1.You write children stories and poetry. How did you start writing on this Genre? What fascinated you?
I write children’s stories, fiction as well as poetry in Hindi as well as English. Poetry was my first love and my affair with the verses began when I was a child. The poems of William Wordsworth, Keats, Browning Tennyson etc used to fascinate me and I began to scribble my own thoughts. Later, I used to narrate stories for my daughter imagined by me. Finally, I decided to take a plunge into fiction and have written many short stories and four novels. Certain characters, situations and experiences in and around me affect me deeply and writing is my way of expressing myself through the characters which I carve.
2.You also have been featured in Forbes India Celebrity 100 Nominees longlist 2014. How did it feel?
It felt marvellous. When two of my friends sent me a message on Facebook regarding it, I simply couldn’t believe it for long. I pinched myself and realised that it was indeed true! Later, when the congratulatory messages began to pour in, the feeling actually sunk in.
3. What all Genres as a child and now, as an adult you like to read?
As a child, I loved the classics. I grew up reading Charles Dickens, Louisa May Alcott, Jane Austen, Agatha Christie, Rabindranath Tagore, etc. As an adult, I got to read writers like Erich Segal, Pearl S. Buck, Ayn Rand, Mitch Albom, Paulo Coelho etc. I read anything that fascinates me. I’ve read right from Percy Jackson, JK Rowling to DD Patnaik and Ruzbeh Bharucha. I read all genres, but I like a book which can stir emotions in my heart. In the last few months, I look for something that has several layers attached to it, something that appeals to the soul, something that makes me think.
4. Tell us about your favourite authors.
Undoubtedly, Erich Segal! I love the way the human relations are handled in his books.
5. How you feel you have evolved as a writer in since you started writing?
When I began to write, the thrill of getting published used to take me to an acme. I would write on all subjects. Slowly, I narrowed down my choices and am more particular on what I wish to write.
6. Is it difficult or easy for you to manage both work and writing?
It’s slightly difficult to manage since both require complete involvement. However, it’s in the midst of challenges that one does the best.
7. Do you write every day? If yes, how much time you take out per day to write?
I don’t follow any schedule. Like all writers, I am a moody person. There are spells when I am continuously writing, and there are periods when I don’t write anything. I am pretty contended with the way things are progressing.
8. What are the social causes you care about and would like to impact with your writings?
Nearly all my novels/short stories revolve around a social issues right from female infanticide, gender biases and dowry to caste based politics, freedom to express, education, issue of orphans and old age. My latest novel “In the Flickering of an Eye” revolves around gotra system, though it touches other issues too.
9. What was your most precious moment as a writer?
The most precious event was the moment when I had just begun to share my writings. I had participated in a poetry contest organised by American Embassy in which Gulzar sahib was the judge. I had won second prize in the contest and this enthused me a lot and gave me wings to soar.
10. A piece of advice for our readers……
Never give up in life. There will be testing moments, but every experience has a deep meaning in our life.
Neelam Saxena Chandra works as Joint Secretary for U.P.S.C., India. She is an Engineering graduate from VNIT and has done her Post Graduation Diploma in IM&HRD and also in Finance . She has completed a course in Finance from London School of Economics. She has authored 4 novels, 1 novella and 5 short story collections, 25 poetry collections and 10 children’s books to her credit. She is a bilingual writer; writing in English and Hindi. She holds a record with the Limca Book of Records -2015 for being the Author having the highest number of publications in a year in English and Hindi. She has won II prize in a poetry contest organised by American Embassy and in a National poetry contest organised by Poetry Council of India, 2016. She has received Bharat Nirman Literary award in 2017, Premchand award by Ministry of Railways, Rabindranath Tagore International Poetry award, Freedom award by Radio city for Lyrics along with other awards and honours. She was listed in Forbes as one among 78 most popular authors in the country in 2014.