CHENNAI: It is not uncommon for fiction writers to draw inspiration from their personal lives. From American attorney novelist John Grisham, who is known for his legal thrillers to Indian banker-author, Ravi Subramanian, whose novels revolve around the banking sector, the examples are one too many. City-based author M Neelamalar is no different.
An Assistant Professor with the Media Sciences department at Anna University, her book, An Endless Refuge, was released at the World Book Fair 2016 at New Delhi in the first week of January.
Her story revolves around the trials and tribulations of a research scholar, with a major twist — the protagonist of her story is a Sri Lankan refugee. Neelamalar, who has authored books on media sciences and text books, has written this under a pen name, ‘Neela Senthil’.
“Most of it is a work of fiction. Since it revolves around a PhD research scholar, some events were borrowed from real life. But, the character arcs are all works of imagination. I personally have not interacted with any Lankan refugees for the story,” Neela told City Express.
While the protagonist Sudhakar’s ordeals form the crux of the narration, the book also deals with three other research scholars: Roopa, a Kashmiri pandit and Kavitha and Ram from Tamil Nadu. “Each of them has his and her own struggles and this work of fiction narrates how their PhD and personal life get entangled,” Neela says. The author, a mother of two school-going children, took nine months to complete writing on the book and remembers the positive words from poet-author, Neelam Saxena Chandra who released her book at the World Book Fair.
“There is more creative freedom while authoring fiction and I enjoy it. In the case of textbooks, there are norms to be followed, but writing for academics has gotten me as much recognition as this,” says the 40-year-old. Writing, however, is not alien to Neela, whose father was a retired Tamil professor from Presidency College — so the motivation to engage in creative pursuits was in abundance at home.
“When I was in school, I would write in Tamil and some of my short stories were published in magazines,” Neela recalls.
After a short gap during undergraduation, where she pursued Chemistry, Neela worked at an ad agency and later worked as a lecturer before joining Anna University as a research scholar. “I feel that research scholars and students, in general will be able to relate more to the book,” says the assistant professor, who has already started work on her next book.
(The 249-page book is available on e-commerce sites like Flipkart and Amazon for `250)