In an exclusive interview with Godhuli Barat, 22-year-old Priyasha Bagchi shared how the book “The Alchemist” inspired her to write her own idea, and transform it into a book. A medical student with an extreme passion for literature, Bagchi is relentless in her pursuit of knowledge.
Godhuli Barat (GB): What inspired you to write this book?
Priyasha Bagchi (PB): I remember wanting to be a writer ever since I was 13 years old. At that time, I had read “The Alchemist” by Paulo Coelho and I was enchanted by his master storytelling. It was simple yet profound.
The story struck a chord with me and I realised that I wanted to tell stories too. The very thought of being able to share something of myself to the world, thrilled me. I conceived the idea for my story when I was 17.
One night, I had an epiphany… It was an image of a couple standing at the edge of the world, watching the Aurora Borealis. That image has become the cover of my book.
GB: When writing this book, what was your first thought? Does the title hold any special significance for you?
PB: I was fascinated by the mathematical concept of parallel lines. When two lines cross once, their paths diverge, and they never meet again. Parallel lines never touch, but they run together till infinity—never meeting yet staying together.
There was a philosophical beauty about this mathematical concept, which I extrapolated to the realm of romance. Hence, the title, “The Road to Infinity: A Story of Two Parallel Lines”.
GB: As a medical student, what made you discover your passion for literature?
PB: Ever since I learnt how to read, stories have been my refuge, my escape from reality. I could live as many lives as I wanted to go faraway destinations, whether they existed on the map or in a fantasy world. Above all, I could be any character I wanted to be.
I have always been fascinated by the magic of stories and the art of storytelling. From early on, I knew that I had to write stories regardless of the profession I chose.
GB: What challenges did you face while putting your words into your thoughts?
PB: I did not start writing the story until I got into my dream institute: Lady Hardinge Medical College. I was 19 when I began fleshing out the story I long intended to write. Balancing academic commitments and a passion for literature was a tight ropewalk.
There were times when I felt I was doing a disservice to both.
However, I stopped worrying much the day I realised that I need not choose between the two. I can just have it all, instead! There was no need to compromise on either. The writing process took almost a year and a half and then began the hunt for suitable publishers.
This turned out to be much harder than expected since a lot of publishing houses were not accepting book proposals due to constraints imposed by the pandemic. Things were even harder for a first-time author.
Finally, after much deliberation, we chose to go ahead with Blue Rose Publishers and the manuscript saw the light of the day.
GB: Your father is a senior journalist. Did this influence you while writing this book?
PB: My father was not aware that I had been writing a story until the very end! My mother was the only person I had shared my idea with. She was the first reader and played a pivotal role by reviewing my work and giving suggestions for improvement.
I told my father about my intentions once the manuscript was complete. He helped me edit the draft.
GB: What are your plans for future books? What was your first reaction to seeing your book published? Any message for the readers?
PB: I have not planned anything yet! Right now, I am just happy to see my debut novel being well-received. I was over the moon when my book was finally published, after three long years of struggle.