Skip to main content

Author Highlight: Saugata Chakraborty Discusses his New Book ‘They Go To Sleep’ and Stories from his Life

We are back with another author interview. Today, with us, we have Saugata Chakraborty– the author of ‘They Go To Sleep’. In this interview, Saugata talks about his writing aspirations, the route to getting his book published, and his inclination towards fiction and books. Stay on...while we chat with him.

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

Lots! After ‘They Go to Sleep’ went to the press, I started penning down the real life events that inspired each of the stories. These backgrounders are now available as a Kindle book ‘The Insider Account’.

What motivates you to write?

It’s difficult to pinpoint a particular motive. Sometimes, it’s a newspaper report that nobody gave a second thought, sometimes it’s a conversation with friends or an absolute stranger. I am aware that a story idea can hit me anytime. If you find a sub plot in my stories, those are invariably something that I have experienced for myself.

How do you handle the response to this book, especially from your friends and colleagues?

It’s a humbling experience. Of course, many of my friends and colleagues knew from the past that I write, but then coming out with a whole book probably exceeded everyone’s expectations. Less than half the stories in the book were published earlier in our in-house magazine ‘Without Reserve’ and very few people within RBI actually read those, so when the stellar debut of ‘They Go to Sleep’ was announced, there were lots of surprised looks. The weirdest query was raised by one junior colleague when he asked if I had hired a ghost writer. A few of my well-meaning friends have pointed out what they believed the weaker points of the book were. I guess such balanced views helped me to absorb the unadulterated adulations that were on offer.

What kind of research did you do to pen down this collection?

‘What’s in a Name’ did not require any research as the entire text is a replication of a real life chat on messenger. ‘It was Time’, incidentally the first story written for the book also falls into this category. On the other hand, the concluding chapter of ‘Six Days, Seven Lives’ required intensive theoretical study of Bharatanatyam; ‘They Go to Sleep’ forced me to read about the narcotics scene of Goa apart from the migration of Saraswat Brahmins through the breadth of the country; ‘Blowing in the Wind’ necessitated a study of every single report, blog posting about the queer twin suicide by an uptown couple in 2012. ‘Aperture’ was a result of following photo features about the insurgency in Kashmir for at least a couple of years; ‘The Man Who Sold his Gods’ similarly involved browsing through newspaper archives, art magazines, police and private investigator group websites as also studying the video tapes available online of a few key characters in order to understand and reproduce the language they speak. It would suffice I think to say that it took me six years to write the 12 stories for the book as the background research did take a lot of time.

Can you name some of your favourite authors and novels?

My all-time favourite would be ‘The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy’ by Douglas Adams. I find Frederick Forsyth’s detailing to be impeccable. Tom Sawyer and Huck Finn along with their creator Mark Twain will remain eternal favourites. The dark humour of Roald Dahl has also impacted me. Orwell’s ‘Animal Farm’, Hemingways ‘A Fairwell to Arms’, short stories of O’Henry, Saki and now those from Jeffrey Archer enthrall me. I still have not mentioned Wodehouse and Arthur Conan Doyle. The list is virtually endless!

Do you think writing a book from the comfort of a bedroom is possible?

I guess it is possible to write a story without having any firsthand experience of its characters and circumstances. But, if someone has never set out on a journey, however trivial it is, it’s very difficult to even start writing. In order to be imaginative, one needs to have own experiences as a starting point. It is also important to get out of one’s comfort zone once in a while just to keep the desire of writing something new burning. At least it is so for me.

Do you have a favourite place to write? Such as a beach or the hills?

Hardly. I mean when I am at a beach or the hills or any other place outdoors, I get so mesmerized by nature, and the people that I forget everything about writing. So, while the elements of storytelling are gathered from outside, actual writing takes place at home.

What was your biggest learning during the publishing process?

That I need to be more patient. If I could wait for six years to write the book, it was equally important to have spent a few more months in improving upon the content with professional help. That little extra time could have been used in creating more awareness about the book.  I refused to have any and though the book was ready for the fairs in January, here we are working on few revisions in the month of April.

Any advice for budding writers?

Read more, do your research well and do not aim for any shortcut to success. There is none.

Something personal, readers don’t know about you? 

That I believe in competition and in emerging at the top of it.

Any books in the pipeline?

 I am writing a series of features about the contemporary India that I have seen and experienced in the last two decades or so for my blog. It’s called Deshmrittika (Soil of the Land) in Bengali. If these short features ever appear as a book, an English version will also be launched.  Since ‘They Go to Sleep’, three more short stories, again in three different genres, have been written. If everything goes well, you will see Inspector Sutanu Deb to be back in action as early as in June.

Connect with Saugata Chakraborty:

Twitter: @ twitsaugata


Popular posts from this blog

Poem Summary: Where The Mind Is Without Fear by Rabindranath Tagore

Poem by Rabindranath Tagore: Where the mind is without fear and the head is held high Where knowledge is free Where the world has not been broken up into fragments By narrow domestic walls Where words come out from the depth of truth Where tireless striving stretches its arms towards perfection Where the clear stream of reason has not lost its way Into the dreary desert sand of dead habit Where the mind is led forward by thee Into ever-widening thought and action Into that heaven of freedom, my Father, let my country awake. Short Summary: This poem is written by Rabindranath Tagore during pre-independence days, when India was a colony of the British. The underlying theme of the poem is absolute freedom; the poet wants the citizens of his country to be living in a free state. According to the poem, we see that the poet is expressing his views there should be a country, like where people live without any sort of fear and with pure dignity…they should

Book Review: The Blue Umbrella by Ruskin Bond

Among all Ruskin Bond books, The Blue Umbrella has, so far, gathered immense applaud from readers and critics alike.  This is a short novel, but the kind of moral lessons it teaches to us are simply overwhelming. This is a story of Binya, a poor little girl living with her mother and an elder brother, Bijju, in a small hilly village of Garhwal. One day while herding her two cows back home, she stumbles upon some city people enjoying the picnic in the valley. She is enthralled to see them well-groomed and rich. She craves to be one like them and among many other things of their, a blue frilly umbrella catches her attention. She begins craving for it. On the other hand, the city people get attracted by her innocent beauty and the pendant in her neck. The pendant consists of leopard’s claw – which is considered a mascot widely in the hills. Binya trades her pendant off with the blue umbrella. The blue umbrella is so much beautiful that soon it becomes a topic of conversation fo

Poem Summary: Ozymandias by Percy Bysshe Shelley

Ozymandias is a short poem of fourteen lines written by Percy Bysshe Shelley. The concurrent theme of the poem is that nothing remains intact and same forever in this world. Even the brightest of metal, one day decays with passage of time. The throne name of Egyptian King Ramesses is Ozymandias. It was his dearest desire to preserve himself forever by building a huge statue that he thought would never tumble down. Stanza 1: I met a traveller from an antique land Who said: Two vast and trunkless legs of stone Stand in the desert. Near them, on the sand, Half sunk, a shattered visage lies, whose frown, And wrinkled lip and sneer of cold command, Tell that its sculptor well those passions read Which yet survive, stamped on these lifeless things, The hand that mocked them, and the heart that fed; Summary: The poet narrates the poem through the eyes of a traveler who seems to have come back from a remote and far-away land, referring to Egypt. The traveler r