Like Guitarists, Painters And Sculptors, You Have To Practice The Craft (of Writing): Rohit Gore
He is the classic Engineer-MBA in the IT industry; But he is also the writer who writes on humane emotions and accomplishes a book a year. After a debut in commercial, easy read fiction, he has moved on the darker human emotions and is dabbling in them well. inKonversation with Rohit Gore who believes nothing can stop your passion, not even an industry known for gobbling up time. Read on:
Two bestsellers in Focus, Sam and The Darker Dawn and now onto a third one. Tell us about Circle of Three.
Circle of Three is the story of three people who have lost all hope in life. One day, their paths cross and their destinies are forever changed. It is about finding a new beginning in life, of forgiving and ultimately, finding hope. Thankfully, and much to my relief, the reviews have been wonderful. Eminent reviewers like Saaz Aggarwal and Arunima Mazumdar (writing in Times of India) have rated it very highly.
Three stories amalgamating in this one, any inspired from yours or anyone around you?
It is a combination of many things. Real life instances, people I have met and interacted with, books I have read, movies I have watched. Many things, really. The way I see it is that all these experiences go in and something else comes out. However, fiction is all about situations. The ‘What if?’. In this case, the situation was what if three people who have nothing in common, are from different ages, but have lost purpose in life come across each other?
You are the now classic engineer-MBA combination in the IT industry. How did writing happen?
The only thing that has forever struck with me is reading. I love reading fiction across the genres, across ages and countries. As Stephen King says, if you a read a lot, there comes a moment when you think you can write too. Something like that happened to me a few years ago and I started writing. My wife, Pranita, told me to start writing seriously based on a few short stories I had written. She would beta read it for me and if she liked it, I would keep going. If she didn’t, I would discard it. I never thought my novels would get published. Like any other writer, I had serious self-doubt about my own writing. So, it was a wonderful feeling when the editors at my publishing houses liked what I had written. In many ways that’s what you write for. If someone at a publishing house believes that they want to invest their hard earned money into what you have written, there isn’t a bigger vote of confidence.
Isn’t IT industry notoriously famous for not even giving breathing time to its employees? How to you manage to nearly write a book every year?
Well, if you like doing something, you end up making time for it. Reading and writing have always stayed with me. Off course, the job and personal life is always a priority. Writing is all about discipline and I guess it can be tough if you are in a full time job and its obligations. I keep trying!
Three books, three publishers! You don’t seem to the following the ‘sticking with my first publisher’ routine. How come?
It depends on the kind of genre the publisher is most comfortable with. Focus, Sam was more of a commercial fiction whilst A Darker Dawn had a literary bend to it. It appealed to Lekshmy Rajeev of Niyogi Books. A publisher would certainly believe in a book if it falls in accordance with their objectives. It can be incredibly difficult to find a publisher if you don’t have a novel that the publishers can believe in. Finding a home for your novel can be tough, but thankfully A darker Dawn found its destiny. Something similar happened with Circle of three. It was published by Grapevine India Publishers owned by Durjoy Datta and Sachin Garg.
After an easy going first book you have been shifting from dark to darker emotions in your consecutive books. How does inspiration to write a particular story engulf you?
The way I see it is, that I put my characters in challenging, difficult situations all the time and how they react to the those circumstances determines the kind of novel it becomes. For example, In Focus, Sam the situation was ‘What if someone told a man that he was going to die in a year?’ It turned out that Sameer as he dealt with it in an ironic and destined-to-fail sort of a way. He was surrounded by characters like Jai and Pinky who, with their wisecracking ways, made Sameer’s life interesting. A Darker Dawn dealt with childhood mistakes. We have all made mistakes when we were kids, haven’t we? What I thought was ‘What if the mistake is so terrible that your entire life is destroyed forever?’ It became a dark tale of childhood memories that weren’t pleasant.
If you have to name one contemporary Indian author and book that left you impressed who and which?
There are so many! But if you were to put a gun to my head and ask me just one name, I would have to say it is Rohinton Mistry. All his novels, and especially Such A Long journey are so wonderful.
Have you started working on the next book?
Yes I have. It is tentatively titled The Guardian Angels. The blurb would be something like this:
“It was 1993 when Adi Mehta and Radha Deodhar met for the first time. They were thirteen year-olds, and within two days of knowing one another, they ended up saving the other’s life. As fate would have it, their lives are intertwined forever, notwithstanding the ravine-like differences between them. Where Adi is the son of a billionaire, Radha is the daughter of a socialist; where Adi is quiet and unassuming, Radha is firebrand and spirited. But whenever they are in peril, they are each other’s only saviors. Over the following two decades, Adi and Radha live through hope and despair, joy and sadness, and try to decipher what they are to each other. As the truth of their bond is revealed, they must confront the true nature of love, and finally, life itself.”
What do you see as the healthiest trend in the Indian publishing industry these days?
I think this is a very exciting time to be in the Indian Literary market. I have travelled to quite a few countries and the consistent feedback I got there was that they have reached a kind of saturation in the market size. The growth is currently in India which has a large English speaking population. The challenge in India, I feel, is that we have never inculcated the habit of reading and certainly not reading fiction. However it is changing gradually. Ten years ago, I clearly remember, the ‘Indian Literature’ shelf in almost all the bookstores used to be quite meagre or non-existent. Not so anymore. You have a number of authors who are writing not only in English but Hindi and other Indian languages too.
Arundhati Roy and Vikram Seth made Indian writing in English truly mainstream. Before them was R K Narayan. Authors like Jhumpa Lahiri and Kiran Desai have really made the Indian writers go global. I believe someone like Chetan Bhagat has shown that an Indian writing in English can produce a million copy bestseller. We have writers like Amish Tripathi and Durjoy Datta who have recently achieved unbelievable fan base and incredible figures. They have all been instrumental in changing the Indian Literary scenario. Reading is a great thing to do and I feel they have made Indians read, which is a great achievement.
Your words of wisdom for newbie writers.
I would suggest that they ‘read a lot and write a lot’. Some of the greatest authors have said that, so it has a grain of truth in it. Reading is the most essential activity for a writer. If you are not a big fan of reading novels, you cannot be a good writer. Can you be a very good guitarist if you don’t really like listening to notes from a guitar? Read across the genres. Don’t stick to just what is popular. Read classics and contemporary. Just read a lot! To be a good writer a certain discipline for the craft is required. Writing is a craft. Like the guitarists, painters and sculptors, you have to practice the craft.