Sunday, November 11, 2012

As part of the schedule of visiting authors at the current edition of the Sharjah International Book Festival (SIBF), Indian author and literary activist Namita Gokhale spoke  to over 200 school students at two back-to-back sessions this morning. 

Indian author, Namita Gokhale Photo source

Gokhale, who is known for her successful d├ębut novel Paro,  her retelling of the Indian mythological tale 'The Mahabharata', and for founding the Jaipur Literature Festival.

Gokhale was eager to answer questions from students and teachers in the audience, and was very candid with her responses. Here are some of the questions answered by Namita Gokhale during the sessions:-

1.  When did you become a writer? Who inspired you? Who were your mentors?

NG: I suppose it all started when I was in school. I used to write a lot of essays. But it was a chance meeting with a British mystery novelist called H. R. F Keating. It was that encounter that really convinced me that I had what it takes to write for a living. I knew that if he could do it, so could I. My audience, people around me, the human race itself are my mentors. A writer's main job is to understand the human condition, which is why I draw inspiration from people's actions, conversations happening around me, and fans I interact with.

2. What are the challenges you have faced in your writing career?

NG: It won't always be a smooth road ahead when you're in this profession. After my first novel Paro was a huge success, I was on cloud nine. But my second book didn't do as well. You will have some bad phases, like I have, but having the ability to persist is what really matters.

3. How do you start your writing process?

NG: With a paper and a pencil (laughs). But honestly, the creative process is a very tricky one. You never know when you may get a good idea that you want to work on. I feel that you should note down an idea as soon as it comes to you. I keep noting down ideas as they come, and I develop them later on a computer.

4. Why are your novels characterised by only female protagonists?

NG: In olden times, and even when I was growing up, women were oppressed in society. Women have so much potential, and are in comparison, much stronger than males. Female protagonists connect much better with a reader.

5. What was your aim behind starting the Jaipur Literature Festival?

NG: Whoever we are, and whatever we do, we all have one thing in common: we all have stories to tell. That really was my aim behind the festival. The first edition of the festival featured 14 writers speaking to an audience of 40 people. After eight years, the festival has become one of the largest literary events in the world. That is one reason why I enjoy coming to book festivals like this one, because I get the opportunity to share and listen to so many stories.

By Lavanya Narayan

The writer is a second year student pursuing BA Media and Communications at Manipal University, Dubai.