RM: Congratulations on getting your most recent book, The Kamin’s Daughter, published! It has been receiving rave reviews and is already making a mark on the charts. Thank you for joining me for this interview.
1. Tell us a little more about yourself.
I am a Learning and Development professional based out of Chennai. I live with my family and have been in Chennai for two decades. I grew up in various places in West Bengal and Maharashtra. I have written 4 books: 1 short story collection, 2 romance titles, and my latest, The Kamin’s Daughter.
2. What began your journey as a writer?
As an introverted, shy kid, I would jot down my emotional
outbursts in a diary. Stories of how other kids fat-shamed me, how teachers
made fun of me. My diary kind of became my medium for creative release. Over a
period of time, I started jotting down my observations and thoughts. Somewhere
this habit transformed into a daily writing habit. I kept writing on and off. Short
stories, poems, thoughts, dreams.
After publishing my first book, Legal Bond, a romance novella, I got a confidence boost, and I started believing that I could actually write a full novel and get it published.
3. How different was your experience with your latest book when compared to the previous ones?
My latest book was traditionally published, by Vishwakarma, Pune, whereas the short story collection and one of the romance titles were self-published on Amazon. My first book was published by Red Romance Publishers, Chennai. Apart from this, the experience of going through the traditional publishing process was enlightening and insightful. I had to wait 8 years to get my book published due to several roadblocks, including Covid, which pushed my publishing date further down the pipeline. Through all this I developed a lot of patience and got to learn new things about the craft of writing.
4. You have an interesting title for your latest book. How did it come through?
A kamin is any woman who works for wages. This is a term used very typically in the coal mining belts for women workers who work outside the mines or as domestic helpers. My story is set in the coal mines so I thought it was an apt title.
5. Was there a single event that prompted you to pen this story or was it something that had been simmering in your mind?
A single incident. I was exposed to an abuse incident that left a deep scar on my psyche. I could not shake it off despite doing multiple things. So, to deal with it, I decided to do the best thing, I wrote about it and put it out into the world.
6. It was an engrossing experience to read your book. The writing flowed seamlessly and the story kept the reader hooked till the last page. Was the genre a conscious choice?
No, actually. I just wrote. I had to think a bit to peg my book into a pre-set genre. Three publishers I reached out to wanted me to rewrite to suit the “delicate sensibilities” of their audiences. I did not want to call it a thriller/murder mystery or any such thing. I would rather call it a book and be done with it. But then it doesn’t work like that, does it? So, to play to the gallery, I agreed to call it a drama-thriller and slotted it in that genre.
7. Tell us something about The Kamin’s Daughter that we wouldn’t know from any other source!
TKD was supposed to be a non-fiction book: an abuse survivor’s tale. Over the years, it took its present form. And I feel this is the best version of it.
8. Your knowledge and research shine through your writing. Could you tell us how you were able to achieve that kind of detailing?
For my research, I went back to my notes about my life when we were still living in West Bengal and Maharashtra’s coal mining areas. I spoke to several people to get an authentic account of the incidents. Apart from this, incidents that got imprinted on my mind, such as living around and seeing Naxalites at close quarters, hearing crude bombs going off at night, and many more.
9. The lead characters of your book were multi-dimensional and had their moments of human fallacies as much as they had heroic traits. This probably makes your reader relate to Koena and Shom more. Was it a conscious choice to avoid any form of perfection or larger-than-life actions with them?
I have never believed in larger-than-life picturisation. As humans, our imperfections only make us beautiful. And relatable. Perfection is for God. Also, even in our daily lives, we keep yo-yoing between this and that, right and wrong, and what not. Why should fiction be too separate from our realities? Why should it be so far removed that it becomes fantasy? My heroine is a vulnerable woman. She like me has her limitations, her fallacies and her strengths. She is also broken but she has the courage to pick herself up and rebuild. Like all of us, she also embraces her greys and her pure whites. I like my characters to be grey: neither too white nor too black. Like me. 😊
10. There are so many twists and unpredictable curveballs in your book! Surely this is a product of a creative imagination and a well-read mind. Please tell us about your favourite genres/authors/books.
Not sure if I have a favourite genre but I read/tend to pick up, medical thrillers/murder mysteries/drama. I find it very tough to consume poetry/comedy/horror. A few favourite authors are Murakami, S.L. Bhyrappa, and Elena Ferrante. I used to follow Amulya Malladi’s work a lot, reading all her new releases, first-day-first-show type.
11. Are there any other projects in the pipeline?
Oh yes! Working on a different genre, this time. Hoping to finish it soon.
12. Do you have any words for other writers looking to be traditionally published?
A few words of advice:
- Always research about the publisher before accepting the contract.
- Do ample research about your topic. Be it fiction or non-fiction.
- Get your manuscript edited, preferably by an external editor. If your publisher offers superlative editorial services, good for you, else, please own your script and edit it till it screams.
13. If not an author, who will you have been?
Film maker, I think.
RM: Thank you so much for your answers, and giving our readers a better glimpse into the mind behind your words. Here’s wishing you great success in your journey and in life.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR