Interview: Sujay Malik
Sujay Malik is professionally a Chartered Accountant, also holding a degree in law and commerce. He works with Jardine Lloyd Thompson Group. So, we see that he has been a bit of a bookworm throughout his existence. He says novels and stories happened pretty late to him. Irony is, that he loved to write always and never wanted to be a reader. This he says has changed in the past couple of years and thankfully so.
Apart from all this he has been a National level Table Tennis player. So apart from writing this is something that he likes to indulge in, he says, “The sport continues to arouse interest in me still, and I try and go back to it whenever I can. However there were times when I couldn’t see myself in isolation from the sport.”
What made you to write this book? Who or what was your inspiration?
I have always believed that stories are nothing but a reflection of lives and times that we live in. This world is nothing but a fragmented collection of tiny stories just put together. I always had a strong observational streak in me. When I looked around me there was so much that I saw. I have always been an introvert and the best let out for me has been the pen. I have always believed in the power of writing.
So when I looked around me and felt anguished or despaired I knew there wasn’t much point to just keep rambling and ranting about it. It needed to be given some structure. And so I felt stories were the best way to put these ideas across.
You will see such emotions being reflected in all my stories. The inspiration for each of them comes from situations existing around us. And I have tried to capture each one of them as objectively and neutrally as I could.
Could you please explain to us what the title of your book means?
As I said the inspiration of all the stories came from whatever I saw around myself. I wondered why certain things were as they were. If you read all the 10 short stories you will understand that they reflect societal behavioural norms. You might also feel that the characters are so much like the persons we meet in our day to day lives.
Hence I wanted a title which portrays this aspect. Every story (denoting a bead) is definitely different, but somewhere it is connected to that particular source, the source (denoting a string) from where all the stories derive that existence. Hence while every story is different and stands on its own, the embedded emotions are common to a particular source. Hence the title ‘Different Beads of the Same String.’
The cover of the book is enticing too. Was this the only cover designed, or out of the three or four samples given, you selected this one, why?
Oh thank you. Well again it only denotes the title of the book. When I saw this cover idea it didn’t take me even 5 minutes to go ahead. I loved the idea of bead-like structures emanating from human mind. It was so symptomatic of the book and the ideas contained in it.
How was your process of writing alongside your busy schedule of work?
I chalk out my writing schedules. Usually it is late at night and on weekends. Of course it is not possible to stick to it always, but I try and stick to this schedule more often than not. I am enjoying this space as of now and love to develop stories at night and on weekends. It keeps my creative juices flowing.
What are the various themes you have tried to explore in the short stories?
Everything that affects you and me in our day to day routine. Hence you may take the theme as ‘India’ or just simply ‘Life’.
The stories strike on the universal human emotions of hope and fear, could you explain why you chose to speak of it?
Well, as I said, the stories are nothing but a reflection of what I saw around me. I felt so many emotions, not just hope and fear, but also anger, love, ecstasy, joy, anguish, shock, surprise and so much more. These emotions are all deep rooted within us – all of us. But most times they are not brought to the surface due to various factors.
I probably chose to speak about it because it was important for me to bring these emotions out and share it with the world. I felt so many things were astray and adrift. Eventually stories were the best medium to bring it to the fore.
After writing the short stories, how was the process of publishing?
It was pretty smooth. My publishers Notion Press were helpful at every step and I did not have to worry too much about the publishing bit. It was handled professionally and in a timely manner and the result is there for all to see.
What according to you must a budding writer keep in mind, with regard to writing and getting one’s work published?
I think one must keep their eyes and ears open always. And of course read a lot and write a lot. There is no substitute for that. Another thing that is very important is the process of editing. It is important to get your work professionally edited to weed out the errors which the eyes of the ‘producer of the work’ would never pick despite repeated iterations.
Name one of your favourite authors in the genre and what did you like in his or her writing.
There are so many out there, but if I were to pick one I would say R.K. Narayan. Some of his stories are pure magic. His fine observational skills and mastery over putting it forth in words is legendary. I love his soulful presentation of so many fine nuances of human behaviour. The story of ordinary people brought out with the most extraordinary finesse.
Name your favourite short story that you have loved so far.
All the stories in my book are very close to my heart. However if you were to put my head on the block and ask me, I would say that story ‘Feelijus’ would be my favourite. It relates to a subject which is very close to my heart. You got to read it further to know what exactly I am talking about.
If given a chance which genre would you like to explore?
I would love to explore ‘Thriller’, although I write what I choose to called ‘Social Fiction’ but if I have to digress, I would love to write a good Suspense Thriller.
Would you like to share with us your next venture?
Well, it’s in a very unstructured shape right now. But the moment it takes a concrete shape I’ll be happy to share it.
Your advice to aspiring writers.
Read a lot. Write a lot. No two ways about it. That is as simple or as complex as it can be.