It is an art to express yourself in simplicity. That is the reason why I have always been attracted to Ankita’s stylistic blog. Be it the Humming Words or the Pencil Sketches, her flair is evident in the fluid flow of thoughts and strokes. When her debut novel “Wedding Trousseau And Other Short Stories” made to th e book stores, I did not waste time to invite her over for a stimulating cup of coffee and a delightful stream of conversation which did not remain restricted to her penmanship or her maiden foray into short story writing. What I had expected I am not sure. But what I got was way beyond my imagination. My friends tell me I have a knack of asking difficult questions. But from Ankita pat came the replies, eager, unhesitant, well thought of and very, very smart.
So here is how it went :
Me :Why Short Stories when everyone is keen on penning novels ?
AS : I have a personal liking for short stories and prefer them to novels. Each story allows me to express emotions clearly and this way variety of emotions can be expressed in one collection/ book. A short story gives you a good control over shades of characters and events. Also, if the readers find one story uninteresting, they can easily jump to another one, unlike in a novel.
Me : Today every Tom, Dick and Harry is a writer. Your take?
AS : It is a good sign that more and more people are taking to writing and expressing their hearts out. However, the flipside is that I often feel that the quality is being compromised. Also, most of the works are exploring the office/college romance and girlfriend-boyfriend theme which can be a bit monotonous at times.
Me : Tell us something about your maiden collection of Short Stories “The Wedding Trousseau and Other Stories”.
AS : While some stories in this collection have been inspired by real life incidents, some come from my imagination. These discuss the subtle feelings that we all often experience and subconsciously register but do not express or discuss about. Each story carries a different setting and plot and I have tried my best to make the characters seem as real as possible. Societal evils and unstated stances are explored and presented.
Me : I find a thread of commonality weaving through the anthology of eleven short stories – the darker, uncertain, insensitive side of human nature. You don’t preach, poke, condemn. However, there is a kind of ruthlessness in your portrayals. Explain.
AS : I completely agree with you that each story has these underlying emotions. I do not mean to be didactic and as you said preachy; I just wish to throw light on these dark cobwebs that we often see and forget and even ignore. I did not want the stories to have typical happy endings like those we come across in moral science books or children’s magazines; the main point was to make the reader feel as if he/she is experiencing the situation and emotions in place of the character.
Me: I kind of like the abrupt endings which rather underscore the author’s statement on the issue. Was it deliberate?
AS : I beg to differ in this regard Ma’am as I would call the endings ‘open’ rather than ‘abrupt’. I think, an ending is abrupt when because of it, one is unable to logically conclude the story but here, each story leaves the reader with a thought and even a point to ponder upon. I concluded the story when I felt what I wanted to convey was properly expressed.
Me : What is more important to you – the story telling or the perspective?
AS : Perspective is a dish presented to the reader garnished with good story telling. If a dish is beautifully presented but lacks taste, you won’t order it again; on the contrary, a good preparation presented badly won’t please you either. I think there must be a perfect balance of both, though personally, I give somewhat more importance to perspective.
Me: Does online recognition facilitate graduation to an author in print?
AS : In this digital era, I think it does and it helps very much. A popular blog, for example, is a great way to provide your writing ‘samples’ to the readers and creating a base of likeminded people and readership
Me: How do you see yourself ten years hence as an authoress?
AS : Honestly, most of the things in my life yet have been unplanned, because a decade back from now, I never had imagined even in my wildest dreams that I will be writing a book of short stories! So, what happens a decade from now is uncertain too. Nevertheless, I would like to focus upon penning more books.
Me: Women writers are often seen as a marginalized segment. Your view.
AS : Honestly, I feel that they are not because we have many women writers in India who are exploring their abilities in every genre, be it fiction, non- fiction and even erotica and romance-novels.
Me: I quote V. S. Naipaul “I read a piece of writing and within a paragraph or two I know whether it is by a woman or not. I think [it is] unequal to me.” Your comment.
AS : This statement is beyond my comprehension because I feel a writer is a writer, irrespective of gender and just by reading few lines, I do not think one can fathom if the author is a man or a woman. To me, these words seem somewhat unbecoming of an author of such great a stature.
Me: Today a writer also needs to be a hard-core marketer of his/her Product (read books/writings). Do you agree?
AS : I completely do because, writers have to promote their work as it has a direct effect on the sales and readership.
Me: Brief one-liners on……
(a) Print Publication in India
AS : Is here to stay; India is experiencing a literary boom!
(b) Blogging versus full-fledged writing
AS: Blogging is an important part of my love for writing.
(c) The snobbery of writing in English
AS : India is the largest English speaking nation so I feel writing in English isn’t snobbish anymore.
(d) Target -> mass or class?
AS : Class, without an iota of doubt.
(e) Compromising literary value for commercial success
AS: Never, that would be a sin!
(f) The run for the “Best Seller” tag
AS : My aim is to write worthy literature, best seller tag for me would just be a bonus.
With the end of that rapid fire round, we sipped the last dregs of coffee in our cups. As she said goodbye I wished her all the very best for a prolonged literary career and many more virtual coffee series! Her eyes twinkled and my heart swelled with pride to have had acquaintance of an authoress who is not one of the league and definitely have farther horizons to conquer in near future.
A Big Cheerio for Meaningful Literature !
Read the complete review of “Wedding Trousseau And Other Short Stories here