Interview: Author Arka Datta on His Debut Novel A Team of Extraordinary Bastards (Sholoana Bangaliana Exclusive)

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Arka Datta is a promising young author who has been making his presence felt in the writing circuit for quite some time. Be it winning online story competitions or getting his stories published in anthologies, the young man has done it all. Like all authors, he had the dream of writing a novel. He accomplished that dream and the novel is now on the verge of being released. Sholoana Bangaliana correspondent engaged the author in a candid chat over cups of black tea. Excerpts..

Priyanka Dutta, Sholoana Bangaliana- Your first novel, A Team of Extraordinary Bastards is on the verge of being released. How are you feeling?

Arka Datta- Scared, mostly. The writing and getting published parts are over and it’s satisfying, but now I am breathlessly waiting to see how people receive it.

How was the journey of writing the novel?

 Arka Datta- It was the best adventure ever. The experience of witnessing my words revealing a story was so surreal.

As per my knowledge, the novel was rejected by quite a few publishers. How did you feel at that moment? How did you finally get a publisher to publish your debut novel?

Arka Datta- I have been writing stories since long before even considering taking on the mammoth task that is completing a novel. So, I already had my fair share of experiences of getting rejected. As a writer, you learn to be okay with it. After all, there will always be more rejections than acceptance.

And then it just sort of happened. I was checking my emails one night and there it was: A YES from the StoryMirror.

These days, you can also self-publish a book. Did that idea ever cross you mind?

 Arka Datta- Not even once!! For me, it was either getting a traditional publishing deal or no deal at all. I am not saying that there aren’t great self publishing opportunities, but that’s not who I see myself as, that’s all.

Why did you think of the protagonist Arya as a football player? Did you want to break the stereotype revolving around cricket?

Arka Datta- I just wanted to write something different. I love cricket, in fact, more than football I would say. But, there simply aren’t enough good amounts of sports-centric fiction available in India. Also, the story isn’t essentially about football. It’s much more about human struggles and dreams.

Did you at any time feel like giving up on the novel?

Arka Datta- Never! Once the idea had decided to choose me as its medium, I never stopped.

How did you overcome the feeling of writer’s block?

Arka Datta- By letting it torture me for as long as it wanted.

From where did you get the inspiration to write this novel?

Arka Datta- Unfortunately, that will reveal a major secret about the story. Let’s just say it was a newspaper report.

Since football is an essential part, how did you go on with the research work?

Arka Datta- The internet helps, of course. Also, to my great fortune and surprise, some of the world’s most famous football clubs’ officials had replied to my emails and had shared with me information that are hard to find. Books written by famous football coaches helped to great lengths too.

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Do you follow football? If so, who is your favourite player?

Arka Datta- I do, but not as much as I used to during the period of writing the novel. The favourite one from the current lot is Messi.

The protagonist is on a fight with fate. How much do you believe in fate in your life?

Arka Datta- Profoundly. I do believe we have control over our lives but fate has its parts to play.

With so many young writers writing in English, how do you believe that your novel will fare among the readers?

Arka Datta-  I hope people like it. As I have already mentioned, the subject is not a common one. I am confident about the story being able to serve everyone’s expectations equally well.

Will this novel have a sequel?

Arka Datta- Probably not. I haven’t left any stone unturned with the idea.

What is next in line for you?

Arka Datta- I am currently working on a fictional travel journal. I don’t yet know where it’s going.

Do you want to give any message to the readers???

Arka Datta- I really, really hope that you like the story and take away from it the understanding that courage can take you everywhere. I am impatiently waiting for your feedbacks.

We wish that the young writer gets success with his debut novel. All the best Arka!!

Interview by:

Priyanka

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.

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