Millennium Post

‘My daughter gave birth to the story-teller in me’

Neelam Saxena Chandra, Joint Secretary in UPSC who is also an ace author, converses with Millennium Post ahead of the launch of her book ‘In the Flickering of an Eye’. She had been featured in Forbes India Celebrity 100 Nominees longlist 2014, and claims to suffer from an incurable passion of writing poetry and fiction. 

What inspired you to write? How does it feel to feature in the Forbes list? 
Writing poetry has been a passion for me since childhood. I have mainly been inspired to write by the incidents which take place in the society in and around me. My daughter gave birth to the story-teller in me. I would craft new stories for her every day and later, on the suggestion of my husband, I penned down a few stories which were published in magazines like Champak, Nandan and Balbharti. After that, I tried my luck in other genres too. Overall, the journey has been pretty interesting. My name featured in Forbes list in 2014 and I was thrilled. I hadn’t really expected it since I was pursuing writing only as a hobby. I was certainly motivated and became much more confident.
What is your take on the Indian authors in the global front?
India has always been a country with a history of tales, dramas and poetry. We have had a plethora of wonderful story tellers such as Rabindranath Tagore, Munshi Premchand, Amrita Pritam etc, but their writings remained confined to the boundaries of the country, mostly because their works were in regional languages. However, times have changed and Indian authors are making a marked presence globally and authors such as Arundhati Roy, Vikram Seth, Jhumpa Lahiri are well-known. The works of erstwhile well known authors are also being translated and it is reaching the global populace.

How do you think you can bring a change to the society through your pen?
The power of pen has a great ability to transform societies. I suppose that each one of us has been affected in one way or the other by the epics Ramayana and Mahabharata at some point in life. It is said that, whenever you read a good book, somewhere in the world a door opens to allow in more light. My writings are mainly based on the social conditions in various parts of the country. It is through my stories that I expect people to understand and empathise with the pains, dilemmas and sufferings of the protagonists.

What is the latest book you are working on? Kindly give an outline.
My latest book is a novel titled In the Flickering of an Eye’. It shall be released in the World Book Fair on January 10. The story begins in the interiors of Haryana. The social conditions in the country form the background of the story with sagotra marriages playing a crucial part (Marrying within the same kinship is considered incestuous in Hindu society). Here’s the synopsis for those who are interested in it: 

Twenty five years worth of ‘what ifs’ and ‘if onlys’ have haunted and tortured Vinay. He cannot help but go back in time again and again to that one moment that changed his life forever. A chance encounter with a person from his past, and a journey through the majestic hills of Kalimpong lead him to some of his answers, in the form of an elusive woman, who bears a striking resemblance to the woman he loved and lost. Will he finally get his happily-ever-after? Or will his story, tarnished when he was nineteen by the gotra system, forever be punctuated with too many fullstops?

Being a woman of substance, what are your future plans and your message to Gen Y? 
I don’t plan too much since things never follow a straight line pattern, they are mostly curvilinear. I live in the present and enjoy every moment as if there is no tomorrow. I love my job and I am ready to face all the challenges that come interlaced with it. I also plan to continue with my tryst of writing. My message to young India is never to give up, delete the world “Impossible” from your dictionary.
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