There are strange notions about writing in India, and the fan following is huge for all the wrong writers. The Publishing industry in India operates in a silly manner. If there is one writer who deserves a massive fan following in India, it should be Oswald Pereira. He is witty, intelligent and writes with deep compassion. We had a chance to talk to him and it was extremely soothing as he creates a divine aura.
Q-) Writing is a creative, albeit, uncertain process. When was it exactly you decided to become a writer?
I didn’t consciously decide to become a writer. Writing, perhaps, was a seed that was germinating inside me and grew into a plant as I grew up. My first writings were letters to my father as a teen. As we were seven siblings, he didn’t have the time and patience to listen to each one of us. So, I would write a letter to him and sneak it into his cupboard, just below his wallet. And the letter would work like magic, attracting his attention.
I wrote my first novel, called Abortive Life, when I was doing my post-graduation in Economics. The protagonist was a girl, with an alcoholic father. She dies of an abortion by a quack. The first editor at Jaico liked the book. The chief editor rejected it. Incidentally, my English Professor from St Xavier’s College, Mumbai, the late Eunice de Souza, herself a poet, novelist and literary critic, had liked the book.
My second novel was called The Pastor. It was about a Catholic priest, who falls in love, but eventually runs away from the relationship, because priests take the vow of celibacy, and can’t marry if they are to stay in the priesthood.
Both the books weren’t published. After I got a job as a journalist, I got so busy with the excitement of writing front page stories for newspapers that I didn’t even try and push their publication.
That was in the late seventies. My first book was published in 2007 by a vanity publisher. I became a traditionally published author only in December 2011 when my crime thriller, The Newsroom Mafia, was published by Westland Books with Grey Oak Publishers. The novel, which describes the media-mafia-government nexus, is a bestseller. It was based on my experiences as a journalist.
My second novel, Revenge of the Naked Princess, published by Leadstart Publishing in December 2012, is a historical thriller, with occult and fantasy elements woven into the story. Based on extensive research, it describes the darkness and brutality of forced religious conversions in the sixteenth century by Portuguese missionaries. It is literary fiction, which received critical acclaim in the media, and from authors like Ashwin Sanghi, who said, “Incredible, extremely gripping and gut wrenching, Revenge of the Naked Princess moved me to tears.” But the book didn’t do too well, commercially.
My third novel, Chaddi Buddies, again considered literary fiction, published in December 2015 by Srishti Publishers & Distributors, is a tender coming-of-age story of love, friendship and brotherhood. Loosely based on my childhood, the book has gained popularity with readers across ages – from teens to people in their late eighties. The book has touched the hearts of readers. One of them rang me up to say that she cried for two days, after she read the book. The book is selling well.
In 2017, it rained books. In May, I published on Amazon Kindle Direct Publishing (KDP), The Krishna-Christ Connexion, a mysterious spiritual fantasy on the unity of religions, depicting the world as one big family. Despite the limited market of KDP, the book is quite popular.
In June, 2017, StoryMirror published Golmaal In Goa, my funny detective story, dealing with the serious theme of the state’s drug mafia. The publisher tells me that the book is doing well.
In September, 2017, I published on KDP again, Army Girl Steals Civilian’s Heart, my first romance novel, a semi-autobiographical story. I am happy with the response to this book. Even as I write this, my KDP Sales Dashboard shows that a copy of the e-book has been ordered. The beauty of KDP is that you can see your sales in real time and don’t have to wait for up to a year and a half for your publisher’s sales report, which quite often isn’t even true!
My recent book, a non-fiction title, How to Create Miracles in Our Daily Life, by Vitasta Publishing is a collection of essays by spiritual gurus and thought leaders on the themes of Love, Life, Living, Giving, Forgiveness, Faith, Compassion, Happiness, Bliss, Peace, Positivism, Karma, God & Us. I have compiled the essays, edited them and written for the book as well. The book has endorsements by Ashwin Sanghi, Annup Sonii and spiritual guru Sri M, among others.
Q-) As someone who had been in Journalism for a long time & worked for various newspapers, do you think there is a vast difference in Journalism now?
Yes, there is a vast difference in journalism now. We had greater freedom to write then. Now, I am told, journalists are not as free. There was corruption in the media earlier. But it was limited and confined to a minority. Now corruption is growing.
In our good old days in newspapers, editors were a respected lot. Now, it seems owners call the shots and editors do their bidding. Great editors of yesteryear’s seem like an extinct species.
The rot actually started in the nineties. Leading newspaper owners started the malaise of paid entertainment news. Magazine editors behaved like chieftains and built a coterie around them. If you were independent and not part of the clan, you were out of favour or even sacked.
Q-) Oswald Pereira the Journalist or The Author?
Both roles are good. But neither of them is a bed of roses.
However, I find it more satisfying being an author. As a journalist I wrote stories of other people. Now I write and create my own.
Q-) You are a writer who has forayed into different genres & not played it safe with a specific one, what genre do you love the most to write?
I love spiritual fiction non-fiction the most. But I am happy and comfortable in any genre.
Q-) Do you think writing as an art is underrated in India?
Yes, it is grossly underrated. That’s because our readership is still to mature and really understand what good literature is all about.
Q-) What are your views about the publishing industry in India?
The publishing industry like our readership is still to mature. We need more publishers who are honest and transparent. Why can’t publishers give authors backup data on sales figures? I know publishers who do so. I have signed up with one such publisher. Authors should shun family-run pop-and-son publishing houses and publishers who ask debut authors to buy a couple of thousand copies of their books. Such publishers are a menace to the publishing world. The sooner they are weeded out, the quicker will the publishing business grow and mature in India.
Q-) If there is one writer who you would love to co-write a book with, who would it be?
The first writer that comes to my mind is Ashwin Sanghi.
Q-) A crucial advice you would like to give to all the novice writers?
Don’t fall prey to the mafia in the publishing world. Publish your book on Amazon KDP, rather than be taken for a ride by unscrupulous publishers.
Q-) What is your perception about sudden mushrooming of Indian English Authors?
It’s a beautiful and heartening development.