An interview with Revant Himatsingka

An interview with Revant Himatsingka, author of Selfienomics – A seriously funny guide to living the good life.

 

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Revant Himatsingka, author of Selfienomics

 

As a graduate of NYU Stern School of Business, Revant was initially headed for a career in Finance. Soon after, he left his Wall Street job and also turned down an MBA offer from IIM Bangalore in order to pursue his passion for improving the thought process of India’s youth.

He wrote Selfienomics at the age of 22-23 and became one of the youngest authors to sign a contract with Bloomsbury. This is his debut novel.

 

Please describe your book in one sentence.

Selfienomics is a seriously funny guide to being the best version of yourself.

 

Tell us in brief, what led up to this book?

I wanted to reach out to a large number of people. As a 22 year-old, you have 4 options to reach out to a wide audience—create a high-quality social media page, make a movie, join politics, or write a book.

Social media is too over-crowded so people don’t take you seriously. Movie and politics require a lot of experience and a team of people. Writing a book is the most convenient option—it requires no experience and can be done individually. All you need is a laptop (or a pen and paper). So I decided to write a self-help book aimed at improving the thought process of the youth.

 

What authors do you admire?

I am more influenced by directors than authors. I like the way Rajkumar Hirani combines humour with life-lessons. I feel if Selfienomics was written by a director, it would be Rajkumar Hirani. Some of the authors who I like are Stephen Covey, Viktor Frankl, Mitch Albom.

 

Do you have an agent?

Yes

 

What inspires you to write?

I’m not a writer, I’m a thinker. It’s the thinker in me which forced me to write. I was frustrated at the way people spent their time and money and I had the self- confidence that I could contribute in changing it.

 

Do you have days when writing is a struggle? How do you keep yourself motivated?

In this age, there are more demotivating things happening rather than motivating. So you have to try and find motivation, rather than wait for motivation. I changed my email password to #Iamanauthor. Everytime, I typed my password, it motivated me to complete my book. This particularly helped when I accidently deleted 2 chapters. I had taken 1 month to write those chapters. I got frustrated. I thought of giving up the book. But the simple act of typing #Iamanauthor made me go ahead with the book and rewrite the chapters.

 

What are your favorite books to give and get as gifts?

To Give- Selfienomics

To get-  7 habits of highly effective people

 

Hardest thing about being a writer?

Most writers are either students, or are doing full-time jobs elsewhere. So they typically write in their free-time. If you want to become an author, you have to learn how to make the most of your free time.

 

Best piece of writing advice?

Don’t overplan. Just begin.

 

Buy yourself a copy of Selfienomics – A seriously funny guide to living the good life.

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An interview with Abhishek A. Hemrajani

An interview with Abhishek A. Hemrajani – Author of Black, White And The Grays In Between.

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Abhishek A. Hemrajani, author of Black, White And The Grays In Between

 

Abhishek A. Hemrajani was raised in Mumbai, India and spent most of his twenties in Dallas, Texas. The idea of this book has traveled and lived with Abhishek for many years. Abhishek attributes his writing style to the strong influence that Khaled Hosseini, Paulo Coelho, and Gabriel García Márquez have had on him.

Abhishek lives in Hyderabad, India, and is currently a Product Manager for Microsoft. Black, White And The Grays In Between is his debut novel.

Please describe your book in one sentence.

Black, White and the Grays in Between is an emotional saga of hope, betrayed dreams, and the endless shades of gray.

Tell us in brief, what led up to this book?

“Life has an extraordinary ability to leave you unfulfilled.”

A thought-provoking and poignant moment led to the book. I had the title in my head for more than eight years – Black, White and the Grays in Between. I knew it was going to be a story about Kanak and Neil. As I developed the narrative around my own experiences in Mumbai, Texas, and Hyderabad, I found Rukhsar and Ashar. I like to think of the book as inspired-fiction. The struggles of a dear friend are at the core of the book. I initially started writing it as a blog series, but I found the medium very restrictive for what I wanted to write. Eventually, I ended up waiting for a few years until I felt I had the right maturity to deal with sensitive themes such as infertility and adoption.

What authors do you admire?

I deeply admire Khaled Hosseini, Gabriel García Márquez, and Paulo Coelho. Their writing styles are a strong influence on me. I am also a huge fan of J.K. Rowling, George R. R. Martin, and Haruki Murakami. Of the many writers that I’ve read, Khaled Hosseini inspires me the most. He has the unique ability to incorporate storylines and themes from his ethnic background and still appeal to a wide and diverse audience. That is sincere and expressive writing. It should help transcend social, cultural, and political barriers.

What do you enjoy most about your work?

I am a Product Manager at Microsoft by day and an Author by night. I find both my gigs equally gratifying. I don’t think of writing as a profession; for me, it is a form of expression. I had a few words and a story to tell – somewhere along the way, I found the characters and my voice as an author. Now that the book is available and is being well-received, it is amazing to hear how people interpret it. I am enjoying the conversations and I am humbled to know that it is giving my readers the opportunity to think about sensitive themes.

Do you have an agent?

No, but I would love to find one. Publishing a book can be a lot of work and if you are not a professional writer, an agent can be a terrific support.

What inspires you to write?

Situations, people, memories, life. Most of what I write comes from a personal and heartfelt place. I cannot write without feeling a connection with my words. Most of my book is inspired from real-life events and I think that’s why I could write it from a personal perspective. I guess that is exactly why people who’ve read the book feel that there is part of them in it.

Do you have days when writing is a struggle?

Of course; you’d have to be unattached to your writing if you never have an off-day. Writing, to me, is an emotional experience and how I feel or how exhausted I am plays a crucial role in how much and how well I can write. I usually take a walk and try to reflect on what I want to write. The key, however, is to be disciplined about your writing goals.

What are you reading currently?

The Dalai Lama’s Cat by David Michie. My sister recommended the book and I am enjoying the read.

What are your favorite books to give and get as gifts?

Books that have personal significance and have left an impact on me are the kinds of books that I like to present. The same goes for the kind of books that I like to receive as presents. The conversations that follow a shared book make the read that much more interesting. The Alchemist is one of the books that I bought multiple copies of for my friends. The same goes for The Kite Runner.

One of my dear friends back in Texas bought ten copies of my book for her closest friends. That felt fantastic.

One of these days, I’m hopeful that someone will buy me a collector’s edition of the Harry Potter series.

Hardest thing about being a writer?

Publishing is perhaps the trickiest and hardest part of being a writer. The publishing industry, unlike other content-centric industries, requires more work and has lower returns. It is becoming harder for first-time authors to find the right publisher and launchpad. You often end up playing multiple roles as a writer. You write and you edit, you review and you iterate, you manage your own social mediayou’re your offline events. In fact, I think of myself as an authorpreneur and not just an author.

Best piece of writing advice?

One piece of advice that I truly appreciate is what J.K. Rowling said:

“Sometimes you have to get your writing done in spare moments here and there.”

I found this to be very relevant and effective in my case. I often wrote at the end of a busy work day or between conference calls. I used to set a weekly word count target for myself, while working on my debut novel. There are days when you just don’t want to write, but those are the days when you absolutely must write. In the process of publishing, there is ample opportunity to review and revise. Discipline, not leisure writing, is what gets a book done.

Your advice to aspiring writers?

Just write. Write because your most favourite words need expression. Write because your thoughts need a voice. I am amazed that I managed to do it, but I also believe, more than ever before, that if you love what you do and believe in what you want to say, the words will come.

Buy yourself a copy of Black, White and the Grays in Between here.

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An interview with Meraaqi

An interview with: Meraaqi – Pseudonym of Arshiyaa Taj Khan, author of Divine Trouble

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Meraaqi, author of Divine Trouble

Arshiyaa Taj Khan, also known as Meraaqi is a poetess based in Mumbai, India. Inspired by the immortality of words, she started writing at the age of fourteen.

Arshiyaa is the author of Divine Trouble, her debut poetry book, and she intends to write many, many more.

Please describe your book in one sentence.

It is the liberation of everything I had imprisoned within me.

Tell us in brief, what led up to this book?

An intensely severe existential crisis.

What poets do you admire?

The Art of acknowledging how one truly feels is no less than Poetry. To me, every individual who can honestly and unapologetically express himself (or herself) is a poet; and I admire this kind of uninhibited expression, no matter who it comes from.

What’s your thought process behind a poem?

There is no thought. I only note down the words narrated by some alien inner voice that actually seems to be mine. In my opinion, the forced act of trying to think ruins the rawness I prefer in poetry.

What do you enjoy most about your work?

Perhaps, the freedom that comes with it. It takes courage to write truthfully, but it is rewarding in ways that go beyond money. I enjoy the simplicity and significance of it. After all, it is only paper and pen; but the undying power of what can be done with them is thoroughly intoxicating.

Do you have an agent?

Not yet, but I would like to have one someday. The business aspect of being a writer is quite a challenge for me. I believe I am not made for corporations and numbers; I am made for aesthetics and words.

What inspires you to write?

I am almost always inspired. I know no other way.

How did you find your style? Has it changed over time?

Style is out of question, considering I am yet to find myself.

Do you have days when writing is a struggle?

Not really. I believe one mustn’t try too hard. For me, writing is never a struggle. Not writing is.

What are you reading currently? Are there any authors who have influenced your work?

I read several books at once. Most of them are related to poetry, physics, philosophy, psychology and astronomy. Many authors have influenced me but not my work. It is important to love the ones who inspire you without necessarily becoming them.

What are your favorite books to give and get as gifts?

If I answer this, I will have an entire book titled ‘Favourite Books to Give and Get as Gifts’. Instead of naming a few, I would like to suggest the kind of books that I’d absolutely love to give and receive – they should be life changing. They should question your beliefs and appeal to all the possibilities in you. They should reward you with an enhanced perspective and resurrect the enthusiasm often destroyed by adulthood. They should be different and unforgettable. They should be powerful enough to eternally claim a part of your memory.

And finally, they should be anything but mediocre. It is better to be outrageous than ordinary.

People often ask me for book recommendations but I always urge them to read only what they are instinctively drawn to. For when you choose to read someone, you allow that person to get inside your mind, and only you must have the privilege to decide who is worthy.

Hardest thing about being a writer?

It’s a lonely profession.

Best piece of writing advice?

“Don’t try.”

Don’t try to write. Just write.

Your advice to aspiring poets/writers?

You are already who you wish to be, just make peace with all the thoughts in your head that tell you otherwise.

Buy yourself a copy of Divine Trouble from here.

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