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Author Interview: A.R.C. Mitra

Author A.R.C. Mitra

Short Story: The Greek Mirror

Apologue of the Immortals

Tell us a little about your background and what led you to writing.

I have been writing fiction since I was a young child. Like many writers, my best subject at school was English and, after studying English at university level, I considered pursuing a Ph.D. in the subject. But I soon realized that I enjoy creating stories more than studying and writing about them. Writing fiction is also a wonderful creative outlet and allows me to have other worlds to escape into every now and then - which is a luxury not every adult has!

How or when did you realize you wanted to be an author?

I think being an author was always a “dream job” for me, but I never really considered it as a practical, viable career. I have been writing on and off for pretty much my whole life, but I had mostly abandoned writing for a few years while I focused on other things such as studying for three university degrees, establishing my career in another (quite demanding) field and moving internationally. However, in late 2020, I realized that I would always regret it if I didn’t at least try to write professionally, and since then I have been fortunate to have some of my work published.

What is your writing process like?

I’ve tried and failed to be one of those people who writes a certain number of words every day, who can get up at 5 a.m. to write before my day job, or who can spend an entire day writing. I am very much a night person (anything I write before 7pm is usually terrible), so I try to get at least an hour of writing in every evening on weeknights and write late into the night on weekends if I can. I’m always thinking about story ideas and works in progress though, and often my best “writing” is done in my head. I like to work out entire stories, or at least parts of stories, in my mind before writing them down so that I end up with relatively clean first drafts. Then, during the editing stage, I go through at least two additional drafts.

What inspires you to write?

The feeling of getting an acceptance in my inbox! The hope that others might enjoy reading one of my stories as much as I enjoyed creating it. I’m also a big fan of the classic supernatural story and I’m always thinking of how the themes and fears from these classic tales are just as relevant in 21st Century settings.

What part does writing play in your life?

I can’t separate the “writing” part of my life from the other aspects of my life. I’m always thinking about my works in progress or noticing small things in real life that can be used in one of my stories. Writing also provides a welcome creative outlet. My day job is challenging in a very different way than writing is – it involves lots of logical and critical thinking, and the consequences of a mistake can be dire. So, it is nice to have writing as an escape for the creative part of my brain, where I have total control over my work and can experiment and try new things freely.

What are your aspirations for your writing journey?

In the short term, I hope to build up a larger body of published short fiction and hopefully have more readers familiar with my work. In the longer term, have been working on and off on a novel series for years. It has been difficult to work on such a big project alongside a full-time job and other commitments, but I hope to finish and publish the first novel in the next few years. It is a blend of the gothic/dark academia and high fantasy, and I hope that I’m able to take it over the finish line sometime soon!

What is something you know now about writing you wish you knew when you started?

I’ve mentioned my writing process already, and it took me a while to accept that I would never be one of those super-productive writers who can schedule hours of writing every day – it isn’t feasible with my day job and other commitments, and as I mentioned, I do my best work at night. I realized that I had to do what works for me and not pay so much attention to what others say you “should” do.

Describe your favorite character (you created). Why?

I’m not sure that I have a favorite character (yet)! The protagonists of my short fiction tend to be unlikeable, like the main character of “The Greek Mirror.” I guess I’m proud of being able to create characters that are so different from me, and it is a lot of fun writing terrible people!

Which author(s) inspires you as a writer?

I’m inspired by any author who worked full-time while writing! I was reading a foreword by J.R.R. Tolkien to The Lord of the Rings the other day and he talked about how writing the books took him so long due to his family commitments and academic career, which meant that he had to stop working on them for long periods of time. I definitely know how that feels! My writing is also heavily inspired by the writers of “classic” gothic and supernatural literature, such as M.R. James, Arthur Machen, Edgar Allan Poe and H.P. Lovecraft. I am also inspired by the female writers who have more recently revitalized the genre for modern readers, such as Susan Hill and Angela Carter.

What advice would you give newly aspiring authors?

Don’t get distracted by how much other people are publishing or people who seem to be more productive than you. Everyone’s life circumstances and writing styles are different, and at the end of the day quality matters over quantity – The Picture of Dorian Gray was Oscar Wilde’s only novel, but everyone knows about it! Just keep your head down and keep writing.

What works can your readers expect to see in the near future?

I have a handful of dark fantasy and gothic tales, and a novella that I refer to as my love letter to classic vampire tales from the 19th century, that are yet to be published. Hopefully these will find a home in 2023. I can’t wait for them to be out in the world!

How can your readers find more about you and your works?

Follow me on Twitter @ARCMitra. I generally post all my writing updates and links to my published works there.

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