In this interview with new author, NK Sonshi, he shares his philosophy on writing and gives a bit of insight into who he is and how he became an author.
As a child, what did you want to do when you grew up?
I was born one year after the partition of India and my parents had lost everything but the clothes on their backs. As I grew up I found my family struggling for existence. Nothing was important to any of my family members except searching for sources of income. I wanted to find a permanent source of income and that meant finding employment.
Do you recall how your interest in writing originated?
From childhood I was fond of literature and used to spend a lot of money purchasing good books. I purchased books written in languages which I didn’t know and later learned the language to read the books. To express myself I used to write some small couplets that were never published although I do not consider this as the origin of my desire to write.
Why did you want to be an author?
To be frank I never knew I could be an author until I was asked to write a book on Management of Banking. I worked as a Bank Manager for 30 years.
Do you have any other writing experience?
My one book is published “ Management of Banking and Insurance”
What inspired you to write your first book?
My first book. A text book for Graduate/Post-Graduate students studying banking. It was written as per the syllabus prescribed by the University.
Where do you get your information or ideas for your books?
The ideas come from society, from the real life people living around me, newspapers and personal dialogs. For specific information I go to reputed libraries or National Archives of India.
What was the hardest part of writing your book?
While writing the book Cart Full of Husk, the hardest part for me was expression of the emotions of characters. I was able to feel these emotions from the core of my heart but could not express their totality in my words. The writer has to put himself in the shoes of characters to feel their true emotions. I could somewhat do it but expression of similar emotions in the situation was difficult for me.
Do you have a specific process when you write?
No specific process. First I note down the points of my scripts. I become more observant while moving in society and pick up ideas from people and try to express them. While writing I do not stop till I complete the point I wish to convey. Thereafter I review it with what have I noted and if I find relevant information include it into my script. In case others points are found more relevant I may change my views. In the end a comparative review provides me to what I want to write.
What is your work schedule like when you’re writing?
Four hours in the morning and three hours in the evening.
How long does it take you to write a book?
I have not written many books and as such it is difficult to explain time taken per book. However now I am working on 2-3 books. If the subject is specific like a text book for academic purpose relating to my subject a good book takes 6-8 months. In case of fiction it took me two years to prepare a rough manuscript.
Your published works include:
1. Management of Banking and Insurance (Text Book for Graduate/Post Graduate Students)
2. Some poems in English
3. One article in Hindi on Mughal Architect
4. Cart Full of Husk – A novel about effects of the Partition of India
Is there a specific anecdote about the process of writing any of them?
For me there is no specific anecdote. I pick the idea from what is happening in society. Now some reports are appearing in news that old aged people are being treated shabbily by their wards. When old people become incapable of looking after them they are being treated like an unwanted lot in the houses owned by them and being discarded to be lodged in old age homes by their own children.
I visited an old aged home in Delhi. I talked in confidence with some people and found that legally very rich old people are living like cattle in such houses. I wished to write about them.
Did you encounter a writing problem that required you to change your plans for the book or learn a new process?
In fact I have not adopted any particular process or plan. I just select a subject for which I wish to write, note down the points and start writing.
If you use a pen name, why?
Not so far.
Give us three “Good to Know” facts about you.
There are no good to know facts about me but the information asked for is given below.
1. First Job:
I started working first time as a salesman in a shop located in a world heritage historical monument visited by thousand of visitors per day. In my spare time I worked as a tourist guide and learned about the history of monuments. After the shop was closed I did many petty jobs before being in Government service as a translator. After 10 years of working as translator I was selected by a bank and worked there as Manager for 30 years.
2. Inspiration for writing:
An inspiration for writing comes from the happy and sorrowful moments of life. I wrote a small story “Happiness” in my young age when I saw a bird hanging from a tree when its paw was entwined in the thread of a kite stuck in the branches of the tree. The bird was agonizing in pain and crying. Many children had gathered around the tree to see the bird but nobody was able to help the bird for the tree was too high. All children were sad seeing the bird writhing in pain. So many other birds had also gathered round. One boy brought a long bamboo and pulled down the thread where the paw of bird was stuck. With this jerk the bird got free and flew into the sky. Every one present around the tree started clapping with joy and started dancing. There appeared a bright smile on every face present there. This act of their dancing and clapping was expression of their true happiness, a selfless expression that created a moment of joy for everyone.
I wrote my first English poem when my granddaughter started learning counting in English.
Counting is Fun
Counting counting every one
First comes the number one —————-(it goes on up to ten).
Then I wrote poems for kids like “ Pocket Money”, “ Examination”, “ My Home”, “Success” etc. and few poems for adults. Some are published at writer’s network.com. I also wrote a few poems in Hindi.
My children inspire me to write something on burning issues.
My first article on Mughal Architect was published in 1970 in a Magazine published by Cultural Department, Government of India and I was paid honorarium equal to double my salary.
I am a person who likes to live a simple life, and value hard work, honesty and sincerity.
Fun is moments of pleasure in life. Mechanical life style does not provide such moments easily and one has to snatch them. I get pleasure to help others, even unknown persons. This act of mine sometime becomes fun for others to enjoy. Once I borrowed money to help a known person who never bothered to return it to me. A mockery was made of me. Once I helped a stranger couple at the Railway Station who had lost their wallet and all their money. I bought their tickets on insurance of their sending me back my money for which they noted down my address. Ten years now and I am still waiting for a reply from them and this fun goes on in my life.
What else do you want your readers to know?
I am a voracious reader of good books and spend my maximum time reading books, articles etc. My hobby is to collect old, rare, obsolete books, manuscripts, paintings etc.
For such type of habits I am known as eccentric among my known people.
Do you have anything specific that you want to say to your readers?
No. Nothing specific but would like to say, “ Human value must be kept above all values in the world. A good human being is an asset for his people, for his society, for his town, for his country and for the entire world.”
Do you have any suggestions to help me become a better writer? If so, what are they?
I am at the learning stage of writing and not able to suggest anything.
What obstacles did you encounter in being published?
I am a very lucky person. My first book was published without any difficulty because publisher himself approached me and requested me to write a book for his publishing house. He publishes text books for Graduate and Post Graduate students.
For my second book “Cart full of Husk” is lucky for me. It brought me into contact with a very honest, hard working publisher. In initial stages I submitted my manuscript to three publishers. Two did not respond and one publisher showed some interest and demanded 2-3 chapters of my book. After some time they wanted full manuscript of my book. I asked for terms and conditions before submitting full manuscript, they turned out to be vanity publishers whereas there was no sign of their being vanity publisher on their website. They wasted my lot of time which could have been usefully utilised. They kept me waiting for quite some time.
My current publisher is the person who clarified all terms and conditions in the very first mail and she is the great publisher who agreed to publish my second book.
What methods have you used to get your book noticed?
Internet and personal contact.
How do you feel now that you are a published author?
After retirement I was feeling like a marooned person who had nothing to do and pass his time sitting idle or reading books. After publication of first book I became very busy as I was invited by many Institutes to teach Banking. This book provided me some space for doing something more in life but restricted my activity to academic field only.
With publication of Cart Full of Husk my horizon shall certainly be raised in the public domain for which I am looking forward.
What are your current projects?
1. A historical book researching the ancient city Delhi
Title : Formed, Founded and Forgotten First City of Delhi.
Delhi is capital of India. Now it is located on a place which was constructed by the British Government. Originally Delhi was based in a town about 15 kms away from this place. This town was first developed as a capital of India in the 8th century and remained as such till the 19th century till Mughal King Shahjahan shifted it to Red fort now located in a place called Old Delhi. During this period many kings, rulers and sultans ruled the country from this town. All these rulers built magnificent buildings in this town which are specimen of master pieces of architect, archeology and culture.
A detailed search of this town has been made in my book from the very beginning and found that this town is not less in any way than those of Rome or Cairo if the unattended historical heritage of this town is taken proper care of.
There are only two foreign writers who have written about this town.
2. Save your Child from Home Abuses
I had been reading how the young generation is spoiling their life and becoming victim of different type of abuses unknowingly. It is not only sex abuse and drug abuse but there are thousands of toxic ingredients which we use in our every day life. Not knowing about their bad effects parents, teachers and children unintentionally fall victim of such abuses and spoil their lives. I wish to educate parents and teachers with this book with the help of “Foundation of Drug-Free World” located in Los Angeles.
3. Banking for Non-Bankers
In India there is less awareness among poor people about the banking practices in India. My Book will help them to acquaint themselves with general banking.
I have written some poems in English, some for children and some for all persons.