Author Kanchana Banerjee, speaks about her inspiration, inhibition and ambitions, in an interview about her latest release 'A Forgotten Affair'
She might not remember your name or your face, but your words and your mannerisms will stay with her. That's how closely she observes you, that's how close she gets to human relationships. So her first book had to be about relationships, and Kanchana's book is as riveting as it can get. Though named 'A forgotten Affair', I am sure this is one story that will be difficult to forget. Written with the intent to tug at the right strings that connect to your heart, this story just does that! Here in this interview, the author bares it all about her book, how she came upon conceptualizing it, her inspiration for the protagonist, time taken to finish the dream project and above all what should aspiring writers never feel tired of doing. Sync up with Kanchana to know more:
Sanchita: What was your inspiration or should I say the driving force that led you shape the plot of your story?
Kanchana: As a features writer for various publications, I’ve been writing for years. Relationship, women’s issues and profiles of women have been my forte and also interest. I observe people very carefully. I may forget your name, your face, what you wear but I will never forget your words or your mannerisms. So my debut novel had to be about relationships. The fact that women are minimized in their relationships is nothing new. This happens, often, in so called sophisticated and erudite families. I have seen educated women being emotionally abused by their very well qualified and uber successful men who can’t think beyond their career and growth. Having said this, I wish to add that I didn’t write this novel to make a social comment, or to prove a point. I’m a story teller and I wanted to write an interesting story that readers would like to read. And if after reading it, I’m able to touch a chord or leave a thought in their heart and mind, then my job is done.
Sanchita: When character sketching your protagonist, did you have anyone particular in mind?
Kanchana: Except the character of Rishab, which is totally out of my imagination of a despicable man; all other characters are inspired by people I know. The protagonist looks like a woman I met at a party years ago. Wild hair, fair face, big expressive eyes with a strawberry mark at the base of her neck. We
never met again, but she was so striking that I remembered her. I moved the strawberry mark to an intimate location on her body for the sake of the story. But Sagarika has a lot of Kanchana in her too. She likes her coffee bitter but gulps sugar cubes; that’s me. She doesn’t like milk heated in the microwave, she likes it boiled; that’s me again. Sagarika loses her memory to find herself finally, Kanchana wrote the book, fulfilled her long cherished dream and found herself. So yes, in many ways I’m Sagarika.
Sanchita: How long did it take you to work on the book? From conceptualizing to the last chapter?
Kanchana: I began in Jan 2014 and finished the first draft in September 2014. I got it beta-read and also gave it to three friends who are voracious readers and brilliant writers. After their feedback, along with the comments from my beta-reader I chopped off 40k words, made the story more punchy and fast paced. Two months of relentless labour. May 2015 I received the acceptance mail from HarperCollins.
Sanchita: Who is Kanchana Banerjee. Her biggest fear as a writer? How did you overcome them?
Kanchana: I’m a story teller. I enjoy stories in various forms – TV, movies and of course books. I love writing. I enjoy the process…it’s akin to playing God. It’s so much fun making characters, their lives, placing hurdles in their way, making them do what I want…I love the whole process. My biggest fear is
behind me. I used to worry what if I’m never able to make my dream come true. An unfulfilled dream is like a stubborn thorn stuck in your heart and soul. It doesn’t stop pricking and hurting. So my biggest fear was what if I’m never able to write and publish my book. Having done that, I’m not worried anymore. I’m not in the race to write 20 books. I don't enjoy the process of writing too much to make it into a dreadful regime of churning out books every three months. I will write, but it will be at my own pace.
Sanchita: When you are not reading or writing, what do you love doing?
Kanchana: I’m a movie buff and a TV addict. I’m in love with TV serials like House of Cards, Grey’s Anatomy, The Affair…and of course Friends. What brilliant story telling! Till my son left for college, we used to watch a lot of TV and films together. I’m a mom to two dogs and I love playing with them.
Sanchita: What was your first written piece that you are really in love with?
Kanchana: My first piece of writing was an essay I wrote when I was in class 6. The topic was – imagine you are a slave and are standing in a market as people are bidding for you. Unfortunately, I don’t have that piece with me anymore, but I remember getting a lot of praise from my English teacher, friends and my family. That was the first time I received a lot of accolade for writing something, and I think that’s when it began; the interest in writing. Since then I have come a very long way; writing for a plethora of publications, companies and finally my book. Every piece is special but I am also very critical of my work. I’m a Virgo so criticism comes naturally to me. I like what I write, but I’m not in love with any of it. I think I can do better, learn and grow a lot more as a writer.
Sanchita: Your word of advice to writers who want to be authors?
Kanchana: Read, read and read. And then write. More you write, better it will get. Let the words flow, even if you feel it’s garbage; just keep writing. You need to get that out of you so that the good stuff comes out. Writing isn’t easy, nothing is. It’s a long haul, almost like a marathon. There will be moments of despair, frustration and you will feel like it isn’t happening. You will want to quit. But don’t. Just stay on course and keep writing.
Sanchita: Sneak peek into your next project?
Kanchana: Sorry, but no sneak peek. I'm very superstitious about my work and don’t talk about it till it’s out. And let’s not take away the focus from Sagarika and the Forgotten Affair. My novel 2 is also on relationships; more complex, lot of characters.
Rapid fire round (first thought that comes to your mind when you hear these words)
- Vision: To keep writing interesting stories
- Memory: Childhood. Time spent with parents as a kid. Time spent with my son during his growing years.
- Subconscious: Various plots and story ideas floating in my head.
- Flowers: Daffodils, wild flowers alongside the road, valley of flowers. I want to go there.
- World: My family. Husband, son and two dogs. That’s my world.
Kanchana Banerjee's 'A Forgotten Affair' is available at: