A young but incredibly talented writer Swatilekha Roy, the author of the Story Winner "Elizabeth" shared the most interesting facts about her work, inspiration, and impression from the screened version of the story.
First of all, how did you decide to become a writer and what did you start with?
As a kid, words had always intrigued me and an innate love for all things ‘literature’ budded steadily. I was always curious about grabbing paperbacks from my school library and keeping them for myself. On one of these days, I decided that it would be so awesome if I could write them too- and I started my journey with stumbling steps. My first poem “Nature” nurtured in fourth grade and a short story called “Woldia Reveals” got recognised by Campfire, Hachette India in sixth standard. That was one of the turning points- I got to see that people cared for the work I created. Or pretended to.
What are you up to now?
These days, I am mostly engaged in making a short film with zero previous experience and that’s what makes it more exciting. From writing a screenplay to directing freestyle to working with a team of friends who are extremely enthusiastic about our work, it’s a very unique skill on the learning and also great fun! I have always been passionate about filmmaking.
Your story is published on SWEEK and Wattpad platforms - how important is the readers’ feedback for the author? Do you communicate with your readers or other writers?
I have been active on SWEEK and Wattpad for a couple of years and thoroughly enjoy both platforms. As a personal favourite, I prefer SWEEK because of the numerous writing contests that it holds all year round. Wattpad is more fun when you gain your audience and it’s always a bonus to hear them talk about your work. It’s not always rose petals and kind words- sometimes a sharp critique can kick you out of your ignorant shell and make you work five times harder. Besides, it’s always a learning experience to communicate with my fellow writers or readers and exchange our works (or talk about our pets).
Your story has won the screenplay contest, however, it is not a screenplay for screening but a short story. How about switching to creating screenplays?
I don’t really intend to flip three sixty degrees to screenplays at the moment although the idea really excites me so. I have only ever written two or three scripts so far. At the end of the reel, screenplays portray the stories that we wish to tell, albeit with a reality check and in the voice of real characters. Both stories and screenplays converge in their imagination. Greta Gerwig, who is both a writer and director, has always been my inspiration.
Your story “Elizabeth” has been adapted in a format of CINE-BOOKS Photo Story. It can be watched through photos and read through your text. Do the writers find this format Is interesting?
As writers, it’s always a moment of joy and apprehension to watch what played around in your mind so long, unfold in front of your eyes. The unique Photo Story format that CINE-BOOKS uses is really intriguing and can cater to a viewer’s senses. A sheer addition of voiceovers narrating the text while the Photo Story is playing out, in my opinion, could also add to the effect.
Tell us about “Elizabeth” - how did the idea appear and how were you working on it?
I wrote “Elizabeth” one fine summer afternoon and the idea came as a bit of surprise. Earlier that day, I had been watching Fashion TV and there was a model who had walked the ramp in a veil. I remember taking the toil of a good couple of days to think it through, gawk at the impossibility of the plot and delve headfirst into it. I drank a lot of coffee and cried for Elizabeth.
The main characters of your story were represented by Ukrainian theatre actors. Do you like their interpretation?
I really loved both James and Elizabeth in the Photo Story (played by Andrii Petruk and Tamrikogor) and their professional skills completely flaunted the plot. They spoke to the characters really well.
Photographer Marta Syrko put the emphasis on the atmosphere: the veil, darkness, mystery. Did she manage to display the atmosphere of the story?
When I first watched the photo story, I was really awed by how well the camera work has been done. The veil was a perfect mirror image of what I had imagined while writing the story and it plays an integral part in the story. The light exposure that lays emphasis on darkness and how it draws a curtain on the “hour of the devil” is also praiseworthy.
Finally, what is your story about? Elizabeth - who is she to you?
My story is partly paranormal and partly fantasy- most of the story plays out in the protagonist’s head and the reader is left to imagine if what they see is even true. “I am as solid as your imaginations are” is one of my favourite dialogues in the story. That’s what Elizabeth is to me, a figment of James’s imagination, personification of his Art and an incarnate of a primal, artistic love.
What will you suggest the beginner writers who are willing to create a story for a screenplay?
The first thing that I would suggest any beginner screenplay writer to bear in mind is to read more and watch more. And then create more. Lastly, one of the best quotes by Stanley Kubrick that says it all is ‘If it can be written, or thought, it can be filmed’.