We’re delighted to welcome bestselling author and poet Neelam Saxena Chandra today with whom we carried out an interview.
Before we move onto the interview, let us share a few facts about Neelam. She is the author of numerous literary works including 4 novels, 1 novella and 5 short story collections, 25 poetry collections and 10 children’s books. She writes in both English and in Hindi and has been acknowledged for her prolific bilingual writing capabilities, as she holds a record with the Limca Book of Records 2015 for being the author having the highest number of publications in a year in English and Hindi!
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Neelam has also won multiple awards, which among others, includes a prize in a poetry contest organized by the American Embassy and in a National poetry contest organized by Poetry Council of India, 2016. She is also a recipient of Bharat Nirman Literary award in 2017, Premchand award by Ministry of Railways, and Rabindranath Tagore International Poetry award.
Let’s now move onto find out what Neelam had to say in response to the questions we asked her.
1. Please tell us about you. Where are you from? What is your professional background and how did you become an author?
Hi Hiten! Glad to be interviewed by Writing Tips Oasis.
I am basically an Engineer. I belong to IRSEE (Indian Railway Service of Electrical Engineers) cadre and am presently on deputation to UPSC. I was born and brought up at Nagpur, but my job has taken me all over the country and I’ve enjoyed the diversity.
I became an author per chance. I had always loved to scribble poetry ever since I can remember. After my daughter was born, I began narrating a new story to her every day and that marked the beginning of my journey into the world of writing fiction. When she was around 10, I started scribbling those stories and sending them to various magazines such as Champak, Nandan, Chandamama, etc for publication. Subsequently, I also stepped into the world of writing novels and short story collections and I have enjoyed my voyage.
2. What types of books do you write?
I write in various genres. I began with children’s stories, but have also written fiction, mostly on social issues in our society. Poetry writing has always been a part and parcel of me.
3. Could you please tell us about your most recent book, its overall plot, and the main characters in it?
Recently, on 20th April, six of my poetry books were released on one single day. However, I would like to discuss my latest fiction book, which is a novel titled “In the Flickering of an Eye”, published by LiFi Publications.
It’s a story set in the interiors of Haryana. The social conditions in the country form the background of the story with sagotra marriages playing a crucial part. The overall plot of the novel can be appreciated from its short synopsis:
“Twenty five years worth of ‘what ifs’ and ‘if onlys’ have haunted and tortured Vinay. He cannot help but go back in time again and again to that one moment that changed his life forever. A chance encounter with a person from his past, and a journey through the majestic hills of Kalimpong lead him to some of his answers, in the form of an elusive woman, who bears a striking resemblance to the woman he loved and lost. Will he finally get his happily-ever-after? Or will his story, tarnished when he was nineteen by the gotra system, forever be punctuated with too many fullstops? Read on to find out more.”
4. Are you working on any other books(s)? If so, can you please tell us what we can expect to see from you in the future?
Two of my Hindi poetry collections titled एक शमा जो हरदम जलती है and आज बादल बन बरस जाना है will be released soon. Besides this, one of my novels titled “Patiala to Paris” is also ready. It is again a romantic story entwined with layers of social issues.
5. Can you please tell us about your approach to writing? For example, do you follow structures and writing rules? Or do you write in a free flow way? Do you have any particular time of the day you like to write? Or any specific environment you prefer to sit down and write in?
I do not follow any writing rules or structure. I write in my free way, the way my characters wish me to move. Of course, what I have read during my formative years does influence my writing style indirectly, but I do not try to fit into any pattern.
Being in a full-fledged job leaves me with little time for writing. However, I find contentment only if I am able to write for a few minutes. It is only late at night and over the weekends that I find my time for writing.
I love to travel and it is in these journeys that the stories take shape in my mind, though I prefer writing them in the confines of my room.
6. In 2014, you received the prestigious Rabindranath Tagore International Poetry Award. Please tell us what it was like to receive such accolade for your work?
One writes for the joy one derives from writing, however, awards do help in boosting the confidence levels. When I received Rabindranath Tagore International Poetry Award, I felt really elated to be the winner despite not being from the literary background.
7. What other things do you like to get up to when you’re not writing?
Reading is something I adore. Besides this, I’ve put on various caps at various times. I have tried my hands at painting, I love to act, I love to anchor programs and I do enjoy cooking too once in a while.
8. How can people find out more about you?
Details about me are available on Wikipedia at https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Neelam_Saxena_Chandra
Besides this, those who are interested can connect to me on my Facebook page https://www.facebook.com/NeelamSaxenaChandra
Hiten Vyas is the Founder and Managing Editor of Writing Tips Oasis.