An Email Interview With Poulomi Sengupta
Very few authors and that to a debutante will muster enough courage to write a novel on real and teething issue of the country related to educational system. But Poulomi Sengupta, a first time author who writes even better than many seasoned authors, is among those youngster who are not afraid to voice their opinions.
Through the book The Last Bloom she has raised real problems in the West Bengal’s educational system which has rotten it’s education culture to such an extent that today talented people of Bengal prefers to study and work outside Bengal.
The Book World got an opportunity to chit chat with this talented author to know more about her, to get some insights about the book and her writing process and future plans.
1 Tell us something about yourself ?
An ordinary middle-class Indian girl, voicing her opinion, as a storyteller, trying to create a positive change.
I am an alumna of IIT Kharagpur.
Presently working and residing in Mumbai, an author and a bibliophile, I love my share of kickboxing and a colorful dose of oil painting to brighten the apparently mundane life.
While writing The Last Bloom was it like re visiting your own college days or were they different from that of Priya?
My college days were far more fun filled, unlike Priya’s , the protagonist of the tale –with college fests and good friends all around. I learnt new things, developed hobbies and specialized skills while in college. Of course, the problems due to politicization of education were there during my college days but it was overshadowed by the other positive aspects of college life.
Since the novel has been instrumental in highlighting the problems in the present educational system, I have highlighted the problems and possible solutions much more than portraying the fun and merrymaking of the college days.
Also, unlike Priya, I never had a Vivek in college. He is in fact the completely fictional character of the novel. Since I love reading about Byronic heroes- like Rhett Butler of Gone with the Wind or Mr Darcy of Pride and Prejudice, I based Vivek’s character out of those inspirational readings.
While reading the book I found characters in the book very close to reality. Any of the character inspired by real person.
Thank you very much.
My novel is fiction.
However, many incidents actually have a hint of reality.
When I began writing 5 years ago, I never thought that the context of the novel would become so relevant.
I have taken the descriptions of faces from the day to day characters that I meet in real life so that the readers can connect and imagine the characters in real life, while they read the novel. My wish was to transport the reader to the world that I have portrayed in the novel and feel as if the events are unfolding like a motion picture.
Most of the conversations of the novel are not real unlike the description of faces. Because, in college we were never mature to even understand, leave behind commenting on the system. These conversations I have penned down imagining why those people, who gave positive or negative reactions to the system, did react the way they did. Majorly, their educational background, economic background and environment at home are responsible for the reactions.
Unlike all the characters whose facial descriptions I have captured from the people I meet every day, Vivek is completely fictitious and each conversation penned between him and Priya has been the outcome of the philosophical as well as factual discourses that I have read while researching about the roots of the problems of the present educational system and its possible solutions.
Do you think it is necessary to market the book properly in today’s time or good book get noticed anyhow.
I think there is a need to market the books in the initial stage, especially by a debutant author writing on a serious topic.
After the novel is read and critically appraised by readers and reviewers, depending on the reviews, if good – it will be much easier to for the novel to be noticed and bought.
What was the best compliment you got for your writing?
The fact that you and many other reviewers have given your time to read the novel and have found it worthy of your time is a big compliment. I am highly humbled by the kind reviews.
6 Can you tell us a bit about your basic writing routine and process.
It took me 4 years to write the novel and a full year for editing and proof read.
So totally, 5 years.
I mainly wrote from 10 pm to 2 am, that is the prime time when my imagination is at zenith and pen flows the smoothest.
First, I created a matrix for the primary, secondary and tertiary characters and the plots. Dialogue creation was the later stage and description came in the last stage.
The subject of your book is unconventional yet pertinent in contemporary India. What triggered the idea of writing a book on this subject?
When I went to work in the UK for a year, I found all my fellow Indians discussing how things back home are:
– why they don’t want to go back home to work,
-why most of them plan to enroll their kids into foreign colleges, and not in Indian colleges.
-why they always litter the Indian streets and never the foreign streets,
-why they abide by all the rules outside India and do not feel obliged to do so in the country
-why they move out of India and that India should change and someone should bring forth into notice that such changes are necessary….
All these discussions made me feel that I am doing nothing to be a part of the change and instead only discussing the problems
Few of the issues like cleanliness and following the rules; they can be done by every citizen.
If we educated people do not follow these, then why blame the uneducated ones?
Each citizen represents the microcosm of our country.
While discussing the impacts of student political activities, agitations and mass movements, especially in colleges of Bengal, all of us felt that such political activities should diminish in colleges, which are primarily meant for education.
An average Bengali is much more talented than an average person from a developed country.
Yet, Bengal is lagging behind in development. Why?
That was my deciding point to write the novel.
7 How did you develop such a tremendous flair of expression?
Thank you very much for the kind compliment. I am glad you liked the style of writing.
Honestly, I have no idea.
Because, when I wrote, my hands did not control the pen. The pen controlled my hands.
But I feel beauty is in the eyes of the beholder.
So one reviewer may deem the style as flair for expression and another reviewer may dismiss the same style by calling it over-detailed and verbose.
8 What to expect next from you and how soon?
While writing ‘The Last Bloom’, I had a trilogy in mind.
I had planned the present novel on the politicization of higher education of the country. The plot of the second one is based on the employment and conditions of private and public sector workers in India and why people prefer to work abroad. The third one is based on the transition of thought process about romance from the past to the present generation.
All above are in the form of one centralized theme of a love story.
It will probably take a couple of years to print the next one.
9 What are the genres you like to read?
I am omnivorous. I love Literature in every form. But I have soft corner for the novels that highlight the plight of the common people and the ones which are realistic.
I love the classics- especially writings of Oscar Wilde, Margaret Mitchell and Saratchandra Chattopadhyay. Each one of these writers have excellent styles, expressions –which overwhelm yet gives the readers a deep sense of understanding of the people of that era, which has been address in the novel.
Click Here to Read the Review of The Last Bloom