You don’t write a book, books write you, says author Sreemoyee Piu Kundu
The first thing I notice is how beautifully dressed she is — perfectly draped sari, nicely coiffed hair, matching jewellery and a large red bindi that draws attention to her intense, liquid eyes. “I love dressing up,” she admits. “Which girl doesn’t?”
Author of Faraway Music, Sreemoyee Piu Kundu exudes an enigmatic grace that induces you to simply look and listen. And the protagonist of her story Piya Choudhury is almost as compelling as the author herself. The almost invariable query on whether the book is autobiographical draws a laugh from Sreemoye, “Of all my books, this is the one closest to my own life,” she says. “My childhood is very similar to Piya’s, my career path is like hers, characters like Karim Bhai and Tarun are based on real people,” she says adding wryly, “I’ve unfortunately had no such luck in finding a male.”
An alumnus of Loreto house and Jadavpur University, Sreemoyee worked as a journalist for a decade before switching to PR and then becoming a full time writer. “I’ve always wanted to write and I felt this was the right time. Every book has a destiny of its own. You don’t write a book, books write you.” she says.
It took her about four months to finish this book, “I write very fast and finish a chapter a day,” she says. The first few chapters however, were penned many years ago in Mumbai when she was stuck in office during the floods on July 26. “When you have been part of something like the floods in Bombay, it changes your life,” she says.
Her kinship with the Maximum City is deep rooted. “Mumbai is a great leveller,” she says. “You can’t own Mumbai; you can’t describe it in one word. It is almost like as variable as a woman — different during the morning, afternoon and night,”
The inspiration of her second novel, Sita’s Curse due to release soon,again comes from Mumbai. “I used to pass a chawl in Byculla on my way to work. I would see this woman in her late thirties or forties standing in her balcony — a gorgeous woman with luscious curves, long hair and light eyes — and always wondered about her.” And though after the floods in Mumbai, Sreemoyee never saw that woman again, the middle-aged Gujurati housewife, Meera who is the protagonist of the novel, is based on that woman. The novel, an erotic one, explores the language of desire through her eyes, “Meera is in a way representative of every woman in India. After all, erotica is not new to us. We have a strong culture of erotica with a deep history to it.”
While both Faraway Music and Sita's Curse explored the darker, more serious side of human nature, the third book You’ve Got The Wrong Girl, also due for release is a fun, racy, novel with oodles of sarcastic humour. “I had just finished Sita’s Curse and gone for a vacation to Kolkata when my 20-year-old cousin said that all my books were very serious and I should write something light,” she says. And thus was the genesis of her first lad-lit, “It is full of colourful fun characters drawn from every day life,” she says. “And deconstructing a man is good fun.”
She is currently working on her fourth book, Cut! which talks of the decline of the Maratha stage in the light of Bollywood through the eyes of a thespian and reads almost like a play. “I don’t know whether something like this can be done and which category it will belong to,” she says.
On whether she finds it hard to write in the voice of a man, she says, “When you sit down to write you are no one -- you are just energy.”
She adds that when she writes she becomes very reclusive and cuts off from people, almost completely.
“With any creative profession, you end up having to be alone. You are constantly vulnerable because you have to go out there with nothing but your work. Yet the ability to be vulnerable, over and over again — you cannot lose it. Every time I write a book, I shed a layer. I tell one more truth about my life.”