It is difficult to introduce Richa Gupta. An educationist, an instructional designer, an editor, a corporate trainer and now an author… Who knows what she will do next? But as of now, Richa has come up with her third novel, Slices of Life. While she penned her first one, Phoenix, under the pseudonym Arti Chugpai, her second work was Skeins. Through her novels, Richa tries and highlights problems faced by women in this country.
Saurabh Tankha caught up with the Delhi-based author for an e-mail interaction on her latest work, Slices of Life (Hesten) which consists of vignettes of life in motion that provide an immersive and entertaining experience of diverse scenarios.
The inspiration of the characters in the stories of Slices of Life comes from…
…my experience of life and my imagination. I am a keen observer of people and places; some details get embedded in my sub-conscience and emerge while I am writing. People I met years ago suddenly become vivid in my imagination if I feel they could have been in the situation I am depicting. Some characters I depict are those in my immediate environment while others are entirely fictitious. So, I draw on a mixed bag of mental sources.
And why women as the central characters in each of them?
Being a woman myself, I have faced several challenges that are peculiar to our lot, especially in a male-dominated and patriarchal society such as ours. I feel Indian women are often subjugated by their partner and his family or denigrated and denied their rights if they stand on their own. This is ironical because they are far more invested in life than men, play multiple roles and react to situations with far more passion. A woman is a protagonist in most of my stories because of her specific challenges and her high emotional and intellectual quotient.
Why the Future Love Story amid all other stories woven around life as we see them today?
Though I am embroiled in the current situation, I am fascinated by what the future will look like. I love the futuristic sci-fi of HG Wells and wanted to experiment with writing in that genre.
Do you feel books today have become expensive and have gone out of reach of the common man and it, in turn, has resulted in the reading habit going down to some extent?
Well, paperbacks and hardbound books have become expensive; but there are also e-books now that are more affordable and during book promotions, there are zero-cost books. If one has a love for reading, one can find cheaper books too. I think that the habit of reading has declined because of the multiple sources of entertainment and the growth of social media. Readers tend to have a low concentration span and give up on a book unless it is fast-paced and engrossing.
Any author who inspired you to write?
I was inspired to write not by any single author but perhaps due to the cumulative influence of all the authors I have read. I have always been fond of writing since my childhood and have been writing even while I was teaching English or working as an editor, a reviewer and an instructional designer. I wrote speeches for functions, plays for students to dramatise, the textual content of e-learning courses and review comments to enunciate principles of language and instructional design. I even conducted training workshops on technical writing. So, writing has always been a passion though I took to creative writing late in the day.
In your opinion, what is that one thing which is the most important part of a book?
The three core components of any book of fiction are plot, character and narrative style, with any one aspect being more prominent than the others in some books. However, I believe that all three are equally important; and if a book is lacking in any of these three aspects, it will not gain a large reader base.
The word “creative” to you is…
An immensely powerful word that denotes a superior and unique faculty of our species to imagine and create words, music, art, dance and other original content to express our thoughts, emotions and desires to the audience.
What does it take to be good storyteller?
You have to have the talent to write, be sensitively attuned to the world around you and keep the reader engaged in the narrative. All the technique falls flat if you are unable to connect to the reader and hold their interest. After I write a book, I read it over not as an author but as a lay reader to check where I feel my interest flagging.
Fiction or non-fiction
Favourite childhood book
Heidi by Johanna Spyri
Favourite childhood author
Favourite book now
A Gentleman in Moscow by Amor Towles
Favourite author now
I read varied authors. I loved The Book Thief by Markus Zusak and Pachinko by Min Jin Lee though I haven’t read any other book by them.
You are, at present, reading
The Testaments by Margaret Atwood