I don’t know which one I love more: reviewing a book or interviewing an author. But i sure enjoy both, especially an interview of an author whom i have read and have questions for. Well, usually i do have questions for almost every author after reading his or her book.
Anyways people, today i present you Shantanu Munshi, author The Surrogate Lies (which I have reviewed a few posts back and if you want to have a look, click here.) through a series of question answer. But before you lost yourself in it lets have a little introduction.
Our today’s guest comes from the humble city of Indore where all his upbringing and education happened except for MBA which he did from IIFT Delhi 2009 – 11 batch.
Since then he has been working in the guise of a corporate employee, however he admits being a true blue creative person by heart. He prefers writing poems, articles and stories to driving sales and crunching numbers. Apart from writing, he relishes reading fiction, playing tennis, sketching, playing tabla and bathroom singing.
— as by the publisher of his debut book The Surrogate Lies.
- Was writing always your dream?
- My dreams transformed themselves as I grew older and probably wiser. Writing wasn’t a dream from the start, but there was a connect with writing, a bonding which eventually had to culminate to me becoming a writer. It was only in 2009-10 when I was nearly 26 years old, that I realized that writing is an integral part of my future and hence the seeds of writing were sown then. Late nevertheless, I was determined that it was one of the key dreams/goals for me to achieve in the coming years-to become a full time author, a dream which still keeps me awake at night.
2. What gave you the idea of your first book “The Surrogate Lies”?
- It was in fact as I described in the acknowledgement part of my novel, the idea sprung out of nowhere in office one day when I was in my notice period, I just wanted to write a funny short story, but soon the paragraphs ran into pages and I realized I had a novel potential story with me.
3. The character of Hazare from your book is my favourite, what or who inspired you to create him?
- Hazare who incidentally is my favorite creation too, had to be multi-layered and eccentric. I have to admit, I have not even scratched a tiny bit of his eccentricity in this first book, maybe I will write a sequel or a prequel to give him his due credit. Having said which, the character inspiration was a combination of many people I used to observe in various cities, some with unique mannerisms, some with unique accents, some with unique way of thinking, some who were talktative, some who were naïve yet likeable. So all in all, I created Hazare as a concoction of all the eccentric and unique people I have met in my life, though cannot ascribe to anyone I know personally or particular.
4. Your character Paul in the book was going through a writing block, how do you cope up with your blocks?
- I usually am working on multiple projects at a single time. My blocks are mainly story driven, i.e. I am not able to progress in my current book. I am rarely short of the writing brain fluid. If I get stuck with a project, I shift focus to the other project for a small time-maybe a week and then shift back to the current main project. Also,I usually whet my writing skills by getting into writing Poems,Articles,Shayaris etc. which I keep sharing on my social media handles.
5. What was the hardest part for you to write the book?
- I think the hardest part was to write something that was coherent. As I wrote the book over a longish span-2 years, it was important that I maintained each character and the entire story flow and not digress. I also improved as a writer within this time period and hence have to rework on lot of earlier chapters which I realized were reading very childish later on.Also,the hardest part was to end well, to engage the readers till the last chapter and page- justify the time they would have spent reading the book. As a first time author there are many things which you improvise from your original story to the actual one on the paper, you have to make sure you add that bit of magic of impromptu writing as well as keep the soul and coherence of the story and characters intact.
6. The title of the book is quite interesting and unique, how you came up with it?
- The title was something I had thought of the earliest, infact it were the first three words I had written. I wanted to write something unique and eccentric, hence the title. If you observe the title it is almost oxymoronic-a play on words I really love. It was not something that I decided later to fit the story,infact it was just an attempt at a cocky title to pique interest of the readers, I never wanted to give too much away from the title or the blurb-I wanted them to be as mysterious as possible yet appealing.
7. As an Indian author how was your journey from writing the book to publishing it and promoting it?
- Hectic is the word. It still is.When I finished my book, I was mightily relieved as if a great weight was lifted from my shoulders. However finding the right publisher was an equally arduous task if not worse. It took me almost a year to see my book in print from the time I finished writing the first draft. Then again, the process of finding publisher taught me a lot. Even after finalizing the right publisher, one has to do lot of back and forth activities with the publisher to ensure that your book is edited correctly, the cover is as per your requirement and the final result comes out just right. Promoting the book has been the biggest learning curve for me, probably because I was working (I still am) and couldn’t find time to do any physical promotions of the book apart from the book launch, hence the promotion strategy was restricted to largely digital mode. Though I still feel the book can do well to fall in the hands of more readers and hence I periodically host a giveaway, run a contest on social media to create buzz around it. I will continue to promote the book and work on the critical feedback I have received on it, mainly on the cover and some text edits. I have to say, I will be more ready when the time comes for my second one.
8. Who was the one who read your book first, why and what was the reaction?
- My wife Bhagyashree was the first person to read the complete draft. She had never read any novel before “The Surrogate Lies”, no wonder she still calls herself a non-reader. However I was really surprised at the interest with which she devoured the book within 15 days’ time. I regularly bugged her for her neutral feedback but she would rebuke me, only to keep laughing and giggling and chewing her nails as she turned the pages about. She finally gave me the verdict that she loved the book-and she herself admitted that if a non-reader like her loved it, someone who reads definitely will.
9. Are you currently working on any new book? What is it about?
- “The Surrogate Lies” was a comedy/action-adventure/thriller genre novel. Though you often see authors writing in the same genre,I prefer to experiment and stretch and test myself. I am currently writing a period drama which takes the reader to a post-independence Indian village. It is a challenging story to write, particularly after the breezy flow of my first novel. Hopefully the book will see the book shelves late this year or early next year.
10. What are your expectations from yourself as author?
- That I keep writing stuff that has never been written before. I would like not to emulate any great authors of before, but to be myself-discovering my full potential, which I believe is an obligation I have towards not only myself but to my loved ones and society in general. Apart from my expectation of soon turning to a full time author, I really want myself to transcend the boundaries of what an author can write and is expected to do with his art-Like Salvador Dali was for surrealistic art, a path breaker, a renaissance man, I want to dabble in multiple genres,languages (I write in Hindi and Marathi too) and styles before hanging my pen.
So this, ladies and gentlemen, was the author of The Surrogate Lies and hopefuuly more books which i hope to read and discuss more. But for now, that’s it.