‘With my writer's hat, I get to live many lives’: Author Koral Dasgupta
Labelled as a fairy tale for adults with a comic take on modern families, their ideas, beliefs and prejudices, Summer Holidays by author Koral Dasgupta explores the relationship shared between cousins. In an interview with Indulge, the Bombay-based author talks about belonging to the imaginary world, the inspiration behind Summer Holidays and the theme of her next book. Excerpts:
Q: All the books that have been written by you so far are very different from each other. What intrigues you to explore an idea into a book?
Koral Dasgupta: All my books are connected by the fact that they are relationship dramas centred around the world of artists. My first book (Power of a Common Man Connecting with Consumers the SRK Way) was non-fiction but used a megastar as a case study. The second book (Fall Winter Collections) was about a sculptor in Santiniketan and the third (Rasia: The Dance of Desire) was a love triangle between Bharatanatyam dancers. Summer Holidays is about a graphic artist and photographer. With my writer's hat, I get to live many lives... the imaginary world is where I belong, far more than the real world. That prompts me to write and restore them.
Q: Do you draw inspiration from your personal life? Tell us about your inspiration for writing the Summer Holidays.
KD: Personal life inspires me immensely, though not very directly. Your stories come from the person that you are. My stories show beautiful lives and beautiful characters. Personally, I have very deep faith in that beauty.
Summer Holidays is about a crazy family. It's a comedy, which comes to me naturally. People who know me would tell you that I am an ace humourist. If you look around and observe closely, you would figure how funny and weird we all are. Summer Holidays is a permutation combination of such weirdos trying to fit somewhere, all of them desperate to prove how smart they are and failing miserably. Doesn't this sound too familiar?
Q: The premise is very interesting. What made you explore the relationship that cousins share?
KD: I have grown up amid a huge family with lots of cousins. Whenever we are together, we are laughing away like lunatics. The same is the case with my parents and their cousins. And, I can count a hundred such situations when cousins bailed us out from sticky situations, supported us when we were at our worst. Those memories, and the fact that I miss my cousins so much now that we are geographically apart, perhaps resonates in Summer Holidays. There are no real-life references but there are lots of real-life observations.
Q: How difficult is writing fiction since there is no exact route between point A to B?
KD: I did have a chapter plan with my non-fiction book. But for fiction, I never have any plan. In fact, I can't, I am challenged there. I have no idea what will come out next until I am on the laptop. That is when the story writes itself. Every time I have tried to plan, it felt complete trash and I had to discard. Having said that, writing takes immense research. At times, I have had to leave manuscripts incomplete and returned to them after sufficient research and even had to make fundamental changes after figuring out what applies better. Every book takes away a part of the writer and leaves her exhausted, though wonderfully fulfilled.
Q: Are you somebody who follows a routine and writes every day or does it depend on your mood?
KD: Usually I write during early mornings. I get up at 4.30am. That is the time when no one needs me. Either I write, or read something to prepare for writing.
Q: Tell us about your startup, Tell Me Your Story. What made you start it and how has been the journey so far? And, does running this initiative help in your personal writing in any manner?
KD: A million stories disappear because they aren't documented. Each life is a rich reservoir of stories. If you are conscious about those, you wouldn't need to look outside for motivation. Tell Me Your Story was set up by three founders, to help people capture the stories that are born in their minds or lives. We are into a great journey and we all bond as a community. Our authors have a strong relationship with each other and also with us. Slowly we have created our client base and we are pushing ourselves into the commercial space, one step at a time. With every client, a part of the community makes money. That's important for us.
This initiative allows me to remain in touch with many heads, virtually. I constantly learn from them. It is immensely inspiring. I would like to believe that it makes me a better person which reflects in my personal writing.
Q: Lastly, what’s next?
KD: Ghost Stories from Bengal.