Disha Bose graduated with a Masters in Creative Writing from UCD. She has been shortlisted for the DNA Short Story Prize, and her poetry and short stories have appeared in The Galway Review, Cultured Vultures and Headstuff. Her travel pieces have appeared in The Economic Times of India and Coldnoon. Bose was born and raised in India and now lives in Ireland with her husband and daughter.
1. What was your UCD experience like — the social scene, classes, lectures
I only have fond memories of my time at UCD. I was new to the country and culture, having moved to Ireland for the Masters, and I was immediately greeted with warmth and hospitality. We were a small group, and it felt quite easy to make friends and socialise with the rest of my classmates. It also helped that there were people from all age groups and backgrounds from around the country, so I never felt like an outsider. There was always someone to go to the library with, stroll around campus or to grab a drink at the pub.
2. What is your fondest memory from your time at UCD?
I spent a lot of time reading by the lake, watching the swans. It was perfect and peaceful. I long for those days now.
3. How has your degree benefited your career?
Before the Masters in Creative Writing at UCD, I didn’t have the first clue about how to turn my love for reading and writing into an actual career. I had a number of abandoned novels on my computer, with no plan forward. The course really helped me streamline my work, and gave me the motivation to continue writing, and most important of all – showed me how to make a book deal happen. Apart from the personal feedback sessions with the lecturers, which I found exceptionally helpful, I was also motivated by the seminars conducted by published authors and other industry professionals. Some of them were very detailed, outlining how realistic it would be for a writer to have a career, and what steps to take.
4. Do you still keep in touch with your UCD classmates?
Absolutely! For years after the course, I was part of a writing group with my classmates. We used to meet once a month to critique each other’s work. It was a source of motivation and kept us all accountable. I’ve been lucky to be part of a class of several successful authors, and we continue to champion each other’s work.
5. What are the most challenging aspects of being a professional writer?
There are a couple, as is true with all professions. I find that sticking to a daily writing schedule and treating it as a regular full-time job is perhaps the most difficult. Because I work from home and don’t always have a pressing deadline, it becomes very easy to get distracted and procrastinate. The other challenge is perhaps to become comfortable with the exposure of your thoughts and creations. When an author writes something, it comes from a deeply personal space, even if it’s fiction; and to present that to the world, and open it up for criticism and praise alike, can be intimidating to say the least.
6. Anne Enright mentored you during your time at UCD – can you talk a little bit about the impact of having a Booker Prize winner supporting you?
I still remember the day I received the email with our course schedule and I saw Anne Enright’s name as a guest lecturer and mentor. I couldn’t believe my eyes or my luck. She is just as enthralling a speaker and lecturer as she is a writer, and her classroom discussions were always interesting, giving us a lot to think about. At our one-on-one sessions, she was encouraging and casual, and it was easy to forget I was chatting with a Booker Prize winner. I met her recently at an authors’ event, and even all these years later, she instantly recognised me and was full of warmth. She truly is a national treasure.
7. Where do you see your career taking you next?
With my debut novel being published this year, I’m hoping I’ll be able to complete writing for my second one soon. My debut is a domestic drama with elements of mystery and suspense—it’s the space I’m most comfortable writing in. Perhaps, if I’m brave enough, I might be able to try my hand at a different genre for my third book.
8. What do you think your career priorities will be in 10 years’ time?
I haven’t thought that far ahead. I’m still walking through a haze of disbelief. I spent so many years trying to write something acceptable, and now my novel will be published and I’ll see it in bookshops! It’s a dream come true. I’m hoping that I can continue to feel this way for the next ten years.
9. What is your work/life inspiration?
A difficult question to answer, because I feel as though my inspiration changes and evolves constantly, almost on a daily basis. What motivates me to write is my family, especially my daughter, who is also my biggest critic. She demands a new story every day, so I really have to stay on top of my game.
10. What is life outside work like?
Busy and noisy, because we have an almost-four year old who keeps us on our toes. I’ve always been a bit of a social recluse, enjoying quiet moments alone much more than a crowd. However, my day now revolves around catering to my daughter’s very busy social life, which I have now taken in my stride. Lots of playdates, painting, playgrounds and scootering. I’m very glad she enjoys reading as much as I do, so we visit libraries quite often.
11. What books or films have you found engaging?
This could turn into a long list if I don’t exercise some self-restraint. Some books I’ve read recently that I’d recommend – Notes On An Execution, The Island of Longing, Young Mungo, Small Things Like These, The Paper Palace.
12. Have you ever taken a literary pilgrimage?
I haven’t had the chance yet, but I would love to go on a long road trip around Ireland, visiting as many independent bookshops as I can.
13. Who would you invite to your dream dinner party?
Just my husband, because I’m a very anxious host. However, in this dream, where I’m breezy and effortless, I would invite Jane Goodall, Louis Theroux, Kalpana Chawla,
PG Wodehouse and Sally Rooney.
14. Ultimate book recommendation?
I was deeply impacted by Jhumpa Lahiri’s Interpreter of Maladies, because her collection of stories felt raw and real. I felt represented in her work for the first time.
Disha’s first novel Dirty Laundry is out now (March 30th, 2023) https://dishabose.com/