‘Writing is a form of self-actualisation’

Vinaya Patil
Wednesday, 28 March 2018

Author of recently-published Trust Me Not Ankita Verma talks about her book, writing in the age of internet, and what it means to be a young female writer

With her debut novel Trust Me Not, published by Jaico, Ankita Verma brings out a political-thriller with an intense love story and some drama. “Born out of deep instincts and keen observation of people and how they react to certain situations,” the story is also about a strong nexus between bureaucracy, corporates, politics and the media. Here’s more from our conversation with her:

Verma always had this fascination for the written word, right through her advertising days. But strangely, the idea to write a book was not a pre-meditated or planned one. “One day, while watching a political debate, I got this strange feeling that every issue has various angles. As a passive audience, we tend to mentally accept the pre-digested stuff thrown at us. We are somehow losing the capacity to think for ourselves. I thought that this idea could be conveyed to a larger audience, through a book,” she says. 

However, when she first designed the concept for Trust Me Not, it wasn’t in the political-thriller genre. As she progressed, the subject turned more intense. “As an author, I knew that if there was a dark, negative side to the story, then I had to handle it as honestly as possible. If my book is able to engage the reader while tackling an intense subject, then I think it serves its purpose,” she adds.

With a published book under her belt, not surprisingly Verma has been approached by a lot of people from across age groups, seeking guidance on the process of getting published. She is quite kicked to know that there are many writers in the making. 

“The only problem is,” adds Verma, “that many of them have not even started working on their manuscripts. I am not generalising here, but a lot of young people out there find the idea of writing or being a writer, very romantic. No doubt that it is. Writing is also a form self-actualisation on the creative front. Apart from this, one cannot ignore the lure of cracking that one story-idea, which can ensure an overnight runaway success and celebrity status.”

The publishing world today is on an anvil of a sweeping change. With the rise of e-books, Kindle and online release of content, the process of publishing is bound to be more democratic, faster and simpler in future. But online publishing has brought along with it a major challenge of maintaining the content’s standards. It also means there is a huge amount of content floating out there. 

When asked about her views on it, Verma replies, “Coming to the good old traditional publishing, I think and fervently hope that it will continue to hold its pole position. A lot of readers out there still love a good old printed copy of a book to curl up with. As far as the process of getting published goes, I have been fairly lucky as I didn’t have to face any rejection. However, I would like to forewarn, rather advise most debut writers that the journey may not be as easy for everyone, always.”

“It has been supported by many studies and research that women are capable of higher empathy level. They are supposed to be better at expressing themselves and are more intuitive. So yes, it helps to have these qualities in your armour as a writer. As a person, I am quite a human sponge actually. I believe this is also what gives me that additional sensitivity towards the subject, characters and situations I am handling through my writing,” she says.

Trust Me Not has many protagonists, all fighting their own battles from their own point of view. But, most importantly, three of them are very strong young women, Reeva Rai, Nandita Sahay and Shalini Ray. “From being in love with the wrong man to being stuck in a dangerous political mess to being emotionally traumatised by a personal loss, all these women are facing very trying situations. They are all in deep and complex turmoil but they have one thing in common — they hold their ground. And that’s what matters. I do not wish to suggest here that my male counterparts are any less in any aspect, nor am I claiming that I will only write women-centric stories in future. I am just deeply disturbed by unfairness in any form, whether it’s pertaining to men or women,” she says.

“Contemporary Indian English Literature is definitely emerging as a stark mirror to our society. There are so many good books being written in the literary fiction genre, which tackle crucial issues of the current Indian society. This is definitely a positive trend. Some of the popular Indian fiction novels have been included in the English Literature syllabus of Delhi University. So, undoubtedly the curve for Indian writers of English fiction/non-fiction is on the rise,” says Verma.

“As far as regional languages are concerned, I have always believed that some of the best work happens in regional languages. I have always been a huge fan of P L Deshpande and have read much of his work in Marathi. It’s just that till now regional language literature didn’t always get its spotlight in ‘mainline creative pursuits’. But things are changing, in fact they are taking a full turn,” she points out.

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