Author of the Week | Ankita Chakravorty
Hey there! I hope the weather is treating you well and your journey with #52weeksofreading challenge has been enjoyable so far. This week’s read would have been a challenge for some because it is a non-fiction book but that does not make it any less amazing. The next week’s theme is about a forgotten holiday that needs its meaning back, now more than ever.
Our Author for this Week is Ankita Chakravorty. She’s as talented as she is beautiful and her work will pleasantly surprise you, for sure.
So, what was the first book you ever read? How old were you then?
Okay, I tried to rack my brains for this answer but failed. I have a strong feeling it was a novel by Enid Blyton which I had issued from my school library. More than the novel itself; I remember enjoying curling up into a ball and absorbing the words only to let my imagination run riot.
I think I was ten? Maybe even younger. (This was the first book I read by myself, out of my own free will. If we’re talking about any book in general; it would be some book my Mum would have made me read as a child; under her supervision. Does that count?)
How many Books/Short Stories/Poems have you written? Which is your favorite? Are there any that ended up getting shelved for the time being?
I have written four complete novels so far. One of them is a novel and the other three are short stories; all a part of the same series which I call the ‘BTB’ series.
I am physically incapable of choosing a favorite because each one of them holds a place very dear to my heart.
No, I haven’t been lucky enough to have any of my works shelved yet. But hey? We never know about the future!
Do you hear from your readers much? What kinds of things do they say?
Oh, I hear a lot from my readers, that’s my favorite part of the day- waking up in the morning, sipping at a cup of tea, and reading and responding to comments.
They say all kinds of things. They have constructive criticism, appreciation…some even drop a ‘hi’ just to get to know me.
I’m a Chartered Accountancy student; which I am very open about in my profile; so I get many messages from similar students about my experiences and how I handle writing along with a course this time-consuming.
I often have some wonderful heart-to-hearts with my readers.
When did you write your first Book/Short Story/Poem and how old were you?
My first book; which I wrote up to seventy-eight pages; was when I was twelve years old. I didn’t realize it’s an actual, real BOOK I am writing until my sister accidentally (or purposefully, I still can’t tell!) opened my folder on the family desktop and read through it.
I remember being livid and so, so uncomfortable. But then she genuinely apologized and said that she believed that I have an actual flare for writing. I didn’t believe her at first, but since I have always held Didi in such high regard; her words stayed in my head.
I stumbled upon a couple of online sites for amateur writers a couple of years later and started reading their works actively; only to realize I was about as good as they were and chose to start putting my works upon those digital platforms.
Validation from someone you love is special, but sometimes; just a little nudge from strangers who are always giving you an unbiased opinion on things can make all the difference. And I was lucky enough to get both.
So I’ve been writing stories non-stop since I was twelve.
When did you first realize you wanted to be a writer?
There wasn’t much of a realization; if I’m being honest. I have been deeply interested in the art of articulation for as long as I can recall. The satisfaction of being able to capture with words; the essence of an emotional one is feeling within; is the one thing that has always made me go back to writing again and again.
If not a novelist; I would have equally enjoyed writing articles, speeches, debates, and the like. I believe that writing has been a apart from the moment I learned speech and language.
What would you say is your interesting writing quirk?
I’m not sure if this counts as a writing quirk or not, but I’m going to share it anyway. I often get lovely comments and messages with people telling me my stories have a way of coming back in full circle; that by the time they reach the last chapter, they know exactly why every character behaved or acted the way they did.
This is the most flattering comment; especially when they ask me how I plan my character arcs.
And here’s the thing; I don’t plan anything! Not about the characters anyway.
I happen to get dozens of plot ideas regularly; so writing on a whim is something I cannot afford. Plots that don’t leave my head are the ones I choose to pursue. I usually just have a rough outline of the plot in my head.
But the characters? They change colors and their stance according to what is happening in my life or going on in my head. I have tried to plan and structure my writing like my peers’ scores of times but failed miserably.
This is why it amazes me when people say that they think that my characters couldn’t be more real or justified in feeling the way they do.
Where do you get your information or ideas for your Books/Short Stories/Poems?
My own life. I listen in on the little details of every conversation I have with utmost concentration. Right from my parents; to my peers; to my boss have contributed to my works as of today. I know this minimal research only works because as of today, I have only chosen to take up contemporary themes and general plotlines.
But I do intend on toying with some other genres like historic fiction and mystery/thriller(which I have started working on with my novel ‘Paakhi’) sometime in the future. And when I do, I intend on reading up many, many books on the same theme and setting before I jump the gun.
For ‘Paakhi’, I read English translations of many novels written by Bengali authors in the setting of Kolkata. My belonging to Kolkata helped; since I could let my own life back in my hometown inspire the whole setting of Aritro Bagh and Mrinalini Ghosh.
What was one of the most surprising things you learned in creating your Books/Short Stories/Poems?
Aah, that would be how liberating it feels to let your mind break free from the shackles of values, judgments, and the do-s and don’t-s that it has caged itself in. Writing your World; lets you weave your setting, your characters, and your ending.
It is surprising as to how much you can see; when you simply broaden your horizons.
What does your process of writing look like? What is the hardest part?
I feel like I will be insulting the word ‘process’ by using it for my writing. This is the one and the only thing in my life I don’t like to plan.
No matter how dramatic it sounds, I write whatever comes from deep within and my stories just lead themselves to an end.
There are many hard parts to writing a story. When a reader bashes a character of yours, or they don’t appreciate where your story is heading or even when you get lovely messages from the readers but you are suffering from an intense writer’s block.
I like to think of writing a novel as a journey; with the usual highs and lows of life. It is all about never giving up on your characters and your readers.
What do your family and friends feel about your work?
I’m going to answer this in two parts; what my family thinks of my writing and then what my friends think about my writing.
My family consists of my parents and an elder sister who have all been nothing but supportive so far. They go about telling relatives and friends about my writing endeavors at every opportunity they get!
If not for my sister; I wouldn’t even have started writing on Wattpad and gotten to know so many talented writers like I do today. Didi designs all my covers helps edit my stories and can take credit for almost all of my book titles and character names.
Basically; without Didi; there is no Kimayaa.
Now, coming to my friends. I initially chose to write under a pen name because the idea of people finding out it was me writing made me feel uncomfortable and vulnerable.
I wrote under a penname and made a conscious effort of not divulging any personal information or create any social media handles where I could attempt getting to know my readers better.
About three years of anonymity later I reasoned; I had nothing to hide from the World and started signing off as ‘kimayaa a.k.a. Ankita’. I even created an Instagram handle last year and chose to keep my profile as public as I could. I now interact with many of my readers; some of whom are my real-life friends as well, and I have only received love and appreciation so far.
I guess my inhibitions were baseless. *sheepish grin*
What is your advice for aspiring writers?
Just write for yourself and write because you want to.
Who is your inspiration in the field of writing?
I can’t give one name, but there are two authors and one book I keep going back to every time I face my deadliest of writer’s blocks.
The first is any work by Sidney Sheldon. It isn’t the plots that inspire, but just his general writing style and narration techniques that seem to get my creative juices flowing again. My favorite work of his would-be ‘The Rage of Angels’. That book; is a gem.
The second is any work by Nicholas Sparks. Again, it isn’t the plot but the simplicity of the words and narration in his books that make me want to dash for my laptop and type my heart out. My favorite work of his is, ‘Safe Haven’. And yes, I love Josh Duhamel too but that movie does no justice to that masterpiece of a book!
The last book that I find very, very inspiring is lesser well known but equally amazing, ‘The Mute Anklet’ by Radhika Nathan. Even finding a copy of this book is tough, and I ended up with the novel because of a weird series of events. But I am so, so glad that that book came to me. It has had the hugest contribution to shaping my writing style.
Would you consider yourself a planner or a pantser? Or both? Is your current system working for you?
See I think I have unwittingly answered this question in some of my previous answers! I’m a very messy writer.
My current system…well, it has worked for me so far. But I guess I wouldn’t mind being structured someday! Definitely when I have some more time to spare for my writing.
What do you love the most about your writing process?
Writing is a meditation for me. I love how sitting in front of my laptop and writing makes me forget and unwind from my day; layer by layer; moment by moment and dialogue by dialogue.
I love my entire writing process, I really cannot choose!
Does music help or halt your writing process?
Do you mean music with soft melodies playing in my ears? Or music with lyrics and beats?
If it’s the former, it helps me with getting into my bubble. But with music that has lyrics? It halts my writing.
Are your characters often inspired by real people?
Often? My characters are always inspired by real people!
If you could tell your younger writing self anything, what would it be?
Don’t…stress yourself so much. And don’t compare yourself with others so much!
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