In conversation with Shrutidhora P Mohor

Our readers would like to know your inspiration (or story, if any) behind Funny John, Brave John, Happy John.

The story title came to me instinctively, as most titles do, and I remember choosing John as the protagonist’s name because of its simplicity and universality. There is a John everywhere, anywhere. There is nothing conspicuous about the name, nothing that pushes him into prominence or attention. He exists without being noticed. 

I also wanted to use a title which would highlight his centrality to the story and at the same time throw light upon the many-sided character that he is, once again, a character who can be captured in simple, straightforward emotions and adjectives. Hence the title, Funny John, Brave John, Happy John.

Tell us more about your creative process in general.

The creative process is shamefully disrupted by things mundane and professional, domestic and dramatic, the every day and the sudden. I am forever torn between the wish to create everything that races through my mind or sometimes idles its way in between my non-fictional existence and the compulsion of letting a story brew indefinitely because I have too many ‘important’ things to do. When I began writing seriously and got published, it was the beginning of the pandemic. I would write throughout the day and late into the night. That is how my novellas — Where The Sky Feels Cold, The Last Gift, The Trespasser — were written. Things are tight now and my mood is very often a reflection of how well or how poorly my writing has been going. 

Do you have any creative influences? What do you like the most about their work? Does it have a discernible effect on your writing?

Oh yes! I love Daphne du Maurier’s quiet suspense. I love Guy de Maupassant’s poignant style. I love Somerset Maugham’s complexities. I have grown up by reading them all the time. I would not be surprised if their influences are to be found in my writing. My first novel, The Unknown Script, has Maurier’s effect shadowed in it. 

Are there any creative genres, forms, themes, techniques etc. you wish you could employ in your writing which you haven’t yet?

Lots. There are lots of literary techniques that I hope to be able to use one day but haven’t ventured into till now. I haven’t tried comedy per se, although there is some dry humour in my writings. I haven’t experimented with the hermit crab model in flash fiction and I am highly interested in doing that. I am learning multiple POVs and trying to master the varieties of the third-person POV. These are things uppermost in my mind and I want to engage with these interesting forms and genres. 

What are you looking forward to in your creative career?

I have got a couple of unfinished novels, at various stages of progress, projects that I had lovingly and excitedly taken up but subsequently shelved for almost two years now. I am definitely looking forward to that mental space when I can devote wholeheartedly to these longer and complicated forms of storytelling, because as they say in the writing community, writing a novel is a full-time job! I hope my experience of writing for literary magazines and in international competitions, including the staggering number of rejections that I have faced till date, has given me the maturity and the skills to write my novels better when I do take them up after some months.

Shrutidhora P Mohor (she/her; born 1979) is the pen name for Prothoma Rai Chaudhuri, MA PhD, Faculty, Department of Political Science, St Xavier’s College, Calcutta, India. Her literary fiction has appeared in several literary magazines. She was nominated for Best Micro Fiction 2023 and was listed in several competitions like the Bristol Short Story Prize, the Bath Flash Fiction Award, the Retreat West Annual Prize for short story 2022, the Winter 2022 Reflex Fiction competition, Flash 500, and more.