19 September, 2015

#Interview with Avantika Debnath, #Author of The Bridal Pyre

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).
Being into human resources, Avantika’s profession has given her the opportunity to meet a number of people on a daily basis. By the virtue of the nature of her work, she gets an insight into various angles of their lives. 
These are the people she meets and their lives which Avantika intends to immortalize through her writings. Her protagonists are not anything larger than the ordinary, but their actions and choices make them worth of being sung as heroes.
Having written widely in various websites, and print media, and being a regular contributor to the Chicken Soup for the Indian Soul series, it was Avantika’s dream to be a novelist someday. And today she presents to you her debut novel: The Bridal Pyre – Nainam Dahati Pawakah. 

Please share your views with her at : Facebook I Twitter I InstagramEmail

Interview with the Author:

When did you first realize that you wanted to be a writer/ a storyteller?
I have been writing stories for around 10 years now. I started with writing for small time magazines, but I will consider by big break to be the one with Westland, when they offered me to write for the Chicken Soup for the Indian Soul series. I have written for a number of their series, but The Bridal Pyre: Nainam Dahati Pawakah is my first independent novel.

What inspires you to write?
Regular people and their regular lives. Because every regular life in itself has something extra ordinary. My book, The Bridal Pyre: Nainam Dahati Pawakah is about a very ordinary girl, Meera. When you read the book, you being an educated Indian woman will identify with her. But how she handles the challenges thrown at her by life is what makes her extraordinary. Such are many other people whom I find worth writing about and worth reading about. 

How did you come up with the idea for your current story?
The protagonist of The Bridal Pyre is a combination of real woman I have come across in my life. A part of Meera is me, another part is perhaps my cousin, and another a dear friend. They all had these issues in their lives which were going unaddressed. Someone had to address these issues, so I chose to do so. 

Are there some stories tucked away in some drawer that was written before and never saw the light of the day?
There are of course. I hope I will show them the light of the day, when the time is right.

Tell us about your writing process.
My writing process is that there is no writing process. I am very impulsive when it comes to writing. I might be in the middle of my dinner and a thought could strike my mind. Till the time I do not pen it down, or rather type it down, I do not find solace. I cannot think for hours and write deliberately. Words need to flow through my mind. That is how it works for me. 

What is your favorite scene in the book? Why?
I have two for that matter. One would be Meera’s miscarriage and another would be when she finally speaks out her mind to her in-laws.
The miscarriage is the only way through which Meera realized that this is about time she puts her feet down, and the next scene leads to how she does it. 

Did any of your characters inherit some of your own quirks?
Yes. As I said, Meera is a compound of various strong women I have come across in life. Few of the antagonists are also a shallow sketch of people I have chanced in my life. Rest, I will want to give some credit to my imagination. 

What is your most interesting writing quirk?
It would be the last poem of The Bridal Pyre: Nainam Dahati Pawakah. The poem is called, Unexplored – The Woman’s Heart. I had written it some 7-8 years ago, but somehow it blended perfectly into the fabric of Meera’s life.  

Do you read? Who are your favourite authors and how have they influenced your writing style?
I read as much as I can, but then I have a tight schedule to limit my penchant for reading. My favorite writer would be Khaled Hosseini. I would want to write stories with some depth and thought in them. I would rather write 3 books in 10 years, but these will be, I hope, writings that the reader will think about for a longer period of time. 

What is the best piece of advice you would give to someone that wants to get into writing?
Oh, I am myself too new to give anyone any advice. But then for any form of fine arts, I think it is important to be original. I guess everyone should have their own style of writing. The same thing doesn’t work twice. 

What would be the Dream Cast for you book if it was to be turned into a movie?
Oh Wow! I never thought of it. May be myself as Meera.. hahaha… no just kidding. I don’t know. I think Ranveer Singh will make a great Abhi. Deepika padukone is my favorite actress among the new lot. Again, she has the kind of personality and physical features to blend into Meera.

If you were to be stranded on the famous deserted island, what three things would you carry?
- My Laptop
- All the Russell Peters DVDs (Oh I am crazy about him, and I somehow find his mouth very sexy, foul, but sexy.)
- I am reading, And The Mountain Echoed by Khaled Hosseini right now, so if you have to abduct me today, I will carry that book with me. 

How do you spend your free time? Do you have a favorite place to go and unwind?
I don’t get any free time. Thanks to my corporate job and writing. But I love it this way. 

Tell us three fun facts about yourself.
- One I already told you, though I am totally averse to swearing, I have a heart for Russell Peters, and my friends just don’t get this connection. (I don’t get it either)
- I am quite crazy when it comes to music. I can listen to one song in repeat mode for 24 hours at a stretch. I will just not let you change that song if my life depended on it. I am right now listening to Good for you by Selena Gomez in repeat mode.
- I love dancing, though Kathak was my stream, I can do a li’l bit of latka jhatka on Bollywood numbers and enjoy it to my heart’s content. 

What do you have in store next for your readers?
I am writing a collection of love stories. One book with 5-6 love stories, but this will be the kind of love you would want to hold on to. Still working on it. 

Is there anything else you’d like to share with your readers?
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. 

About the Book:

The Bridal Pyre – Nainam Dahati Pawakah

O Let it all be red
Red like this vermilion sky
O let me color it all with the blood of my heart
And the tears in my eye
O let me color it like the vermillion sky
Have you seen the sky so vermillion before?????
Have you?...

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 had just washed off her head, like a jet of blood, or likr 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…” Her fatigued body had no strength to clean itself again.
The Bridal Pyre – Nainam Dahati Pawakah

…I am allured
I am enchanted
I am detained
I am haunted
O Let it all be red
red like this vermilion sky
O let me color it all with the blood of my heart
and the tears in my eye
O let me color it like the vermillion sky
Have you seen the sky so vermillion before?????
Have you?...

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…” She shivered as her husband extended his arms towards her to offer help. Her fatigued body had no strength to clean itself again.

Meera was just another contemporary Indian woman studying, working, and dreaming of a beautiful home, a dotting husband. Married off to an NRI, she realized that this marriage was her destitute. Harassed for being a modern educated woman by her in-laws soon Meera turned into a barrel to fish out money from her father to provide for the U.S returned son-in-law’s education, fashion, and lifestyle. As advised by her mother – girls need to adjust a little after marriage – Meera adjusted to every turn life took. The only turn she couldn’t adjust take was at the staircase where she lied helpless witnessing her child flowing out of her womb - thick blood drenching her yellow cotton saree red. She stood up. One against all, claiming justice for the child she never saw, and the humiliation her parents faced.

“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?”

Ambushed by the police, the lawyers, the judges, politicians, big businessmen, media, she couldn’t be stopped. She could not be broken or be burnt….And they said even the holy Ganga would refuse to immerse her… She was no more a body with a soul. She was a soul with a body. And the soul doesn’t get torn, drown, or burn. 

She sat on her pyre and set it ablaze….The Bridal Pyre….but, Nainam Dahati Pawakah
                                                           
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