Indian-born writer Rohan Swamy, lives and works in Dublin, Ireland; and began writing in 2002. A former journalist, he has tried to combine the art of story telling with journalistic trends and enjoys writing stories based on current socio-political trends across the world.
A graduate of Trinity College, Dublin, Rohan has worked as a journalist in India with the Indian Express Newspapers and with NDTV before moving on to writing fiction full-time. He has been a contributing writer during his university days with the oldest student newspaper publications in Ireland – The University Times and Trinity News, writing on student life, and issues connected to Irish and American politics. In addition, he wrote a column called ‘After Thought’ for Sakaal Times in Pune, in 2017. As a short story writer, his first published stories appeared in the Urban Shots anthologies – Crossroads and The Love Collection, in 2012 respectively. In Europe he has been published in ‘College Green’ and ‘The Attic’ – magazines published by the Trinity College Dublin Press.
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On days when he is not writing he prefers to go hiking, photographing and exploring the Irish countryside. He also divides time between running, playing the harmonica and cooking – activities that help him find sanity in a fast changing world.
We asked Rohan a few questions to get to know him better. Here’s what he had to say:
I have been writing since…
…the age of 14. It was when my first published piece came out in the year 2001. It’s been two decades now.
My favorite author(s) and book(s)?
- Sidney Sheldon – Bloodline / Master of the Game
- Robert James Waller – The Bridges of Madison County
- Bitter Fruit: The Complete Works of Manto
- R.K. Narayan – Malgudi Days/ The English Teacher/ Swami & Friends
- The complete works of Munshi Premchand
- John Carlin – Playing the Enemy
- Khushwant Singh – Train to Pakistan
- Oscar Wilde – The Picture of Dorian Gray
- Bram Stoker – Dracula
- Sir A. C. Doyle – The complete stories of Sherlock Holmes
- A Mountain of Gems – Fairy Tales of the Soviet Land
- Gibran Khalil Gibran – The Prophet
- Brian Azzarello – Joker
- Alan Moore – The Killing Joke
- Frank Miller – Batman: Year One
My journey as a writer:
It has been an interesting one. I was lucky enough to begin my career as a journalist, which gave me the structure and discipline to write on truncated timetables. It exposed me to a world far moved from the one that I grew up in and also to issues that plague society which has been a driving force for most of my stories that I write. Europe, on the other hand, was a myth-buster and eye opener for it afforded me a completely new audience, which funnily enough, in many ways, had the same problems I had seen during my days as a journalist. All of these have invariably found their ways into stories that I write. As I said, the journey has been very interesting and continues to be so.
Why should we read you?
That’s tough to answer. In all honesty the question feels a little like tomtoming one’s achievements or blowing one’s trumpet. However, perhaps if I could point to one reason why someone could read my pieces then that would be this – my stories are of everyday people, and of everyday occurrences in their lives. Loosely put, they are honest. To say that they have a definitive start, middle and end would be to compartmentalize our own existence. My tales are more about reading a slice of your life, with all honesty and no judgments. People, perhaps, would like to read that.
My favorite genre to read / write:
There is no one favorite as such but I do enjoy reading commonplace stories about ordinary people. That said I would be lying if I do not confess my love for comics, and the genres of crime, politics, horror, philosophy and sports.
What advice would you give young and aspiring writers?
I read a quote by George Simenon, a long time ago which went, “Writing is not a profession but a vocation of unhappiness.” I was always confused and enamored, by this quote. In many ways, I understand now that it is a very solitary profession and the only joy (or relief) one feels is when one peeks out that little window after finishing a piece. So in some ways it is a bit unhappy, but to talk about advice I can say with great surety and honesty that I have not found any other vocation or profession that could match up to this one either. To anyone who wishes to write professionally all I can say is be ready to sell your emotions to the public and grow a skin thick enough to understand that they will not always like it. Keep writing nevertheless and suddenly you’ll see that everything around you, every conversation around you, every person or emotion around you is a potential story that is waiting to be told. That is what I learnt from my experiences and that is what I have to tell anyone who is interested in writing.
Here’s an excerpt from Rohan’s winning story Inheritance that’s now published in Wafting Earthy:
My earliest memory of Ammachi was her sitting in the verandah on her rocking chair daydreaming. I would sit playing in the verandah with my Raggedy Ann doll that Appa had bought during his trip to America. She would sit in her rocking chair, eyes closed, smile on lips, breathing gently and swaying to the songs of the wind. Ammachi, Appa, Amma, and I stayed in a big house in Darjeeling then. I have fond memories of the house. My cousins, who stayed four houses down, would come every weekend and pester Ammachi to tell them stories of the goblin living in the Himalayas. She always obliged; even though it cut into her time of being with herself. I didn’t like to heckle her. We had our own unwritten rules, codes, and laws, which we made up. I would sit with my doll and play, and she would close her eyes and sit on the rocking chair and smile. It is here that we connected instantly. I inherited her idea of change. The modern world describes change as a movement from one state of being to another. Something that, in most cases, is irreversible. However, it wasn’t the case with Ammachi. For her it was elastic. Everything could revert back to its original state after she had finished with it.