Monday 2 July 2018

Author Interview: Sunil Sapra

The author, Sunil Sapra is founder and CEO of Singapore based growth Accelerator for early stage software companies, Risan Asia Business Partners Pte Ltd and has been involved with many startups in his 23 years of work. Since childhood, he participated in plays, dramas and other stage activities. During his college days at BITS Pilani, he acted in, directed and modified few Hindi plays and was very passionate about this art.

Later he lost touch with this creative side, and for many years didn’t do anything in this domain. After moving to Singapore in 2013, he started writing once in a while but it was during the silver jubilee reunion of his batch in 2014 that his poetic side found its “Faqeera” and he wrote some poems and songs for the reunion. Since then he has written over 500 poems in the last 4 years. Most of his poems are inspired by the daily life and what goes on around us. When you read his poems, you will feel as if you have written them yourself and that’s the power of “Faqeera”.

We interviewed him recently. Here are the excerpts.

Where do you belong to? Our readers want to know about your education and family. 

I was born and raised in Gurgaon and lived there for most of my life and for last five years, I have been living in Singapore. My parents worked in Education department and I was born on Teacher’s Day, so it was destined that someday I would write a book. 😊

I studied engineering in BITS, Pilani and actively participated in the Hindi theatre there. That’s where I developed interest in the creative side of life.

Tell us about your book. 
The book Faqeera Chal Chala Chal is a collection of 84 Hindi poems written by me. The poems cover everyday emotions with topics ranging from Self, relationships, God, dreams, wishes, pain etc. People who have read the book tell me that they feel as if they have written it themselves.

Tell us about your other books. 
Faqeera Chal Chala Chal is my first book. However, I should do at least 2 more, one this year and one next. 

What is your writing journey like, where and when did you start? Are you a writer by choice or by chance?
Certainly, by chance. I started writing only around 2014 and it wasn’t serious. I posted few of them on my Facebook, friends liked them and encouraged me to write more. 
Around the same time, we had our BITS batch reunion and I wrote a fun song “BITS Pilani Jaisi Koi Jagah Kahan” which was loved by BITSians of all ages and batches. I followed it up by the first poem in the book “Kadam Tham gaye”. That’s how the momentum built up which is over 500 poems strong now. 
After my father read some of my poems last year, he insisted that I should get them published and that’s how the book happened.

As a new author, what is your favourite part of the writing/publishing process? Least favourite?
The most favourite part is when you feel your words have done justice to the thought and it gives you immense joy. If everyone else likes the poem and I don’t vs. I like it and no one else does, I will pick the second case always.

When you must decide about how many should go into the book and which ones to drop, that I think is the most difficult part. I won’t use the cliché that I love all my poems equally.  Out of the 500, that I have written, I certainly like about 50% much more than the rest 50% and I do have my Top 25.

Are you an avid reader as well? What kind of books do you read? What is your frequency of reading?
I used to be an avid reader and would finish at least one book a week. It was no surprise for my friends and acquaintances to receive books from me on any occasion. Motivational, biographies, mythology, fiction, poetry, stories, venture capital, technology, almost every genre. Now a days, my reading has dropped quite a bit and I read summaries and blog more than the books.

Which is your favorite book and why?
Krishna – The God who lived as man. The most mesmerising book about the most complete, the most magical Faqeera that the world has ever witnessed. Many of my poems are inspired by this book including my very favourite, “Kahan ho, kahin par”. My book is dedicated to Krishna.  

Who are your favorite authors?
Kaajal Oza-Vaidya, Osho, Gulzar Saab, Subroto Bagchi, Mohan Rakesh, Manto.

Do you pursue any other profession apart from writing? How do you manage everything? How do you find family time amidst all this?
I have been working in IT sales for 23 years and currently run a Singapore based Venture Builder company that helps start-ups in international expansion.

Poetry is a hobby and passion and not profession. Writing doesn’t take away much time because I write only when I am in the “Faqeera zone”. The ones I wrote just for the sake of it or on someone’s request are so visible and clearly out of place. 

As long as my work and writing doesn’t intrude in my family time, they don’t have any problem with it. 😊

What does your writing space look like? 

I don’t have a writing space as such. I have written poems while on a travel, during evening walks, at home, office, restaurant, hospital, cinema hall, anywhere. It’s all about the “Faqeera Zone” engulfing you. However, my balcony overlooking the ocean is my most favourite corner for writing. Have a look at the writing corner and the mesmerizing view from there.

How do you overcome writer’s block?
I don’t force myself to write because the contrived poetry isn’t something that I like. Since I write only as a hobby, I am not answerable to anyone and that’s why I go for days/ months without writing a single poem and sometimes I write 5 poems in half hour. There is no pattern or discipline to it yet.

What motivated you to write this book?
Some friends on my Facebook who regularly read and encourage me, always suggested that I should convert few of my poems to a book but I wasn’t very serious about it. 

When my father insisted that I should publish them and my wife helped me get a publisher and suggested that we should associate the book with a good cause. That energized me and got me going.

How long did you take to finish this book? What was the process like?
Most of my poems were scattered on FB and on my page
Though the poems were ready but the process was still energy consuming one. The challenge was to get them all together in a document, decide the structure and flow of the book, out of 300 poems at that time, how many to include and which ones, do proof reading, how should the cover page look and what it should depict, acknowledgments etc. 

As a first-time writer, you change your thoughts and plans every day and that needs so much rework. It was very difficult to draw a line that after this no more changes and this is final copy.
Overall, it took about 4 months of working on weekends but with gaps in between.

What are you hoping people to gain from your book?
Most of my poems are straight from the heart. They are not necessarily my experiences but sometimes a friend told me something or I read about something or some other inspiration. I hope that the poems will make people think and help them connect with their emotional side.

What were some of the challenges you faced on the road to publication?
Mentioned already. Otherwise, the publisher was quite supportive.

What kind of research have you done for the book? 
There isn’t any research involved actually, because the poems are based on one’s emotions and experiences.

Any story behind deciding the title of this book?
Can’t recall since when and why, but I have always used the word Faqeera for the soul, the inner voice in my conversations and writings. And since life is a journey where nothing stops for you, the time, the earth, the world, nothing. So, one must keep moving too.  That’s why, Faqeera Chal Chala Chal. 😊

Why should we read your book?
Two reasons:

- It might help you find and connect with your own Faqeera. Trust me, that would be an awesome feeling.

- All proceeds from the book are being donated to charitable organizations. The book needs that support.

Do you have any blog or website the readers can visit?

What advice do you have for budding writers?
Write something that inspires you and let it flow. Unless you are writing a professional book, write for self and don’t interrupt the flow of thoughts. Edit later and edit brutally. 


  1. Awesome, Sunil. Wish you the best ... Chal chala chal.

    1. Thanks so much buddy. Chal Chala Chal..... :)


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