Interview with D. R. Michael Buam

What is your e-reading device of choice?
For now, I invariably use my PC or Laptop to read e-books.
Where did you grow up, and how did this influence your writing?
I was born in Panichowki, a hamlet in the foothills of Bhuban Hill range in south Assam, India. My parents and relatives are a community of betel-leaf cultivators who cultivate betel leaf using trees in the forests as support for the betel vines without cutting the trees or destroying the forests. We have much respect for nature and other living creatures because our cosmology, mythology and oral traditions are very much connected to nature, environment and other creatures both living and non-living. Every evening, my Grand Uncle used to visit our home and on occasions entertain us with stories - folktales and folklore filled his repertoire. TV or radio were unheard of then. So, my siblings and I always looked forward to his stories. I was therefore hooked to listening and telling stories since as far as I can remember. Most of my writings are related to oral history, nature and environment. It was only in recent years that I have had the time and opportunity to pen down some of the stories in my own words, sometimes modifying them to flatter my imagination. My first English novel LAMCHWA also had nature, environment and herbal medicine as the sub-themes.
This love for stories continued during my school days. I read as many books as I could get hold of, borrow or buy (which was rare because I had limited pocket money then). My classmates were generous to me (and I thank them again here) in lending books and comics to satisfy my reading appetite. This reading habit built a strong foundation of English language in me. I remember that even during my school days my teachers always encouraged me to write articles (God Bless them).
When did you first start writing?
I started writing since my school days but it was not much then. I tried with some short stories and poems but these works are lost in my notebooks. During my college days, I was frequently approached by friends and friends of friends to write articles or essays for them which they submitted as assignments or in competitions. I used to be surprised when some of them won prizes. If you were to ask me then if I knew I would be writer, my answer would have been no. I seriously considered writing only in the past ten years or so. Even then, economic pressures deprived me the leisure of writing at will. My first novel LAMCHWA (which I wrote in Pnar and English languages) took more than five years to complete!
What's the story behind your latest book?
I am working on a story that spans three generations. Its about a person trying to identify himself politically while conforming to his roots. The Khynriam, Pnar, Vaar and Lyngngam people of the Khasi ethnic group existed as many independent nation-states before the British came to colonize North East India in the late eighteenth century. Their territories then extended north up to Assam and south down to Sylhet and adjoining districts of East Bengal. After Independence in 1947, East Bengal became part of Pakistan and was called East Pakistan and later became an independent nation called Bangladesh after the liberation war in 1971 in which India took active part.
The protagonist in this story who was born in an ethnic Vaar village in present day Bangladesh has strong kinship links with Meghalaya and Assam in India. The story is about his journey in his quest for his childhood love who got separated from him during the liberation war of Bangladesh in 1971.
What motivated you to become an indie author?
By virtue of the first language I wrote in (Pnar), I was a de facto indie author because no publishing company would accept to publish a limited readership book i.e. a book in a local language with a very small number of readers. It is simply not viable economically. After completing the third draft of my first English novel LAMCHWA, I began to explore the prospects of getting published. I already had self-published the Pnar version of the story a year earlier. I submitted proposals to known publishing houses but within the next week, I discovered, an Indian company that offers an author with packages to self publish. I was already aware of but I was reluctant to join it due to gut feelings. I withdrew my applications to the publishing houses and began consultations with which led to my publication of LAMCHWA.
And then I came across Smashwords (albeit a little too late). It is a Smashingly awesome site which further encourages me to remain an indie author.
What is the greatest joy of writing for you?
Well, it relieves the pressure that builds up in me. I constantly think and imagine of scenes, stories and situations. I see them everywhere and all the time. When I write them down, they cease to pester me.
What do your fans mean to you?
They are the vitamins to my writing. Without them, the writing would simply be bland and only suited to my taste.
Who are your favorite authors?
During my school days, my favourite authors were Franklin W. Dixon and Carolyn Keene - both ghostwriters. And then I moved to Alistair McLean, Loius L'Amour and some non-fiction writers. Now, I can't specify my favourites because I like to read anything that interests me and there are too many people out there competing for my reading time :-)
When you're not writing, how do you spend your time?
I have a full time job. So writing is presently a luxury.
What is your writing process?
Well, I write, rewrite and then write again and rewrite again.
How do you approach cover design?
I'm fortunate to have an artist (who's also a visual artist) as a friend. I pass the buck to him.
What do you read for pleasure?
I mostly read non fiction to update my knowledge and awareness because I do find pleasure in learning new things. But as an indulgence, I read fiction to entertain me on a different level.
Describe your desk
It's mostly cluttered!
Published 2015-04-07.
Smashwords Interviews are created by the profiled author, publisher or reader.

Books by This Author

The First Life of Lamchwa
Price: $1.99 USD. Words: 73,330. Language: English (Indian dialect). Published: July 13, 2015. Categories: Fiction » Romance » Clean & wholesome, Fiction » Literature » Literary
The story of Lamchwa is an emotional journey that raises fundamental questions on love and wrenches hearts. Set in the backdrop of picturesque Jaintia Hills blemished by coal mining, it tells the story of a hard life filled with hope. When he finds the girl he wants to marry, he is diagnosed with cancer. Lamchwa and all his loved ones are in turmoil. They say, bad things do happen to good people.
The Crow, the Jackal and the Red Crab
Price: Free! Words: 16,190. Language: English. Published: April 7, 2015. Categories: Fiction » Humor & comedy » General, Fiction » Fairy tales
A myth describing the origin of the land crab found in the southern slopes of the Khasi and Jaintia Hills in Meghalaya, India. Retold in a humorous vein for increased pleasure of the readers.