Author: It Happens..Stories of Human Relationships – Bhaswar Mukherjee, PGP 1988

He calls himself an accidental writer but his writing and his books have been creating waves among readers. His latest book It Happens – Stories of Human Relationships is a book that is sure to sync and strike a tune with all, everyone will find a story that they relate with. A book of stories that will intrigue, tantalize and leave room to ponder about life. In conversation with Bhaswar Mukherjee talking about his latest book and how he became a writer.

Can you please tell us something about yourself?

I hail from Jamshedpur, where I did my initial schooling. Thankful to the Jesuits for inculcating the love for the English language, which lay dormant except for a bit of indulgence in public speaking, theatre and some desultory poetry. Post an engineering degree and a post-graduation from IIMB, was tossed in the high seas of finance where I buffeted for about 17 years with multinational banks. In 2005, set up my own company and finally got time to start writing. Wife and I are empty nesters and reside in Chennai currently. Our only daughter works in the US. 

Please tell us more about your recent book – It Happens: Stories of Human Relationships.

Simple or complex, in ties of blood or otherwise, this anthology explores myriad hues of human relationships dealing with various themes of love, deception, humanity, incest, alternate sexuality, revenge, nemesis, ethical dilemma and fatalism. If you enjoy reading stories about relationships, this is the book for you. I am hoping that the reader will identify either personally or otherwise with one or more stories in the book.

What was the inspiration behind the book? Where did you get the idea for the book/s?

So, there had been some success with my dabbling in short stories since 2014 when I began writing. One of my short stories got picked up by Sudha Murty for her anthology, another by Ravinder Singh for his. Emboldened, when the Write India competition kicked off somewhere in 2015 under the aegis of the Times of India, I attempted for most of the prompts. Write India, as many may be aware, is the country’s largest platform for crowd-sourced short story writing in conjunction with famous authors, which has completed three seasons now. It has become very much of a literary movement and has inspired many like me to allow their bottled stories within to flow on paper. Some of my entries were successful, most weren’t (in terms of making the cut to the top 10 for by an author) but by the end of the third season, I had over 30 short stories. “It happens” is an anthology, a selection of 14 of these stories and another one I had written for the Commonwealth Short Story contest in 2015. So, you could say that the Write India platform, made this book “happen!”

You often calls yourself an accidental writer, why is that? 

My first short story ‘The God of a Lesser Child’ was submitted as a lark and was selected for an anthology. It was submitted because a friend read it and said that I should. Had that story remained in some forgotten folder in my laptop, perhaps my writing would never have happened.  

Any writers who have influenced your writing style?

There have been many writers who have had a profound impact on me, perhaps on my writing too. Unfair to mention a few of the names, but  Daniel Keyes, Collen McCollough Ayn Rand, P G Wodehouse, Harper Lee, Arthur Hailey, Michael Crichton and the classics of Leo Tolstoy, Charles Dickens in the long form. In the short form, O Henry, Ruskin Bond, Ernest Hemingway, Anton Chekhov are my favourites.

I try not to read fiction whilst I am writing, fearing that it may influence or cramp my style.

What is your work schedule like when you’re writing?

Writing, like life, to me is a ketchup bottle. At times, you keep shaking and thumping and nothing emerges and then suddenly there is a deluge. I try to catch the crest, though work pressures often deny me this. In addition to being an accidental writer, I am reluctant too and perhaps conditioned by years in the corporate world, seem to write better when there is a submission deadline. I do spend a lot of time researching the story, the premise, the plot, and an engaging character conflict. Writing is very demanding and time-consuming and work does tend to throw me off balance. Writing also is a lonely pursuit, requiring lots of discipline, which I need to improve upon.

A question that often pops in an aspiring writer’s mind – How to get published?

Well, everyone wishes to get published traditionally by a large name. That path is tortuous and frustrating, though we do console ourselves and retain hope that many greats had multiple rejections too! If one is unwilling to take this path, alternatives of self- publishing or vanity publishing exist. If you are convinced about your work, you must put it out there.

What do you do in your spare time? How do you unwind?

I do watch the OTT platforms on TV and read. This year has been brutal, but otherwise, I also dabble in theatre and like acting and directing.

Your favourite book.

A difficult question, for it seems so unfair to single out so many brilliant books out there! And this answer may surprise many. If I was allowed to pick only one book, it would have to be “Flowers for Algernon” by Daniel Keyes. This is a book which has stayed with me over the years, and the only one to have made me cry.

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You can grab your copy of It happens and other books by Bhaswar from Amazon. Please follow the link here.