In Conversation with Sanjay Chandra

Sanjay Chandra

About Sanjay Chandra

Born in 1959, Sanjay Chandra is a graduate electrical engineer. He worked in the Indian Railway Services, government company, private sector, before starting his own ventures. He has partnered with companies to create strategies and solve complex problems assisting them to expand their business within and outside the country.

Along the way, Sanjay also realised that he has a storyteller within him – every communication in his life was a story in itself! He has two books to his credit – The Gymnast, published in 2022, and The Life and Times of a Common Man, published in 2019. Both the books have won several awards.

Sanjay now sees stories all around him. He writes blogs on socially relevant issues under the pseudonym Musings of a Pioneer. He has also written few poems and short stories. He is also a traveller, an avid book lover, and an amateur photographer.

Sanjay is also passionate about supporting other writers. He shares book reviews on his website and other social media handles. He has created a page for Guest Blogs to encourage upcoming writers. He initiated a Write Contest inviting short stories from upcoming writers. He hopes to publish the winning entries from Season 1 in an anthology. He hosts Author Show which provides a platform to other authors to showcase their works to readers.

Sanjay also conducts talks and workshops in colleges and corporates helping them attain their potential.

Sanjay lives in Gurgaon with his family. He loves to interact with readers through his website, other social media handles, and email.

LiFT: Tell us about your book, the journey of writing it and its content.

Sanjay: The Gymnast (Book 1 of Street Performers Series) is contemporary social fiction. The book narrates a multi-layered story about Roshni, a 7-year-old-girl, the youngest child from the fourth generation of a rustic family from east India. Her parents are forced to migrate to Gurgaon, an urban town bordering Delhi. They live in a makeshift shanty and work as labourers on construction sites for a better life for their children.

This is also a story of the three earlier generations, and the hard work that they put in to come out of a life of misery.

The story represents a life that we see in everyday India and even in other countries. They too have dreams. The story of The Gymnast promises to show this dream to millions of the people, giving them a hope that they too can pursue their dreams.

LiFT: Why you chose this title?

Sanjay: The title came out of the background of the story. It was an apt title for a street performer who pursues her dreams through gymnastics.

LiFT: When did you realize that you want to be a writer and what’s your inspiration behind it?

Sanjay: I had to handle big workforce since the beginning of my professional career. That required me to be conscious of all the subtle nuances of their communication – both verbal and non-verbal. It made me more observant of my surroundings. As I started slowing down on a hectic work schedule, I realised that there are stories all around us; we only need to observe the events and incidents and put them in words. I turned into a storyteller, taking these incidents as my inspirations.

LiFT: Where do you see yourself ten years down the line in the world of literature?

Sanjay: My first book The Life and Times of a Common man were memoirs – in the end it was also a social commentary on how the country has evolved since almost after independence till now. The second book, The Gymnast is cotemporary social fiction.

I want to explore different genres in my writings.

My next book is crime thriller. I hope to write more in this genre. I would also write two more books in Street Performers Series chronicling the future lives of the two older siblings of Roshni. I also wish to write modern adaptations of the two Indian epics – Mahabharata and Ramayana.

I strongly feel about migration. Migration is always forced upon the people – be it at the time of partition, or to earn a decent living for a better life for the future generations, or a reverse migration due to a deadly virus. One day, I would write a story around migration.

There are many stories to narrate.

LiFT: How much do you think marketing or quality of a book is necessary to promote a particular book and increase its readers?

Sanjay: It is a difficult industry where we have more writers, and a reduced interest in reading. Literature is not only a mirror of the society, but it also prepares us for future. Thus, it becomes imperative for writers to write well. Quality of literature is of prime importance to re-generate interest. Having written a good book, it has to reach out to readers. The tool for reaching out to the intended readers is marketing.

LiFT: What is the message you want to spread among folks with your writings?

Sanjay: Interestingly, my first two books have a common theme – dream with your eyes open and pursue your dreams passionately. As I said, reading and writing are two important activities that help us cope with our daily challenges, and navigate through life. I would want my writing to entertain people, and to inspire them to be a better version of themselves.

LiFT: What do you do apart from writing?

Sanjay: I am a work in progress. I firmly believe that every day gives us an opportunity to learn. I moved from being an electrical engineer and a corporate head to being an entrepreneur and then a writer. I partner with companies to create strategies and solve complex problems assisting them to expand their business within and outside the country. I take workshops on creative writing in corporates, universities and colleges, and for aspiring writers. I write blogs on socially relevant issues. I am an avid reader. I share my book reviews. I host episodes of Author Show for authors on behalf of my book club. I run short story contests to encourage new writers. I am working for the betterment of my local community. I also bake bread for my family. We do not purchase market bread now. I love travelling and there are so many places yet to be explored. I love meeting friends – many of them have been in my life for decades. There is so much to do.

LiFT: What are the activities you resort to when you face a writer’s block?

Sanjay: When I am working on my manuscript, I usually keep thinking about the next scene or the next chapter during my waking hours. The manuscript, the characters, everything about it, consumes me. I have so many ideas to be penned. If I am facing a block working on the manuscript, I start working on the other idea. But there are days when I may not have the urge to write. At such moments I would step back and read. Or else, I would go to my kitchen and make myself a cup of coffee. That invariably does the trick.

LiFT: What if your story will be adopted as a movie? Whom would you want to work as a director or actors in it?

Sanjay: I would certainly want The Gymnast to be adapted for film or OTT to inspire the millions out there who have dreams. I would not venture into naming the director or the actors as that is not my expertise. The producer would be the best person to decide.

LiFT: Are you working on your next book? If yes, please tell us something about it.

Sanjay: I grew up reading the exploits of the famed Hercule Poirot, Sherlock Holmes, Feluda, Byomkesh Bakshi, and others. More recently, I enjoyed Cormoran Strike and his partner Robin Ellacott by JK Rowling.

It was only natural that I would write a crime thriller during my writing journey. It came sooner than even my expectations. I have recently completed the manuscript of a murder mystery. I have created a loveable detective and his three assistants – the three assistants coming from my ego centred around one-upmanship over my favourite authors in the genre. The book is expected to be released over the coming months. I hope to write about more cases solved by this detective, and his assistants.

I have already started working on my fourth manuscript, a story woven around abandonment by biological parents, and the resultant trauma to the child during growing up years.

LiFT: What are your suggestions to the budding writers/poets so that they could improve their writing skills?

Sanjay: Writing is a tough journey. Do not get satisfied with just the first draft. Read it number of times and rewrite those many times to make it as near to perfection as possible. Then give it to beta readers for their critical review. Take their observations constructively to improve the manuscript. The first draft would be the fastest to generate. But then it is a game of patience.

And, yes… Read, as much as you can. That gives you a perspective of how others are writing.

Click here to order Sanjay Chandra’s Book – The Gymnast

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