Manaswita Ghosh is a journalist working in the digital media and a passionate writer. The writing bug bit her early and reading Harry Potter ignited her desires to become a writer. Sholoana Bangaliana correspondent engaged the young writer in a candid conversation. Excerpts..
Priyanka Dutta, Sholoana Bangaliana- When did you first think of becoming a writer?
Manaswita Ghosh- I started to write when I was eleven, but it wasn’t until I started reading Harry Potter that I aspired to be a writer. Rowling’s story inspired me to do something more than what I was doing with my life, and I realized that writing was my calling.
What kind of support have you received from the family when they learnt that you want to pursue writing?
Manaswita Ghosh- My family has always been extremely supportive about my choices. It never mattered to my parents when I didn’t top my class or scored straight as they were happy with the fact that I took great pleasure in reading books and spent my time writing. They kept telling me to go on when I felt dejected, and it is because of them that I finally managed to complete Solitude Revisited and even moved on to the next.
After the book Love Stories That Touched My Heart, (in which your short story A Pair of Shoes was published), how has life changed for you?
Manswita Ghosh- It changed for good, if anything it made me more ambitious. After being published by Penguin and receiving mails from readers who loved what I had written, I was inspired to dream more. The projects that I had begun but never completed found their way back to my desk and I started to take them seriously.
Tell us something about Solitude Revisited?
Manaswita Ghosh- Solitude Revisited is a collection of short stories. Most of the stories are about real people and incidents. I wanted to write about daily life and the kind of issues people face so it may help someone, somewhere.
While writing the book, have you faced any writer’s block? How did you overcome that?
Manaswita Ghosh- I don’t write for a few days, I just relax and watch a new TV show or read a few good books. In no time, I feel it off me and I am back at my laptop.
Both of your published works are short stories. Do you love writing short stories?
Manaswita Ghosh- Yes, I am in love with short stories. Most of the stories I have come across had a great plot to make their way into a short story, so that’s what I have written so far. I am lucky to have found something bigger than that for my novel, so the next thing I write won’t be a collection of short stories.
Did you face any trouble while searching for a publisher?
Manaswita Ghosh- I am glad you asked that question. There are so many companies in India that have propped up like mushrooms in the last few years, claiming they are capable of giving you a great head start.
My poetry collection was signed up by two so called publishing houses but it was never published. It’s all edited and set, but still hidden somewhere underneath a bunch of files on my desk, and the publishing houses vanished into thin air. It has been four years and my poetry collection is still a manuscript and not a book.
I would advise new writers to be extremely careful about who they send their manuscript to, see what they offer, whether the publisher is indeed genuine or not. Because the longer publishing houses like these hold off your manuscript under the pretext of publishing it, the longer you wait to have your work published.
I would call myself extremely lucky to have found StoryMirror. They took the manuscript in and published it in a matter of six months.
With so many Indian authors coming up, how competitive do you feel the writing scenario has become?
Manaswita Ghosh- It is a competitive world out there. With self publishing and Amazon Kindle, almost everyone who can write is publishing a book and suddenly, being a writer is no longer special or needs any effort. But thankfully, writing a great story takes some effort, and so while there are hundreds of writers launched every year, very few make their way to a reader’s heart. And so, I want to focus on writing better than how I wrote Solitude Revisited. There’s time and a lot to learn, competition is fierce but the will to make it into a reader’s heart is fiercer than anything else.
Do you have any plans of writing in Bengali?
Manaswita Ghosh– I am not at ease with Bengali the way I am with English. Writing in a language without knowing the intricacies of it would be disrespecting it. So I wouldn’t attempt to write in Bengali before I know the language inside out.
What is next in store for you as an author?
Manaswita Ghosh- I am working on a novel. I have spent too much time researching, so I think it’s time to dive in and complete the project. It is fiction, and set in Calcutta during the British Raj.
Who are your favourite authors?
Manaswita Ghosh- Stoker, Rowling, Martin, Rumi, Tagore, Arundhati Roy, Salman Rushdie, Kiran Desai, Tolkein, Dickens, Austen, Bronte sisters, Shaw, Hans Christian Anderson, … there are too many.
What kind of books do you love to read?
Manaswita Ghosh- I love fantasy, horror, historical fiction, nonfiction, fiction, poetry… everything I can lay my hands on.
What are your hobbies?
Manaswita Ghosh- I used to paint once. Now I mostly read books when I have the time.
Do you think that reading books has declined now?
Manaswita Ghosh- No, I don’t think so. If anything, people read more because they are in dire need of some inspiring stories. These are hard times and we need to keep our heads clear amongst the chaos, find music in the noise. Nothing can soothe your soul more than a good story. People are turning to fantasy because it has become increasingly difficult to face reality.
Do you like reading books online or do you prefer to have a book in your hand?
Manaswita Ghosh- I am an old soul. I still prefer paper over kindle.
Indian mythology is very much in vogue among the Indian authors. Do you have plans of writing a book on any mythological character?
Manaswita Ghosh- As a reader, I have read Indian, Greek, and Norse mythology, but I don’t find myself engrossed in them to an extent of writing a book on a mythological character.
What kind of expectations do you have from the book?
Manaswita Ghosh- This is my first book. If anything, I want to be recognized as an individual with a voice. I understand there’s a long way to go and the journey won’t be easy. It’s going to take more than one book to establish my voice and the kind of writer I want to be.
We sincerely hope that Manaswita’s writing reverberates in the minds of the readers and hope she continues to write stories to inspire her readers!!
Priyanka Dutta takes a keen interest in lifestyle and entertainment related news. She also enjoys interviewing celebrities and other renowned personalities. Priyanka holds a post graduate degree in English and Mass Communication. Journalism is her passion and she has reported for many a reputed international web portals.