Sagarika Chakraborty, was born a sweet baby to her parents in Kolkata a few years back. She studied her high school all the way and chose law as her initial career by enrolling at National Law University, Jodhpur.She is currently doing her management studies at Indian School of Business, Hyderabad.Her thought-provoking articles on corporate governance have appeared in the leading journals in several countries and states. She has been bestowed with various honours from World Economic Forum including a special mention from the World Bank and the Australian Government. She was recently awarded the most respected Fellowship by the Royal Society of Arts, UK. She loves cooking, writing, and doing research on gender studies. In this interview with us(TM), she reveals her inspiration behind writing this book, her hobbies and interests, her writings and utmost memories that are related to her, and her passions that comes directly from the core of her heart. A Calendar too Crowded is her first book.
TM: What was the inspiration behind writing your debut novel ‘A Calendar Too Crowded’?
SG: The life around us inspires me every day to write something new. Same was the case with my debut novel. The stories in A Calendar Too Crowded cover all those issues which you read about in newspapers or see happening around you. However, we forget about these issues the moment we put away the newspaper or turn our heads the other way. Thus, I decided to spin stories which you won’t forget for a long long time and thus will question atrocities and answer your own dubieties.
TM: Tell us briefly about your debut novel. Is this a complete fiction or a collection of short stories?
SG: A Calendar Too Crowded is a collection of 25 short stories and poems which are an antithesis on the days that are marked as celebratory on the calendar. Thus while March 8 is celebrated as Women’s Day, the protagonist in the story actually wonders if we have twisted the definition of feminism a bit too much and if liberalization actually is making us “anti-men”. Similarly, the story in July (Daughter’s Day) looks at a perfect family with two daughters and a doting father. However, behind the curtains the smiling wife is subjected to carrying forward the legacy of male progeny at the cost of her own health Thus, the book questions us and our intentions of celebration and makes us wonder if the calendar is indeed to crowded with just dates, with the cause behind most of these not given a thought.
TM: Did you ever get any rejections for your novel? If yes how did you react to them?
SG: Haha, at one point in time my days were just filled with “We loved your MS, however, regret to inform you that..” – those were the days of strength and perseverance. In the beginning, I was dejected, sad and often angry. However, a pep talk with my mother made me realize that possibly I was going wrong somewhere too, thus after millions revisit of the MS I finally did hit the road.
TM: How did you come up with the title?
SG: That was easy – in fact, it was more of a reaction. Once I had my theme in place and had marked out all the days on the calendar which I wanted to cover, my first reaction was “OMG, it is so crowded!”
TM: How do you usually find your ideas?
SG: I take inspiration from things that happen around us. Be it at office, on road or at home – it is just important to keep eyes and mind open and the heart in the right place. The ideas find their way!
TM: What are the major challenges that you have faced in writing this book?
SG: There were quite a few challenges – firstly the age and people’s perception towards you. Nobody expects you to write about elderly re-marriage stories at 27, you are expected to stick to the love and the like. The other thing was not to resort to statistics and nonfiction mode of writing too much – being a policy researcher for quite some time, I feared I might just give into that tone.
TM: How has been the response and does it fulfill your expectations as a writer?
SG: The response has been mixed – there are people who loved the book and those who have been critical. However, I haven’t heard that anybody hated it *touchwood* I have received a few emails critiquing the work in their own way – one gentleman mailed me as to why as per the Vedas coveting the male progeny is a law of nature, which if defied will lead to the extinction of human species. I never expected this book to be a mass grosser, all I wished that anyone who picked it up would strike a chord with the voices in it and find the one that connects to them the most.
TM: Do you see writing as a career?
SG: Indeed I do, however not now. I feel that I need to grow as an individual and a professional before I take up full-time writing.
TM: Is there any message in your novel that you want your readers to grasp?
SG: There are voices and each voice in their will make the reader question something about the society or themselves. The answers are for the readers to find and in that process, all the messages will be clear. The basic message is however that we have all spoken too much about various issues now it is the time to act!
TM: What are your hobbies besides writing? Your other interests and passions.
SG: I love traveling to new places – however, a bit weird that way, I like to travel alone with a personalized itinerary. Also, I love baking and designing cakes for friends and family. I am also setting up my own health research self-group and thus working a lot on that too.
TM: Any particular genre you would like to write about more?
SG: I have made a promise to myself that I shall only cover social issues and thus mostly the genre will remain so. However, the tone will vary from book to book – serious, emotional, satirical, comedy to state a few.
TM: Any new book you are preparing to launch or writing for your fans?
SG: I am starting to research on my next book, however, it’ll be a long time before it is ready. I believe in thorough research before turning to spinning stories – thus usually the research period is quite long.
TM: Do you have to travel much concerning your book?
SG: It depends, often I do travel – however, I prefer to keep it local visits in the city I am living in. The beauty of our country is that in every city you’ll find the segment you want to research on.
TM: Who designed the covers and helped you in publishing the book?
SG: I am blessed to have found Niyogi Books. From edits to print they took care of the book as their baby and even after publication has helped me in many ways.
TM: Which are your favourite book and favourite author of all times?
SG: My favourite book of all times is An Equal Music by Vikram Seth. Needless to say, he is my favourite author – I love the way he builds up a character and a plot and grasps the reader till the end.
16. Any message you want to deliver to your fans and modern Indian writing trend?
SG: There are no right or wrong trends in writing – you should stick to what motivates you the most. Never give into peer pressure to fit in or stand out – just believe in yourself. And yes, be humble to praises and open to rejections. As a reader, before critiquing a work to be rubbish just think once if you could have had written better and if you could why haven’t you – that should make you at least be humble to the author.
TM: Your thoughts on being featured in the MONSOON ISSUE of our magazine Thousand Miles.
SG: Monsoon, is my favourite season – I love rains, need I say more how perfect the fitting is! I just hope that it rains fans for my books and the lightning of criticisms are at bay! LOL! Thank you, it is indeed a pleasure to be associated with you and I had a lovely chat here.