Adite Banerjie, author of three published novels, in Mills & Boon (Indian Author Collection) and Harper Collins, and a journalist with financial dailies, in conversation with Roxy, a young author, and our columnist. Adite tells us about the making of her novels, the bold female protagonists, the publishing industry, etc. Here’s an interview, in the weekly column, exclusively in Different Truths.
This weekend I managed to have a tête-à-tête with the versatile and charming author Adite Banerjie. She is an author at Mills & Boon (Indian Author Collection) and Harper Collins an honour not many of us can claim to possess. Her published novels, The Indian Tycoon’s Marriage Deal, Trouble has a New Name (both from Mills & Boon) and No Safe Zone (Harper Collins) portray formidable female protagonists. Let’s say bad ass for want of a word we millennials are familiar with.
She may be three novels old but Adite has been reading and writing since childhood. This diehard writer-cum-movie watcher donned the role of caregiver to her parents, devoted wife to her husband, while she had a serious career in a reputed financial daily. But she was destined for something extra, that extra bit of panache we all long for but are unable to achieve.
Let us read how she rose the bar and that, too, for herself.
Roxy: Can you please tell us a little about yourself – your family background, education, where you live now.
Adite: I am the only child of my parents and I grew up in Mumbai. My father was one of the top art directors in Bollywood while my mother has always been a homemaker. Being an introvert I have always had a preference for reading and soon after college, I decided to get into journalism. After I finished my graduation from Narsee Monjee College in commerce, I did a course in journalism which opened up a whole new world for me. I have lived and worked in Mumbai, Kolkata, and Delhi and have had a fulfilling career in journalism spanning more than 15 years. I have worked for the Daily, Sunday magazine, The Economic Times and Business Today.
Adite: I had reached a point in my career where I no longer felt excited about the kind of articles that I was writing. I wanted to explore different kinds of writing. On the personal front, my parents needed me to be around as they were not keeping well and working full time was getting to be difficult. So, I moved away from full-time journalism and ventured into content writing and report writing for research agencies and NGOs.
I have always been a movie buff and my father and I would often brainstorm story ideas. I decided it would be fun to learn how to write screenplays. Thanks to the Internet, I could do that sitting at home. So, during the day I would write business reports and by night I would write spec screenplays.
Adite: Writing books was not on the cards as I was more into screenplays. But when Mills & Boon held a contest to identify potential romance writers in India, I sent in my short story and lo and behold, my entry got selected. That was a great experience as I learned how to write mainstream romantic fiction. My first book, The Indian Tycoon’s Marriage Deal, was based on my winning short story contest and it was a romance-and-revenge-drama. The second book, Trouble Has a New Name, was written in a chick-lit style and was set at a destination wedding. My latest book, No Safe Zone is a romantic thriller and deals with the topic of child trafficking.
Adite: All my women protagonists are career women, who are forced to deal with difficult situations but manage to come out stronger at the end. It’s not as if home-makers cannot be strong and independent but I do feel that in today’s world, women need to stand up for themselves, be financially independent as well as emotionally grounded. And my stories tend to reflect and celebrate such women and their choices.
Adite: It’s always great to hear back from readers especially after you have spent so much time and effort in creating a story, writing it and getting it published. Leaving a line or two as a review would be the best way to show your appreciation for a book that you have liked. And even if you haven’t liked it, it’s always good to get feedback.
Roxy: Which is the book/protagonist that has inspired you the most?
Adite: There are a lot of books and characters that have inspired me. But if I were to mention some of the protagonists who have stayed with me over the years, they would have to be Scarlett O’Hara (Gone with the Wind), Kamal (Sarat Chandra Chatterjee’s Shesh Prashna), Begum Hazrat Mahal (In the City of Gold and Silver by Kenize Mourad) and Ilsa (Casablanca).
Roxy: Which do you feel is better traditional or self-publishing?
Adite: They both have their pros and cons. While traditional publishing offers writers greater access to bookstores, it’s not very easy to get published in the first place. Publishing houses with their vast distribution reach can ensure that your book is available in the top bookstores. However, the cut-throat competition for shelf-space makes it very difficult for new authors to make their mark within the short window of opportunity that is available.
Self-publishing, on the other hand, is more accessible to readers and authors have given its large digital footprint. However, the downside is that writers have to do everything on their own from editing, formatting, printing and book marketing. As people’s reading habits change and digital reading become more commonplace, self-publishing will come into its own in India.
Adite: I was commissioned to write a screenplay based on a true story. It’s a gripping drama about a woman who takes on a huge multinational corporation in order to protect her eco-fragile town and wins. The film is tentatively titled Kaamyabi.
Another screenplay that I wrote (Coaching Class) won the first runner-up prize at an international screenwriting competition, FinishLine Script competition, 2016.
Adite: Writing is a craft that you have to practise day in and day out. I often hear writers say that they like to write but not read. I don’t think it’s possible to be a good writer unless you read. Stephen King says it best: “If you want to be a writer you must do two things above all others: read a lot and write a lot. There’s no way around these two things that I’m aware of, no shortcut.”
©Dr. Roxy Arora
Photos from the internet.
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