The Readers Cosmos is very happy to have its first author interview with one of my favourites, Anurag Anand. He is a Mumbai based Banking professional. He has authored best-selling titles like 'The Quest for Nothing', 'Reality Bites', The Legend of Amrapali' and 'Of Tattoos and Taboos'. I look forward to reading his work for his simple writing style, good stories and especially two his stories being centered about women. Lets get to know him better.....
Q.When did you begin writing?
A: I have always had a penchant for writing and even while in school I would pen down couplets and poems and unabashedly recite them in the presence of any willing soul I could find. My formal writing career however took off, when, at the age of twenty four, my first book Pillars of Success (self help genre) was published.
Q.What is your motivation behind the same?
A: Clichéd as it may sound, the high from watching my works adorn shelves across bookstores and the feedback's received from gracious readers act as the primary motivators for me. Writing has always been a passion for me, and when this passion began to take concrete shape, there simply was no looking back.
Q. Tell us a little bit about your recent book?
A: Of Tattoos and Taboos, my last book, is the story of Sejal Patel – a small town girl – and her tribulations in Mumbai that lead to her transformation into Sherlyn Ahuja – an archetypal big-city belle with supposedly 'modern' outlook towards life. I have attempted to keep the narrative real and hope that the youngsters of today, who are compelled to leave the comforts of home for the sake of their careers, are able to relate to the plot and characters. I have also attempted to bring to the fore certain issues that are slowly but surely making their presence felt in the fast paced city life of today – infidelity, opportunism and dilution of bonds that bind us humans together.
Q. Your last two books have been about female characters. Any particular reason for that?
A:Well, at the cost of ruffling some feathers with my male readers, I think women are far more compelling and curious, making them able protagonists for any gripping story. Having said that, my book on Amrapali (The Legend of Amrapali) is a work of historical fiction where the protagonist's gender wasn’t really a matter of choice. To that effect, Of Tattoos and Taboos is my first work where I have attempted to discard my shoes and wear sandals during the narration.
Q. Is there anything you find particularly challenging in your writing?
A: Writing per say isn’t challenging, more so since I don't try and experiment with excessively flowery language or complex words in my works. It is the part where one is toying with the story, polishing and re-polishing it within the head, chiseling the characters and their interactions, and pin-pointing the exact mix of emotions at play that sometimes poses a challenge. During such phases, one tends to live and breathe the story, thinking about it all the time, which sometimes acts as a distraction from the other engagements of life.
Q. How has it been received by the readers?
A: The response to Of Tattoos and Taboos has been extremely encouraging thus far and my personal favorite among the sets of compliments are those where I have been commended for my ability to think like a girl and present the story from a feminine perspective.
Q.Who is/are your favorite Author/s?
A: They keep changing, depending on the recent books I have been reading. But if I am to take some names, it would include: Orhan Pamuk, Mitch Albom, Rabindranath Tagore and Gabriel Garcia Marquez.
Q.What books have most influenced your life most?
A: 'Vaishali Ki Nagarvadhu' a work in Hindi by Acharya Chatursen – It managed to arouse enough curiosity within me that eventually resulted in The Legend of Amrapali. I also find Archie comics extremely refreshing and helpful when stressed. They can't really be termed as an 'influence' but they have certainly taught me not to take life more seriously than it deserves to be taken.
Q.What are you reading currently?
A: This weekend I have finished reading two books, Bankster by Ravi Subramanian and 31 by Upendra Namburi. Both are exciting thrillers set in corporate backdrops and make it difficult for you to leave them midway.
Q. Who are your favorite authors and what is it that really strikes you about their work?
A: I have mentioned some of my favorite authors in one of the above answers. Each author has something unique about his style of writing – the prose, the language, the plot, the characters and their interaction. It is the reader and his extant mindset that determines how much a particular work will appeal to him/ her at a given time. For instance, a Kafka might not be the wisest choice when you are retiring to bed after a long day at work, while a P G Wodehouse might fall short of your expectations if you happen to be in the mood for some serious reading. Likewise, for me, what works in the writings of a particular author is largely a function of the kind of mood I am in while reading it.
Q. What are your next projects?
A: I am presently working on a couple of projects. While one of them is a work of historical fiction the other is a contemporary story. I am still not sure as to which of the two will reach the finishing line first though.
Q. What is your opinion about writing as a career?
A: It is a great career option, given the sudden spurt in indigenous authors and the manner in which the readers are taking to them. However, intensifying competition also translates into lower financial rewards for the authors, and hence it is imperative that one takes an informed call while switching to writing full-time. In my case, I am happy with the balancing act between writing and a corporate career for as long as I can pull it off.
Q. What do you think about the current trend of writing in India?
A: I firmly believe that every story deserves to be told and it is indeed encouraging to see a larger number of authors finding willing publishers and readers for their works. This trend works well for the readers as well, by the sheer spectrum of choice it leaves them with.
Q. Since you have written about Amrapali, who is a historical figure, what do you feel about the quality of work coming on historical and mythological figures which is becoming a trend?
A: I have been following works of authors like Ashok Banker, Ashwin Sanghi and Amish, who have made a mark for themselves in this genre. The amount of research that goes behind each such work is tremendous and it is good to see that while there are authors willing to take the pains, the readers too are appreciate of their hard work. At a macro level, such works also help in reconnecting today's youth to the glories of our past, a feat, I feel, is worth applauding.
Q. Any advice for budding writers?
A: Be true to your work. Spend majority of your time in shaping your story and penning it down, without worrying about factors like finding a publisher and marketing your book. If you manage to put together a good story, all else shall follow.
Q. Any message for your readers?
A: You spend your hard-earned money in buying a book and your precious time in reading it. So, please don't hesitate in sharing your feedback, good or otherwise, with the author. The little time you spend in doing this might have a significant bearing on the future works the author presents before you. And if you happen to have something to share on any of my works, I am available on firstname.lastname@example.org or http://www.facebook.com/anuraganandauthor