A literary connection

A new podcast bridges the gap between aspiring writers and homegrown Indian authors

Updated - May 06, 2020 10:13 am IST

Published - May 05, 2020 10:36 pm IST

In session:  (Left to right) Manu Pillai, Michelle D’costa, and Tara Khandelwal recording a podcast

In session: (Left to right) Manu Pillai, Michelle D’costa, and Tara Khandelwal recording a podcast

Last year, Tara Khandelwal, founder of Mumbai-based literary company Bound, realised that aspiring Indian writers lacked access to homegrown authors. The latter were read and admired, but seldom heard from, beyond the occasional appearance at literature festivals. To bridge this gap, Khandelwal, along with writer-editor Michelle D'costa, decided to spearhead a podcast dedicated to Indian writers. Their months of planning and ideation led to Books and Beyond with Bound , a podcast that was launched a couple of weeks after the nation-wide lockdown was imposed due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

“We both love talking about books, and in the West, there are so many writers’ podcasts but here, we barely have any,” says D’costa. As part of their start-up, the duo has been conducting and organising workshops, writing retreats and coaching sessions with authors like Chandrahas Chaudhury, Prayaag Akbar, Ratika Kapur, Amitabha Bagchi, Aditi Rao, among others. A podcast, therefore, was a natural progression. “Since we do those retreats and workshops, we value these close connections and relationships with authors,” says Khandelwal.

The aim of the podcast is to dig deep into an author’s writing process, what drives them, understanding their style, inspirations, publishing journey and a few tips for those struggling to write and get published. “We want to break it down for the reader – what is it that a writer goes through, and some practical advice on things like pricing your book,” explains D’costa. In order to cover an extensive ground of contemporary Indian commercial and literary fiction, the duo curated a list of authors who represent a wide spectrum of genres and backgrounds, from travel writing to speculative fiction. The podcast was launched on March 31, with author Manu Pillai as their first guest. “He managed to publish three books before turning 30 and we really wanted to know how he managed to do that,” recalls Khandelwal.

Genre bender

While Pillai took the listener through the voyage of historical fiction, the second episode featured Lisa Ray dismantling her process of writing an autobiography and discovering a stronger identity as an author, rather than an actor and model. “She opened up about her personal journey, which was quite relatable,” observes D’costa. In the third episode, author Rajat Ubhaykar recounted his experience of spending months on the road travelling with truck drivers across India. Tashan Mehta, in the fourth episode, discussed speculative fiction, which is still in its nascent stages in India. The fifth episode, which dropped last week, featured Jane Borges, the author of Bombay Balchao, who brought forth stories of a Catholic neighbourhood in South Bombay.

The first season of Books and Beyond with Bound will have 12 episodes, each dropping on Wednesdays. The upcoming shows will feature authors like Abhijeet Kini, Avni Doshi, Arshia Sattar, Deepanjana Pal, Suhit Kelkar, Vivek Tejuja and Amrita Mahale. Although Khandelwal and D’costa hadn't planned to drop the podcasts for the lockdown, the timing has worked in their favour. There has been a spike in those participating in their online writing workshops and retreats with established authors, as well as those listening to their podcasts.

Books and Beyond with Bound is available on Apple Podcast, Spotify, Stitcher, Google Podcast, TuneIn and iHeart Radio.

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