Namita Roy Ghose, Director, White Light Moving Picture Company, talks about how stories formed an important part of her life and also about her newly released book, The Wrong Turn
By Namita Roy Ghose
Director, White Light Moving Picture Company
So, my first novel, The Wrong Turn, has hit the bookshops. Amazing. Fantastic. Wow. For me. But why should this piece of news take up the gentle reader’s time?
Well, for those of you who don’t know me, I have been in advertising since the pre-Pleistocene era, better known as the 70’s, when I joined HTA [JWT] as a copy trainee. I had always been a writer of sorts – from juvenile attempts at song-writing inspired by ‘Love, Love Me Do’ to scribbling the odd rude limerick on the back of Wills Filter packs to concocting a minor falsehood for a school essay on ‘The Most Memorable Day Of My Life’ where I pretended to be a Russian girl on the day WW2 came to an end. The teacher, a wonderful crusty old English lady, tapped my wrist with her fat red pencil and told me, with a long-suffering sigh, not to make things up. This dangerous tendency for making things up runs in my family. My Mum’s dad was a very famous playwright in his time. My mum used to dash off poetry between rolling out rotis and ironing the clothes. An uncle of mine used to sleep on a bed made of books and I had a godfather who would pay us kids a little bonus if we told him a particularly funny story. Stories filled my life.
My greatest joy was discovering a large steamer trunk in the attic packed to the brim with old Argosy magazines. Oh, the musty, dusty, vanilla scent of those slightly yellowed pages. Argosy used to be a short story magazine, the launching pad of writers like Paulo Coelho. So when I went for my copy test in HTA, for a lark, and discovered there were people who would actually pay me money, however paltry it was those days, for making up characters and places, I abandoned my plans to become a journalist and save the world and dived in head-first.
It was heady stuff. And through the years, as I graduated to Creative Director, I got to write literally thousands of stories… in Print, when long copy ads were still prized, for multi-projector AVs spinning out yarns for the client’s annual sales conference jamborees and, of course, films for the big screen and later, TV. I left HTA’s bosom to set up White Light, my own production house, so I could get to write scripts, which I would like to direct. So the journey continued. The urge to tell different stories, unfettered by marketing diktats and client servicing strings led me into the world of shorts – and much to my delight, I found I had learnt by osmosis from those Argosy issues.
But alas, nothing got published. The only one I had the courage to launch on the Net, died an un-mourned death somewhere in cyberspace. But I didn’t give up. Because the stories wouldn’t stop coming. They came in my dreams, while reading the newspaper, while listening to a Cohen song. The dream of writing a novel would surface wistfully, now and then, and end after 20 pages, the doubt stifling the words. Till an idea I loved and a publisher who was willing to take a chance on my untested talent and a friend who became a co-author came along. It took close to two years, but at the end, there was a book, a book with 488 pages, the words crafted, sentence by sentence, by me. And people were reading it and saying things like thundering good yarn and riveting and couldn’t put it down. Holding the book in my hands, I realized what I had written will now always be there in the universe. So you guys out there, wanting to write while you hold down day jobs, all you marketing minds with songs running around your frontal cortexes and all you home-makers with paintings leaking out of your finger-tips… go out there and tell your stories. And don’t let anyone stop you… least of all yourself.