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Author Highlight: Sattam Dasgupta Discusses his New Book ‘Parting of the Strangers and Other Stories’ and Stories from his Life

We are back with another author interview. Today, with us, we have Sattam – the author of ‘Parting of the Strangers and Other Stories’. In this interview, Sattam talks about his writing aspirations, and the route to getting his book published. Stay on...while we chat with him.

What inspired you to write this book? Any tales to tell…

I love observing people. Every now and then I used to post anecdotes on Facebook based on my experiences during the three-hour-long commute to and from the workplace. It was fun and went on for a couple of years. Then a few amongst my friends and family suggested that I should try my hand at more serious writing. It sounded daunting, but I gathered enough courage to post short stories for another couple of years. It gave me confidence and also helped learn the art of writing a bit more. Soon after, a few suggested that I should write a book. Surprisingly, the idea was encouraged by a lot more people than I had expected. It was critical to my journey which was no less than a huge leap of faith. Eventually, I decided to take the plunge and ‘Parting of the Strangers …’ is the outcome. I wish I could say ‘the rest is history.

What else drives you other than writing fiction?

Ideas, especially the ones where technology is used to make our lives better. Being an engineer and an entrepreneur, there is no greater delight than building innovative solutions that solve a real-life problems.

How did you find your writing chord, or were you a born writer?

As I mentioned, I used to post short pieces in the social media. It is amazing that some of my connections saw a potential of more serious writing in those innocuous passages. So at best I am an accidental writer who fortunately stumbled into a world of discerning and supportive friends.

How do you handle the response of this book, especially from your friends and peers?

More than what is said by my friends and peers, I try to listen to what is unsaid. We all, especially friends, tend to be explicit in appreciation and implicit in criticism.  Missing out the latter would mean a loss of opportunity to improve.

What are some of your favourite novels and authors?

Being a Bengali, I have grown up with Rabindranath Tagore, Saratchandra Chattopadhay, Bibhutibhushan Bandopadhay on one hand and Charles Dickens, Earnest Hemingway, Thomas Hardy, Maxim Gorky on the other. The list is a long one. It is difficult to choose the favourite. However, ‘Wuthering Heights’ by Emily Bronte always had a special place. And of course, who can forget ‘Tale of Two Cities’ with its brilliant opening – ‘It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness…’

What was your biggest learning experience throughout the publishing process?

When I was in the chip design world, my mentor used to advice young engineers to just keep staring at the designs they had done. He knew from his experience that the more you look at the design, the more you will notice the flaws and the areas of improvement from within the maze of circuits. To my surprise, I found that the same lesson applied in writing stories. The challenge was to decide when and where to draw the line and let it go for printing.

Looking back, what did you do right that helped you break in as a writer?

It is a very difficult question to answer. At the end of it all, I think I was just lucky to have been surrounded by a very appreciative and supportive circle of friends and family.

Any best piece of writing advice from your side that we haven’t discussed? The

Being a debutant in the storytelling world, I believe it is too premature to advise on writing. I need to be here lot longer to gather my own insights and opinions.

Where do you write from? Do you go to some specific place, like beachside or into the hills?

My favourite place is my home. I rarely feel the need to go out which does not always go down well with friends and family. Being at home, perched on the dining table chair with two of our four-legged family members around, is blissful enough to write.

Something personal about you people may be surprised to know?

I made the first ever software release over a dedicated satellite link in India. That was in the late 80s. Seems like different era now.

Any future books that you would like to discuss now?

There is a lot to learn from the ‘Parting of the Strangers…’ experience. Before I decide on the next venture, the key question remains - should the next one be a novel or another collection of short stories. There is definitely a keener audience for novels today. I hope to make up my mind in the days to come.

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