Author of the Month: Shoumi Sen
Shoumi Sen is the Author of Celebrate Durga Puja With Me!, a children's picture book in a series about Indian festivals.
Transcript from the interview:
Welcome, Shoumi, and congratulations on your wonderful new book.
First of all, let me ask you: what got you into writing?
Celebrate Durga Puja With Me! started as a thought while we were vacationing in Australia. It was right around the time of Durga Puja and we were in Brisbane, visiting an old friend who I grew up with in Mumbai. We were thrilled to find that the local Bengali Association would be celebrating Durga Puja and as we enjoyed the festivities of the “weekend Pujo” (in many celebrations outside India, five days of celebrations are often compressed to the weekend, and instead of multiple pandals throughout the city, the festivities are normally confined to a school auditorium), we reminisced about our childhood when the whole city would come alive! I realized that as long as we lived outside India, my little daughter may never get to experience Indian festivals the way I did growing up. I wanted to recreate the magic of this festival for her in verse and she absolutely loved what I wrote! Encouraged by her enthusiasm in this “toddler diary”, I decided to publish it.
Did you start writing as your main profession or a hobby?
I studied engineering, currently work as a Strategy, Sales and Marketing professional; writing is something I enjoy on the side.
What do you like to write about?
I enjoy writing about Indian culture - my books are illustrated books centered around Indian festivals as experienced by a toddler.
What is your writing process? Tell us one unique or quirky habit you have when it comes to writing.
I enjoy the research phase (that's the engineer in me talking) and then it's write, re-write and write some more. In my mind, I dream up images of what I want the illustrations to look like and I start writing detailed descriptions for my illustrator. My daughter and husband are my biggest fans and toughest critics so they play a huge role in bringing the final version to life!
I'm old fashioned, in that I write using pen and paper, so it's a lot of writing, scratching out, and re-writing until the poem sounds perfect. Also, I enjoy writing at night, when everyone is asleep!
What is your goal for the next five years? Any new books in the pipeline, or any off-shoot projects from your current book?
I am currently working on the next few books in the series 'From The Toddler Diaries' and I'm looking forward to releasing the next diary soon!
What is your advice to aspiring writers?
Start writing and don't let "What next?" worry you too much. No matter what publishing route you take, enjoy the learning phase, as challenging (and sometimes frustrating) as it might seem. Network with other writers so you can help and support each other. For me, this has been quite a journey and I ended up making some amazing friends along the way!
What is your most important message to your readers?
Thank you for your support and encouragement - it really means a lot to me! I would love to hear from you, please feel free to drop me a line at https://www.facebook.com/FromTheToddlerDiaries/
Thanks for your time, and good luck with your next book!
You can reach Shoumi Sen and read about her wonderful books at: www.shoumisen.com
Amazon Book link: http://amzn.com/1517550076
Amazon - Author page: amazon.com/author/shoumisen
Facebook - https://www.facebook.com/FromTheToddlerDiaries
In fiction writing, a crucial element is deciding the POV (point of view) to narrate the story.
It could be first person, which makes it easy to create a voice, but hard to explain what happens to other people not in direct view of the protagonist. An example is Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins.
Third person limited is when the author uses only one person’s POV. Like first person, the limitation is that you can’t explain what happens to other people in the plot. An example is Harry Potter series by JK Rowling.
Third person omniscient is when the author tells the story from different perspectives, like a movie camera showing wide vistas and zooming in on someone, then zooming out and focusing on someone else. It gives great flexibility to show what’s happening in places away from the protagonist. The reader often knows something the protagonist doesn’t, which creates another level of tension.
Whatever POV you decide to use, it should be consistent. The reader needs to know whose ‘head’ he/she is in. The reader needs to feel the emotions of the character.
If you’re using the third person omniscient, an important thing is to avoid ‘head-hopping’. Head hopping is when the POV switches from one person to another too quickly. The author should keep the POV of one person for the whole section or chapter, and switching to the other person’s POV in the next section.
Here’s an example of ‘head-hopping’:
Alice stared into Todd’s eyes and knew he was the one. As he tipped up her chin, her heart raced and her skin burned for his touch. She felt herself melt in his arms as he pressed his mouth against hers. Her fragrance drove him crazy, her lips felt soft against his. He knew he should never have left her. She was the only one he’d ever loved. She shivered as he whispered, “I love you!”
In the above passage, the POV jumps from Alice’s perspective to Todd’s, in a muddled fashion.
Here’s a better version, with consistent POV (Alice):
Alice stared into his eyes and knew he was the one. As he tipped up her chin, her heart raced and her skin burned for his touch. She felt herself melt in his arms as he pressed his mouth against hers. Why did you leave me, Todd? But then he whispered, “I love you!”
OR, Consistent POV (Todd):
Todd tipped up her chin and stared into her eyes. He pressed his mouth against hers, and felt her melt in his arms. Her fragrance drove him crazy, her lips felt soft against his. He knew he should never have left her. She was the only one he’d ever loved. He felt her shiver as he whispered, “I love you!”
I like to write passages from different POVs, until I decide whose perspective works best in a situation. In my latest novel Shadowed Promise, I wrote the last chapter three times, from three different perspectives until I decided on doing it through the protagonist Moyna’s eyes.
Want to learn how to write fiction? Check out these helpful books.