Kudrat Dutta Chaudhary is a fifth-year student (Class of 2017) at the Army Institute of Law, Mohali. She has been an avid writer and has contributed to various magazines and news portals. Her debut novel – “Laiza: Sometimes the end is only the begining” hits the stores soon. In this interview, Kudrat talks to the Blue Pencil all about her journey of getting her book published.
Shreya Vajpei: When did you decide to write a book? What was the inspiration behind it?
Kudrat Dutta Chaudhary: I have been meaning to become a novelist since the age of 15. So I’ve wanted to write a book ever since then. However the idea of Laiza, struck me in May 2015 and that’s when I decided to make my dream a reality. I believe the main inspiration or idea to write Laiza was the fact that we have a plethora of books about women and their position in the Middle East but don’t have a lot of literature about women and their position after disasters in places like Nepal and many docile countries like it. My father was an officer in the Gorkha Regiment of the Indian Army and I’ve always had house help from Nepal, so I have very strongly felt about Nepalis and their culture ever since the start. Nepal’s culture is strikingly similar to that of India’s and I was very keen on writing about them and their society. Apart from that, the fact that I have always been a feminist who believes in equality of the sexes, I wanted my debut novel to be women centric where my protagonist is her own hero.
SV: How long did it take you to write the book? Was it tough to create time for the book, given that law schools have a reputation of bearing hectic schedules?
KDC: To be honest, it took me about a year to finish the book, which was because of how hectic my schedule was. Had I been completely free without author blocks, maybe I would’ve taken lesser time to finish Laiza. But to be fair, it certainly was and is very tough to manage a book along with the bustling of the Law school. Juggling the book alongside internships, semesters, college and courses was tougher than I thought, but then it also ingrained in me that, we all have enough time in our hands to do everything we want to and the plea of being busy to fulfil your dreams is only an excuse which I don’t think I’d ever in my life want to take. So I believe it all worked out well in the end.
SV: What was the entire process of getting the books to the stores?
KDC: The book would be available on Amazon, Flipkart, Infibeam, English Book Shop, Capital Book Depot, NotionPress.com etc. amongst various other platforms. An author doesn’t necessarily have to do anything with getting the books to the stores, it is the publishers job to ensure the same. Laiza shall also be available on Kindle, Barnes and Noble and various international platforms as well. One may either go in for traditional publishing or self-publishing considering their requirements as an author.
SV: Your book touches on themes like feminism, human-trafficking and the Nepal earthquake of 2015. Did you definitively choose such themes, or did they evolve during the process of writing the book?
KDC: I think Laiza is a culmination of my personal thoughts and beliefs, which I very strongly feel about, and the same are also the themes of the book. I am a feminist and I believe I would’ve done a disservice to my gender had I not written about the strength of it. Moving on from that, there are about 5000-10,000 women who are trafficked from Nepal to India alone in one year, and what follows after are gross violations of human rights and actions against the dignity of these women, from which there is no escape. Understanding about something so grave, rampant and raging can only come about if such issues are talked and discussed and more so reported if noticed around. To be honest, I from day one knew what the themes were to be and it wasn’t a deliberate move. I wanted to write something that raises awareness and brings about a change, if not in anything else then atleast in the reader’s thinking about themselves and the issues that plague our society. I have been influenced a lot by Nepal’s culture and have been inspired by how well the country has been trying, if not completely succeeding but still trying to rehabilitate not just politically, but socially and culturally. And that is commendable, especially after the devastating 2015 Earthquake.
SV: Your books is titled – “Laiza : Sometimes the end is only the beginning”. Is there a story behind the title?
KDC: My protagonist, Laiza associates with two meanings of her name; First is “someone who can transform any idea into reality” which she does by dreaming of escaping misery and tragedies that she is faced with, and having a better life, a sense of which she ultimately achieves towards the end of the story. Second, is ‘someone who is hearty and cheerful’ and throughout the book you’ll realize that Laiza is someone full of life. So where the former meaning of the word Laiza connects to the theme of the book, the latter however describes the personality of my protagonist.
Also, the subtitle: Sometimes the end is only a Beginning, is the foundation of the book and something that I personally believe in. The entire book, talks about ends being a myth and the only truth in the world, is a Beginning. Laiza is an epitome of hope and that’s how the name of the book ties with the story.
SV: When did you discover your love for reading? Which authors and works have influenced you the most?
KDC: I believe that one can only be a good writer only if he/she is a good reader. Hence, I have always been interested in reading but my love lies in books, and writings that make me an aware and a conceptually clearer person, be it anything. I believe authors like Khaled Hosseini and Jean P. Sasson and their books have influenced me a lot. The way they highlight women with par excellence finesse and detail and manage to show an honest mirror to the prevailing society and its issues is something that I have always admired and have been inspired by.
SV: Lastly, is there any word of advice for people who have been shelving the idea of writing a book?
KDC: Yes, one piece of advice: START NOW!
There is nothing in this world called ‘the perfect timing’. You have to seize the moment and make the best out of it. As Hemingway says, the first draft of everything is Bad! So don’t let that stop you- In fact, Learn, Grow, Write and Repeat.