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From getting published at 21 to being among the prominent Indian writers of romance for today’s youth, author Durjoy Datta’s career has been quite eventful. Ask him if the criticism that lines the path of writers in the genre bothers him, and the author says, “The criticism used to bother me a lot earlier, but now I’m older and don’t have the energy for all that anger. Unless the criticism also comes from a place of love and liking some parts of the book/s, I don’t take it seriously. It adds nothing to my life. On the other hand, if it comes from a serious fan who finds places I have messed up, I embrace it.”
Datta’s new book, A Touch of Eternity, is another romance — a love story set in a dystopian future and sees the concept of reincarnation take centre stage — and he finished writing it during the lockdown.
Durjoy Datta: Criticism used to bother me but now I don’t have energy for anger
“I don’t necessarily believe in reincarnation,” he says, adding, “But I tend to believe that there’s a soul. The other option is to believe we are just sentient pieces of flesh and our existence is only till our heart pumps blood. So to counter that, I believe that there could be a soul. The only logical conclusion to the soul existing is that it’s washed clean of its past life and recycled. That’s where the idea originated.”
With subtle references to the India of today, the book has overtones of debate between science and religion. Was that purposeful? “I didn’t wish to get into a debate between science and faith but the idea was so intertwined that there was no way out of it. I didn’t want to pit them against each other. I believe they complement each other…,” he explains, adding, “I left it to the readers to take sides.”
As a popular writer of romance novels, Datta’s books have seen love, as a subject matter, transform over the years. “The idea of love is ever evolving. I am also still figuring it out. For me, it’s compatibility, but it was not always like that.”
“My books also capture some of that. While my earlier books were all about that initial rush of the first meeting, the joy of someone new, now it’s different; it’s more about the slow burn,” says the author.
Breaking into the publishing industry seems easier now than it was before, and a lot of writers in India today come from similar technical backgrounds. Mention this to him and Datta says, “Everyone from a technical background was made to choose their career when they were 15… Some of us had to grow up and realise that though we were good at the entrance examination stuff, it was eventually not our cup of tea.”
So does the author now have any advice for any 21-year-old writers hoping to make it big? “I was really unpolished as a writer. I would also say don’t try to get published at 21. I can’t bear to read my first few books… Just concentrate on finishing the books. Don’t be in a rush to get published,” he states.