Excerpts with Pratibha James, author of Your Sonnet for The Day (Clever Fox Publishing)
Clever Fox Publishing : Tell us something about your background.
Pratibha James : Pratibha was born in Ajmer, Rajasthan in India.
When she was 3 years old, her family move to Dundee, Scotland, so her father could complete his Ph.D. Her earliest memories at that young age were of her wonderful childhood friends and the Scottish countryside that seeded the lyrical in her.
Soon, her father’s academic pursuits expatriated the family to Iraq during the turbulent days of the Iraq-Iran War.
Witnessing the effects of a war close-up, helped form her distinctive and creative Person-hood that encompasses love for all human beings and animals alike.
Growing up, Pratibha looked for poetry and prose that would reflect her own experiences in a modern setting. Eventually, her life took her to Australia and Singapore, where she spent some time there as well.
Like many aspiring poets and writers, her creative side emerged from her imagination and inner theatre that reflected her experiences from far lands.
Away from her day job, which involves backing up high-powered sales teams by structuring proposals and finalizing contractual bids, she also finds time to take care of her cats and find homes for orphaned cats as well. She loves doing Sudoku and Crossword puzzles in her spare time and promoting the dying arts and crafts of her native India. When time permits, she also designs clothes for others to manufacture or wear. She has two boys, one of whom she is married to, and currently lives in Bangalore, India.
Clever Fox Publishing : When and how did you start your writing journey?
Pratibha James: The need to express me was born in me from an early age. My travels and experiences opened perspectives in me that needed to find expression. Poetry was always in me, but I put pen to paper a few years ago, and “Your Sonnet for the Day” was born.
Clever Fox Publishing : What is your book all about?
Pratibha James :This is a book of sonnets that gives expression to our inner theatre.
Clever Fox Publishing : What prompted you to write this book?
Pratibha James : I could not find any book by any Indian author that composed poetry. So I decided to write the first book of sonnets that any child or relate to,
Clever Fox Publishing : How was your pre-writing experience? What urged you?
Pratibha James : I had no pre-writing experience. One day I sat down with a cup of tea and it all poured out.
Clever Fox Publishing : How was your writing experience? Smooth or bumpy?
Pratibha James : A lot like alchemy. It was really pleasant, fulfilling, and satisfying. To express oneself is a blessing. We all have our unique way of doing that. Not too sure, why I wrote poetry. Neither do I recall there being any “aha” moment, that I should write poetry. What I do recall is that I enjoyed the process. Once I had a thought that I wanted to write about, I just started, and somehow the sonnet just took shape. It sort of flowed on its own. And I liked the result. Didn’t feel bumpy at all.
Clever Fox Publishing : How much did your publishers contribute? Did they ease the process for you?
Pratibha James : I had a lot of help from my husband, who kept the publishing process a secret from me. He edited the sonnets and composed the front and back cover and inserted the artwork. And then he surprised me with this gift of publication on Divali day.
Clever Fox Publishing : What is the reaction of your family and friends to you writing this book?
Pratibha James : My husband and son were aware of my writing pastime. But my extended family was pleasantly surprised when the book was published.
As I had let no one know about my literary creative side. So, we just ‘dropped the bomb” on them, so to speak. My father especially was awestruck and thrilled and felt proud and honoured. My brothers were astonished as they had never seen this side of me.
Also, I hadn’t informed any of my friends about this, so this came as a surprise to them as well. They were excited and wanted to get a copy for themselves to read. My colleagues were dumbfounded and open-mouthed as they wanted to know from where I managed to take out time to write this way.
My colleague congratulated me and said they were truly impressed. As it takes a lot of courage to put yourself out there, for the world to praise and critique.
Clever Fox Publishing : Mention the people who supported you in this journey.
Pratibha James : My husband, David. He encouraged me to express myself. He made sure I got the time and space for myself to pen down whatever had to be said. Then I shelved the sonnets and didn’t particularly take any action to get them published. It was David’s confidence in me and my work that energized me to proceed with the publication. And he stood by me after that, by taking the lead in getting these out to the world. It was his gift to me.
Clever Fox Publishing : How is your book going to impact the readers?
Pratibha James: This is the first book on English Sonnets by an Indian author in the last two hundred years. I would say it keeps in within the theme of Atmanirbar that we all hope to achieve. I hope to introduce sonnets to Indian readers with fresh material for young and old in the new age.
As sonnets are short poems, the message or feeling that I wish to send out needs to be portrayed in a brief, sharp, clear, and concise manner. I deliberately chose this style.
Although the sonnet is short, it carries within it a deep message, giving it weight and creating a lingering feeling or sensation that will stay with the reader for a long time. Perhaps, even make the reader think and ponder on what they have just read.
Clever Fox Publishing : How do you deal with negative comments if any?
Pratibha James :With an open mind, gratitude, and optimism.
I don’t carry a mindset that the giver of the negative thoughts has any ulterior motive. I start with the belief that the person is trying to share his or her own experience. Everyone has their expectations and will judge any literary work against that. It would be nice to understand their viewpoint. Who knows there may be something there that may help me improve upon my work.
Clever Fox Publishing : Who are your literary mentors and role models?
Pratibha James : Wouldn’t say that I have any mentors or role models. However, do like the books by Paulo Coelho. Something soul-touching about them behind the easy-to-read language. Such weighted deep messages just permeate into you unnoticed.
Clever Fox Publishing : What are your upcoming writing ventures?
Pratibha James : Currently working on a short story about an Indian woman sequestered in a cloistered community who finds her inner strength and voice. And eventually, the courage to undo past conditioning to move forward to live her life while being authentic to herself.
Clever Fox Publishing : Any piece of advice for our aspiring writers?
Pratibha James : Spend time alone at least once a week. Listen to your favorite music. Exercise regularly. Don’t doubt yourself. Trust your inner voice. Express freely. Write whatever you wish to share and release. You never know who will benefit from your contribution.