One day an aunt introduce me to someone saying I used to be a full-time journalist but am a full-time mom now. I smiled warmly. Then a cousin said: “No, she is a writer, blogger and freelance journalist. Didn’t you know?”
I smiled again. This is because both identities define me and I revel in both. Currently my days are divided between being my five-year-old son’s full-time companion and working on my writing projects.
I never say I quit journalism but I quit walking into an office every day after 12 years of working in publications like The Asian Age, The Hindustan Times, The Times of India and ITP Publishing Group in Dubai.
Tell us about any current projects
It really makes me happy when reviewers and readers say my book Exit Interview is “unputdownable”, “a page
turner”, “visual”, “challenges norms” and almost everyone has said it can be turned into a film.
As the name of the book suggests, it is about the experiences at work about which, Rasha Roy, a journalist and protagonist of the book, could never write in her exit interviews. She couldn’t talk about the sexual harassment she faced at work, about the trouble she got into for a shocking exposé, or the promotions she missed because of nepotism.
The book moves from Kolkata to Dubai to Cairo and takes the reader through a plethora of experiences in these places. Although the main character of the book is a woman there are very strong male influences in the book.
Motivating myself has been the biggest challenge. When you are writing a book the question that is always on every writer’s mind is always, “Is it good enough?”
What has been your greatest achievement personally?
I had only approached Rupa Publications through the email address on the website with three sample chapters. They got back to me within a month. I think being accepted by them after the first contact was a big achievement. Also they didn’t want to change anything about the book after accepting it.
If you weren’t doing what you do now, what would you be doing?
I was so passionate about stitching clothes that I used to design garments for my friends in college. I could have been a dress designer but it really saddens me that I have not touched my sewing machine for years now. Or I would have probably worked in the field of sociology since that is what I majored in.
Who has been your biggest inspiration?
It is my husband Jaydip Sengupta. He is the most chilled-out person who manages to remain unfazed during the toughest situations. He has taught me the importance of seeing the positive side of life and looking for the good in people. And from him I have also learnt how important it is to be passionate about what you do.
My husband has given me wings to fly. He has taken on the financial responsibility of the family so that I could pursue my dreams. When I decided to quit my well-paying job and write my book many people thought I was mad but he was the only person who stood by my decision. Because he believed in me, I can call myself an author today.
The reviews, feedback and sales of Exit Interview have been so good that I want to write more books. It makes me really happy when I walk into Starmark Bookstores and see Exit Interview in the bestsellers section.
I have a few ideas which I am researching. I hope I will be able to start work soon.
Apart from that I feel as responsible citizens we have a lot to do for our country instead of just criticising the government for the messy roads and lack of opportunities. I try my level best to make small differences in my own way but I want to do it in a more organised manner. If you go to the website ‘Better India’ you will see how some people are doing such wonderful work. It’s really inspiring.
About Amrita Mukherjee
Born and raised in the charming city of Kolkata, Amrita Mukherjee’s formal education took off at South Point School after which she graduated with a first class in sociology from Presidency College and topped it off with another first class in the masters programme from Calcutta University.
She started her career at The Asian Age, Kolkata in 1998. Subsequently she worked at The Hindustan Times, The Times of India and she was Features Editor at ITP Publishing Group in Dubai.
Amrita believes in alternative journalism and she has been practising it, with good results, in her blog www.amritaspeaks.com .Currently she is a freelance journalist writing for Indian and international publications and websites.
Exit Interview, published by Rupa Publications, is her first attempt at fiction. The book is getting rave reviews and is on the Starmark Bestsellers List.
This article was provided by WeAreTheCity Delhi Committee Lead Ashish Bhardwaj.