Souhardya De - I’ve Self-Published Thrice, Twice With Amazon Kdp and Once With Juggernaut Publishing Platform (Author)

Souhardya De

I’ve been entirely motivated by two things: the richness that our history has left behind, the way India earlier was and the similarity between the Sanskritic classics and the Greco Roman ones. 

1. Tell us more about your background and journey.

I’ve self-published thrice, twice with Amazon KDP and once with Juggernaut Publishing Platform. Well, the first two were English renderings of the Ramayana in poetry and successively in drama format (one that won the India Book of Records 2019). 

The last self-publishing that I did was on a small ebook that has lots of articles within it. These are articles that talk about culture, heritage, history of Indo China relations and others pertaining to close topics.

This time, however, I decided to focus on Medieval Indian History and to go for ‘Historical Fiction’ which is a blend of History and Imagination. Also, since I grasped some understandings of the publishing houses, I decided to go with traditional publishers and thankfully, I have signed up with Rupa Publications India for this upcoming novella! 

My penchant for history definitely has a relation with my being from an academic family with most of the members being professors of history. Either way, I have a great deal of interest in South Asian Studies, for which I was elected as a Fellow of the Royal Asiatic Society of Great Britain and Ireland last year.

Q2. When did you decide you wanted to be a writer?

There’s not exactly an ascertained date or time when I first started writing. To be true, I found this world alluring ever since my childhood, when we used to have certain composition classes at the primary stages of school. 

But yes, to have taken a greater interest in writing on art and culture, history and heritage, and mythology was predominantly incited when I was in my early teens and was turning through the pages of the Indian mythological tales!

The way my first book was born is quite an interesting story in itself. So, those were the summer holidays of 2017 and my parents had gone out for work. Being left all alone, without network connectivity and games to play, I focused on doing something creative. And that’s when it struck me that I could definitely write up a book, if not anything else!

Q3. Is it a financially stable career?

To be honest, I do not think it is. Especially because hugely best-selling author Durjoy Datta, in an article, earlier stated that writing is definitely a profession that is too high in terms of societal hierarchy but not in terms of financial backing. 

Why is it so? A writer can write around 2 books per year. Even taking him to be a best selling author, his earnings (advances and royalties) would fall somewhere around 30 L INR which isn't sufficient enough to pay ‘off your electric bills’, especially when you are a metropolitan resident.

So, how do writers earn? Book Authors are creative and usually like to take up various multifaceted activities at once. Some of these include being podcasters, film directors, scriptwriters for web series and films and also, not quitting their day jobs (considering you already are an engineer and have some earnings from the firm that you work for). 

Hence, writing in itself is not a financially stable career (keeping in mind the ups and downs a writer faces) but going by the scopes a writer has, you can consider it to be an exceedingly financially stable career. Opinions may vary but that’s what I opine.

Q4. Who is your favourite writer and why?

Devdutt sir and Amish sir are two of the biggest inspirations I’ve ever had. Their narratives portray a vivid combination of facts that have been taken from around the world (from every country where the tale is told) and that’s the best part about it! You get to know so much!

Next, there’s Manu Pillai who inspires me as a young generation historian who retells history, taking on topics that seem boorish, and authoring them in a splendacious manner!

Besides, I admire Shashi sir’s sesquipedalian vocabulary and borrow some inspiration in an attempt to refurbish mine! Also, Dalrymple sir seems to play with words! The way he writes, you’ll never want to put the book down!

Q5. Where does your inspiration lie?

I’ve been entirely motivated by two things: the richness that our history has left behind, the way India earlier was and the similarity between the Sanskritic classics and the Greco Roman ones. 

The desire or the urge to know India better, to know the India of the past, forged me ahead to study many of the leading scholars and authors of our day and how they embody the classics in a version that appeals to today’s readers. Well, that was one point in itself.

The second is because I have always had a great deal of interest and attraction towards the ancient Greco Roman studies or what one might call later as the Byzantine classics. Observing closely, we find that these have a lot of similarity in them. 

I would also like to mention the Egyptian part too! And this hooked me into reading the Indian version of tales I’d already heard about! And that’s where this interest took birth!

Q6. What piece of advice would you like to give to future aspiring writers?

The first thing to do, before beginning to pen down your book is to choose your genre carefully. You need to understand what suits you best. Is it historical fiction? Or is it a blend of horror and history? Whatsoever, once you start writing, be sure that you know what you’re writing. 

Too many jargons do not create a perfect ambience! Try not to procrastinate! Writing is the thing you’re born for! There’s nothing more important! Once you’ve finished writing the book (that is what I do), research on what publication process you want to go with! 

If you choose traditional, fret not! It will take patience though! Self-publishing, which I earlier did, is another good option. Once you finalise the publishing process, sit back and relax! You’ve just completed authoring a book!

Q7. Which is your favourite book and why?

I know it sounds a bit weird but Ovid’s Metamorphoses is the one on my hotlist right now. Reading Ancient Greco Roman tales has always been my passion. Ovid portrays 250 of these most opulent mythological tales together and that brings in the perfect atmosphere to go from one to the other sequentially. 

Also because, it has everything from the formation of the world, the great flood, the beginning of humans to the legendary tales of Gods and Goddesses. What more could a reader ask for?

- Souhardya De (Author, Podcaster, Columnist)

Biography: Souhardya De, born in 2004, is an Indian author of Historical Fiction, an art and culture Columnist, a podcaster and a Fellow of the Royal Asiatic Society of Great Britain and Ireland. Souhardya has authored bylines in The Sunday Guardian, The Citizen, WION, The Statesman, Thrive Global, Scroll Media, The Standard, TOI Blogs, The Hills Times and other notable publications. He writes a fortnightly article on history, art and culture at The Sunday Guardian and used to lead the editorial team for the BFF page by the Young Post, South China Morning Post, Hong Kong. 

He intends to revitalise and invigorate the Indian art and culture, history and mythological epics through his works and tries to author them in a way most appealing to the readers of today. Presently, he hosts a podcast entitled “Cosmographia: The Graeco Romans, the Egyptians and Us” on Apple, JioSaavn, Gaana, Google and a dozen more streaming services. Souhardya’s upcoming book will be out with Rupa Publications India.

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Interviewed By Pratibha Sahani