Entry # 232 – “Interview with Deepan Chatterjee”
By Jan BowmanInterview with Deepan Chatterjee – “The First Propetical: A collection of poetry and short fiction.”
Dr. Deepan Chatterjee is a Licensed Clinical Psychologist in Maryland. He has over fourteen years experience (eight of them postdoctoral) in providing diagnostic evaluations, individual, family and group psychotherapy, crisis counseling, psychopharmacological consults, as well as psychological assessment services to children, adolescents, adults, couples, geriatric adults, families and criminal offenders. Dr. Chatterjee’s writing has appeared in several newspapers, online blogs and literary magazines, including The Statesman, The Telegraph, The Tower, The Harbinger, The Daily Kos, Altarum Institute’s Health Policy Forum, among others. His poetry has also been featured in art exhibitions, including “Poets and Painters” at The Artist’s Gallery in Columbia, Maryland. He is the author of a recently published collection of short fiction and poetry entitled “The First Prophetical.” Dr. Chatterjee lives with his wife in Columbia, Maryland. Learn more about him at www.drdeepanchatterjee.com.
Jan: For whom did you write this book? Who would be your ideal reader?
Deepan: I wrote this book for a variety of readers – those who grew up in a foreign country (like I did) and then immigrated to the United States, those who reside here and wish to learn about other cultures and traditions, and anyone in general who loves reading short fiction and poetry. I have tried to include a variety of stories, including a murder mystery, a O’Henry type short story with a twist and a story with a psychologist as the narrator. Also, there are a variety of poems that I feel reflect many different moods. As such, I do not have an “ideal” reader in mind.
Jan: How does your background as a Clinical Psychologist influence your writing? And why do you write?
Deepan: I think my profession has a lot to do with my writing. I see writing as a sort of therapeutic catharsis, if you will. I write to relieve the stress and anxiety that inevitably comes with my job. I also write to escape the everyday mundane world of work and family life. Writing brings me great joy, and I would love to do it full-time if I could.
Jan: Many of the short prose pieces are listed as fiction, but seem more like they could be regarded as creative nonfiction. Why did you decide to write them as fiction?
Deepan: The stories are actually fiction. I have been asked by some readers and friends who have read my book if the characters depicted in the short stories are any of my patients in real life. My answer has always been that all the characters in my stories are fictional. They are part amalgams of different patient narratives, as well as part creative imagination.
Jan: This collection combines both fiction and poetry. Which do you prefer to write?
Deepan: Both, actually. I used to write poetry a lot at one time in my earlier life. I have started writing short stories again after a long time, and feel like I am really enjoying the process. I might go back to poetry again, who knows? However, I am thinking of writing another collection of short stories in the near future.
Jan: You have three poems on the topic of “Perfection” that are separated by short prose works, tell me about those poems and why you’ve positioned them as you have in the collection?
Deepan: That is a great question.The three parts of Perfection are interspersed between a story with a shocking ending, a reflective short piece, and a murder mystery. I think I was trying to evoke a variety of emotions in the reader, going from shock to a neutral pondering to the thrill of a “detective” story. If you read the three parts of perfection, they act as buffers between the different emotional states.
Jan: I try to take at least two intensive writers workshops each year, mostly in the summer to build connections with other writers and to help me grow in my development as a writer. Have you explored taking intensive summer writing workshops, and if you did, what would you consider the most valuable thing you could gain from that experience?
Deepan: I have considered participating in intensive writer workshops before. The only thing that prevents me from doing so is my full-time job as a Clinical Psychologist. I am also a Partner in our practice, and between my full clinical caseload and the added administrative responsibilities, I haven’t had the time. However, I am hoping to make some time in future for workshops. It would be really nice connecting with other writers.
Jan: Who are among your favorite authors? What are you reading now?
Deepan: As far as prose goes, I love Ernest Hemingway, Paulo Coelho, Satyajit Ray, and Amitav Ghosh. My favorite poets are Rumi, E.E. Cummings, Rabindranath Tagore, and Walt Whitman. Right now I am reading “Beyond the Pale Motel” by Francesca Lia Block.
Jan: How can readers find out more about your new book and perhaps order it?
Deepan: Here are links to my website. www.drdeepanchatterjee.com.