KUSUM CHOPPRA | AUTHOR INTERVIEW

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Interview by bookGeeks:

Kusum Choppra is known for her work as a writer, journalist, environmentalist and numerologist. She has previously penned many works such as “Mastani”, “Nirbhaya & Others Who Dared” and “Beyond Diamond Rings”. “Silver Dreams” is her 4th book.

bookGeeks:The readers want to know about you. Tell us something about yourself; something which not many people know.
Kusum:Strange but true for a feminist: I got married too young and in very short order became a wife, a mother and an entrepreneur, with a brood to raise. Some lessons one learns quickly, others take time.
Late in life, Journalism became a profession that offered accumulated experiences that lend colour, nuances and variety to my books, from the evolution of Sindhi Women to Mastani and Nirbhaya’s sisters, to now a Silver couple and their families. From kiddy tales and environmental conservation to feminist literature and history, I now dabble with human issues in the world around us.
Early life abroad, a Pune education plus journalism broadened the mind. But, my heart belongs to India, with all her variety, her colours, her people and their quirkiness; it is My Land. You will find my books reflecting all those differences that make up India.
Being one of five sisters, listening to relatives commiserate with my ‘poor’ parents for that ‘calamity’ probably developed the feminist instincts that are the hallmark of my writing. Writers like Ismat Chugtai, Morris West, Celeste Vaitura and Leon Uris fed ideas to take forward; and the courage to experiment with the new, styles, technology, genres. Gender relationships, twists in the tale and verbal emoting are the stuff of my story writing. What else do I say…check out My Story on www.kusumchoppra.com
bookGeeks:Can you give us a few insights into your new novel “Silver Dreams”?
Kusum:The pity today is that despite a rapidly rising senior population targeted by housing developers, tourism planners, health and medical insurers, even filmmakers, the publishing industry ignores this segment’s reading needs, save for religious tracts and self-help – genres that are so been there, done that for those who love reading. What’s more, the current trend of coming up with a rehash of mythologicals and thrillers, unless exceptional, is often tedious.
So I took it upon myself to write a book that Silvers would love to read, for nostalgia, music, romance, life experiences, adventures and so much more; hoping that it would spark off a trend towards a new Silvers genre that looks at the world through their eyes and their experience.
Coming to terms with senior romance and second innings is difficult in most segments of our society. But things have to change, don’t they? Although reviews focus on the hilarious romance in Silver Dreams, there is more to it … the onerous task of welding two families into one, travel adventures, the revival of the Indenture discussion that followed Slavery Abolition, so long swept under the carpet in India and VOODOO! These are issues a contemporary, mature India must examine and deal with, along with the seniors’ issue.
bookGeeks:How was the experience of writing Silver Dreams different from your experience of writing other books?
Kusum:Wow, was it different! First of all, very little research, except for the different physical settings; I’m no real time world traveller, so tapped friends and relatives who live in different parts of the world.
The actual beauty of the writing of Silver Dreams was in the way small incidents, bits of intriguing dialogue, snatches of songs and such like would pop into my mind as soon as my head touched the pillow. Jerking up, I would make notes on a bedside pad and fall off to sleep with a smile on my face. This book always brought a smile to my face, even when I was immersed in some serious segment because my fingers knew that it would end as a Happy book, unlike the more serious nature of all my other books that touched on tragedies more than the happy memory banks that Silver Dreams so often does.
bookGeeks:How do you manage to bring that element of feminism in your writing so effortlessly?
Kusum:Being one of five sisters, listening to relatives commiserate with my ‘poor’ parents for the ‘calamity’ of providing for dowry drew a combativeness that probably developed the feminist instincts that are the hallmark of my writing. Journalism and my massive newspaper clippings library, with horror story after horror story about women honed those instincts.
Fortunately, an early maturity enabled me to moderate the tilting at the patriarchial windmills, with an emphasis on the responsibilities of feminism and a matriarchal approach — so that we don’t think like men to become FEMALE MEN, making the same mistakes as our male counterparts; for we must bring our civilisation back from the brink it is teetering on.
bookGeeks:Did you always want to be an author? When did you first feel the urge to write?
Kusum:Actually not from the start. As a teen, I dreamt of IFS (adoration for Smt. Vijaylakshmi Pandit, my heroine) or journalism. Perhaps Fate willed the latter with my college subjects of Economics, Politics and History – perfect combo for a journalist. Experiences accumulated wrote themselves into short stories that progressed to longer ones, and finally novels after I gave up journalism. Writing was my favourite in school though.
bookGeeks:In what ways has your career in journalism contributed to you as an author?
Kusum:Many definite ways in my evolution into an author. Journalism brings you face to face with myriad situations and persons; lessons to be learnt, experiences to be filed away in memory — from which “I pick grains of truth, to craft into stories with fine verbal embroidery.”
bookGeeks:Which is your favourite amongst the books that you have penned?
Kusum:Ask any mother which of her eyes or her children she prefers. That is a question impossible to answer. Beyond Diamond Rings is special for being my first literary baby, Mastani remains my soul sister and the love of my life, Nirbhaya & Others who dared are an inspiration, while Silver Dreams is a revival of hope. All are equally precious to me.
bookGeeks:Have you started working on your next project? If yes, what is it all about?
Kusum:Right now, I am working on 2 projects: one is a collaborative novel, written along with 9 other writers. Just imagine a romantic thriller written by 10 different people, ranging from English teachers and authors to an oncologist, an IT entrepreneur, a designer and even an adventure camp owner. That’ll be one exception treat for readers.
Alongside, several ideas are buzzing in my head, for a sequel to Silver Dreams with a focus on their Gen Next, an unusual love jihad story and another on multiple partners, all set in fascinating locations. But the current second major project is persuading writers to contribute lullabies and nursery rhymes to promote gender equality and respect …. Offering different slants on “Ladke rulate nahi”, instead of “Ladke rote nahi.”
bookGeeks:A few words for your fans.
Kusum:Please do continue to expect the unexpected from me; so I can take delight in crafting unusual stories that will open your minds to new ideas, new places and to all types of people who populate this wonderful world of ours.
What I do want from my fans are their ideas for those lullabies and nursery rhymes, and their inventive minds to find ways and means of diminishing the growing man-woman antipathy in workplaces and on WhatsApp, and for the development of an anti-rape technology ….. bound to sell like hot cakes!! Keep the reviews coming and contact me at kusumchoppra@yahoo.com.
bookGeeks:A few words for bookGeeks.in
Kusum:bookGeeks’ contribution to India’s reading world is truly appreciated, walking hand-in-hand with readers and writers. Great to know you are back and raring to go forward, acquainting readers with the best in Indian fiction in English.

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