Interview with author Mukta Singh Zocchi!

Today, I have the pleasure of welcoming author Mukta Singh Zocchi to my blog. Lets talk to her about her endeavors in writing..

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  • Welcome Mukta! Please tell us about how did you discover your passion for writing?

Thanks Aditi for giving me this opportunity. It’s true each one of us has that passion sitting somewhere inside. Some display it at birth. In me, it burst out only after a series of processes like “controlled fusion”.  A habit of reading, learning to research, interactions … without these kinds of things I don’t think I am capable of writing. So in that sense I am not a born writer.

I had a perfect childhood to pick up the good habit of reading.  We lived in IIT campus in New Delhi, my father was a professor there, so I had access to the wonderful library there. I think I must have checked out all the fiction books they kept on their shelves over those years. Back then I did write, but it was all quite childish. Then through the college years and grad school there was relatively less of this reading business, writing certainly did not rise above the zero-mark. When I started to work,  I traveled a lot, had many unusual, amazing experiences – interesting enough that in a decade they started to find place in my stories. Now to answer your question,

I discovered my passion for writing when once after a longish rail trip across India with my family I sat down to write … really in a journal-like manner. I couldn’t stop writing. It felt wonderful to just write about our experiences. This was a phenomenal moment for me. I have been writing non-stop since then.

  • It’s incredible that you publish a magazine in Hindi, especially for the progression of the language. How did you conceive it and what made you decide to publish in Hindi language?

I grew up speaking Hindi and even though my active vocabulary in English is vaster, writing in Hindi feels closer to the creative center of my brain. I get a bigger high. I have no problems overcoming any shortcomings I might have writing in Hindi. I think this must be more or less true with most people vis-a-vis their native languages.

Then, growing up, there  were ample Hindi reading lying around at home… magazines, upanyasa. So, for me, publishing a Hindi literary magazine is not an altogether unnatural endeavor. I have certain impressions about the Hindi reading culture, perhaps those played some role in wanting to do this.

Readers of Hindi tend not to buy books – no one in my family bought them, most of my relatives did not either.  I remember once one of my aunts caught me reading a novel by Gulshan Nanda, I think it was Naya Zamana (someone had left it behind). She scolded me,  perhaps she thought I was too young to read it and in a matter of a few seconds that half-read book was in her purse … So, its pretty obvious, Hindi readership in severely undercounted. This behavior of ours results in a non-robust Hindi publishing scene.

Among other things, I had always had a problem with the quality of the font, the lack of a minimum gloss – very cumbersome for me as a reader of Hindi works. All these are the reasons I am publishing ekalpana. I want people to carry stories, not worries, in their heads. The more people read, the more they’d want to write. There is a lot of sub-standard stuff on the internet. It is important that more people publish work of good quality, set the standard and make it accessible to a large number of people.

  • Tell us a little bit more about your magazine and its content and how readers can access it?

At the beginning of this year (2016) I launched ekalpana.net – an online literary magazine. This September, the 8th issue will be published. Every issue carries 5 short stories in Hindi. We encourage stories from anyone who enjoys writing. What we are looking for is a good literary style and interesting story-telling. The level of the language is also important. I don’t think pidgin-Hindi can be considered literary.

  • What are your long term goals for your magazine?

The only time I do poetry is when I “think” goals. My long term goal for the magazine is to be able to see people sing stories and dream songs. With so many people in the world and so much happening and going on, it is hard to tell how anything would turn out. One makes efforts. With some luck, good things also happen.

  • Have you published anything else, books, short stories, etc.?

I write all the time. My short-stories have appeared in several literary magazines in the US and in India. In 2014, my first novel, The Thugs and a Courtesan hit the bookshelves. That was a very satisfying experience. At some point a few years back I started to write on NRI issues for the Hindi magazine group Delhi Press. Many of my short stories in Hindi have also appeared in Sarita magazine (Delhi Press). You can access all my work at www.muktasinghzocchi.com

  • It’s incredible to hear about all your work! What has been your most rewarding experience as an author?

When I can say the work I have been writing has reached completion I feel most rewarded. You know, its that “coming to fruition of the high, excited levels of mental energies” moment … all writers must be feeling it. Doesn’t matter if the completed work is a short editorial piece or an entire novel.

Of course, one still needs to place their work, etc., but in terms of personal satisfaction all that is not as important. The route to publishing and becoming a talked-about author is tortuous and messy and can I say wicked. When I first started to write, I went through many highs and lows. There were times when I thought perhaps the writer inside me is  a phony character. But the truth is, one keeps writing, and reading, and over the course of time one improves.  I got an award for one of my short-stories in 2007, I was incredulous at first, then as I let that news set in, I felt validated as an author. In that sense, getting that first award was also a rewarding experience.

Mukta, it was a pleasure talking to you. I wish you all the best for your magazine!

Mukta’s magazinehttp://ekalpana.net

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