Nishant Kaushik is the bestselling author of Watch Out! We are MBA, A Romance with Chaos, Conditions Apply and My Father is a Hero. He keeps a day job with Infosys Limited and currently lives in Australia. You can find him on Twitter.
He joins us for a quick tete-a-tete.
Nishant: I am not yet content. Bestseller is an ambiguous term, because as well as your books sell, they can always sell more. I keep working towards that.
Aseem: How different is writing novels when compared to blogging? Do you like one above the other?
Nishant: I prefer writing novels (I am not a very regular blogger). When I write novels I get a chance to escape the real world and delve into the alternate universe my characters inhabit. That journey is something I relish, and I don’t get to experience it while blogging.
Aseem: Did you have a ‘Eureka’ moment when you thought that you need to move on from writing diary entries or blogs to novels?
Nishant: I actually started blogging after the release of my first novel. I had been mulling over the thought of writing a book for many years, and hence it was a very gradual, conscious decision. Again, it was the passion for telling “stories” rather than being a writer that propelled me.
Aseem: What are the challenges you faced in getting your first book – “Watch Out! We are MBA” published?
Nishant: Back in 2006 when I started pitching my manuscript, I had little direction in terms of how to get started. For one, the Indian authors’ fraternity was not as large as it is today. Hence getting guidance from another author was a long shot. Secondly, the Indian writing scene still being nascent at the time, publishers were also certainly more conscious then about what qualified as a quality manuscript.
The third, and the biggest problem, was I did not know the best method of making a pitch: the entire manuscript, a few chapters, just the synopsis – what did I really need to send them in order to convince them?
Aseem: How much of your writing is influenced by your personal life?
Nishant: I’d say it is not influenced by my personal life, but the characters do draw from real people I have come across. This is a conscious effort to allow my readers to connect more easily with the characters.
Aseem: Your initial books tended to be slightly satirical and with “My Father is a Hero”, you have moved on to the emotional space. Is that an earnest attempt to explore different genres?
Nishant: There has been an element of pathos in all my books (with the exception of Chaos Down Under which is strictly a slapstick comedy), and that continues with My Father Is A Hero. Yes, the tone of satire has gone down a notch in this book as compared to the previous ones, because the relationship between the father and the daughter demanded an extra layer of sensitivity which could potentially have been at conflict with the humour that usually accompanies satire.
That said, the self-deprecating humour that my characters have shown in books such as The Chaos Series and Conditions Apply can also be observed in Vaibhav’s character in My Father Is A Hero.
Aseem: How do you motivate yourself to continue writing when you are unable to move forward (like say ‘Writers Block’)?
Nishant: I just take a break when that happens. There is no point hammering away at my laptop when I am not convinced about what I am writing. In fact, regular breaks are healthy. They help me rejuvenate and it is often during that process that the ideas suddenly revisit you.
Aseem: What’s the best and the worst thing you have heard about your books?
Nishant: Far too many people have been far too kind for me to single out ONE best thing I have heard. But if I must, I quote an email I received from a reader on My Father Is A Hero: “It is strange how my tears become your accomplishments as a writer.”
I recall one specific nasty review of A Romance With Chaos written in Mumbai Mirror, which came as a shock to me. Perhaps the reviewer made important points, but sometimes as a writer you don’t anticipate a totally contrasting view on a subject that can come from your audience. Surely I must have annoyed the columnist no bounds, because he even went on to criticize the book cover, something over which I did not have control!
Aseem: Do you prefer reading or writing? And why?
Nishant: Writing, clearly. I am not much of a reader anyway. With limited time on hand I can usually only choose one over the other. And I prefer telling stories over reading them.
Aseem: How do you spend your free time?
Nishant: Not to sound immodest, but I hardly ever have free time. I clock 10+ hours at my day job, then attend to my family in the evenings, and by the time my son goes to bed I am at my table again, writing or figuring out what to write.
Aseem: What do you think about the current literary scene in India?
Nishant: It has come a long way in the last decade. On one hand you have a large number of new authors who are creating a healthy, competitive ecosystem in the market. Readers have more books to read. Publishers are expanding their businesses.
On the other hand, a larger market also means a compromise on quality. It has become far easier today to get published than it was a decade ago. This also allows for poor quality of literature to creep into your bookstore, but that is a side effect a discerning reader with a sharp eye for good books can surely live with.
Aseem: How difficult is it to manage your professional life along with your love for writing? Any plans of becoming a full time author?
Nishant: It does sometimes take its toll, but I have learnt to live with it because it is my own choice. The trick is to treat both the day job and writing as a single job. Until both get done, your work for the day is not complete. I have been able to pull along so far and therefore I don’t foresee an immediate need to quit my day job.
Aseem: When do you we get to read your next book?
Nishant: It’s out and you can order it online : )
Aseem: What would be your one advice to budding authors out there?
Nishant: It would be for them to avoid seeking writing advice from others. There is no perfect formula to writing, the only formula that works is the one that gives you comfort. If you feel a sense of elation after you shut down your computer for the day, you are doing it right.
Thanks Nishant for the lovely interview. We wish you all the best for your future endeavours.