Author's Interview with Shakti Ghosal.
First, before we move forward with our Author Interview, I would like to start with an introduction.
1. Could you please introduce yourself to us?
I am Shakti Ghosal, the author of the newly published book, 'The Chronicler of the Hooghly and other stories'.
A new author of fiction on the block. I currently reside with my wife Sanchita in the city of Kolkata. Together, we are the proud parents of two lovely daughters. Passionate about exploring new places and cultures, I have been a globetrotter. I remain elated by the thought that on this globe, mine is a unique name. Or so Google thinks. You can check this out by typing “Shakti Ghosal”. No, Seriously try it! I use a wide angle narrative style in my writings into which I try to bring my rich global perspective and life experiences. I love to explore relationships within emergent situations.
An engineer and a MBA from IIM Bangalore, I have lived close to four decades of corporate life in India and abroad. A professional certified Coach, Mentor and Trainer, I run Leadership Workshop cum coaching programs for organisations as part of my commitment to develop and upgrade Leadership Incubation globally. I am a visiting professor at a few of the IIMs.
2. Congratulations on your book. So what inspired you to write this book?
Thank you for your kind acknowledgment.
In our lives, we at times get confronted with intense and traumatic events which force us to question who we are, what really matters to us and what we believe in. In some ways, these events alter our sense of reality.
Each of the four stories in ‘The Chronicler of the Hooghly and other stories’ draw inspiration from such crucible events that I have had to face. The protagonists in that sense carry a bit of my own ‘experience and thought’ genes. As I see them now within the larger fabric of the stories, I do notice shades of myself and others who have been part of my life. Writing the stories has been a personal journey in that sense. At times the stories seemed to write themselves.
3. What is the book all about?
‘The Chronicler of the Hooghly and other stories’ consists of four standalone tales. Small blurbs for each of the stories are given below.
As Samir embarks on a sunset cruise on the Hooghly, he meets the enigmatic Chronicler who takes him on a two and a half centuries journey surrounding the curse of a fabled pearl necklace, as mentioned by his dying mother. The Chronicler asks,“What could be behind you taking this trip today and me telling you this tale?” Spanning a century between the pandemics of 1919 and 2020, Dipen and Indranil are confronted by tragedies under vastly different societal conditioning and development. What is their link spanning four generations which arises from an old and dilapidated palace and its massive Shiva linga?
As the capital of the British Raj shifts to Delhi in 1912, Junior Clerk Sujit with wife Bina is forced to migrate from Calcutta to distant and dusty Civil Lines in Delhi. Shanti, born of a forcep delivery gone horribly wrong, comes into their lives. A tale of evolving relationships against the backdrop of momentous events in the nation’s history. Suffering severe injuries from a gas explosion, Anjan meets Savio who brings him face to face with the private demons from his past. But past demons do have a way to come into one’s present with life changing consequences. Who is Savio?
The book is currently available globally on Amazon, Flipkart. and select book stores.
4. Why did you choose this genre for your book?
Three of the four stories fall in the genre of Historical fiction and one I would term as psychological fiction. Since the stories are inspired from life and intense events I have had to face, these genres remained most appropriate for the book and the writing style I have adopted to articulate.
5. How much time did it take to complete this book?
I took the opportunity of forcible stay inside my home during the lockdown period to write the book. Though I had a rough structure of the plots in my mind, the application and the daily discipline and effort needed to write happened because of the lockdown. So in that sense, the pandemic did produce a silver lining for me!
Al in all, the time taken to complete the book was around four months.
6. What makes your Book Special?
I remain unsure if as an author, I am the right person to answer the question.
However, I would like to say this. I believe that at one level, my book, written in the manner it has been, would provide the reader the sheer pleasure of a good literary fictional read and the happiness that one gets from such an activity. I believe, in the sheer frenetic pace of today's life, this aspect has been largely lost The Chronicler of the Hooghly transports the reader to another time, another place with its old worldly charm.
But at a deeper level, I believe the Chronicler of the Hooghly would make the reader halt and ruminate about certain aspects of his or her own life, allowing a deeper awareness and learning from the same.
7. When is your second book coming?
I find it interesting that you ask this question, As a matter of fact, I have finalized the plot as well as the chapter structure of my proposed second book. So in that sense, I have clarity about it. I have envisaged it as a fictional tale with the backdrop of Climate Change. In that sense, it would be topical and something to which the reader would be able to intensely relate to.
But I always believe that fiction, to be termed good fiction, is always about being open to creative possibilities. So to that extent, it is quite possible that as I start working on the chapters, the plot might get altered from the way it is now.
8. While writing did you get any writer's block? What is the Tip that you will give others who are facing writer's block?
Interesting question! I have heard of Writer's block and the way it afflicts the best of writers at times. In my case though, I was lucky. Maybe I could put it down to the peace and solitude of the lockdown period last year. Or it could have been because my output was being dictated by my intrinsic 'life experience and thinking' genes. But, as I have said earlier, there were times when the stories seemed to be writing themselves! In that sense, I did not face any significant writer's block.
I am a newbie myself so remain unsure if I am qualified to give tips to others who are facing a Writer's block.. However, based on my own experience of writing a debut book I would say this. One needs to structure the story plot, remain resilient through days when 'one’s creativity goes on a holiday which is what happens when facing the writers' block and maintain authenticity in one’s writing. In the ultimate analysis, it all comes down to writing something which one is passionate about. My sense is such a passion-induced writing journey would minimize, if not eliminate, the Writers' Block syndrome.
9. Apart from being a talented author, what are your other hobbies?
I remain unsure if I am a talented author or not. This is for the esteemed readers to decide!
As I have mentioned earlier, I like to travel and experience new places and cultures. Life has provided me the opportunities and I have been somewhat of a globetrotter. Apart from my work which took me to almost all the continents, during family vacations we always planned to visit new places and countries. Together we have even ventured into the Arctic Circle! Recently, on our Wedding anniversary, my daughters had a special anniversary cake baked with the theme of ‘Wandering and Wondering!’ with signposts pointing towards the various continents. Apart from travelling, I like to blog and read.
With the release of my book, I have been almost exclusively blogging about it through sharing of excerpts and snippets over the last few months. I am providing below my blog link, should anyone wish to visit: https://esgeemusings.com/ My journey with blogging, which started a decade ago ( about 800 followers, 39,000 plus hits from all over the globe), also stemmed from that intrinsic need to ‘say something’ about what I felt passionate about at that point in time. So I ended up writing about Philosophy, World events and Trends, Management, Coaching, Life experiences amongst other domains.
As far as reading is concerned, in the genre of historical fiction to which three of the four stories of “The Chronicler of the Hooghly and other stories” belong, my favourite authors are William Dalrymple and Amitav Ghosh. Their depth of research which shows through in their writings, their alignment with the broad brush of history and development of characters within that mileau is nothing short of remarkable.
10. Last but not the least, How did you feel, while giving this interview?