Tell our viewers a bit about yourself and your debut novel “The Tree With A Thousand Apples” [ feel free to divide your answer into two parts]
I was born and brought up in the hills of Himachal Pradesh. As is the case with most of us, I became an engineer and a management professional soon after and worked for 7 yrs in the corporate world. Along with it, however, I have always been a writer. I was the editor of my college magazine, worked as a copywriter, wrote several short stories that got published in esteemed journals and magazines, became a radio host and worked as executive producer for television. Today, I am a full time author and screenwriter while ‘The Tree with a Thousand Apples’ is my first book. My first film, titled Behen Hogi Teri, is scheduled for release on June 2, 2017.
The Tree with a Thousand Apples is a story of three childhood friends and their travails from a peaceful Kashmir to the one filled with terror. There are many sides to the Kashmir conflict, and the book’s key attempt has been to bring them together in one unbiased narrative, to make the reader leave behind their pre-conceived notions and look at things objectively and with compassion. This book is about injustice, belongingness, redemption and the power of friendship amid fierce cruelty.
How did the idea of writing on an extremely sensitive issue like that of Kashmir strike you?
Empathy. I lived in Kashmir in 2009 and saw a 12 year old Kashmiri Muslim boy sit beside a 20 year old Indian Army soldier sipping cups of Kahwa together. My very good friend and roommate in college was a Kashmiri Pandit. I have heard stories from all of them, and I have seen that they are all right in their own world, yet wrong in each other’s. I just wanted to tell their story as honestly as I could.
What kind of books do you yourself enjoy reading?
Not specific to any genre. To quote Hemingway- ‘No subject is terrible if the story is true, if the prose is clean and honest, and if it affirms courage and grace under pressure’
What advice would you like to give all budding writers out there?
There is a terrible difference between two good books and forty mediocre ones.
What does your writing schedule look like?
Write in the night. Edit during the day. When I am into a book this happens every day, without fail. Taking a break is suicidal.
The research gone into writing “The Tree With A Thousand Apples” is commendable. How important do you think research work is for writing fiction? How does a newbie writer go about it?
Good research adds immense authenticity to the story. If the intention is to research well, one finds a way out. But if one rushes into things, well, it shows on paper. Always know that a good writer, especially if he wants to write as a career, can not simply keep telling stories from their life. In our mundane lives, we have no wars and great depressions to fight. Empathy and imagination coupled with good research is what it will take to delve out of one’s comfort zones.
Every successful person has a story few people know about. What is your story?
I don’t think I am successful yet. So will reserve the answer of this question to the day, if and when I am.
If given the opportunity of switching roles with someone, who would that be and why?
No one. I am happy as hell with who I am.
What are the real world problems faced by a writer?
Writing is a quiet, laborious work that often reaps no rewards, especially if the writer is a good one. The biggest problem is to fall in the trap of laziness and lack of self-belief, or worse, consistent mediocrity. Don’t do it if you are doing it for money or fame. Do it because the fire inside you will not let you live unless you do. That is the only good fight that is.
I quoted above- ‘No subject is terrible if the story is true, if the prose is clean and honest, and if it affirms courage and grace under pressure’
A superpower you’d like to have
To become a social media champion.
Prose or poems?
One dream you’re yet to fulfill?
To win a Booker
Khaled Hoseini, Neil Gaiman
Favourite book blogs?
Yours of course 🙂
Want to know more about the book? Then check out my review here:
And the official book trailer here: