My Strange Craziness For Spain Lead To Te Amo: Rohit Sharma

An engineer turned writer, debuting with a love story? Sounds similar? Tad too much but Rohit Sharma‘s Te Amo….I Love You have been garnering some rave reviews since it hit the literary scene a few days back. In yet another enticing tale of how an artist discovered the storyteller in him; we get inKonversation with the latest debutant about dancing to coding to penning, his love for Spain and writing pains. Read on:

Rohit SharmaA debut book, a love story. That’s a combination too often heard off recently in the Indian literacy scene, what is the fresh perspective with Te Amo… I Love You?
I truly agree with you that most debut writers, in India, start off with love stories. As a book reviewer, I have reviewed many such books, and they are good. Best wishes to the writers.

As far as my writings are concerned, my genre has always been Romance, ever since I started writing. Through my poems and songs, I have tried to highlight different flavors of a relationship. So, when I sat down to work on my debut novel, I thought to showcase those flavors in the story as well… flavors like – True love, selfless sacrifice, painful solitude, everlasting hope, lust, revenge, deceit, anger etc.

The fresh perspective with Te Amo… I LOVE YOU is my desire to not to write my own non-fictional love story, as a fiction. I personally feel that most real love stories are similar, especially in college days… we all have fallen in and out of love, and mostly, the course of relationships are quite similar – first meeting, love, dates and an unfortunate breakup!! Moreover, I felt my own story was never so exciting to be turned into a book J. I love fictions, and hence I wanted to write a near-complete fictional story. This allowed me to give many fresh perspectives to ‘Te Amo’. I chose locations of my choice, like London, Madrid, New York and Toronto. I chose to express fictional scenes, like a movie. I chose to convey strong messages, apart from true love, like Domestic Violence is crime, a girl child is blessing, suicide is never a solution etc., just because the fictional story gave wings to my imagination. I hope all these things will give a fresh perspective to ‘Te Amo’.

What are you up to these days apart from telling stories?
Well, I am working with CSC, a USA based MNC. I am a senior software engineer by profession. In my free time, I love to pursue my hobbies like – dancing, sketching, reading, sports, exercising, driving and cooking.

Tell us about your writing journey, how did the beginning begin?
I started writing in my engineering college days, way back in 2001/02. Dancing was my biggest passion, and I wanted to be a choreographer, until a bad accident broke my back (Though I am fine now J ). I started with simple poems and songs, but I was very reluctant to share them with the world. It was only in 2007-08 when I joined some poetry forums; I received guidance, love and support from the writers and poets around the globe. I learnt from them, and I am still learning, and tried/still trying to improve my work. There is an interesting incident, during my 7th semester of my college (2004). One of our teachers asked us, what we wanted to do that one thing in life through which the people will remember us once we are gone from this mortal world. I stupidly replied that I want to write a masterpiece like the great ‘Romeo and Juliet’. Well, the students laughed and joked at that time, but I am trying.

Love stories are generally so muse centered, do you have one that is your writing inspiration?
No, no, no. Absolutely not !! 🙂 Te Amo… I LOVE YOU is not inspired by my own relationship. I have never been subjected to domestic violence (haha J). Honestly, I have a strange craziness for Spain. I am a diehard Barcelona FC fan, and my love for Barca eventually converted into love for Spain. I met quite a few poets from Spain as well, on poetry forums. One of them is Maica Garcia, a 42 year old poetess from Spain. She guided me a lot, and I learnt a lot from her about their culture, festivals etc. So, when I decided to write my book, I had only one thing in mind – Spain. It was 2009, I remember, and I started my research work on Spain. Maica helped me too. I came to know that like India, Spain has a rich culture, great festivals (now you all know Tomatina), and love and respect for elders. I have tried to show all that, with Indian touch, in my book. So my story is not a muse centered, it is ‘my love for Spain’ centered 🙂

Have other writers played a role in your metamorphosis into a writer?
Yes. Sidney Sheldon and Nicholas Sparks… I read their work, and was simply blown away. The way Sidney Sheldon portrayed the characters and carried the curiosity and the interest till the very last page, is awe inspiring. Similarly, the way Sparks portrays relationships so beautifully, is simply superb. Apart from them I love the work of Jeff. Archer, Paulo Coelho. Among the Indian writers, I am really inspired by the extensive research work done by Ashwin Sanghi for his books. I like Fictions – Mature love stories, suspense thrillers, and historical/mythological fictions.

What would you call the most challenging phase of being a published author?
The initial research work, before writing the novel, and the marketing once it is published are the toughest phases, which I have experienced. When I started my novel in 2009, I never knew that the marketing will be so important. But situation has changed drastically in the last 3 years. The writing industry is growing and there is huge competition, and the writers are left with no choice, but to market their work. Things have become very tough for debut authors like me.

The initial research work was mighty tough. Research was done for each city, and extensive research was done for Spain. I hope the readers will see the effort when they will read it.

Manuscript to published hardcover how did the journey go?
It is a 3.5 year long, tiring, but fruitful journey. It has made me more patient, and focused. There were many road blocks – the biggest of all was, when I changed my mind and decided to get my book published in India. I was in England for 2 years, and I had planned to get my book published in UK or USA, because I felt that the readership is better in those nations. But, some well-wishers suggested me to get it published in India. And when I contacted one of the publishers, they rejected me straightaway saying my book did not have any Indian character. Yes, my book only had foreign characters. It was then I changed some characters, and brought a bit desi-touch to my book as well, so that people here in India could connect to the story. The biggest and the toughest change was to remove Aron (my earlier lead character – a British) and replace him with Aryan (an Indian).

te-amo-i-love-youTwo of your lead characters are named Ethan and Isabella, a name combination we came across in Sanjay Leela Bansali’s Guzaarish. Any inspiration there? Have movies ever inspired you into storytelling?
I will tell you the truth. When I was thinking about the names of my lead characters, I had 3 names pre-decided – Aron (which later changed to Aryan), Ethan and Isabella. Aron is the name of my nephew, who lives in London. Ethan – I took it from my favorite Tom Cruise (Mission Impossible series). Isabella was the only Spanish name I knew, until I met Maica on a poetry forum. She suggested me many Spanish names. I had first heard the name ‘Isabella’ in my favorite actress (again Spanish) Penelope Cruz’s movie ‘Woman on Top’. Moreover, Isabella has a beautiful meaning ‘God’s vow’.

Some of the names in my book are taken from the colleagues and managers I worked with in England. E.g. Santina was taken from a beautiful Italian girl, my colleague… Mark and Steve were taken from my managers’ names.

Coincidences happen, and it happened with Guzaarish. But the movie came very late, I guess in November 2010. The first draft of my book was ready much before that.

Yes, movies do inspire me in storytelling. In fact, when I started to work on this novel, I imagined the entire story as a movie. It helped me immensely in imagining the scenes, the characters, the descriptions and the dialogues.

What are your thoughts on the surge in Indian storytellers numbers these past few years?  
It is phenomenal. The growth in the number of Indian writers, since 2008, has increased tremendously – thanks to the inspirational work done by Chetan Bhagat and Durjoy Datta.

But apart from the chic-lit writers who are gaining a huge popularity, there is a great resurgence in literary field, thanks to the writers like Amitav Ghosh, Ashwin Sanghi, Amish Tripathi, Ravi Subramanian, Preeti Shenoy etc. I will not be surprised if the Indian readership quality will soon be at par with Western nations.

After a love story has the next muse been found? What is next on the literary front?
Honestly, after reading the work of some great writers, I mentioned above, I have scrapped 6 synopses till now.  I am currently working on a fresh synopsis. It will require a lot of research work, and I am not in a hurry. It is always better to deliver quality, than quantity and I am trying.

Your words of wisdom for newbie writers.
In the last 3-4 years, since I started scripting this novel, I have learnt quite a few important things. Patience and Dedication are the keys to success. Stay focused on your goal, work dedicatedly and stay patient!! Moreover, in today’s world, you will find many people who will laugh at you when you will try to do something… Some may try to pull you back… Some may try to block your way… But you will find very few, who will really help you to achieve your goal. Make a mental note of those special people, and the rest will definitely be with you once you will be successful. Best wishes and love to all.

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