An Insightful Interaction with Bestselling Author Sabarna Roy
When did you first realize you wanted to be a writer?
I used to write Bengali and English poems during my university days. In fact, my first slim book of English poems, titled: Pain was published in 1986 and created a sensation in the student community of Calcutta. Thereafter, I stopped writing after I joining the Corporate Sector. Between 2002 and 2005, I had been an oral storyteller. It was in July 2007 that I realized that if I did not write I would die. It was then that I started writing seriously.
What do you think makes a good story?
There is no straight-cut formula to write a good story. Readers can see through drama, suspense, characters, events and ideas that flow through a story. What readers genuinely look for are lucidity, honesty and authenticity. A good story must build itself up on these three foundational pillars.
What was an early experience where you learned that language or writing had power?
My readings of Charles Dickens and Rabi Thakur during my adolescence years showed me that language has power.
This year, in 2020, you have published your new book ‘Etchings of the First Quarter of 2020’. Could you briefly tell us about the main storyline or background of the book?
Etchings of the First Quarter of 2020 comprises a novella and a poem cycle.
The novella, in the background is a sweetly evolving dialogue between a step-father and a step-daughter, and in the foreground it is a dissection of ideas pivoted around dualism of human life by discussing literary characters like, Lolita, Humbert Humbert, Anna Karenina, and Nikhilesh; thought-leaders like Hegel, Marx, and Heisenberg; political phenomena like, the Bolshevik Revolution; schizophrenia, love as an idea, and the secret love story of T S Eliot; and ecological phenomena like, marine conservation, and all of this is done in a unique way, almost as if we are engaged in a conversation with the author, to make the readers realize the plurality of life and accepting it to find peace and harmony in life.
The poem cycle is an anthology of 20 sharp edged poems that excite and thrill the readers as they are involved in the whirlwind of the confrontations between the poet and his alter-ego.
What is the inspiration behind ‘Etchings of the First Quarter of 2020’?
Actually, I wanted to write something for my daughter for a very long time. Secondly, duality or dualism of life, and conflict between a poet and his alter-ego are subjects, which have bothered me for a very long time. In the first three months of 2020 I wrote a novella surrounding duality and a series of poems that depicted the conflicts between a poet and his alter-ego. I wanted my daughter to get exposed to intriguing issues and widen the horizon of her mindscape. This is how the concept of Etchings of the First Quarter of 2020 occurred to me.
The relationship between a step-father and a step-daughter is very, very complex and intricate. It is for the step-father to be responsible for the relationship up to a point because he is older in age. It is for him to create an enabling foundation for the relationship to flour in the best possible manner. There will be hitches, ups and downs and various strains and pulls; it is like a boat on a thunderous ocean; it is for the step-father to guide it through. There is a saying that blood is thicker than water. Yet, if the step-father can be creative, imaginative and intuitive, a sparkling relationship can blossoms through.
How long on average does it take you to write a book? How long did you work on your current book, ‘Etchings of the First Quarter of 2020’?
Every book has a different writing time. It depends on the content and format. Etchings of the First Quarter of 2020 took me three months to complete: January, February and March of 2020.
What was your hardest scene to write in ‘Etchings of the First Quarter of 2020’ and why?
The hardest chapter in Etchings of the First Quarter of 2020 was on schizophrenia since it was very technical in nature.
What is the most difficult part of your artistic process?
The synthesis of differing, varying and conflicting ideas is the most difficult part of my artistic process.
Many writers face writer’s block or feel uninspired at times. How would you get your creativity flowing in such a situation?
Fortunately, since 2007 I have never felt the writer’s block or have felt uninspired. As such, I will not be able to answer this question truthfully.
Has the pandemic been more of a panic situation or an inspiring time for you? Have you worked on any new material during the pandemic which we will see soon?
I am a Senior Engineering Professional employed in a large engineering-manufacturing Company and an Author of Literary and Technical Books and peer-reviewed Technical Papers that are published in National and International Journals of repute.
After the National Lockdown, which started on March 24 and carried on until May 31 our production facilities were closed down and we incurred huge financial losses. Thankfully, we did not retrench a single soul during this time but were forced to implementing pay-cuts to keep our cash-flow afloat, with the higher salaried white collared staff taking the highest hit. Now that we have reached 90% of Plant efficiency, we have withdrawn the pay-cuts as well. As a traditionally published Author the first thing that hit me was: My sixth book Etchings of the First Quarter of 2020, which was published on June 26 came out on Amazon Kindle and could not be published in hard-bound format as was planned earlier since the printers were not working in Mumbai at that point in time.
As such, the book could not have a proper physical all-India launch. My publisher and I had planned this book as a slim and an elegant hard-bound book, which has not seen the light of the day till today. However, I believe the hard-bound paperback version will come out in October as the situation is improving day-by-day.
However, the pre-publication and post-publication reviews were planned intelligently and as such, the sales on Amazon Kindle have been phenomenal on a sustained basis. I have been busy during the continuing pandemic with various Webinars in the capacity of a Senior Engineering Professional in some and in the others as a Literary Author. I also planned and structured my next book on the Pandemic during this time and wrote and published 4 Technical Papers on the Irrigation sector in India, Specialized linings/coatings that are anti-corrosive and anti-abrasive, and Desalination Plants in India.
In the end, I must say Pandemic has been a learning in tackling despair, hopelessness, remoteness and boredom. However, human beings with their implicit imagination, intuition and adaptiveness carry on learning from one-moment-to-the-other.
I believe in threat being an opportunity. For Authors the Pandemic has unleashed before us a plethora of topics and ideas on which we can write and explore new avenues.
Currently I am writing a book on the Pandemic, which I wish to publish in 2021.
What behind-the-scenes tidbit in your life would probably surprise your readers the most?
I have a working space where I do my work as an author with a dedicated library. There is also a separate working space where I work as a Senior Engineering Professional. Through the day and night, I shuttle between the working spaces; sometimes I am performing my role as a Senior Engineering Professional and sometimes I am writing my books.
If you could spend a day with a writer who has inspired you, who would it be and why?
It would have to be Albert Camus, the Franco-Algerian Philosopher-Author, who won the Nobel Prize at the age of 44 in 1957. I have read all his works and I feel he is the Prophet of post-modern philosophical writing. A period that was yet to take birth during the period he lived.
Do you hear from your readers much? What kinds of things do they say?
Of course, I get regular feedback from my readers through e-mails. Sometimes there are brickbats and sometimes there are praises. The process is alarmingly enlightening.
What advice would you give aspiring writers from Goa who want to take a career in writing forward?
If a Goan was interested in buying your new book, where would they find it and why would you recommend it to them?
On Amazon and all other eBay sites that transact in books: Any interested Goan would be able to get my books.
What are your hopes and dreams for the future?
The dialogue that motivates me the most is from Inception by Christopher Nolan. It is: “What is the most resilient parasite? Bacteria? A virus? An intestinal worm? An idea. Resilient… highly contagious. Once an idea has taken hold of the brain it’s almost impossible to eradicate. An idea that is fully formed-fully understood-that sticks.”
So, ideas and dreams keep me going.
I hope ideas and dreams will keep me going in the future, as well and the world will be a more ecologically balanced and socially harmonious place to live in, although deep in my heart I believe that will not happen.
Anything else you would like to share with our readers about yourself and your latest book?
Presently, I am writing my 7th book on the human story, as I see it, during the Pandemic. I hope this book will be published after autumn is over in 2021.
About Sabarna Roy
Sabarna Roy is a trained Civil Engineer and passed out with a First Class Honours Civil Engineering Degree from Jadavpur University in 1988. He is presently working as Senior Vice President and is in the 25th year of his employment with Electrosteel Group.
Sabarna Roy is engaged in giving leadership to Business Development, Applications Technology and certain key Strategies in the Electrosteel Group.
He has a technical book, titled: Articles on Ductile Iron Pipelines and Framework Agreement Contracting Methodology published by Scholars’ Press in European Union with two of his Co-authors, which have been translated into 8 major European languages.
He has been visiting national and international conferences to talk on various matters concerning ecology and environment. He is a firm believer in Paris Climate Accord and believes in lowering the Carbon Footprint in the industry to reverse the climate change effects on the planet.
He is an active participant in the multifarious activities of International Commission on Irrigation and Drainage, Confederation of Indian Industries, Central Board of Irrigation and Power, and Indian Geographical Committee of International Water Resources Association.
Sabarna Roy is an author of critically acclaimed bestselling literary fiction of six published books. They are: Pentacles; Frosted Glass; Abyss; Winter Poems; Random Subterranean Mosaic: 2012 – 2018, and Etchings of the First Quarter of 2020.
He is a Goodreads author with present rating of 4.05 with reviews and ratings in excess of 1,500 and on Amazon, he is rated between 4 and 5 with reviews and ratings in excess of 1,250.
He has been covered by all prestigious national and international media including The New York Guardian, Nigeria Tribune, Kathmandu Tribune, Financial Nigeria and The Guardian Post, and he is on Wikipedia (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sabarna_Roy).
He was an invited speaker on the opening day at the Noida International Literary Festival 2019 and a panelist at the Tata Steel Literary Meet on the opening day at a session, which discussed the Dark Side of the Mind.
He has been awarded the Literoma Laureate Award in 2019, Literoma Star Achiever Award 2020, Random Subterranean Mosaic: 2012 – 2018 won the best book of the year 2019, the A List Award for excellence in fiction by the NewsX Media House, Certificate for The Real Super Heroes for spreading a spirit of positivity and hope during the COVID-19 Pandemic from Forever Star India Award 2020, and the Certificate for Participation in the Indo Russian Friendship Celebration 2020.