As part of a new series titled, “Author Interviews – Indie Success Stories”, this week we hear from Indie Author Sunanda Chatterjee. Ms.Chatterjee has penned four Amazon bestsellers – Shadowed Promise, Fighting for Tara, The Blue House in Bishop and Lost and Found – and she is just getting started!

Here, from the author in her own words, are a few gems for the rest of the world.

Q: What inspired you to become a writer?
A: I grew up in a small central Indian town of Bhilai, which was established for the Steel Plant in the 50’s. Almost all our neighbors worked in the plant, and most were engineers or doctors. As such, the pressure to become a ‘professional’ was immense, even more so than the rest of the country. My father is an engineer and my mother a science teacher. My three siblings became engineers and I became a doctor. I think if I had grown up anywhere else, I might have gone into fine art or creative writing, my true love. But as a doctor, I joined the Indian Air Force, then came to the US to pursue a PhD in cancer research. Academics and family became the most important drivers of what I did. I completed my residency training, and became a pathologist.
As a pathologist, I make life-changing diagnoses on a daily basis. Many patients get a clean bill of health, but some get chemotherapy or other harsh medications based on what I find in their biopsy. I carry the burden of the words “carcinoma’” or “melanoma” or other such deadly diagnoses with me. It is a draining, challenging environment.
When I took this job, on my days off, I found myself alone at home, and after all errands were done, I had a few free hours. For the first time since I was a child, I actually had time to indulge in creative activities. Writing for me is catharsis, an escape into a world of my creation, where my characters do as I tell them, where calamities happen, but I give them tools to deal with them. I took up writing as a hobby, but as a die-hard academic, I took writing courses and read umpteen books on fiction writing. As I learnt more techniques, I kept changing my first book several times, and by the time I published it, ten years had gone by.
The second and third books became easier to write.

Q. Who are your favorite authors? Why?
A. From a young age, I read a lot. I even hid novels in my textbooks during exams, pretending to study. Thomas Hardy, Somerset Maugham, Victoria Holt, and as I got older, Jhumpa Lahiri, became my heroes. Some of my novels have a lot of detail about surroundings, while others are faster paced, with brief descriptions. But they all have a common style, of evoking emotions. I picked up Thomas Hardy’s passion for writing about characters struggling against their social circumstance. Somerset Maugham’s short story “The Unconquered” still affects me, and in fact, made a cameo in Shadowed Promise. I enjoy Jhumpa Lahiri’s lilting, almost sad commentary on the life of immigrants. Still, the stories I write are about immigrants who are comfortable in their skin, and generally well adjusted.

Q. Do you think that right now, you are writing the kind of books you always wanted to write? If not, have you analyzed the gap? Do you have any plans for how to get there?
A. I am writing exactly what I want to write: emotional, evocative stories about strong, empowered women dealing with the issues we face in life, and rising above our circumstance.

Q. What is your favorite genre to read? Why? Do you think there are enough genres out there? Name one genre you’d like to add to the list, for fiction.
**Link to list of existing genres, per BISAC provided below.
A. (The Author Chose not to answer this question.) 

Q. Outside of the arena of fiction and fiction writing, is there anyone else that inspires you? Why?
A. (The Author Chose not to answer this question.) 

Q. Who is a favorite character from one of your own books that you’ve already published? The character that is stuck in your head? Give the readers a background with a little bit about the book detailing why you are so drawn into this character’s life.

A. My favorite character is Moyna, the protagonist from my book Shadowed Promise. She is burdened with the belief that she brings bad luck to those she loves, so she tries her best not to get close to anyone, denying herself a chance to fall in love. She struggles with her feelings toward Sameer, the male lead. Although she is fiercely independent, she must accept the help of her friends. She adapts to a new environment, tries to keep every promise she makes and always wants to do what’s right. But she is human. She feels jealousy, desperation, anger, and wants revenge. But most of all, she wants to be loved. Isn’t that true for all of us?

Q. If you could, please provide a link to one or more YouTube videos that you think provide valuable information for authors. If you are not into YouTube, you could provide a link to an article/self-help book that you think is a must read for authors.
A. (The Author Chose not to answer this question.) 

Q. What according to you is the one major roadblock to your creativity?
A. Finding the time to write is the biggest roadblock for me. I work four days a week and on the fifth day and on weekends, I write in all my spare time. But even during weekdays, I am thinking about my stories, deciding on scenes, figuring out dialogue, such that as soon as I can find a moment at my computer, I can start typing.

Q. Are you writing full-time or do you still have your day job? Is this a hobby for you? What are your other extracurricular activities? Do your other hobbies help you write better?
A. See above

Q. If you had to pick, what other passion could you have adopted to spend all your time on if it hadn’t been writing fiction?
A. I wanted to join art school when I was young. But growing up in a small steel town where everyone was expected to go into science, I felt pressured to become a doctor. Don’t get me wrong; I love what I do. But my heart lay in painting. A few years ago I restarted painting, and found it really enjoyable. For a while I tried to paint and write in my free time. As a doctor, a wife, a mother, and a daughter, I have to pick and choose. So I picked writing.

Q. What advice would you like to give other aspiring writers? How did you yourself come upon this piece of wisdom?
A. If you love to write, write for the love of it. Don’t give up your day job until you truly believe you can and want to live the life of a writer. A full time writer lives in her mind at all times if she’d not writing. Every social interaction, every movie, book or show she reads or watches, is fuel for creativity. Writing can become a lonely activity, especially if your family does not support your passion. But at the end of the day, if writing gives you satisfaction, go for it. Even if you’re not successful financially, just having written is enough to lift your soul from the mundane.

Q. If you end up writing that bestseller, what do you plan to do with the earnings? If you believe you are working on it right now, to tell the readers all about it.
A. (The Author Chose not to answer this question.) 

 

About the Author

Sunanda J. Chatterjee writes romantic sagas and family dramas, and her themes include the immigrant experience, women’s issues, and medicine. She loves extraordinary love stories and heartwarming tales of duty and passion. Her books have consistently been the Top 100 bestsellers on Amazon USA and Amazon India in Asian Literature, Indian Writing, and Asian Drama categories. Her short stories have appeared in anthologies, short-story.net and induswomanwriting.com.
She grew up in Bhilai, India and now lives in Arcadia, California with her husband and two wonderful children. When she is not by the microscope or creating imaginary worlds, she reads, sings, goes on long walks, and binge-watches old TV dramas.
You can follow her here:

Sunanda Chatterjee’s Facebook Page
Sunanda Chatterjee’s Blog