(Sreejib is Koel Ganguli's pseudonym. She is the author of Aqson Level I. Find my review of the book here.)
When did you first realize you wanted to be a writer?
Not very long ago. I was well, truly and unhappily settled as a content writer. :)
I started writing Aqson in 2013, wrote the first two chapters ans stopped. I had no intention of publishing it. It was just a story that was itching to come out. In fact, I never thought I could be a published author. All I liked to do was tell stories. More than a writer, I wanted to be a story teller.
Writer has restriction of finesse. A story teller on the other hand has the liberty of indulgence. Easily the latter was my choice. Everyone who is close to me has suffered through my storytelling sessions, especially my brother.
However, my husband was sure that I would make a good writer and he wanted me to be one. I restarted writing Aqson in 2015 with the intention of publishing it.
What was the inspiration behind 'Aqson Level I'?
Too many inspirations Uma! You have read the book so you know what I mean.
Well, there are many books that left a deep impression on me, like 'Paradise lost', 'Mahabharata', 'Manojder Adbhut Bari', 'Ramayana', 'Divine Comedy', then the movies and songs I grew up watching and listening to, mythological characters, my city, current political situations and my peculiar proneness of personifying inanimate objects. That's to name a few!
Are any of the characters in your novel based on yourself or people you know?
Almost all the main characters are based on popular mythological figures and objects. In fact, in Aqson they are how I perceive them to be; my interpretation of them.
But there is one character that is exactly how I know someone, my mother. Toya's mother's character is a close copy of my mother.
How important do you think setting is to a story?
Extremely important; at least I feel that way. How can you define a character in vaccum? Or expect the reader to gauge where you have set a aparticular plot? Or how that place looks? Feels? Smells? What time it is? Which day? All these are crucial knots in any story... without setting, a narration could be loose.
Is there a message in your novel that you hope readers will grasp?
I truly hope so! :)
What was your favourite book growing up, and do you think it helped shape who you are now?
Arms and the Man by Shaw. Yes, it very much did.
What are your hobbies? (Besides reading and writing)
Wow, now that you asked me I realize that I do not have any interesting hobbies. I love watching Ray's films, films based on Shirshendu, Mukhopadhyay's novels and Netflix, especially their original productions. Did you watch Stranger thing? It's fantastic! I also like to watch videos on carpentry, DIYs and apartment tours.
I love to swim (though I look nothing like a swimmer), I hate cooking but like to make different types of milkshakes (some of which turn out to me dairy disasters). Oh! I also like to make potpourri.
Who is/are your idols as an author?
Since I never planned to be an author, I do not have any idol. Might also be because the authors I like to read are so great that I can't even idolize them!
I love Satyajit Ray for his ability to narrate a story with utter simplicity, Shirshendu Mokhopadhyay for his quirky characters, Bernard Shaw for his challenging insight, Pablo Neruda because I like love poems, Devdutt Pattanaik for his subject knowledge, Enid Blyton because she gave us Noddy, Tagore because well, tagore... I could go on and on, so I should stop.
What is one thing about you that would surprise others?
Everyone has varying threshold of amazement, so it is very difficult to predict. :) But I could tell you what about me surprises me. I am surprised that I wrote this book when I wrote it. I am surprised that I did not stop midway and give up. There were so many occasions when I wanted to give up and not just on the book. It was my brother who constantly kept me on track. Not sure about others but if we keep at it, we can surprise ourselves.
What can we expect from you next? Are you working on a sequel? Any Expected publications?
Yes, I am working on a sequel. This book was about level 1 of the game and now I am writing level 2 of Aqson.
There are no publication dates in sight because I am divided in my work and that has slowed down the writing process. Marketing and promotion of Aqson Level I is taking up a lot of head space. But again, I will keep at it.