Recreating new worlds of fantasy

 Recreating new worlds of fantasy

Saurabh Tankha


Author SUTAPA BASU credits her parents – Army officer father and homemaker mother – to have inculcated the habit of writing in her. Surprisingly, the English Literature graduate from Santiniketan and holder of two post-graduate degrees, in English literature and education, feels her younger brother, an advertising professional, and sister, part of senior management of an international travel corporate, are much better writers.
The award-winning author-poet recently introduced, The Cursed Inheritance (Readomania; Rs 250), a heady mix of mystery and the paranormal, a treasure hunt, and an amateur detective at work, to her readers.
Excerpts of an interview with the author of well-known works: Padmavati, The Queen Tells Her Own Story (2017), The Legend of Genghis Khan (2018), The Curse of Nader Shah (2019), Out Of The Blue, Stories with a Twist and The Anatomy of Affection, Tales That Touch You (2020).

When did you think about writing The Cursed Inheritance?
It has been some time that I have been thinking of writing a cozy mystery. I have always loved reading mysteries by Agatha Christie, Satyajit Ray and even Tagore. I have dreamed of writing similar stories, too.
The main protagonist of The Cursed Inheritance, the heritage mansion, has been growing gradually in my imagination for a long time. In fact, ever since I saw the grand zamindari mansions and havelis that dot the lanes of North Kolkata, I have tried to imagine all the tales that they would tell me if they could. Therefore, weaving this tale around my fantasy mansion was an obvious outcome.




Is The Cursed Inheritance inspired from someone around you?
As I mentioned, the first inspiration were the heritage mansions of North Kolkata and also the family history of the generations who have lived in them for centuries. I have read many stories of Satyajit Ray, Tagore and other Bengali writers about the interesting history of families who lived in these mansions. Do you remember the film Sahib, Bibi Aur Ghulam? It is based on the 1953 Bengali novel, Saheb Bibi Golam by Bimal Mitra, and is a look into the tragic fall of the haveli-dom and feudalism in Bengal during the British Raj. That was a great inspiration. By the way, Bimal Mitra belonged to my uncle’s extended family.

What made you switch genres – from historical fiction and anthologies to a story based on mystery, paranormal and treasure hunt?
As a reader, I have been fond of reading thrillers and mysteries as much as historical fiction. It was just natural of me to veer towards my two favourite genres when I began to write. I have already written three historical novels, so trying my hand at a cozy mystery was just logical. My debut novel is a psychological thriller. One of my anthologies, Out Of The Blue, is a collection of thrillers and stories with twists. But writing a cozy mystery needed more thought because the genre has certain parameters to which I have adhered. Most significantly, a cozy mystery tale needs to evoke an old-world charm. I have kept that in mind when writing The Cursed Inheritance.

You are an author, a poet and a publishing professional. Which of these roles do you like the best and why?
Each role is a part of who I am. Each role gives a platform to my voice.
As an author and a poet, I speak through my words and recreate new worlds of fantasy for my readers. My historical fiction brings history and historical figures alive to my readers. My thrillers and mysteries bring intrigue to my readers. My anthologies are short, suspenseful, enjoyable reads. My poetry evokes images, thoughts and ideas for its readers.
As a publishing professional, I design educational materials that is used by students in schools. Through my educational content, I am able to imbibe life skills, integrate values, impart knowledge and help young students grow into responsible, mature and sensitive adults.
So each role is important to me for each one gives me opportunities to bring some change into the world.

Given a chance, would you prefer writing historical fiction and anthologies or has the mystery and paranormal bug bitten you?
I would write all these genres simultaneously. Not only these, I want to foray into other genres too. Writing a variety of different genres, each with its parameters and requirements, will make me grow as a writer. I like to constantly challenge myself. Each time, I begin a book, I want to do something new and different from what I have done before. I want to hone and enhance my skills. Each time I try out a new technique, I learn so much more.




What if your creative work doesn’t get good reviews?
My honest confession is I seek honest opinions. Negative reviews are of two kinds. One is the type which is written only for negativism without any reference to exactly what the reviewer did not like. Most of these reviews instantly reveal that either the reviewer has not read the book or did not understand the story. These reviews, I ignore. What I look for are reviews that tell me exactly what is it that reviewer felt was wrong with the story. Even better are those which tell me how and why the negative features could be corrected or improved. In my opinion, these are gems. They help me improve my skills as a writer for constructive criticism is creative.

What are you doing when you are not writing?
I am thinking about the story I am in the process of developing. The plot, characters, dialogues keep revolving in my mind even when I am asleep. The truth is since 2015 to the present day, I have been continuously developing and writing books, so there is always a book in progress with me. Other than this full-time occupation, I love spending time with my grandchildren, planning my tiny garden, watching excellent serials and TV films and of course, reading.

What’s up next for Sutapa Basu?
Writing, writing, writing. Diverging into different genres and a wide variety of writing.


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