In an exclusive interview with The Literary Mirror, the acclaimed novelist, Bina Pillai talks about the various facades of modern literature.
- How do you see your Literary career so far?
I’m happy with my contribution to the literary world. I have published two books and contributed my poems and articles in more than twenty Anthologies. I have two more books in the pipeline, Nuggets of Wisdom which is a collection of short stories and anecdotes. The other one is a collection of poems (Mystical Dewdrops.) I’m also the Associate Editor of the Journal of Asian Art, culture and Literature by Asian Literary Society.
My book ‘Under The Mango Tree’ has been published in November 2019. The book has touched the heart of the new generation because it’s partly biography and about relationships, patriarchy, dowry, romance and love. I received many beautiful reviews from readers.
- How much literature has changed in the past few decades?
Gone are the days of flowery language. Modern literature has paved the way for simple language, reaching out to a wider audience. E-books may be looked down by the ‘book evangelists, but the ‘kindle-loving’ generation has taken to e-books like a moth to a flame. While the libraries and book stores look a sorry state with fewer buyers, E-books are promoting reading among children and adults alike. Though we cannot say which is better, e-books or traditional books but e-books are to be lauded for their easy portability, cheap price and the environment-friendly factor.
- What aspects make a novel relatable and saleable simultaneously?
The first thing we need to do before we write a book is to study the market. We’ll come to know what’s saleable. However, sometimes it does not matter what the genre is, whether its romance, horror, thriller or drama, real-life experiences are easier to express, and it touches the chord of every heart. A story expressed with visual imagery also grabs the attention of the readers. An intriguing story with an attractive cover and a good title can make a novel relatable. Editing is an important aspect of the polishing process. If we read a lot of books of other authors before we write, we will get an idea of how to make our novel saleable.
- How much the current pandemic has affected literature?
I found the pandemic has given people enough time to read and write. It has been an advantage for the readers and writers except for the reason that paperbacks are not available at this time. However, the readers when they are keen to read are okay to experiment with the kindle version.
- Why still people have an affinity towards English fiction in spite of good novels in vernacular languages?
Today English has taken over our lives and we feel comfortable with this medium more than vernacular. It’s sad but true that Indian languages are identified with being an illiterate while English makes one modern. Probably this is the effect of the Britishers ruling India for 200 years and we have been brainwashed by them. The fact that India has too many languages is also a reason for this affinity towards English because we are not able to choose any one Indian language to bind everyone. Nowadays, many people are not even able to read or write their mother tongue. When we move to another state in India, or a different country we need to converse with people, and we need to accept English has overtaken Indian languages.
- How tough it is for an author to revolve between poetry and fiction?
Poetry is a type of literature with a rhythmic flow that attempts to stir a reader’s imagination. If one knows to express and articulate fiction, poetry is just another form of expression.
- What would be your suggestion to new authors?
There are three tips I would like to give them.
- You need to read. Read a different genre. You can’t be a writer if you’re not a reader.
- Write every day for some time. Write on different subjects. The more you write the better you write.
- Enter competitions so that you gain the confidence to write. You’ll know where you stand and where you need to improve.