While I’ve been all gung-ho about my recently released book ‘Bad Romance’, there was another project that was awaiting to be talked about. And that happened to be Crumpled Voices. Technically, I am not a part of this book but it comes under the banner of Gargi Publishers and with the theme of social issues. Hence, instant liking for the same was pretty much obvious. The anthology that has some wonderful writers to its name has been edited by the highly talented and special friend, Ila Garg.
My relation with Ila dates back to my blogging days. I’d first connected with her during the Jaipur Literature Festival which she had covered diligently. Also, she was among the first few supporters and reviewers of my book. I take extreme pleasure in presenting before you a conversation I had with the amazing writer last Sunday. Here’s to Ila.
How does it feel to be a part of ‘Crumpled Voices’?
I feel great to be a part of this anthology. I have contributed in several other books before this, but somehow this one truly remains special and close to my heart. I have two reasons for this – one, its name ‘Crumpled Voices’ comes from my own blog and two, it is an anthology based on social issues; something which I believe is different from the league.
You’ve risen to such a stature in a short span of time. We see you being associated with a number of great projects. How do you manage it all along with your studies?
*sighs* Ah! I must tell you it has been a tough ride indeed, but it was worth it. I am living in a dream! From ‘Life and Promises’ to ‘Cheer Up!’ and from anthologies like ‘A Night in Paradise’, ‘You, Me N Zindagi’, ‘Minds At Work 2’, ‘Moonlit Matinee’ to ‘Crumpled Voices’; I have evolved. I feel my writings have matured over time, though there’s always a scope for improvement. I believe, anthologies help you in a big way as you get an opportunity to interact with a whole team of writers. You learn from them as you interact and share ideas with them; even a small gossip can give you ‘n’ number of varied perceptions which might later help you to develop characters in your book. And if nothing else, you get varied spices and flavors on one platter! *laughs*
How has your experience been as the editor of ‘Crumpled Voices’? What were the difficulties you faced while editing the book?
It has been a wonderful experience. When Pulkit offered me this book for editing, I was a little nervous as editing an anthology with multiple authors is sometimes too tricky; some writers are senior than you and all of them have a different way of expressing the same thing which makes the editing process a little complex. But Pulkit somehow convinced me, and I am glad he did.
Stepping in the shoes of about 20 writers and looking at the story from their point of view was a little difficult. Some had used American English while others had written in British English; then I decided to maintain the original flavor of the writers and not make it monotonous. So I kept the style as it is. The overall experience was awesome. I personally loved the stories and the way they brought out the shades of suffering; some of the stories actually brought tears in my eyes.
What made you decide on the title of the book?
I was conversing with Pulkit about the book’s concept, when he told me to dwell on the possible titles for this book and then I suggested why not ‘Crumpled Voices – Shades of Suffering’ as it aptly describes the subject. For years, people have been quiet about the heinous crimes that they witness around them, we wanted to give them the voice through this book. This title was dear to me since I started my blog and thus it immediately came in my mind when Pulkit was explaining me about this book. He liked it and we finalized it then and there, over a phone call. *smiles*
It may be unfair to ask but we’d love to know your personal favorites from ‘Crumpled Voices’?
Well, I liked all of them as each one focusses on a different subject; ranging from marital rapes, impotency, honor killing, education system, alcohol addiction, corruption, safety of senior citizens, unemployment, rapes, acid attacks, poverty, German-Nazi wars, terrorism, porn industry, molestation, fatal diseases like AIDS, women problems and challenges, to homosexuality. It would certainly be unfair to name one.
Name one social evil that as per you needs major attention.
I think we have a lot of social evils multiplying around us, but one social evil that needs immediate reform is concerned with women emancipation. We should have large scale campaigns and spread awareness to cease rapes and enhance respect for women in our society.
What do you think can be done to curb such practices?
Rapes are bad, gang rapes are worse. First and foremost, we should understand the mentality of these rapists and eve-teasers. What makes these so called juveniles commit such a horrendous crime? From where do they get the courage to disrespect women to such an extent? Once, we get in their minds, we can properly educate them. If we find the root cause of the trouble it would be easier to deal with them. Hanging rapists won’t help much, educating them will do wonders though!
If you were given a chance to help eradicate a social evil, what would it be and how would you fight the same?
I would happily be associated with eradication of all social evils. I am certain that voicing out your opinion is essential to stand against these societal evils. We humans are strange; we find it comfortable to sit back and pass comments on our government and its short comings. We don’t make efforts to find solutions. But we have to change our ways now.
For starters, I will want every victim to come forward and strongly oppose these evils instead of quietly suffering. And the other civilians should not just watch but actively participate in this mission and help the victims get justice and let their voices be heard.
We are doing our bit by bringing these evils to the fore with our stories and I hope you all are able to do a little bit, too, to make your own difference. Awareness is the first step to cease these crimes. Education is the medium to create awareness.
Name one social organization that you feel is working in the most progressive manner.
I was associated with the Eco Club of my college for three years as I am a nature lover. For about a year, I taught underprivileged children in an NGO too. It feels good to be associated with a cause. I’m humbled to be of some help to them. It feels great to actually see a smile on someone’s face because of you. It makes you calm and a better person too. I have a lot to learn and I wish to continue lending them a comforting hand whenever required.
You’ve been associated with a number of dimensions of writing, content writing, blogging, editing and creative writing. Which one do you find most satisfying?
Each of these dimensions have a different demand. Editing demands grip on the language and proper focus while writing involves your imagination. I find creative writing relaxing, blogging is always on my mind, content writing requires patience and a zeal to learn and improve. I find equal pleasure in all of them. I prefer writing poetry most of the time, though I enjoy editing other’s work too. Editing your own work is little tricky. Amm… I will zero down on editing other’s work as most satisfying especially when the author appreciates the efforts that I put in.
You are also the Creative Head of Gargi Publishers. How do you find the whole process of working in a start-up?
Working in a start-up is more beneficial, I guess. It gives you a lot of horizons to unleash your creativity, learn freely, enjoy your work, improve with each passing day, and pour in your ideas to take the organization forward. It gives you multiple opportunities to grow as an individual and face the challenges and survive in the competitive world.
Your debut fiction was a big hit with the audience. Your latest, ‘Cheer Up’, came out in June. How has the response been?
‘Life and Promises’ was a ‘Luck By Chance’ opportunity for me! It is an inspirational novel with romance as a part of it. I never had any plans for it, but it just came across out of the blue. I feel in many ways, I am truly blessed. The way readers took this book was surprising too. We had a good number of pre orders, something which neither me or Pulkit had expected. Yes, it was a big hit. We got a good distribution for it, we did a superb marketing to promote this title. Readers were generous with their reviews and feedbacks. We soon got the second edition in the market which was equally applauded. It made us what we are today! In fact, it is selling like hot cakes now a days too, and it gives me immense satisfaction.
‘Cheer Up’ is a complete romance fiction. This subject is becoming a cliché and it’s not even a year since ‘Life and Promises’ has released, so I was not expecting a great reader response this time. There were fair chances of ‘Cheer Up’ not doing so well, however opposed to it the book is reaching its readers. It is being praised by readers who enjoy romance fictions and the reader response is a little slow as compared to ‘Life and Promises’ but it is rewarding.
Tell us something about your future projects.
I have told the future to surprise me, *winks* and I’m waiting to open the surprise and reveal the projects that it has in store for me. On a serious note, I have done enough work for now, will be continuing my review work for some time before I start working on anything new or some other opportunity tempts me.
Lastly, is there a message you would like to convey your readers?
Be inspired by the stories of these 20 young and talented authors and do contribute your bit for the betterment of the society. I would like to repeat what I learnt from the movie ‘Jai Ho’ – If someone helps you, don’t let that help go waste. Pass this help to 3 other people and tell them to carry forward this chain. Humanity can still survive if we understand our duties towards our society and rekindle the feeling of brotherhood. Imagine, if we all did something!