About the Author:
After writing for various publications, PR firms and companies for nearly two decades, Kanchana Banerjee pursued her long cherished dream - to write a novel. She holds a Masters degree in English from JU, Kolkata & has also a done a story writing course from London School of Journalism. Her debut novel – A Forgotten Affair – published by Harper Collins was released in August 2016. Amarital drama; the novel deals with the themes of love, friendship and delves into the sensitive issue of emotional abuse that happens in affluent homes.
Kanchana always wanted to be a writer; anything else was never an option. A voracious reader, she believes, Read better to write better.
When did you first realize that you wanted to be a writer/ a storyteller?
Ever since I can remember I’ve wanted to write. And I have been writing for nearly 2 decades now. I used to write for various publications and companies. So I’m not new to writing but this is my first work of fiction.
What motivates you to write and where does your inspiration come from?
Life. Society around me. There are stories galore around us, we just need to pay attention and notice them. Also having been a features writer has wired me to generate story ideas constantly.
How did you come up with the idea for your current story?
A Forgotten Affair is a gripping marital drama that touched upon the sensitive issue of emotional abuse that happens in affluent homes. It happens in so many homes; educated and seemingly suave polished men who minimize their equally educated wives. In many cases the women don’t even realize that they are being minimized. They just laugh it away. I’ve seen it happen with my friends and relatives. I feel very strongly about this. I believe we don’t get what we deserve in life, we get what we allow. If you allow another person to misbehave, to abuse you; it will happen. Women need to consider themselves worthy. We always put ourselves after our husband, family, kids and etc. Vidya Balan recently said in an interview: “I love my husband a lot but I’m still the most important person in my life.” this is so true and right. Women need to consider themselves important and not allow anyone to minimize them.
What is your writing process? Do you follow a regular routine or do you have any weird, funny, or unusual habits while writing and what are they?
Because I’ve a freelance writer for many years, I have a strict discipline. When you are working from home you need to be strict and enforce certain rules else no work gets done. So the same applies for writing a book. You have to be disciplined and write every day. I prefer waking up early in the morning to write.
Do you ever suffer from writer’s block? If so, what do you do about it?
At the risk of repeating myself again and again, I’m a professional writer. I’ve written for companies and publications. That kind of work has a deadline that needs to be met. If I told my client that I’m having a writing block…well, I would never get any work. You can’t make such excuses when you are writing for someone else and getting paid for it. It trains you to write every day, no matter what. Now that I’m a full time author, it’s the same thing. However, I take breaks. I have two dogs. I play with them. I go for walks. There are many ways of distracting ones self.
What are your current/future projects?
I am currently writing my Novel 2. It’s almost done.
Why did you choose to write in your particular field or genre? If you write more than one, how do you balance them?
I enjoy writing on relationships. The stories I write aren’t love stories. Romance is a small part of the story but it’s essentially a matured relationship drama. This is my chosen genre as I enjoy it immensely.
Are you traditional or self-published, and what process did you go through to get your book published?
I’m a traditionally published author. Harper Collins published my first book. I connected with a senior editor from HC at Bangalore lit festival and that’s how it happened.
What opportunities have being an author presented you with and share those memories? (i.e. travel, friends, events, speaking, etc...)
I’m participating as a speaker at various literature festivals. I was at Kumaon Lit fest in Oct and in Dec I’ll be at Bangalore Lit fest. Hopefully I’ll have the opportunity to be at few more.
What do you do if inspiration strikes in an inconvenient place like (car, restaurant, bathroom/shower, etc..) and how do you capture that moment before it gets away from you?
I make notes in my mobile. I don’t trust my memory. I quickly jot it down and then elaborate it later.
Do you believe there is value in a review? Do you believe they are under rated, over rated, or don’t matter at all?
I think reviews are important. They are feedback from readers. It’s good to receive validation of your writing and it feels good to hear people say good things. But I don’t take it too seriously. Both the good and bad, I just allow it to stay with me for a bit and then I move on. I don’t log into Amazon or Goodreads to read what people are writing about my book. Once in a while I do it, but not regularly.
What is your biggest fear about having a book published?
There’s no fear. This was my dream; to get published and have my book in every book store across the country. My biggest fear was to not writing a book and struggling to get it published. Having got a reputed publisher like Harper Collins, what’s there to be afraid of?
What is the intended audience for you book?
Essentially women in the age bracket of 30 to 50 yrs. Women who like to read about relationships. My books are a light read, commercial fiction but not shallow. They are about sensitive relationship issues, complexities of life and a reflection of the society we live in.
If you had the chance to get one message out there to reach readers all over the world, what would that message be?
Please don’t download free copies or buy pirated copies. Authors work very hard to write. We bleed our heart and soul in the book. Please buy books and read them. Teach your kids to read and love books. Books are the best companion one can have. You’ll never be lonely if you have a book.
What makes a good story, why?
Write from your heart. Pour your heart into the story. Write with honesty. Don’t try to pretend or ape other authors. Words never lie. You’ll get caught if you aren’t honest in your writing.
Do you read your reviews? Do you respond to them, good or bad? Do you have any advice on how to deal with the bad?
I read the reviews…may be once in a month. I respond to both good and bad with just a few lines. Thank you for reading and giving me feedback. Never spend too much time gloating over the good or sulking over the bad. Read. With the good reviews, feel happy, pat yourself and move on. With bad review: read. Mull over the points mentioned and then move on.
What is the easiest/hardest scene for you to write, why? (Love, action, fight, death, racy, controversial, etc…)
I find the love making scenes the toughest to write.
Were your characters based off real life people/events or did you make it all up?
All the characters in my novel are based on people I know. This is my first novel so my personal experiences have gushed forth.
Do you view writing as a career, labor of love, hobby, creative outlet, therapy, or something else?
It began as a hobby when I was a child. I used to write in my diary, scribble stories. Then it became my work. Now it’s a labour of love. I can’t imagine not writing.
What are the advantages/disadvantages of self or traditional publishing?
I wouldn’t suggest self-publishing to anyone. Publishing a book isn’t just about getting the book printed. Distribution is very important. What good is it to have printed copies of your books that no one can buy and read.for those who consider self-publishing, how will you distribute the book?
Do you have a subject/genre you would never write about, why?
I would never write an erotica. It would make my husband and parents uncomfortable.
What makes your book stand out from the crowd?
To quote the readers: it’s a very well written book. It deals with serious issues like emotional abuse and adultery but it’s a gripping and fast read. I personally think what makes my book stand out is my writing style and plot. I have a simple, lucid but strong writing style. People find it easy to read and the plot is very gripping. Most people have said that it is ‘unputdownable’.
What is your favorite scene in the book? Why?
There are quite a few. I like the bit where Dr Sharma tells Sagarika: “God has taken away your memory. He will bring you home. Sometimes you need to forget everything to recognize what matters most.” Another part I like a lot is when Sagarika confronts her abusive husband. She has evolved and come into her own. She stands her ground firmly and tells him that it’s not acceptable. Then the final scene between Sagarika and Akash who is her lover. When she tells him that she can feel the love they share but she needs to remember it.
Did any of your characters inherit some of your own quirks?
Oh yes. Sagarika likes her coffee bitter but gulps sugar cubes. That’s me. She loves Chikoo flavour of natural ice cream. Like me
Do you read? Who are your favourite authors and how have they influenced your writing style?
I’m a voracious reader. I enjoy Archer, Gillian Flynn, Harper lee…. many others.
What is the best piece of advice you would give to someone that wants to get into writing?
Read a lot. You can’t hope to write unless you read a lot.
About the Book:
Sagarika Mehta walks out of her nine-year-old marriage, meets with a near-fatal accident and goes into a deep coma all on the same day. After six months, she wakes up with no memory of her past. When she is discharged from hospital a year later, Rishab, her husband, whisks her away to an unfamiliar address in Gurgaon to convalesce.
There, in that plush apartment, with people waiting on her hand and foot, Sagarika can’t shake off the feeling that something is wrong.
Why does the scent of a particular cologne unsettle her? Why does the innocuous word ‘cheeni’ bother her? And why is Rishab so evasive in response to her queries about her past?
A Forgotten Affair is a gripping story of a woman caught between two worlds.
Thank you, Ms Banerjee for this amazing interview! I wish you success for all your future works. Keep writing!