Probal Mazumdar, author of 'Key to My Soul', speaks to Sanchita Sen

Author Probal Mazumdar


Authors put there heart and soul into their stories. And how exactly? Read on to know more about this emotional journey and much more:

But finally when Sidd learns about the sacrifice his father had made for him, by even putting his life in danger for his son, the meaning of fatherhood became clear to Sidd. That was a moment of transformation, of learning, of understanding the true nature of human bonds, of values, of family. Articulating these moments within the story got my eyes wet many a times. The emotions ran high within me and so they are very special to me.


Sanchita: As a debutante novelist, what is your take home from the reviews that you are getting for your novel? Also describe to us how exactly did you receive the first feedback of the book after it was published and with how much anticipation were you awaiting it?

Probal: The reviews so far have been quite encouraging. For a first time novelist, reviews are worth
in gold and mean a lot. At this point the appreciations for my book seem to be more than the criticism. I hope the balance does not tilt too much the other way. But the criticisms I have seen are valuable, and I wonder if there were ways to get those before the book release.

Reviews, positive and negative, are points to ponder on. When the book was first released online and in select stores, I was away from home and so had asked the publisher not to mail the author copies to me until I reached home. The first news about the book came to me from an unexpected reader who was my school junior and we had lost touch since we left school. He was one of the first buyers and received the copy of the book even before I could see how it looked. The sense of loss of not being able to feel the book in my hands was immense. I guess my friend could feel my unrest and so he emailed me a picture of my book and said the cover and design looked neat. Within a few days he had sent me an offline feedback and applauded the book. Needless to say, it was a terrific feeling.

Sanchita: Tell us more about the ‘letter from your beloved’ that got you started on this novel?

Probal: In an unusual morning, in 2008, Siddharth (Sidd), a lonely young man, receives a mysterious call from an anonymous caller, about his childhood friend, Hazel. He is told that she is hospitalized in
Jamshedpur, battling for life after a serious accident. Then the caller, urges him to come over urgently. The behest is due to the uncertainty of Hazel’s survival and due to the possession of certain old letters of Hazel the caller wants to give Sidd. Hazel was Sidd’s first love. Someone he is still unable to forget despite 17 years of separation. He ponders what her letters might hold. The letters are the crux of the story. They open up an eclipsed past buried in time that is riddled with dangerous surprises, trauma, twists of fate, sacrifices that exemplify true love and the real reasons for the tragic end of their childhood love story. The letters lead Sidd to Hazel’s past and contains the Key to her Soul.

Sanchita: When is your best time to write and how long did it take you to complete this novel?

Probal: Early mornings are the best time when the mind is free of clutter and fear. And I could manage only three days of that. The rest happened at midnight as that was the only time I managed after my regular office work.

The gap between the first chapter and the second was about 3 years. Yes, it was that long, because I had to travel abroad for work and so the writing went into hibernation. After I resumed writing, three years later, it took me about a year and a half to write it completely.

Sanchita: This novel is your baby and I am sure you love every part of it, but if you were to choose one best scene in the story, which one would that be and why?

Probal: The story revolves around relationships, father-son, mother-daughter, social issues, apart from the core love story. Fathers are often portrayed as heartless and ambitious figures. Their struggles, their silence, their sacrifices often go unnoticed or are taken for granted. But every father has a soft side and maybe even a soft core that the world does not expect them to display. And that is something that bothers me a lot. While writing the father son relationship, I wanted to highlight and bring a sense of closure, in general, on the delicate and often misunderstood relationship between a father and son.

In my novel, Sidd’s father carries weight in his chest for decades thinking that he could have been a better friend and a better father to his son. Remorse for losing his wife early, prevented him from developing a deep bond he wanted to have with his son. The grief carried him away so much that although he loved his son deeply, he could never display that side of him clearly to his son. And that made him feel guilty. But finally when Sidd learns about the sacrifice his father had made for him, by even putting his life in danger for his son, the meaning of fatherhood became clear to Sidd. That was a moment of transformation, of learning, of understanding the true nature of human bonds, of values, of family. Articulating these moments within the story got my eyes wet many a times. The emotions
ran high within me and so they are very special to me.

Sanchita: Sneak peek into your next project.

Probal: I would probably come out with a collection of my poems or my next novel, whichever is ready first.

Rapid Fire Round (The first thought that comes to mind on hearing these words)

a.      Past: Life
b.      Mayhem: my room in college
c.      Memories: childhood romance like the one in Key to My Soul.
d.      Sentiment: Don’t hurt feelings
e.      Death: Why the cycle of life and death?

About the Author

Probal Mazumdar works in an IT company. He is an NIT engineer by societal pressure, singer by accident, guitarist by love at first sound, poet by soul, writer by passion, a world class badminton player in childhood dreams, rebel by day, recluse by night, a samosa in a family of laddoos, a Jughead at the dining table, a shameless and congenital dreamer. Oh! An arsonist too – when his wife is not around, sets his own house on fire with his little son. 

He won the FIRST prize in the All India Poetry Competition, 2014, conducted by PSI (Poetry Society of India). Click on www.indianpoetry.org/awardsgeneral14.htm

His other poems have risen too from cold storage into literary journals like Indian Literature (Sahitya Akademi), Wasafiri (U.K. Vol. 67), Acumen (U.K.), OtherPoetry (U.K.), Chandrabhaga Literary Journal (Editor Jayanta Mahapatra), Dhauli Review, amongst others.

He writes short stories too. This is his first foray into writing a novel.

His book 'Key to My Soul' is available at:

Amazon.com                    Amazon.in                    Amazon.co.uk              

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