Kiran Bhat is an Indian-American polygot and the author of We Of The Forsaken World. We are incredibly delighted for him to be our first author in the new series, “On Writing“, where authors speak to other authors about all things words and stories. In this candid chat about writing, Bhat speaks to Neelam Saxena Chandra, poet and author, who has most recently written the short-story colleciton, Lines of Fate.
Kiran Bhat: How did you start becoming a writer? Why did you choose to write, over the many other things you could have done?
Neelam Saxena: I am an Engineer by profession and am doing quite well. I started writing as a passion. However, what I wrote was liked by readers and this feedback, along with numerous awards that I received, made me follow it up further. I don’t write as a compulsion or with deadlines. I write when I feel like and on the themes that interest me, which gives me complete feedback on the topics I choose, the genre I decide to write in as well as the language. I write as per time available and my mood.
Kiran Bhat: Where did the inspiration to write Lines of Fate come from?
Neelam Saxena: The seeds of Lines of Fate were sown in my mind by the title, which I found very interesting, which just flashed in my mind one day. I later weaved interesting stories, with a lot of twists and turns, around the title. It was under number 10 in bestsellers list on Amazon in short story category and this one simple feedback which makes me feel good.
Kiran Bhat: You write both poetry and stories, and quite prolifically so, publishing multiple collections in the course of a year. Where do you get your inspiration to say so much? How do you structure your day so that you can write more?
Neelam Saxena: I am a very emotional person and the fragility of emotions remains inside me till it flows like a stream in the form of a story or poetry. Life, with its ups and downs, continues to inspire me, and I keep writing to motivate my readers.
Paucity of time is what I face I do face in view of my hectic work schedule, so I really can’t structure my day and I write as and when I get time. My biggest time saviour is my lack of desire to watch television, which leaves me with a few hours for myself and my creativity.
Kiran Bhat: If you had to condense your vision as a storyteller to one point, what would it be, and why?
Neelam Saxena: Life has much to offer. There is always a path on which the flowers bloom. Search for that path and happiness will become a way of your life.
Kiran Bhat: Do you aim to speak for women in North India? Do you feel that your stories are a means to address a lot of the sexism that people in India are still working to change, or confront?
Neelam Saxena: Women experience sexism not only in North India, but elsewhere in our country too. It exists, in various proportions, in different parts of the world also. Yes, as a woman who could shine despite facing all these issues, I do love to write on feminism. I have weaved several poems and stories around the topic. I either depict women as persons who suffer a lot, but find their path, or my stories have protagonists who are strong women. I am sure that it does motivate women to find strength and men to treat them in a dignified manner.
Kiran Bhat: How do you wish that you as a storyteller could change India? Do you see change coming? If not, how could it come faster? And how can writing help move us forward?
Neelam Saxena: It’s always said that writers can foresee much ahead, be it any issue and hence they are big influencers in any part of the world. In the same manner, I too feel that I am able to make a little difference and contribute to the cause.
Yes, I can see change coming. The way women were perceived in my mother’s generation certainly went through a change in my generation. And in my daughter’s generation, it has changed further. I only find that the pace is a bit slow and hope that it could increase somehow.
It was by reading autobiographies and biographies of famous women that I could think about my future and where I wanted to be. I dreamt to be a successful woman someday, not depending upon anyone else for my happiness and that’s where I stand today. In the same manner, when I write inspiring stories, I hope that it will change a few people at least.