Q. Why did you adopt the pen name ‘S.B. Veda’?
There is a definite reason to that, when I first started writing for newspapers I was working in the office of a minister of a very large government department in Canada and it was a very sensitive work, so, they were concerned that something I write might be misunderstood by the government of Canada, so, one solution that was proposed was why I do I not write with a pen name, and I had to come up with it very quickly so I took my first two initials and put Veda beside it, as it means knowledge. Since then, it has kind of stuck, because once you start writing under a pen name and then suddenly stop people cannot relate to it. That is the history behind my pen name.
Q. Were you always a writer or did it come suddenly to you?
I have been telling stories since I was a kid. Reading has been kind of a great escape for me since childhood and so when I entered a fictional world it was natural for me to sort of make-up stories as well. I think that is how I started doing it. But it was only until grade 8 when we had to write, we had an English teacher who made us write 4-5 pieces of original work every week that brought about a certain discipline in me and made me realize that I actually enjoy the process and the feedback I got was positive, which encouraged me more. And that is how I started the journey.
Q. What is the question you have been asked too many times and what is your answer to that?
The question would be “What advice do you have for young writers”. My answer to that is twofold, one is to read, if a writer tells you that they do not have time to read, then they should not be writing, as a writer has to read. And the other is to try and get into a discipline of trying to actually put words in a page because if there comes a large gap between your days of writing then you not actually lose the skill but you tend to take more time to warm up. And another advice I always give is, write about what inspires you.
Q. How has the experience at Kolkata Literature Festival 2018 been for you?
It has been great, I have really enjoyed it. I think the organization has done a great job and everyone has been very nice. But I do want to say something about ‘Boimela’ because I have been coming to India probably once every two years since I was a kid. And a lot of people think that Jaipur is the first place to have a book festival, which might be right in terms of organizing and holding the Literature Festival in India. But, this kind of celebration of books and authors and writings has been going on in Kolkata since 1976. Writers have been coming to the city, they have been speaking, and interacting with readers and that is very much a literary fest. And this is something I always looked forward to every year. Being the biggest non-trade festival of books in the world, there is nothing like this anywhere else. This is something very special and distinctive to the city and should be treasured.