Utkarsh Patel is a corporate professional- turned- mythologist and now an author. He has qualifications in Mythology, both Indian and World from Mumbai University. He is also a faculty on the subject of Comparative Mythology, at the Mumbai University, India. Utkarsh is also a regular trainer and lecturer on varying subjects at private organisations and educational institutions. He is the author of “Shakuntala – The Woman Wronged”.
Thank you, Utkarsh, for taking time out of your busy schedule and answering the questions.
From a corporate professional to a mythologist to a writer, you seem to have managed many professions. How did this transformation to a writer happen, please tell us about it?
After working for more than two decades in the corporate world, I guess I had had enough of chasing numbers, meetings and targets. One had reached a state when the regular was not motivating enough. Around five years back, I had started teaching mythology at the University of Mumbai, which gave me access to another world altogether. I started writing for my Blog on the same subject and soon one thing led to another.
How do you manage to take out time to write?
I think in present times, one has to devote time for something of personal interest. The word ‘hobby’ has lost its meaning and many of us are so busy with our professions that we don’t have time for our passions. One has to find space for that personal time when one does what one wants to do, from what one needs to do.
Who is your favourite character in the book Shakuntala?
Shakuntala is my favourite character in the book. The entire story has been seen and said from her point of view. Some of the most important and untouched subjects have been seen and discussed from her perspective.
How did you think of writing about Shakuntala?
I had come across an essay on Shakuntala by Prof. Satya Chaitanya, who has also been kind enough to write the Foreword for my book. Till then, I myself was not aware of the fact that the original Shakuntala was a creation of Sage Vyasa and not Mahakavi Kalidasa. When I spoke about it to some people, I realised that many did not know and what was more important was the change in characterization. This impressed me all the more and I felt that here was a story waiting to be told.
The book has been beautifully written and it shows that a lot of research has gone into it. How long did it take to complete the first draft of the book?
From the time I started writing to completion, it would have been about 6-8 months.
The cover is different. How much say did you have while designing the cover?
What were the challenges faced while writing the book?
For someone who had never written a book before, and had only worked on articles, it wasn’t easy to know how much was good enough. At other times, I felt that a lot more was needed to be said coupled with a feeling that the reader might not want to read so much. Also, certain subjects/characters have always been touch-me-nots and seldom discussed in public. Should I venture into them or would this be a transgression of sorts. Being a teacher of mythology, authenticity was also important for me, as against flights-of-fancy, (and this can be seen in the number of references provided in the book for those interested). Mythology is a touchy subject in our country, and I didn’t want to create new mythologies for the sake of popular appeal.
Have you ever suffered from writer’s block?
Won’t say ‘No’, but never to the extent of the block becoming an impediment to my writing.
What kinds of books do you read? Who is your favourite author and what is your favourite genre? Has any author influenced your writing?
As someone who teaches mythology, I mainly read theory books on mythology and research work. I haven’t read much fiction as I did not want any writers to influence my writing style. My favourite genre in mythology and occasionally history.
Which book are you currently reading?
I am presently reading ‘Andha Yug’ written by Dharamvir Bharati, translated in English by Alok Bhalla.
What is the next project that you are working on? When is the next book scheduled for release?
My next is also a novel on mythology and also portrays a strong woman, relatively unknown to many. I am still working on it, and I would think it should be ready for publication in the next six months or so.
Any word of wisdom for aspiring authors?
Just start writing, without waiting for the right moment. Keep penning your ideas and plots as and when you get them. Do not worry about who would publish it and all the commercial aspects. You do your work and pour in all that you have. Be open to feedback. Let someone critique your work. Write for your satisfaction and trust me the end product will be good!
Thank you once again for sharing your thoughts with your readers.
Social Media links of Utkarsh Patel for readers to find/follow/like:
Email : firstname.lastname@example.org
The book can be bought from the following links –
Amazon.in (including the Kindle version)