Master storytellers like Jeffrey Archer and Arthur Hailey use simple language. But they manage to grab the attention of the readers right from page one. I'll consider myself a good storyteller the day people believe it's OK to be late for work or postpone deadlines just to finish reading my book.
My attention span is very limited, and I watch just one or two movies a year.
My self-publishing adventure led to my work being picked up by a traditional publisher and eventually hitting the bestseller lists. That led to two more bestselling novels.
Mythology works because Indians have been bred on myths.
Mythopoeia has taken off in the Indian diaspora because there has been a change in readership from a mature audience to a younger one. This lot has a desperate yearning to reconnect. They want to consume mythology but in a well-packaged and easily digestible way.
Of all the writers I have read, Vladimir Nabokov has made the biggest impression on me because he, despite living through the 1917 February Revolution, forced exile amidst the anti-Semitism in Nazi Germany, the two World Wars and quite a lot of controversy, was an author who never gave up.
Once upon a time, I was a workaholic clocking more than 80 hours per week. That changed after I began to write. I now work only around 35 hours per week. I do not work on weekends because these are the days that I use for research as well as for my writing.
Oral storytelling goes back so long ago, and those stories that were told orally were always layered and changed with time.
Our country has the oldest tradition of storytelling, and this was much before writing stories even became a norm.
That freedom of writing you don't get in other formats, I'd rather leave it to someone else to deal with the headache of drafting my book into a screenplay.
The decision to use a pen name was nothing more than a desire to compartmentalise my life. However, I had not thought about an appropriate pseudonym, and since there's an abundance of anagrams in the novel, the idea struck me: why not use an anagram of my name? Hence, Shawn Haigins.
The publishing scene in India is evolving rapidly, and the key challenge is to keep reinventing oneself so that one does not become formulaic. Sometimes it is safer to deal with the consequences of failure than the fruits of success. Remaining on one's toes is critical, and often one finds that success makes one complacent.
The reality of the writer's world is that you set yourself up for future disappointment with every success that you deliver because you end up raising your audience's expectations.
There are three things I look for in a story - it has to be a thriller; I cannot see myself writing literary fiction or a saga! There has to be a historical connection; otherwise, the adrenalin will not flow. And I will try to bridge the gap between 'Rozabal' and 'Chanakya'.
There has to be a protagonist who has to overcome challenges, and there will be a race to finish.
There is a method to the madness of James Patterson's success. Co-writing with him is a terrific learning experience, particularly in the art of crafting a perfect thriller. The collaboration also gives me an opportunity to access a wider global audience.
Though it is very easy to do valuations, eyeballs and brand prominence surveys, you should never allow any of them to influence the balance sheet.
Till the time I found a creative outlet, I was trying to be extra creative at business, which would always put me in a situation of conflict with other stakeholders. The moment I started writing, my creative impulses were finally channelised.
Unlike a typical professional, I can't quit my job to become a full-time author; I don't have that luxury. For me, writing is therapy; if I choose to write full-time, it might start feeling like work.
We can't deny that films have a bigger reach. After the popularity of the 'Slumdog Millionaire,' a lot of people started reading Vikas Swarup's 'Q & A'. From a business sense, films are a good tool to increase the number of readers.
Ashwin Sanghi Profile
January 25, 1969
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