Recently I read Visions of a Summer Past, a book that is a roller-coaster ride. And after that, the obvious choice was to interview the author himself, Avishek Gupta. In his book he’s majorly experimented with the genre of Classic Fiction and that’s what we’re here to talk about today. Also, we’ll talk about his writing journey and yes, we’ll explore about Avishek Gupta more as well.
So, without any further ado, let’s get started!
Here’s a quick regular question: tell us about yourself using any set of words you like.
I was born and brought up in Kolkata. Since the last couple of years, I live in Hyderabad, where I am working in a software organization. Writing is a hobby I have picked up since my childhood, and I started publishing my stories and poems since 2016.
What’s your ideal writing space/environment? Please describe.
Frankly speaking, I just need a laptop and a word processor, and I can write anywhere. Sometimes, I also use my smartphone to write. For me, more than the space or environment, what matters most is the moment of inspiration. If I get a story idea or even an interesting line out of the blue, I try to write it down as soon as possible. From the writing table in my home, to my office desk, to public transports, I have virtually written everywhere. Of course, I prefer to write in a quiet room with no distractions or disruptions for a couple of hours straight; but it’s not always that I get the opportunity.
What made you write Visions of a Summer Past? Tell us your inspiration behind this book.
Visions of a Summer Past has two tracks – one set in pre-independence India in the 1940s, and the other in our present-day world. The two tracks are connected through a thread of magical realism.
My inspiration for the first track is my grandparents, who told me stories of their youth, and from my very childhood I wanted to write about those times. The present-day happenings in the book, much of which is based in the USA, is largely based on my personal experiences.
Again, all the elements of magic realism in the book can be traced back to my love for reading books in this genre. My introduction of fantasy into the story is my humble tribute to the maestros I grew up reading, such as Salman Rushdie and Gabriel Garcia Marquez.
What, according to you, is the most unethical practice in the publishing industry?
I have been publishing books since 2016. I have seen and experienced so many unethical things that I can probably write a book about it. But I would like to talk about something that I learnt recently.
There’s a certain book reviewer who asks authors to send her an Amazon Gift Card to buy their books, in exchange of an honest review. She refuses author signed-copies and insists on the Gift Card, since it will help mark her Amazon reviews with a “Verified Purchase” label. Now, once she posts her review, she returns the book and gets a refund for the book price. She now uses this money to buy other stuff on Amazon. I still do not know how to react to this new low in the industry.
Not just the vision about past or future but if you could actually travel to past or future, what will you choose?
In my childhood, I wanted to travel to ancient India or Egypt and experience how kings live. After visiting the USA and reading “The Great Gatsby”, I wanted to go to the New York City of the 1920s. Now, I just want to travel to 1947 and stop the partition of our land on the basis of religion.
I have briefly described in my book about the hardships that a family had faced while migrating from Dhaka to Kolkata. In reality, the horrors that my own family had experienced during those times are much more than what I have narrated.
If given a chance, who would you like to be for a day? (any person, dead or alive)
Good one! I want to be so many things for a day but would probably settle for being someone who would waive-off or repay all my loans. And then, I can have a peaceful rest-of-life from the very next day!
Did you hide any secrets in your books? (Names of friends, little jokes, reference to things that only some people will get—Easter eggs)
A lot in this book is based on real characters and real incidents. I have used the first name of my great grandfather for my protagonist in the 1940s track. The names of other characters in his family are just a play on the names of their real-life counterparts. There are a few incidents in this track which are true, and people who know my family closely would be able to identify them.
In the present-day track, there are characters and incidents in Rohit’s office which draw inspirations from my own life. My co-workers between 2012-2015 will be able to identify those incidents. Again, much of the happenings in the book that occurred in the USA are things that I had experienced myself. My friends and family will have a fun time recollecting them.
What is your most hated chore on your list of household chores?
I am very lazy and tend to avoid household chores as long as possible. When I stay alone, I try to avoid cooking because chopping vegetables intimidate me.
If your book was to be made into a movie, which actors would you cast?
That’s an interesting question. For the track in the 1940s, my dream cast would have been Uttam Kumar and Suchitra Sen. But looking at the current options we have, I think Amir Khan and Kareena Kapoor would fit the bill. For the track in the present-day world, I can visualize Alia Bhatt and Vikrant Massey.
If you have to describe yourself using any quote/poem, what will it be?
I will use a quote from my book: “I believe that even today, there are more people in this world with love in their hearts than hatred, and it is love which will give us the hope for a better tomorrow, the hope for staying alive in this wonderful world, even in the darkest of hours.”
And…that’s it! We’re done with the interview! Yay! After reading the answers, I am more than curious about what Avishek Gupta has to offer to us in the future! Do let me know what you think about the interview.
I am grateful to Avishek Gupta – Thank you so much! – for agreeing to this interview and answering all the questions awesomely and patiently. You can find Avishek Gupta on:
Will meet you next time with another author interview! Adios.