Dear Readers,

After a long gap, today, I take the privilege to welcome an inspiring author from the young brigade – Saurabh Garg.

BNI: Tell us something about yourself and your background.
I am 32. From Delhi but live in Mumbai.tnks_cover_draft

During the day I work with an online marketing agency. By the night, I try and write. And whatever time I get in between, I try and cook up ideas that can hopefully change the world. I am serious.

In terms of a writing background, I don’t really have a literature or journalism degree or experience. I am actually a computer science graduate. And I did MBA after that.

Since then, I have spent all my life in the marketing discipline with advertising, events and now online agency. Of course I have been writing a blog for 10+ years tnksPoster01now, if that counts as writing experience.

Writing happened to me by mistake. And what a mistake it’s been. Sometimes I wish I made it sooner!

BNI: So, What all you have written / published till date?
SG: ‘
The Nidhi Kapoor Story’ is my first book.

Apart from the book, I have this blog that I’ve been writing since January of 2004. But then I am not sure if anyone would want to read a personal blog about the mundane life that I live.

I have tried short stories but I haven’t published any of those so far. I did enter contests and I have never even been on a long-list, leave alone winning one.

BNI: What inspired you to write your first book and or this book?
I don’t know. I just had this itch that I wanted to write and see my name in print. Took me ten years to reach a point where I could work on it.

There was no particular inspiration for ‘The Nidhi Kapoor Story’. It just happened.

BNI: A 30 word tagline for your book
Nidhi Kapoor, a famous Bollywood actress is facing threats to her life from an unknown assailant. Can ACP Prakash Mohile and Photojournalist Rujuta Singh save her?

BNI: Who is your favourite and least favourite character? What makes them so?
All characters are dear to me. I love all of them. More than the plot or the story, I work really hard on my characters. I do a lot of research, I read a lot, I observe people before the characters take shape.

So, no one is a favorite. And no one is an adopted child.

Oh, when I create characters, the ones I don’t like, I don’t include them in the final draft.

BNI: What was the hardest and easiest thing about your latest release?
The easiest thing surprisingly was finding a publisher. I have heard of horror stories that writers get rejected all the time and it takes years to get the book out and so on and so forth. For me, it was like a walk in the park. A friend introduced me to Sachin at Grapevine and after a couple of conversations, he accepted the book!

Having said this, I sent out the manuscript (via email and printed copies) to a few other publishers. The emails remain unanswered to date! And then there was this “literary agent” who promised to get my book published if I paid him some money. I was actually considering doing that but before I could, Grapevine accepted.

I guess I was lucky that I got an intro to Grapevine. If any of your readers want an intro to them, I would be happy to do so.

The hardest part has been marketing the book. Even though I have 8 years of full-time experience of marketing, I have no clue how to go about marketing my own book. If you guys want to help, I am all ears. Please let me know.

I have done everything under the sun to make sure that the word goes out and people know about the book but nothing is helping. My own mother doesn’t know about the book!

BNI: Is there a message in your book/novel that you want readers to grasp?
Yes! There is. But I will not talk about it here. You’d have to read the book to know of it.

BNI: Do you hear from your readers much? What kinds of things do they say?
Not really. Apart from friends and family, I haven’t heard from a lot of them. Some have written in saying they loved the book. One lady has expressed her desire to have me sign her copy of ‘The NidhiKapoor Story’. But no one has promised to stalk me as yet. I was actually hoping to get a Z-class security cover. Guess it’s not coming any time soon.

One reader recommended that I speak to some filmmakers and get a movie made on the book. I’ve taken her suggestion and I am now trying to get in touch with a few directors.

BNI: When and how did you decide to become a writer? Do you write full-time or part-time?
Like I said, writing was an unplanned thing. It just happened over the years.

You know how it is. Right?

Every day you move towards something without realizing the destination and when you reach there, you are surprised that you were even headed in that direction. It’s like aging! You don’t notice but you grow older every passing second. And then one fine day you can’t seem to get up from your bed because you are too brittle!

BNI: Which writers inspire you?
Lot of them. When I thought I could write a book, it started with Chetan Bhagat. I said to myself, “if he can write and be successful at it, why can’t I.”

Apart from him, I really want to write as well as Alexandre Dumas did. And as well as Mario Puzo did. And as well as Upamanyu Chatterjee does.

There are more but I really look upto these three.

BNI: According to you, What is the hardest thing about writing?
Finding time! Writing doesn’t really pay. Atleast it hasn’t paid me enough. So I have to juggle a day job and writing. Often it frustrates me but guess there is no way out.

If I had the money, I think I would just write and do nothing else. May be, someday I would.

BNI: What are your ambitions for your writing career?
Two things.

One, I want to work with other budding writers and get their stories out. Call it my way of giving back. I really really want to do this. There are so many awesome writers but for reasons best known to them, they don’t pursue writing as a career. Not even as a hobby. I have many friends like that! I try to coerce them but I fail all the time.

Two, I want my writing to open doors for me. I want writing to help me do that thing that I’ve always wanted to – change the world. How would that happen? I don’t know. I do have vague ideas and I am hoping I would pick them up as I go along.

BNI: What has been the toughest criticism and best compliment to you, as an author?
The toughest criticism came from the woman that I love more than anything else in the world – #sgMS. She said something on the lines that the book (tnks) is very average, very mediocre and I suck! I couldn’t sleep for next two days after that meeting. Finally, I realized that she wants me to get better at writing. I can’t thank her enough for these little kicks in the balls!

Apart from #sgMS, the other critical bits came from my sis. Apart from mere problems, she came back to me with suggestions. She actually has been the biggest pillar of support while I was writing.

The best compliment came from a friend, Sudhanshu (author of The Lost Story). He said and I quote, “Just started reading this [tnks], and the chest swells up with pride and happiness.”

His compliment means a lot because he is one writer that I really really want to compete with. He has to be THE best writer that I personally know.

BNI: What will be your one favourite tip to get through the writer’s block
Writing I think is about recycling your observations, your experiences, the people you’ve seen, the stories you’ve heard and things that affect you. Plus, it’s about adding a layer of your thoughts on top of these. When a block happens, I think you have exhausted your observations, your experiences. May be its time to refresh those?

So one way to get around could be to get out and seek stories. It could mean taking long walks, talking to more people, watching an interesting show on TV or anything that enriches you as a person.

And, I think when the block strikes, all you need to do is just attack it with gusto. You may write lousily but you keep thrashing and it would improve. There is no other way. Universe has its way. If you put in efforts, there is no way you’re not getting rewarded.

BNI: Any advice for writers budding or established?
For the budding ones, I’d say, don’t give up! Simple.

Just continue to write and keep on it. Someday you time will come and it would be worth it!

BNI: Did you learn anything from writing your book? What was it?

I learnt that the world is not all that bad. After the book got done, I was showered with offers to help in everything I did. From finding a publisher to designing the cover to getting the publicity for the book to marketing and to feedback, I have been amazed at the way people have extended help to me. And most of these are strangers and don’t expect anything in return.

To be honest, I am the worst skeptic that the world has ever seen but I am floored by the encouragement that I have received.

BNI: Any amusing story about marketing this book, so far
So I went to this roadside bookseller. I asked him if he would want to stock my book. He looked at me from top to bottom, shrugged and said, “You’re a writer?” I said, “Yes, I am. Will you stock my book please?”

He said, “You don’t look like one. What proof do you have that you’re a writer? I’ve been selling books for more than 5 years and no writer has ever come to talk to me. I think you’re lying.”

I dint know how to react!

And no, he did not buy my book.

BNI: According to you, what is the top most advantage / disadvantage of self publishing?
It’s a different interview altogether!

In short, the biggest advantage of self-publishing is that you have control over all aspects of your book. From editing to design to layout to marketing, you control everything. That is a brilliant thing for the creative souls.

The other side of the coin is that while self-publishing is easy, it’s very very tough to market the book and get people to buy. So you may have a book where everything is great, no one will buy because they don’t know about it!

Personally, I don’t think I would self-publish till every other guy knows about my books.

BNI: ebook, pdf, mobi, kindle or printed hardcover book, what’s your pick?
I am old school like that.

There is no feeling that comes close to the rustling of paper in between your fingertips. So paperback it is for me.

Unlike a digital copy, I can touch and feel a book. I can sleep with it. I can see the crumpled pages. I can see it perched on a bookshelf amongst other books. I can write on it, take notes. I can fold pages till the book becomes dog-eared. I love the feeling of flipping over the pages, especially when the book is so engrossing that I cant wait to move onto the next page.

There are so so many emotions with a paperback that I live in denial that a day would come when we’d be left with electronic books only.

Not a hardback because it tends to get heavy to carry.

P.S.: I know there is this huge debate about environment and all that with paper but on this one, I will take the side of printing.

BNI: That was really a true and straight from heart attempt to answer the interview questions. Books News India wishes you luck!

I hope that readers (especially aspiring writers) will enjoy knowing you and more about your thoughts as a motivating torch bearer.

Additional Information