I got a wonderful opportunity to interview Suresh K Goswami, Author, Director, Producer, Cinematographer and Partner at JSWM Productions. Founder of Delhi International Film Festival and WF Festival of Intl Films Lavasa.
1. Hello Mr. Suresh, what is your feeling after being an author? What’s your perspective about life now after achieving a rare flagship in your life?
Passion generates a dream and the dream becomes a reality provided the passion does not limit itself to the dream and dies once you open your eyes. Having traversed the 65 years’ span of life, my perspective of life has already been realized in a precious experience which I desire to pass on to the next generation inspiring as many of them as possible to dream and think of flagships that they set for themselves to achieve. Becoming an author is certainly much beyond any flagship achievement as the intense suffering of the world around has gone wild and is swallowing the pleasure of life. And during these unfortunate sufferings many stories are born and these stories crave for a soul that can mold them into a presentable shape so the entire human world can read them, embrace them and love them. That soul is no one but an Author.
2. When you saw your first novel for sale on E-commerce websites and placed at a bookstore for the first time, what kind of thoughts dominated your mind?
Contentment in abundance was what I saw in those nostalgic moments. What more can a story teller wish to see. Any story is like a young lover who has been wandering so many labyrinths of life in search of a lover and at that instance when the story arrives at a book store or a commercial website, it is overwhelmed by uniting with not one lover but so many of them . Isn’t that moment worth living and worth loving ?
3. Before we head towards discussing your book, we would like to know in spite of being an author, what do you exactly do? And do you wish to continue with the job or come into full-time writing?
During my long standing career as a professional Chief Executive and Managing Director of many multinationals in Africa and Middle East I had this passionate urge to write, especially about my experiences highlighting sensitive social issues that are manifested in the lives of millions of fellow human beings. But it took me to cross 60 years of my life to listen to my inner self and it was at this point that I left whatever I was doing and took to creative writing. I wrote a couple of scripts and two years back I made my first independent film, converting one of my favorite scripts into a multi award winning feature film, “Ziyarat” that earned ample awards and recognition across the globe. Motivated by my first effort, I made another short documentary “My Heroes” which too emerged as a multi award winning film. “My Heroes” won the most popular award at six sigma film festival, best film award at We Care Film Festival (A UN enabled festival) and recently on 23 March 2014 it won the Best Documentary International award at Nashik International Film festival. I continued to write few other stories but concentrated on my book Burning Sapphires which was completed recently and published by Partridge, a Penguin company. In my mind I look forward to pen down many stories from the terror ridden Valley of Kashmir-a paradise lost, which happens to be my mother land. In as far as I can visualize my future; I can only see books, screenplays and films on Kashmir, on social problems of our world and on injustice.
4. What is your latest book all about? And from where did this idea occur to you?
There is a cold sense of antagonism that permeates the valley once called the paradise on earth. It is a quarrel between substance and form you may say – does a country owe most to its past or present? In both senses Kashmir is curiously treated and the wails of history often ignored as passing winds.
Reflecting real tragedy through fiction, Burning Sapphires has been written to give a voice to the people and their stories that have unknowingly gotten lost through the years, buried under the snow.
The Burning Sapphires is a story about one woman who, despite all the odds in life, takes on the responsibility and leads the entire community toward a progressive solution and revives the injured spirits and minds of Kashmiris. A seven-year-old girl, Ghulab Sahib, living in Machail, Kashmir is unaware of life and its complications. Living her childhood in this most spectacular village, she doesn't know that destiny is going to disrupt her peaceful life and propel her through a maze of gruelling fateful events. But these fateful events do not destroy her-instead, a woman of great knowledge, substance, experience, and unparalleled strength emerges in the being of Shahzadi Ghulab Sahib, who takes charge of millions of Kashmiri Muslims trapped in the terror-stricken Valley of Kashmir along with 500,000 internally displaced Kashmiri Pandits living as refugees in their own country and bails them out, leading them toward a life of contentment, dignity, and pride
5. How much long did it take to write this book from the moment you started developing the story to start writing it till completing it finally with editing and all?
It took me nearly three years from the moment I started developing the story to the point of seeing the book at the retail outlets
6. Indian Publishing is too hard to deal with, was it easy for you to get a Publisher or did u wait for a long time to get your work published?
Not only are the Indian Publishing houses hard to deal with, the publishers all over the world behave the same way. To be honest, in any business process, the viability is assessed in terms of marketability along with the values of all the elements comprising the process. New writers
No matter how good they are have no added value to a project. Publishing being the first step towards commercial exploitation becomes a very hard hurdle to cross.
But the process of publishing has evolved to a new level of exploitation with the self-publishing option where the new writer is offered to be a partner in the business irrespective of the worth or value of the intellectual property he has created. Most of the books are accepted and lot of revenue generated by publishers without even going to the print stage.
In my case, I did get in touch with some traditional publishers who turned down my project politely. But as soon as approached the self-publishing venues I met with almost a hundred percent response along with repeated reminders that still keep pouring in. It has been rather a bad decision to go with Partridge.
7. What are the Promotional strategies that you and your publisher have applied to promote/market your book?
Again, with the self-publishing options everything comes with a price. Most of the publishers have a ready-made reckoner for each service. They hardly promote on their own and one of the main disadvantages I came across was their inability to get the print version printed in India. So the pricing, due to printing outside is astronomical and my book with paperback on all the online sites costs over Rs. 1000 and Hard cover over Rs. 2000. Now who is going to buy a new book for that price against the cost of 200-300 for best sellers? A tedious struggle against this has brought the price down to Rs. 336 on flip cart. These self-published books from Partridge do not get any promotional support unless you pay heavily for each service . A single review from a good newspaper costs a few lacs. So my journey has been my struggle all over by myself and I have tried to promote my book as much as I could on line and off line. One more lesson learnt in life… Distant pastures look much greener. In conclusion…I do desire to republish my book in India and with a traditional publishing house.
8. What exactly is your target from your Books- 1. Getting most copies sold out, 2. Getting the love of readers or 3. You just wrote it because you wanted to write a book once in your life, hence you have no targets?
Getting the love of readers, and getting to the most of World readership has been my target. In fact I had penned down Burning Sapphires as a script for a film project. The project budget being unaffordable it was not possible to get the script rolling so I decided to adapt the book.
9. By when are you coming up with your next novel? And if possible, do give us an idea about what it would be.
My next project is a film project with no name. The story has been written and we, that is I and my daughter Misha Goswami are writing the screenplay. It will be my production and she will direct the film. The story is about thousands of missing persons in Kashmir in the last two decades. Incidentally most of these missing persons have died in custody.
I have also started working on a book which will take at least one year plus. The name is “Seventh Dimension” and is about a man created zero gravity zone deep inside Himalayas, very far and unapproachable by anyone except the chosen ones. The zero gravity zone is an environment of Nirvana state where the body transforms into an eternal substance and does not need any of the materials to survive. The soul nourishes and the life though devoid of complete material sustenance lives without aging. To train the chosen ones to float in the Nirvana bliss takes around 20 – 30 years.
10. In the end, tell us in 5-7 lines, what speech will you give if you win a Major Award for the Best Indian Author for your books?
The speech would be dedicated to those millions of innocent human beings across the globe who suffered at the hands of greed, power, politics and senseless genocides and whose voices remain buried under the soil, unheard, un- noticed and neglected. The recognition of “Burning Sapphires” would be the acknowledgement of the world to have opened their ears to the buried voices that continue their painful shrills in an effort to seek justice from all of us
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