Thursday, September 17, 2015

Author Interview - Avantika Debnath, Author of The Bridal Pyre: Nainam Dahati Pawakah

                                    About the Author

Avantika Debnath is a writer at heart and dancer at soul but to earn a living she works as an HR professional in a multinational company. She hails from the City of Joy: Kolkata, West Bengal and stays in the City of Nizams: Hyderabad, Telengana. She has done her Bachelor’s from Calcutta University with Major in English and has an MBA degree from The Institute of Chartered Financial Analysts of India (ICFAI).
Having written widely in various websites, and print media, and being a regular contributor to the Chicken Soup for the Indian Soul series, she is final ready with her debut novel – The Bridal Pyre: NainamDahatiPawakah for you to read this September. Meanwhile please enjoy her dig on social norms.
nalysts of India (ICFAI).

                                Author Interview

When did you first realize that you wanted to be a writer/ a storyteller?
I guess, I was in class 2 at that time. I had just written a poem and I was sure I want to explore more into writing.

What motivates you to write and where does your inspiration come from?
Life… Life inspires everyone to do something. It inspired me to write.

How did you come up with the idea for your current story?
I always wanted to write a novel. It is just that I wasn’t getting the subject that would keep me glued for as long as it takes to finish a book. And then I witnessed a few incidents in life, no not my life though. But I did see a couple of things happening around my regular life, and so I knitted them together added a little bit of my own imagination and here we are with The Bridal Pyre – NainamDahatiPawakah.

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?
This is not a job for me, I cannot keep a process for it. At times I can spend an entire night hitting the keys of my laptop, and then for days at stretch I won’t be able to write a single word. I am very impulsive. And so writing happens to me in a momentary way.

Do you ever suffer from writer’s block? If so, what do you do about it?
I haven’t written so much as yet that I would suffer from writer’s block. I still have many thoughts pilled up in my head waiting to find words into my books.

What are your current/future projects?
I do intend to write a collection of 4-5 love stories sometime. In fact that is what I had started my book writing with, but there was this dying need to pen down The Bridal Pyre – NainamDahatiPawakah first. But I will go back and complete my compilation of love stories.

Why did you choose to write in your particular field or genre? If you write more than one, how do you balance them?
The Bridal Pyre – Nainam Dahati Pawakah is a feminist social drama, and I chose to write on this topic because the situation I have come across and witnessed, some in my life some in others, I couldn’t help but write it. It is a story that needs to be heard and told. I had to write it, because someone had to address the elephant in the room. For how long could we turn a deaf ear and blind eye to it? The protagonist of the book Meera is a character that is basically a compound of various real life woman I have come across in life. They choose to stay anonymous, so let them be. But their struggles are real. Meera is a woman who is from an upper middle class Bengali family where marriage is given some amplified importance. And like all mothers, Meera’s mother also advised her to adjust and be patience. But mothers need to tell their daughters when exactly they should put their foot down, because a one-sided adjustment soon takes the form of subjugation. We don’t want that to happen to our woman anymore. Again, there are so many bodies that fight for woman rights, every other day some new law is passed. But when a genuine case requires attention, no one is there to help. And these laws, lawyers, courts, police, they only add to the plight of the victim. How? You will know through the story.
I do not have another feminist story line running in my head anymore. I don’t see that happening anytime sooner.

What is the intended audience for you book?
I target mature audience. And for the record I am not saying I target ‘old’ audience when I say mature. Maturity has nothing to do with age I believe. You can be a teenager and you if have that understanding of the unforeseen challenges that life can throw at you, you are my audience. You can be some 70+ gentlemen, but if you have not learned anything from the life that you have lived so far, The Bridal Pyre – NainamDahatiPawakah is not for you.

If you had the chance to get one message out there to reach readers all over the world, what would that message be?
People, learn to love. Love with all your heart. Be possessive about your lover, it is okay. Don’t be jealous of your lover’s success or achievement or don’t be insecure. That is not okay. And yes, please pave the way for the modern Indian woman. She will make your life amazing.

What is the easiest/hardest scene for you to write, why? (Love, action, fight, death, racy, controversial, etc…)
There are a couple of them. But the most difficult scene that I wrote was Meera’s miscarriage in The Bridal Pyre – NainamDahatiPawah. More, so because the amount of emotional turmoil this character goes through along with the physical pain. This was my first work as a novelist, I am not sure if I could do justice to the situation. But I was writing this scene, and I had to stop for a while, cry, get myself a cup of coffee, and go back to completing the scene.

Were your characters based off real life people/events or did you make it all up?
The protagonist of the book Meera is a character that is basically a compound of various real life woman I have come across in life. They choose to stay anonymous, so let them be. But their struggles are real. Again, a number of negative characters are also ‘inspired’ by real life people. Then I have tried to draw the characters a lil bit here and there. I would certainly give some credit to my imagination as well.

Sneak Peak

It was indeed a beautiful twilight that Meera had lived in a long time. The sky appeared like someone scattered a box of vermillion on it. But this vermillion had nothing as scary, as haunting, as suffocating as the vermillion she has just washed off her head, the vermillion that washed down her face like a jet of blood, similar to the blood that flushed out, in between of her legs just a couple of months ago.

‘Don’t touch me anymore, Abhi. I will be sullied, I will be stained, I will be dirty…” No, she didn’t say this to a rapist. She shivered as her husband extended his arms towards her to offer help. Her fatigued body had no strength to clean itself again. She had just washed his child out of her body.


“How on Earth did I conceive? How did I conceive staying with an impotent bastard like you?”

She stood up. One against all. She wanted justice for the child she never saw, and the humiliation her parents faced throughout the course of the eleven months of her matrimony. But she was ambushed by all those who were supposed to rescue the ones in despair. All those in whom the women of this nation rest their trusts. The police department, the lawyers, the judges, politicians, big businessmen, media houses either waylaid her or proved utterly futile in serving justice.

“I have seen such strong men cry like babies while getting a broken bone fixed. How are you bearing with this pain so tranquilly?” asked the doctor.

“May be I am not a man, but what made you think that I am not strong?” she thought.


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