Interview with Avishek Gupta, The author of Visions of a Summer Past
Avishek Gupta hails from Kolkata and currently works in a senior position in a software organization in Hyderabad. Avishek has written seven books so far, the most recent of which is “Visions of a Summer Past”, published by Locksley Hall Publishing and represented by The Book Bakers.
Ravi: What’s your favorite short story?
Avishek: The Last Leaf by O. Henry.
Ravi: The Best piece of writing advice?
Avishek: Be a good reader and write what you believe in.
Ravi: Where do you write?
Avishek: I write using Microsoft Word and save my drafts in Google drive. It gives me the flexibility to write anywhere, using either my laptop or my smartphone.
Ravi: Where do you get your ideas?
Avishek: I get many of my ideas in my dreams. I also draw inspiration from the world around me, the books I read and the movies I watch.
Ravi: Does writing energize or exhaust you?
Avishek: Writing makes me happy. Even it gets physically tiring sometimes, the mental satisfaction compensates for the same.
Ravi: How long on average does it take you to write a book?
Avishek: Since I have to balance writing in between a day job and parenting, it takes me almost a year or two to complete a full-fledged novel. Short story collections are easier to finish faster.
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?
Avishek: I would have read more classics and contemporary English literature, across genres that I never read much, such as science fiction and paranormal.
Ravi: What is your favorite childhood book?
Avishek: I was a voracious reader of Bengali books to be honest and picked up reading English books only in my teens. But if I have to choose one book, it would be "Treasure Island" by R. L. Stevenson.
Ravi: What was your hardest scene to write?
Avishek: The death scene one of my protagonist Prafulla Chandra Sen in my novel “Visions of a Summer Past” was hard for me to write and made me emotional.
Ravi: Do you Google yourself?
Avishek: No, but I do Google my book titles.
Ravi: Do you hide any secrets in your books that only a few people will find?
Avishek: Many of my stories are multi-layered and open to various interpretations. A recent example is my short story “Mr. Chatterjee’s Noisy Neighbors”. Most readers interpreted it as a supernatural tale, but it could also be read as a psychological thriller.
Ravi: Do you read your book reviews? How do you deal with bad or good ones?
Avishek: I go through each and every review of my books. New reviews do get me excited. While some reviews are heartwarming and encouraging, there are ones with constructive criticism too. I try to learn from both good and bad reviews and improve my writing.
Ravi: Have you read anything that made you think differently about fiction?
Avishek: I am exploring reading more genres in recent times. My favorite genres have always been romance, thriller and magic realism. But now I am trying to read more of other genres, such as historical fiction, horror, and chic lit.
Ravi: What did you edit out of this book?
Avishek: My books have several drafts and I do edit a lot. Coming to “Visions of a Summer Past”, I edited out some descriptions of Manhattan in a chapter, which I felt hindered the flow of the story. I wanted to make the text entertaining and engaging for the reader.
Ravi: What kind of research do you do, and how long do you spend researching before beginning a book?
Avishek: My novel had two distinct timelines, one of which was set in the 1940s. I researched a lot about the life and times of that time period; from dressing styles to social customs to modes of transportation to the socio-political scenario, I did an extensive research about it all.
Ravi: What’s the best way to market your books?
Avishek: Social media promotion does play a big role these days and getting featured on prominent newspapers and magazines do help. But what matters the most is to maintain a strong and growing readership, which can help boost the organic sales for your books.
Ravi: How many unpublished and half-finished books do you have?
Avishek: My first Bengali novel is currently half-finished. It would be a coming of age sleuth story where my protagonist solves the first three important cases of his life.
Coming to my next English books, I have the plans to write a murder mystery and a non-fiction on Hindu spiritualism.
Ravi: How did publishing your first book change your process of writing?
Avishek: My first book “15/1 Story Avenue” gave me readership and followers. Until I got published I wrote only for myself, but since then I try to get into the mind of the reader and make my stories more entertaining.
Ravi: If you could tell your younger writing self-anything, what would it be?
Avishek: Read more and write every day!
Ravi: What other authors are you friends with, and how do they help you become a better writer?
Avishek: I have some great author friends and I cannot name just a few. They inspire and encourage me to be a better writer each day. They have also helped promote my books and I am eternally indebted to them.
All this has been possible largely due to my association with The Book Bakers agency led by Suhail Mathur, who has been a consistent source of positivity in my writing journey.
Ravi: Do you try more to be original or to deliver to readers what they want?
Avishek: All my stories are unique and are born out of my own conscience. But yes, I try to tell the stories in a manner that enthralls the audience.
Ravi: What advice do you have for writers?
Avishek: Often we have a great story idea, but we lose it because we are not able to write it down immediately. So, it’s important to write every day. Also, there’s no alternative to reading and one must be a good reader first to be a good writer.
Ravi: Tell me about your recent book to our Ravi Reads Blog Readers?
Avishek: “Visions of a Summer Past” is a magic realism story spread across 70 years, starting from the 1940s pre-independence India.
In 1946, Prafulla Sen, a lawyer of Dhaka High Court, meets Asmani Bibi, a magical woman, who bestows a special power upon him. It changes Prafulla’s life forever and he is smitten by this intriguing lady. Soon, however, the partition of India compels him to shift to Kolkata. He never saw Asmani again. In 2016, the USA, Rohit meets Celeste, a stranger who seems to know all about him. Intrigued, Rohit delves deeper, and the striking revelation blows his mind. Soon, they are in love; but work commitments compel Rohit to return to India. He starts getting visions of his past life and maintains a long-distance relationship with Celeste, until she goes missing one day. Will Rohit be able to find her back? Why is he getting those visions? How is their story intertwined with Prafulla and Asmani? To know all this and much more, read this magical tale of estranged soulmates.
Thanks to Avishek 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.