Akash has done schooling from Delhi and have attended B.Arch. He was working in Mumbai with a production house for a while and have just shifted back to Delhi. Currently he is discovering new avenues of involvement apart from writing to add value to his experience. Let us know more about his writing.
What inspired you to start writing?
To be honest, nothing really inspired me to write. It was a bit of fate capacity to think and a gradual passion towards the events that lead me to writing a book. A fun afternoon activity lead to the first chapter of my debut book and then a realization that I really was enjoying doing it ended it up as a full-fledged book. I think some of the best things in life happen unexpectedly. I was always a reader, never thought I had the capacity to weave a story and contribute. During the same time I came across works of Paulo Coelho, and that really catalyzed a lot of things. A hobby turned into a passion and reading Sir Coelho’s works turned it into a dream. It was his words that asked me to follow the passion that had begun brewing inside me.
What did you like to read when you were a boy?
I loved Goosebumps to be honest, but I guess that was in response to a deeper interest – the affinity towards the unknown. I was never specific to what I read, but yes it was always about something that can’t be explained through our five senses – it was the food for my sixth sense. I read a lot non-fiction. Also works on life after death, psychics, clairvoyance, near death experience stories, past life regression therapy. Later, I graduated to a level of reading spiritual material like “Conversation with God” and other similar books. My inclination towards horror and a mix of all that I mentioned above lead to ‘The Unheards’.
What is the greatest challenge in writing a book?
The biggest challenge in writing a story is telling it right. There are numerous horror stories out there, but I guess how you tell it makes all the difference. So I believe, it is not the story, it is how you tell it that makes a true connection with your reader. A reader wants the confusion, the anxiety, the inability to figure it out – give it to them. Real life is always so ordinary for many of us, don’t make your pages fill the same.
How much research do you do before writing the book?
Research again is very subjective. By the time I started writing, I had a lot of food in my head about paranormal side of life. My research usually involved about my setting. None of my stories are based in India, not that there is anything wrong in indian setting, but I guess how you see a character responding to some events require a setting that would justify his or her behaviour. So a lot of my research is related to the behaviour of people from regions outside India and also the geography that is required to make it believable. Like for Avenue of Death, my second book, I really had to do some research about how a gothic university would look like and function.
Similarly for my next book, which belongs to magical realism and not horror, I had to do a lot of research about the Italian culture where it is set. So I think the research activity goes on till the end of 2/3 part of the book. You write, you come to plot point where you feel you need to know a little more, and so you get back to researching the required. It is all very very subjective. Nothing about creativity has a boundary, no set rules control it, it is all about what you aim to give and how you go about it.
What motivated you to write the book “The Unheards: Memories never die”?
Like I said, when I started writing it, I had no intention of coming up with a book. I never even thought of any day (unexpected things theory!) What I saw in my head was a conversation between a husband & wife going through the tough decision of leaving their present house and starting all over again in a remote town far away, in an old big house that they knew nothing about. After that everything was very organic, like beading a necklace, everything fell into place gradually. As Steve Jobs talked about connecting the dots, it was really like seeing in retrospection all the dots being connected at the end of the journey.
Can you tell us more about your latest book “Avenue of Death”?
Avenue of death is about an old gothic university and a new student getting caught up in the mystery surrounding it. It again talks about paranormal influences and some dreadful patterns being repeated over and over again. It also shows how closely the dead and the living can co-exist sometimes and affect each other through the passage of time till the circle is closed by a defining moment. The protagonist of the book, Samantha Jones, is somehow chosen by the antagonist, the Stanmore University, to be its next victim. Why and how? For that, dig into the story because as Samantha says, my beginning was the end, and for that you got to begin reading AOD and get to its end to unravel the mystery. It is cold, it is gothic, it has got moments aiming to chill you – well that’s the hope!
How did you came up with the idea of writing horror fiction genre book(Avenue of Death)?
Stephen king says that ideas are like artifacts; you just dig through the layers of your head and find something that is already there. Sometimes, the ideas have no origin and they can pop up at any mundane moment – in the shower, while brushing your teeth, having a cup of coffee or while having a great laugh with your friends. The only problem is that whenever it happens, a pen and a paper is never within your reach – the most frustrating part. (Thank god we have cell phones these days where you can jot down the passing blur and grab it.) Surprisingly when the idea for AOD struck me,
I had clear images of its beginning and the end. But I had no idea about going from this to that. Well that was the journey then I had to take and thus Avenue of Death was realized.
Who are your favourite authors?
Paulo Coelho is always on the top. Then I quite enjoy reading works of Barbara Michaels. Agatha Christie produced very smartly plotted books during her writing career. Dan brown has interesting plots. Apart from that, books like A gathering light (aka A northern light), The house at midnight, works of Richard Matheson and stories by Stephen King and Elizabeth Gaskell have huge regard in my head. I randomly pick a lot of books and read them. There are few authors I follow consistently, apart from them I just pick whatever I like. I am not genre specific, though I greatly enjoy books with macabre quality but above everything I enjoy a story well told, be it a horror one or not.
How much time do you dedicate for writing on a daily basis?
There is no fixed schedule. Sometimes there are days when I can’t produce anything and suddenly there will be such a robust period of creativity that I am not able to contain it. In those moments my hand falls short in recording the rush I go through in my head. But I keep on scribbling something here and there, ideas, thoughts and perspectives. An author’s mind is like a well-oiled machine, it just never stops, it is like a tree that never stops growing. We tend to create fiction almost out of everything we are experiencing in life at the moment – professional hazards! Sometimes it is just too overwhelming.
What words of wisdom would you like to give to aspiring writers?
Well if you have it, then just go for it. Don’t worry about telling it write. Be impulsive, organic, be like a child, and don’t filter. First just let it go on paper, let the words grow into a bulk. There will be a time when whatever you have written so far will find its place. Being a writer is a lot about having faith because it is a journey filled with so many disappoints also. But then that is part and parcel of being a creative person. Like Paulo Coelho says, you need to take risks and have courage to put a creative work out there, not everyone can bare there mind in public. Don’t worry about being criticized for your work either. So just go after it and don’t let anyone tell you that you will die of hunger being a writer, or you are just stupid to even think about getting published. Motivate yourself, watch great inspiring movies, listen to uplifting music (Youth star by radio one, I lived by one republic). Write whenever the ideas confiscate your existence and refuse to let you go, and remember that the only thinking you must do is in giving words to your stories and not to your fears, period.
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