie, the way he could keep the reader hanging in suspense after every chapter and his ability to suck in the reader in the world of his stories were just outstanding. Then Sir Arthur Conan Doyle simply because he created my all time favorite character of Sherlock Holmes. Doyle brought detective fiction into prominence and , he was such a visionary writer that many of the techniques he made Holmes adapt in his investigations later became actual techniques for crime fighters across the world. My third favorite would be Charles Dickens. In my opinion nobody could curate better characters than Dickens, he was an absolute master in that. Also, there was a sophistication in his writing that, according to me, is rarely matched. There are others too like John Grisham and Ruskin Bond and George RR Martin, but these three are my top favorites.
Q. Tell us about the books that you are currently writing and their progress.
I'm presently working on a collection of short stories. Like I I've said, I'm fascinated by the concept of time and the infinite layers of the human mind and so most of the stories in the book deals with these topics. The idea also is to not have straight up black and white characters but to give them an amount of grey and give them fallibilities of their own that makes them feel like real people rather than just characters on a page.
Q. What challenges do you think are faced by writers, what's the worst thing about the book industry according to you?
I think, making their books visible is by far the biggest challenge writers, and especially independent writers, face today. With the advent of platforms like Amazon and Smashwords the Ebook industry has grown exponentially in the past decade and there's an abundance of material that can be found online. And while it's absolutely great that thousands of writers are getting an opportunity to share their work with the world and to earn from it, there has also been an influx of mediocre, and to be honest, badly written books that sometimes sidelines good books and turn readers off from exploring books that deserve to be read. Also, in a country like India, the ratio of publishers and writers is really low and it's extremely difficult to get a book published traditionally if a writer wants to go on that path. There's a wealth of writing talent here and because of the scarcity of publishing opportunities that are forced to gravitate towards self publishing and often get discouraged when there work doesn't get the attention they had dreamt of and that puts them off writing. A talent should never be lost and it's the responsibility of everyone in the industry to ensure that it doesn't.
Q. Apart from writing, what goals do you want to achieve in life?
I have seen how fickle and unpredictable life can be and so I take things as they come without looking too far ahead. Some would probably say that it's a wrong approach to living but it works for me and I see no reason to change it. Having said that, I do have a couple of things that I would like to accomplish before my time ends but they are very personal and I would like to keep it that way.
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?
I think it's fantastic. Writers like us who are self published need as much of exposure on as many platforms as possible and QwertyThoughts provides a wonderful platform for us to engage and interact not only with the readers but with other writers as well. It's a great initiative and I hope you keep up the amazing work that you have been doing. All my best wishes.
Q. What message do you want to share with budding writers?
Just write what you really want to write. Don't constrain yourself with genres and what others expect of you. Writing is a very internal process and sometimes it just doesn't come out right. Be patient during those times. Set goals for yourself but don't run after deadlines. And most importantly, read your own work from the perspective of your reader. Always think that the reader is more intelligent than you and never take things for granted.