Pranab Ghosh is a journalist, writer, poet, translator and blogger. He writes a blog “Existential Problems”. His poems and prose pieces have been published and accepted by Tuck Magazine, Transendent Zero Press, Scarlet Leaf Review, Literature Studio Review, Leaves of Ink, Hans India, Dissident Voice etc. He has co-authored a book of poems, titled Air & Age. He has to his credit a translation of a book of Bengali short stories titled Shantiramer Cha, authored by Bitan Chakraborty. The title of the English translation is Bougainvillea and Other Stories.
Welcome to Scarlet Leaf Review!
Q: Tell us a little about yourself and your background.
I did my graduation with honours in English literature from Scottish Church College in Kolkata and then went on to do my masters in Journalism from Calcutta University. While in school I extensively took part in various debate and recitation competitions and had won many prizes. This continued during the university years as well. I eat non-vegetarian dishes. I generally do not take alcoholic drinks. I am a law-abiding, God-fearing person.
Q: Do you think that your school years have had an impact in your writing career? If so, what were you like at school?
Yes, my school years have had an impact on my writing career. My first poem in English was published in my School magazine. I was in Class Six then, age 11 years. I was considered a good student. According to my teachers my English was above average compared to the peers I had.
Q: Were you good at English or like Einstein you excel now in a field that was a nightmare for you as a student?
Same as above.
Q: What are your future ambitions for your writing career?
I want to carry on with my
writing. Write better stuff and excel with each publishing work. At the back of my mind I cherish a desire to bag literary awards based on the merit of my writing skills.
Q: Which poets have inspired you and how? What was their impact on your work or your literary perspective?
The Romantic poets of English literature, especially John Keats, have had an impact on me while I was in College. This apart, Rabindranath Tagore has been an influence. These poets have impacted my inner thoughts and that at times that get reflected in my writings.
Q: So, would you mind telling us what you have written so far?
I have been a journalist for years and have written several articles till date. While in Hindustan Times, Delhi, I wrote several stories related to education for young adults and that was an enriching experience. At present I write for Business India, a premier business magazine of India. These apart I have co-authored a book of poems – Air and Age and have translated a book of Bengali short stories into English. Apart from the recently published Soul Searching and Other Poems the above mentioned two books had been my published works. I have seriously taken to writing poetry and fiction for the past two years.
Q: Where can we buy or see them?
Those could be bought online. On Amazon and other sites.
Q: What are you working on at the minute? What’s it about?
t present I am working on a book of poems. It is more or less complete. I am fine tuning and rewriting. The name of this proposed book of poems is Karma-Cola.
Q: What genre are your books and what draws you to this genre?
I write poetry and short stories. I have not restricted myself to any genre. You as my publisher would be in a better position to say in which genre my poetry falls.
Q: When did you decide to become a poet? What was the decisive factor or you just took a pen and starting writing poems?
I was toying with the idea for years. But couple of years ago I met a student of mine who had formed a band by then and was the lead singer in it. He wanted me to write songs for them. The subsequent discussions with him did not take place, but I became a poet in the process.
Q: What makes you write? What’s the force behind taking your pen (or your keyboard) and put verses down?
My inner being. That I think as I live. That there is a living and responsive world around me that laughs, cries and bleeds. The power of life and everything surrounding it forces me to take up a pen and write.
Q: Do you write full-time or part-time? Do you have a special time to write or do you write every day, 5 days a week or as and when?
I have been a journalist. That’s my profession. And as a poet, short-story writer – that’s a part-time affair. It is very difficult to sustain as a full-time author, at least for me till now. But things might change. You never know. At times I write on all the days in a week and at times there is a lull for weeks together. I have to earn a living and life has been difficult. Let’s see.
Q: Where do your ideas come from? Or is it just the spur of the moment, a special feeling you experience or a specific conjuncture that offers you inspiration?
From life around and from my inner self.
Q: How do you think you’ve evolved creatively?
The process of evolving is continuing.
Q: In your opinion, what is the hardest thing about writing?
To take the decision that you will seriously take up writing as a profession.
Q: Now, what about the easiest thing about writing?
The scope that you are giving vent to your deepest thought process; that you are sharing with people most of whom, may be you will never meet.
Q: Do you ever get writer’s Block and if so do you have any tips on how to get through the dreaded writer’s block?
As of now there has been no writer’s block. But certainly there are times when you scratch your head and do not know what to write about. Of late, existential problems are keeping me away from writing. Life’s difficult as you are required to earn a living. The concept of a professional poet is yet to take root in India. We are all like part-time poets.
Q: Do you read much and if so who are your favorite authors? For your own reading, do you prefer eBooks or traditional paper/hard back books?
Well the list is long. And at this moment I do not have the mind to go for a short list. I prefer traditional paper.
Q: What book/s are you reading at present?
An anthology of Indian poets and a book on brand journalism.
Q: Do you proofread/edit all your own books or do you get someone to do that for you?
I do it myself.
Q: Do you let the book stew – leave it for a month and then come back to it to edit?
No. I do it as I finish writing it, unless it is a compilation work like the current one.
Q: Who edited your last book and how did you select him/her?
I edited my last book and it was re-edited by the publisher himself.
Q: Tell us about the covers of your books. How did it/they come about?
Q: Do you think that the cover plays an important part in the buying process?
Yes I do.
Q: What would you say are the main advantages and disadvantages of self-publishing against being published or the other way around?
Q: How do you market your books, if you do the marketing yourself? I do not do marketing myself and I do not have the right knowledge about books marketing.
Q: Would you or do you use a PR agency?
I have till date not used any PR agency. Given my current financial status I would not be in a position to afford one now. May be in future.
Q: Do you have any advice for other authors on how to market their books?
Q: What part of your writing time do you devote to marketing your book?
Q: What do you do to get book reviews?
Till date I have not done anything substantial apart from visiting one local English newspaper office and giving them the copies of my two published books.
Q: How successful has your quest for reviews been so far?
I have not had much of success. All the reviews and good ones, mind you that I have had till date had been my publisher’s work.
Q: Do you have a strategy for finding reviewers?
As of now I do not have a strategy. I would like to leave it to my publisher.
Q: What are your thoughts on good/bad reviews?
It should be taken in the stride.
Q: Any amusing story about marketing books that happened to you?
Q: What are your views on social media for marketing?Which social network worked best for you?Any tips on what to do and what not to do?
Social media is very important. But I am not that social media savvy, especially from the point of exploiting it. I would need my publisher’s help.
Q: Did you do a press release, Goodreads book launch or anything else to promote your work and did it work?
My publisher did the press releases and the book launches. The response was good.
Q: Did you get interviewed by local press/radio for your book launch?
My Air and Age was launched in the Benaras University. Local press spoke to me and covered the launch as well.
Q: Is there any marketing technique you used that had an immediate impact on your sales figures?
Q: Why do you think that other well written books just don’t sell?
Lack of proper marketing and ‘luck’.
Q: What do you think of “trailers” for books?
Not a bad idea.
Q: Do you have a trailer or do you intend to create one for your own book/s?
I did not think of this, I mean trailers till date. Your question has put in motion the concept.
Q: Do you think that giving books away free works and why?
No, it doesn’t work barring for the reviews.
Q: How do you relax?
I read or just lie down with my eyes closed. At times I watch movies as well. Meditation could be an option too.
Q: What is your favorite motivational phrase? What is your favorite positive saying?
Never say die. Do or die.
Q: What is your favorite book and why?
My favourite book is one written in Bengali called Pather Panchali (Song of the Road) written by Bibhutibhusan Bandopadhyay and famous Satyajit Ray movie later on. It was the movie that launched his illustrious career as a film director.
Q: What is your favorite quote?
To be or not to be that is the question.
Q: Where can you see yourself in 5 years-time?
You tell me. I would like to touch the stars.
Q: What advice would you give to your younger self?
Never say die. Quitters are cowards.
Q: Which famous person, living or dead would you like to meet and why?
Salman Rushdie. His Midnight’s Children made me envious of him.
Q: If you could have been the original author of any book, what would it have been and why?
Midnight’s Children. The subject has been so close to my heart.
Q: What advice would you give to aspiring writers?
Same as the one I would give to my younger self.
Q: Where do you see publishing going in the future?
Places. But I think the journey would be digital.
Q: Is there anything else you would like to add that I haven’t included?
Nothing. It was exhaustive.
Thank you very much for taking the time out of your busy schedule to take part in this interview.
If you enjoy poetry, then you will enjoy these poems that originate from deep meditation upon the world and people making up this world. These poems reveal deep thoughts and desires but they also point to the bleakness of reality. The poet raises his voice against oppression and terrorism and speaks against war, terrorism and violence, with the same easiness he finds in revealing the deepest desires of the heart. Contradictions depicts nuances that people usually don’t want to notice or try to hide. Ghosh’s darker poems touch on the erosion of the human values and point to the greed for power leading to destruction. In the poet’s words: “Man’s craving to stand up against all that is negative, all that is against human values – to stand up against oppression and injustice had been juxtaposed with man’s eternal wish to take refuge in the Eternal, the Divine. Side by side poems of great human values, there are lighter reads on love bordering on mischievous take on the fair sex.” Pranab Ghosh’s Soul Searching and Other Poems is a collection of several verses with varied flavor and source. While Ghosh, as I found him a loner, is engaged in exploring ‘self,’ his other poems are essentially derived from the material world. A must read book, especially whoever appreciates philosophy in verses. Kiriti Sengupta www.kiritisengupta.com
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