Atulya Mahajan is an Indian author and is the creator of the Indian satire blog amreekandesi.com. Professionally a technologist in an investment bank, Atulya Mahajan went to the US in 2004 to complete his Master’s degree. He worked there for five years and then returned to India. He started his blog while studying in the US and used it as a platform to share his experiences of people living in a foreign land. Besides this blog, Mahajan also works with the Crest Edition of The Times of India as a columnist and writes occasional humor.
Masters of America is his first novel. We have him here for an interesting tete-a-tete.
Aseem: So now that you have reached the big league of celebrities, how does it feel? :D Are people running to you for autographs?
Atulya: It feels awesome. You know, I go to Big Bazaar and they give me a free hamper. I go to the market and get mobbed as soon as I get out of my car. I go to work and they ask me to just sit back and relax and bring me a nice cold coffee, while the others do the work. Life just changes the moment you become one of a gazillion Indian writers.
Yeah, right. In my dreams!
Madhumita Mukherjee grew up in Delhi and did her medical education from Calcutta National Medical College. She has been living and working in England since 2001 as a Paediatrician. She has a special affinity for epistolary novels as well as novels written as journals and diaries like ‘Diary of a Provincial Lady’ by E.M. Delafield, and ‘I Capture the Castle’ by Dodie Smith. Besides these, she takes special interest in novels with medical themes such as ‘A Country Doctor’s Notebook’ by Mikhail Bulgakov.
‘The Other Side of the Table’ is her first novel. She joins us here for a small tete-a-tete -
Aseem: Who or what inspired you to begin writing?
Madhumita: Nothing in particular and certainly not anyone. I suddenly had the time for the wrong reason and I wanted to distract myself by telling myself a story…
A veteran journalist, Oswald Pereira has worked for leading newspapers and magazines in Mumbai, New Delhi and Muscat. Oswald, who has taught journalism at The Times School of Journalism, is an editor and an English language trainer. Oswald is the author of the widely-acclaimed, best-selling crime thriller, The Newsroom Mafia, published by Grey Oak Westland in December 2011. He was born in Thane, Maharashtra, and studied at St Xaviers College, Mumbai. He now lives with his wife and son in Noida. Revenge of the Naked Princess is his second novel.
He joins us for a small little chat –
Aseem: When and how did you decide to start penning down novels?
Oswald: Before entering journalism, while doing my post-graduation in Economics in Bombay University I wrote my first novel in the young adult genre. It was liked by the editor of a top publishing house. But the editor-in-chief overruled the editor. I was unfazed and wrote my second novel in which the protagonist was a priest who falls in love with a girl. Then I joined journalism and reporting and writing front page stories seemed far more exciting than churning out fiction. My two novels written back then, which still remain unpublished were a forgotten story. They still lie somewhere among my old papers that include a big scrapbook of hundreds of news stories.
Rishi Vohra recently relocated back to Mumbai after completing a Green MBA from San Francisco State University and a Masters Diploma in Environmental Law, prior to which he has had a successful career in the Indian entertainment industry. Having been a guest columnist for various newspapers in India, he currently writes for delWine and is a Certified Specialist of Wine. ‘Once Upon the Tracks of Mumbai’ is his first novel.
He is here with us for a short tete-a-tete.
Aseem: Take us through your journey from the entertainment industry to releasing a novel.
Rishi: Well Aseem, it was a long journey. After my B.S. in Corporate Finance / Film making from the U.S., I moved back to Mumbai. I started of in ad films and then moved on to feature films as an assistant director. Side by side, I was also independently directing music videos, TV shows, stage shows, live events, and promos. During this time, I realized that writing is where my passion lay. So I kept writing as I proceeded to San Francisco to study an MBA in Sustainability. During that time, I wrote a novel and pushed it for publication while working / studying. Though it was rejected in the U.S. and other foreign markets, several Indian publishers showed an interest in it.
Shatrujeet Nath was born in Shillong in 1971. As a young man, he sold ice-cream, peddled computer training courses and wrote ad copy before finding his true calling in business journalism. But while still at the top of his game as Assistant Editor at The Economic Times, Shatrujeet quit journalism to write fiction. The Karachi Deception is his first book. He is currently writing his second book, The Guardians of the Halahala, which is part of an epic fantasy trilogy based on the legendary king, Vikramaditya.
We have him here for a special tete-a-tete –
Aseem: Considering you were at the top of your game, why did you decide to forgo a successful career in business journalism?
Shatrujeet:The truth was that after more than a decade of being a journalist, I found that I had stopped learning anything new at work. I was stuck in a routine that I didn’t enjoy, and even the prospect of writing a business story didn’t lift the spirits – which is downright scary for anyone who aspires to write. I realized that the problem didn’t lie with journalism; the problem lay with me. I needed to re-invent. And the only way I could think of doing that was by writing something completely different from what I had been writing for ten years.
Sami Ahmad Khan read Literature at Hindu College and Rajdhani College, University of Delhi. He then completed his master’s in English at Jawaharlal Nehru University. Sami was awarded a Fulbright grant at The University of Iowa, USA, in 2011. He has engaged in film production, teaching, theatre and writing. His short stories, plays and articles have been published in magazines and academic journals. His political thriller Red Jihad won the Muse India Young Writer (Runner-Up) Award at the Hyderabad Literary Festival 2013 and “Excellence in Youth Fiction Writing” at the National Debut Youth Fiction Awards at the Young Writers Meet during Delhi World Book Fair 2013.
Currently, Sami is a Doctoral Candidate at JNU, where he is working on Science Fiction and Techno-culture Studies. He is now working on a sequel to Red Jihad.
So we have him here for a tete – a – tete –
Aseem: What is one most important thing / things you have taken back from your days at the Hindu college and JNU?
Sami: Think for yourself, stick to your guns and have an opinion about anything and everything. It’s surprisingly liberating – DU/JNU style!
An alumnus of La Martiniere College, Lucknow, the National Defence Academy, Pune and the Indian Military Academy, Dehradun, Mukul Deva was commissioned in December 1981 into the Sikh Light Infantry of the Indian Army. He took early retirement from the army after fifteen years of service, including a decade of combat operations in India and overseas. He is now an entrepreneur and motivational speaker, leadership, business and executive coach, and consultant.
He is the author of ‘Time After Time..It all Happened‘, ‘S.T.R.I.P.T.E.A.S.E: The Art of Corporate Warfare‘, ‘M.O.D.E.L: The Return of the Employee‘, the recently released ‘The Dust Will Never Settle‘ and four bestselling books in the ‘Lashkar series: ‘Lashkar‘, ‘Salim Must Die‘, ‘Blowback‘ and ‘Tanzeem‘.
Aseem: An army man writing books. Now that’s something new at least in India. How has your experience been?
Mukul: Yes I guess it’s how most people perceive army men. And how army men view themselves. Most of the ones I know are very articulate and have great stories to tell. I simply decided to tell them, without thinking too much about it. In any case I have always believed that I can do anything if I wish to do it since it is seldom capability, but belief in our capability that matters. As for the journey – it’s been incredible. And continues to be so… I find I am full of ideas and the words don’t seem to stop flowing… ‘Tis as though of (literary) Viagra I have drunk…:)
A corporate big wig, a former advertising professional, a writer, a mother – Priyadarshini Narendra, an IIM Kolkata and INSEAD passout has worn many hats. ‘You Never Know When You’ll Get Lucky‘ is her first attempt at portraying life in the happening world of advertising. So we have her here for a short tete-a-tete.
Aseem: What was that one ‘spark’ which inspired you to pen down “You never know when you will get lucky”?
Priya: Believe it or not, the crucial parts of the story came to me in a dream. I had the same dream three nights in a row and realized that I had to write down the story! The rest of it was just fleshing out the before and after.
Bhavna Rai was born in Delhi and has subsequently lived in the Philippines, Kenya, Thailand, Germany and the US. In a career spanning fourteen years, she has worked with some of the leading technology firms of the world. She currently lives in Hong Kong, with her husband and their two children. Fate, Fraud & A Friday Wedding is her first novel.
1. When did you say to yourself – “I am going to become a writer”? How did it all begin?
I would have to go all the way back to IXth grade for this one. I always knew that I could write and would write. Why I didn’t actually write for about 10 years from college onwards, I can’t quite explain. Life took over, I guess. It was only in 2001 that I realized I had a story to tell and I needed to start writing it. So I opened a blank Word document with no plan, no outline, no timeline and then somehow it all just came together. For me, “Fate, Fraud And A Friday Wedding” is all about the characters. It’s set in a time when India was going through tremendous transformation and I wanted to write about how people’s lives have been transformed as well.
Parimal Kalikar graduated in Hotel Management and earned his first buck as a bell boy at a five star resort in Goa. Even though he pursued his master’s in Human Resource Management, he worked as a credit cards salesman in a multinational company. After leaving his lucrative job in 2009, he decided to pursue his dream of writing and owning a business. His hobbies include photography and listening to music.
You can read my review here - “A Godly Blunder”.
1. What drove you to write?
I always liked writing essays and penned random thoughts. I dreamed of publishing my novel one day, but never did I imagine that it would happen so early in my life.
Penning down my thoughts excites me and I enjoy it immensely. And so the move was made to give this career a try.