Author Interview: Saheli Mitra
Content developer, content strategy planner, editor, journalist, author and poet, Saheli Mitra heads her own content company Tales, Talks & Walks with business interests in India and abroad. She also conducts TTW Talk Shows with authors, poets, entrepreneurs and walking tours within the city. With two decades of experience as a working journalist with The Telegraph, one of the leading newspapers of Eastern India, Saheli has written several articles on Law, Consumer and Environment.
Being a passionate nature lover and a traveler mom, Saheli runs a Nature Group called ‘To Trees with Love’ and at leisure weave words into poetry and short stories. Author of internationally launched romantic thriller Lost Words (July 2014), that topped the Amazon USA and UK lists and found place in at least 10 well-known state libraries of USA, she is also co-author of several books including short story collections, Half Baked Love, Knitted Narratives, Meri Kahani and Dynamos Zios. Launched by Penguin her recent co-authored book ‘People Called Kolkata’ with stories on various lost communities of Kolkata was a super seller.
She is also a regular contributor to the poetic revolution across the globe, writing for international magazines like Du-kool (USA), iamnotasilentpoet (Spain), Duane's poem tree (USA), Yellow Chair Review (USA), Piker Press (USA), Taj Mahal Review, Asian Signature, Random Poem Tree (Trinidad) as well as OPA Anthology. Featured in print anthologies including ShetheShakti, Minds@work, Love and War anthology, Women Poets of the World and Cloudburst (USA).
Saheli’s latest book on Children’s Bedtime Stories named ‘The Dog That Never Was & Other Short Stories’ will be launched in August.
Ravi: What’s your favorite short story?
Saheli: Selfish Giant by Oscar Wilde
Ravi: The Best piece of writing advice?
Saheli: Always write what your heart asks you to. Never write to ‘become’ an author or for publicity
Ravi: Where do you write?
Saheli: Anywhere and everywhere! From my laptop to my mobile phone, to diaries, whichever I can lay hands on.
Ravi: Where do you get your ideas?
Saheli: From real-life interactions with humans around. I also travel extensively and pick up many stories from those destinations, interacting with locals. Since I work closely with two NGOs of Sundarbans, I get very down-to-earth story ideas from people who till the soil and struggle to live. In fact, these people of the soil are my inspiration always, and so are the dark deep secrets that upper class and upper middle-class societies of India present. Being a nature lover, I also pick up many ideas from my garden.
Ravi: Does writing energize or exhaust you?
Saheli: Writing is like a catharsis for me. I take to writing mostly when I am mentally down and cannot share with anyone, rather I share it with my own words and emotions that spill as stories and poems.
Ravi: How long on average does it take you to write a book?
Saheli: Well, that depends. I have finished a short story within a few hours, again I have taken several days to write one. It all depends on the circumstances around and time one gets to concentrate on writing.
Ravi: If you had to do something differently as a child or teenager to become a better writer as an adult, what would you do?
Saheli: I have no regrets in life. Rather I took life as it came and will always do that, reacting to situations and learning from them.
Ravi: What is your favorite childhood book?
Ravi: What are your favorite literary journals?
Saheli: Desh, Anandamela and Sandesh
Ravi: What one thing would you give up to become a better writer?
Saheli: Nothing. Rather I love embracing myself with all my positivity and negativities. Because that’s what makes me a writer. If I give up anything, I shall no longer be able to write.
Ravi: What was your hardest scene to write?
Saheli: I do not write things that I am uncomfortable writing. As I said above writing for me is a catharsis, it comes from within and just flows.
Ravi: Do you Google yourself?
Saheli: No I do not, but many do google my name and often come back saying what all they have found about me from several of my articles to books etc
Ravi: Do you hide any secrets in your books that only a few people will find?
Saheli: Oh yes! I do not hide, but I do write about secrets. The readers am sure can identify their own stories with many of them.
Ravi: Do you read your book reviews? How do you deal with bad or good ones?
Saheli: Yes I do. Everything is OK with me – good or bad. Because it's all about the perception of an individual. There are many who die to know me or read me or hold me in high esteem, again there are many who bitch about me, think I am too emotional, etc. But any creative person has to be emotional, else it never works!
Ravi: Have you read anything that made you think differently about fiction?
Saheli: Not that I can remember.
Ravi: What did you edit out of this book?
Saheli: Since I am an editor of several ghostwritten books, I keep on editing and re-editing until I am satisfied. So there is no ‘one’ thing that I edit out.
Ravi: How many hours a day do you write?
Saheli: No fixed hours, no fixed dates. As I am an entrepreneur and have a team of content writers to run, clients to attend, I write only when I am free, and that too very rarely. But poems are usually written fast and that’s what I do almost daily.
Ravi: How long were you a part-time writer before you became a full-time one?
Saheli: I am not a full-time author and never aspire to be one.
Ravi: What kind of research do you do, and how long do you spend researching before beginning a book?
Saheli: No specific comment on this as it varies as per projects.
Ravi: What’s the best way to market your books?
Saheli: Social media
Ravi: How many unpublished and half-finished books do you have?
Saheli: I have several unpublished poems that I plan to publish on the other side of COVID -19 may be.
Ravi: How did publishing your first book change your process of writing?
Saheli: Anything first is exciting. And so was Lost Words.
Ravi: If you could tell your younger writing self anything, what would it be?
Saheli: Write for the sake of writing and love the words you pen down. Do not write anything to prove a point. Just let it flow.
Ravi: What other authors are you friends with, and how do they help you become a better writer?
Saheli: I have several poets and authors as friends. No clue who I should name! But some are very close to my heart and have always been with me on my journey. Gopa Bhattacharjee, Ipsita Ganguli, Lopa Banerjee, Amrita Roy, Amit Shankar Saha, Ananya Chatterjee, Joie Bose and youngsters like Sufia Khatoon and others
Ravi: Do you try more to be original or to deliver to readers what they want?
Saheli: Completely original
Ravi: Tell me about your recent book to our Ravi Reads Blog Readers?
Saheli: Latest coming up is a collection of Children’s Short Bedtime Stories. It will be launched in August as an E-book. It's named ‘The Dog That Never Was’ and other Short Stories
Thanks to Saheli Mitra for agreeing to this interview! If you know of an author who’d like to be featured in an interview (or you are an author who would like to be featured), feel free to email me at the address on my contact page.