You can feel it only when you spread love
Terin Miller– The name is good enough to tell who he is. He is a personality in the world of writing, who plays his roles well, both as a writer and an editor. He spent many years in India being the child of an anthropologist couple. He has worked in different countries including India. His recent Novel “Kashi” is creating waves among the readers.
1) How you entered the world of writing and when you started this journey?
I wrote my first short story when I was 7 years old. It was supposed to be an episode of a favorite television show, with my friends in roles of the other characters in the show.
2) Do you have anyone in your family who is part of this writing world?
My father was a writer. Mostly he wrote academic works, being a professor of anthropology and Indian and Tibetan studies. But he won a contest at his college for an essay when he was a young World War II veteran. The contest was called the Hopwood Award. And he liked to write fun Christmas cards and letters. He had ideas for mystery and other books that he never wrote, but both he and my mother–also a professor of anthropology and a Tibetan and Indian studies scholar–read voraciously, everything from Science Fiction to mysteries.
3) Which was your first write up and what was the topic?
My first published short story I wrote in high school about two close high school friends realizing when they parted they might never see each other again. It was called ‘Raindrops and Sunshine,” and was published by my high school as well as by the Wisconsin Academy of Arts and Science. The short story, in fact, was read and praised by the man who became my first literary agent when I was 17.
4) Who acted as an inspiration in your life?
Both of my parents–Drs. Robert J. and Beatrice D. Miller–inspired me in my life, as did particularly my high school English (Creative Writing) teacher, Elizabeth Dowling. And in my apprenticeship as a budding creative writer, the writers Loren D. Estleman and Barry Holstun Lopez inspired and encouraged me. And people overcoming adversity with dignity and grace have always inspired me, which is why I was inspired greatly by many in India as both a child and young man.
5) Life of an author is not simple, so what attracted you to be a part of this world?
The idea of transmitting images and experiences as well as ideas to others attracted me to become a writer, as did finding a means of expressing myself particularly in my junior and senior years in high school. I had not found such a means of expression I enjoyed as much as ceramics (sculpture) class or playing drums in a rock band, until Elizabeth Dowling introduced me to trying to write. Also, to be honest, at roughly the same time–11th and 12th grades in the U.S.–I became a reader myself, and thought it might be fun to try and match wits with some of the writers I admired.
6) How was “Kashi” conceived in your mind?
As with all my fiction, a good bit of it is based on people and experiences I’ve actually known or had. I began conceiving of “Kashi” actually while processing experiences and thinking of people and situations I encountered as a language student with the University of Wisconsin Year in India in Varanasi, studying at Benares Hindu University. I was particularly struck by the difference in attitudes between the sexes, and toward sex, among foreign students such as myself and many Varanasi youth of roughly the same age from more traditional conservative Hindu families. When you are a young adult, trying to decide for yourself what you believe in, and how you wish to behave or be perceived, you can be influenced as much by your friends, it seemed, as by the tradition in which you were raised.
7) Say something about “Kashi”, and your experience while penning down this novel?
I have been both pleased and surprised by how vivid are my recollections of not only Varanasi but also people and other places and events in penning Kashi. At a relatively young age, some suggested I appeared to have at least a near photographic memory, an ability to recall vivid details of certain things in my life. It has helped me as well as hindered me at times. It makes it very difficult, for instance, to reread something or watch even a movie or television show I’ve seen again, as i get somewhat impatient knowing what comes next.
8) What are your other passions in life?
I have many other passions besides writing. I love fishing. And I like camping, swimming, Taekwondo, horseback riding, reading, music, movies, travel, working on my motorcycle, and food.
9) What is next in your bag for the readers?
Well, there is a sequel to “Kashi.” In fact, Kashi has essentially become the first in a trilogy of books narrated by John Colson and set largely, if not entirely, in India. But I don’t want to give too much away until Author’s Empire India, my publisher, wants me to.
10) If we ask you to define in one line “how to become an author?”, what will you say?
HAhahahaha. Sorry. I just like the question. How to become an author? There’s really only one way I know of: write.
11) Lastly i will insist you to say something about yourself as an individual, your education, your family and what are your values for life?
As an individual: as noted, I admire people with the courage to endure hardship with dignity and grace. I admire survivors. I particularly admire survivors who could be forgiven for bitterness but are not, or could be expected to blame others, but do not. And because of that, I admire the heck out of women generally, but particularly in societies where they have been prevented from experiencing the same freedoms and individual responsibilities or choices of men. My mother grew up during The Great Depression in the United States. She was born the year women were granted, in the U.S., the right to vote. She wanted to be a doctor. Her mother told her “women don’t grow up to be a doctor.” So she went to work in a factory–and became a union organizer, was a riveter of Corsair airplanes during World War II, and probably was the one person most responsible for my father’s going to college after the war. I won’t ever tell my son what he can or can’t be–he’s 11 years old now, and has all sorts of interests. I can’t imagine a parent ever telling their child, as my grandmother tried, what he or she can or cannot be.
I have a bachelor’s degree in journalism and South Asian Studies. Nobody ever told me I could or should or would go to college. It was entirely my decision. I became what I wanted to be–a writer. Because I wanted to. So I worked at it. I guess my belief is that you should not let other people define who you are, or who you may be. But if you don’t, then you have to come up with some definition yourself. And then, do your best to meet the definition you’ve set.
My family, and my experiences, made me who and what I am. I am a defender of the downtrodden, a supporter of the courageous, and I really don’t care what someone’s declared religion or personality is. All I care about is that other humans, like myself, try their best not to hurt others. And, in fact, when possible, to help them.
Oh. And, also, education-wise: a college degree is an indication of your level of education. But it is not the only indication. And individuals should never stop learning, or growing. In fact, reading is the gift that keeps on giving. If you can read, you can learn. And you can learn far beyond any degree awarded at any college.
Amit Shankar so far has penned down 3 super hit novels namely Flight of the Hilsa, Chapter Eleven, and Love is Vodka. Amit is not only a good author but also an awesome Guitarist, who loves enjoying Rock, Jazz and Blues. He won several awards in the field of advertising as creative director and copywriter. Here comes my session with Amit Shankar.
1) Well we all know Amit Shankar, as an excellent author, but tell us something about you, which we don’t know, as we are keen to know the other facets of life and talents?
A loner and drifter, a whimsical man with massive mood swings. An exceptional guitarist with a penchant for Jazz, Blues and Rock. A cook, counselor and a leader rolled into one. Also, a big time coffee addict.
2) The profile of an author is not at all a common one, so what exactly attracted you to be a part of the writing world?
During my advertising days, being on the creative side; as a copywriter, words came naturally to me. Also, during my college days, I was the one who wrote love letters for my friends. So, writing was something I loved. But then writing for brands in an advertising format; print ads, radio jingles, TV ads, was getting too repetitive and monotonous. I wanted to tell meaningful stories which impacted lives and touched hearts. No wonder, turning an author was the logical progression.
3) If I ask you to name your idol in life, who are the ones who will get the chance to be on the list?
Well, too many and they keep changing. More than the winners who bend and play as per the demand of success, it is sheer talent which does not cringe down to suit the need of the hour is something that I idolize.
4) So far you have penned down 3 novels Flight of the Hilsa, Chapter Eleven, and Love is Vodka, which is the one which is closest to your heart and why?
None. I am sure you would know that I never read my work, not even for proofreading and editing. Stories happen, which I sit down and write. Period. If you ask me about chapters and names from my first title, I would not be able to recall them.
5) What is next in pipeline for us to read and when we can expect that?
Toying with a couple of them. One of them is ‘Two apples and drinking prana’ while the other one has a working title of ‘740 gms’ Let us see which one compels me more.
6) How does it feel when your readers appreciate your work?
It makes the effort look so much worthwhile
7) Which is the biggest complement received by you so far?
A young woman telling me how my first title inspired her to walk out of a bad marriage and reclaim her life.
8) What are your other passions in life?
Big time war movie buff. Have an enviable collection. Also, vintage rock is an all time high.
9) If I ask you to point out 2 characteristics in present day authors which you don’t like, what will u say?
They are in a great hurry to make a quick buck, name and fame. No wonder they play to the gallery and most of the stories revolve around colleges, teens and mushy romance. Also, the craft of writing has gone for a toss. 99 percent of the new age Indian writers can’t write to save their lives.
10) How will you rate yourself as an author?
Rating, likes on Facebook etc. is just a number game, temporary state, mostly farce. I am happy being a story-teller who has managed to impact lives.
11) What are your plans 5 years down the line?
Not the one to plan. I take life as it comes and relish the same.
12) Describe Amit Shankar in one line…………
Catch Him here in Facebook
Just searching my inner self one day
I discovered there was an other side to me
Like the other face of coin or the back of my hand
It was similar to me yet different from me
It was open to me yet somehow hidden
It shared my thoughts and gave me strength
It felt my pain and even laughed with me
It guided me and encouraged me
And when I felt let down, it loved me
Knowing my other side is like discovering myself
I know I am not alone, though I may have felt
I have a friend within me and my greatest guide
I have someone who will always be on my side
I am no longer afraid and no longer in pain
I feel no shackles and no restrain
I am at peace with me and my other side
And I understand that it will be my best guide!
A Short Bio Of The Poet:
Born and brought up in West Bengal, India, Sonnet Mondal is an Indian English poet and the Founder of The Enchanting Verses Literary Review. He has authored Prismatic Celluloid (Authorspress books, India) Diorama of Three Diaries (Authorspress books, India), 21 Line Fusion Sonnets of 21st Century (Sparrow Publication, India) and six other books of poetry. He was bestowed Poet Laureate from Bombadil Publishing, Sweden in 2009 and was awarded “The IPTRC International Best Poet award” from World Poets Quarterly. He was inducted in the prestigious Significant Achievements Plaque at the museum of Bengal Engineering and Science University, Shibpur in 2011, was featured as one of the Famous Five of Bengali youths by India Today magazine in 2010.
His works have appeared in several international literary publications including The Stremez (Supported by The Ministry of Culture, Macedonia), The Sheepshead Review (University of Wisconsin, Green Bay), The Penguin Review (Youngstown State University), Two Thirds North (Stockholm University), California State Poetry Quarterly (California State Poetry Society), Nth Position, Fox Chase Review, The Journal (Poetry Society of India) , Holler (Princeton Poetry Project), Friction Magazine (New Castle University & New Castle Centre of Literary Arts) and Dark Matter Journal(University of Houston-Downtown) to name a few.
Details of his works can be found at www.sonnetmondal.com
Chit Chat with Sonnet Mondal
1) How you entered the world of writing and how it happened?
It was 2005 December when I wrote my first poem or rather felt the first essence of writing poetry. I was never too fascinated about this genre before. In fact prose was much preferable to me as a reading material. So I must say writing these first lines in December 2005 somehow lured me into poetry.
2) Being a student of engineering what features of poetry world attracted you in special?
Fields of working and branches of academics never affect art. Poetry as a genre with its dense yet profound ways of depicting those things which we feel to be close to our lives attracts me most. There is poetry in everything and everywhere you go.
3) Can you recall that day when you penned down your first poem and what was it?
As I mentioned earlier it was December 2005. I don’t remember the exact date but it was one of the English classes going on at St. Michael’s School, Durgapur. I was sitting towards the last benches busy trying to bring out my first poem while the teacher was providing tips on a composition to be written about “Meeting a sudden old friend.”
4) Which genre of poems you specialized yourself?
I never tried to pen any genre in particular or specialize myself in any genre but upon looking at any book of mine after completing, it feels I have a greater concern for the burning issues of the society and nostalgia.
5) Whom you consider as an inspiration in your life?
I should just say “Poetry” itself is my inspiration. Each poem acts as an inspiration to pen another.
6)What are your other passions in life?
Music especially Indian Drums like Tabla. Here I may also add that I love musing upon still life paintings and of course I am passionate about driving at night.
7) Sonnet what as per you are the basic qualities of a good poet?
A poet should be someone who can be a high town daredevil yet cautious, reminiscent yet sensitive to oblivion, thoughtful yet rash, firm yet flexible in his stanzas and self-structured.
8) So far what is your biggest appreciation received from your readers?
In regards to reader’s appreciation there is no such thing as biggest. Each specification or comment is very special to me.
9) What is your plan five years down the line?
Planning has never worked for me. So instead of compartmentalising my schedule I would just say “to write more.”
10) How do you rate yourself as a poet?
Self-Rating parameters are designed keeping in mind the word “self-perfection”. If there is no limit to this word then I am not even half a way.
11) Which book is in pipeline for your readers?
There are four poetry books in line tiled, “Prismatic Celluloid” (Authorspress India), Through the Broken Window(St. Julian Press Inc., Houston), Pen upon Brushes (Authorspress India) and Enigmatic Winds and other poems(Finishing Line Press, USA).
Details will be available through my website as each book gets released in the market.
Author – Amit Shankar
Publisher of the Novel: Vitasta Publishing
A view on this Novel:
The central character of this novel is Moon. Life is very confusing for this conventional teen, who is a love child of a leading TV news anchor. The father of the child and the former boyfriend of Moon’s mother, is an entrepreneur. Moon is quite confused about the real meaning of the word called “Love”. The concept of Love seems complicated to her and it becomes even more so, when she falls in love with her mother’s present boyfriend. Life takes a U-turn when she is blessed with a mega modelling assignment which can make her famous within no time. A terrific war rages inside her, between her loving heart and brain facing the different shades of Love. The question which will hit the mind of readers is that will she ever get the chance to understand what love exactly means in this world.
My Personal View:
I started reading this Book when I was travelling back from Kolkata to Delhi after my Diwali vacation Via Rajdhani Express. Honestly, I will say that the word called love attached with any Novel attracts me like a magnet. The reaction was same for this novel and frankly speaking I failed to take a bite of dinner served in train till I reached the climax of the story. Every single line makes you feel what is coming up next? Well, the cover page gives the true impression that the novel is written from the view-point of a female character. The first thing I was forced to think, was how Amit Shankar, the author of this book and a man of 21st century, managed to understand the feelings of a confused girl so well. However, after reading this novel, I will say, yes an author and most importantly a man of this era can understand a woman well . Hats off to you Amit! You are just awesome in presenting this wonderful story to the readers.
The central character of this novel, Moon is very well portrayed. The presentation of the story is so simple that everyone will understand the actual meaning which the author is trying to point out in this novel. The relationship of a struggling and established mother with her teenage daughter will catch the attention of the readers.
Finally, I will say that it is a must to read novel for the teenagers, besides others. Great Work by Amit Shankar.
Rating: 4 on 5