Hello! Thank you for agreeing to let us interview you for Buzz Magazine.
Rohit: A pleasure, and thank you for featuring me on Buzz Magazine.
First things first – tell us a little bit about yourself? What was your childhood like? Did something inspire you to write since then?
Rohit: My father worked with a centralized bank and as a result we relocated several times in my childhood because of his transfers. So every city or town we went to, my parents used to make sure that they found all the nearest libraries for me to spend countless hours there. My love for books comes from parents. I, along with a childhood friend of mine, also started a library from my house. We used to charge two rupees for a book and one rupee for a comic. Not very commercially savvy, I know! But we were ten and didn’t have the budget to hire a price strategist! This is all just too geeky, but those are the most cherished memories of my life.During various stages of my life I wanted to be one thing or the other. I wanted to be a bookshop owner when I was in my early teens. This dream has survived till today! In my late teens I wanted to be an Architect. In my college days I was a pretty good stage actor and did a lot of amateur drama. It led to many late nights of rehearsals and ignoring studies. And so, I wanted to be a dramatist and theater director. None of these dreams amounted to much, unfortunately.
How did the transition from the IT sector guy to a writer happen?
Rohit: I believe a number of authors have said this that if you read a lot, there comes a day when you read a book and think you can do it too. Something like that happened to me too and I started finding time in my daily routine to write. Support and encouragement of my wife Pranita was crucial. I don’t think I have a deeply intellectual answer to why I write because I believe writing fiction is not an intellectual, but an emotional and psychological exercise. I love taking the readers on an emotional and psychological journey through my writing.
I’ll be honest. It was the Circle of Three that made me begin reading your books. What had the response for your first two books, Focus, Sam and A Darker Dawn been like?
Rohit: Well, to be perfectly honest, I cringe whenever someone tells me that they are going to read FOCUS, SAM. Very recently when a reader requested me to sign a copy of it, I wrote – ‘Please be a little indulgent as this is my first novel’ before signing it. The fact is, it was my first novel that got published and it will forever remain my most loved one. I guess many people admit to loving their firstborn the most. It hasn’t met with the phenomenal success that some well known debut novels like Twilight or The Kite Runner or The Hunger Games did, but for me that’s completely beside the point. The mere fact that a big publisher like Rupa wanted to invest in an unknown nobody like me was the greatest reward in itself. A DARKER DAWN is a very gritty and dark tale, as I have been told. It is quite un-mainstream. Both these books did make their marks, but if your yardstick is ‘Five Point Someone’ and ‘One Night At Call Center’, then you would find that they didn’t sell anywhere close to these two books!
How did the story for Circle of Three come to you? I mean, it is a unique concept. The cover makes one believe the three characters must be related to one another from the start. But when one reads the book, it becomes pretty clear that these lives are meant to intertwine in the most unpredictable of ways…
Rohit: CIRCLE OF THREE came to me in the same way most ideas have popped up in my head. You read a lot of books, watch a lot of movies, you travel, you meet interesting people, you live through situations that are, in hindsight, very interesting, you land in trouble, you come out of the trouble. All of these experiences go into a kind of mental blender, it goes in your head and something else comes out on the paper. I generally start with a situation when I start a novel. A kind of ‘What if?’ For Circle of Three it was – what if the paths of three completely unrelated people who have lost all hope in life cross?
Coming to your more recent success, The Guardian Angels. It has been months since its release and yet, the praise for the books seems to be ringing loud and clear. It was a story that touched many of your readers. How did the characters of Adi and Radha come to you? Did you always plan on following them right from their school years?
Rohit: Well, I am glad and quite relieved that The Guardian Angels has resonated so well with the readers and the critics. It wasn’t an outright conscious attempt, but I have always wanted to write a book that would be truly deemed as a commercial fiction. Adi and Radha’s just kept on evolving in my mind and I was determined not to let the writer in me to be the boss in this book. Sometimes the characters drive a book completely and something like that happened with this book. I imagined two teenagers meeting for the first time in a dire situation and the story kind of kept developing from that.
If someone gave you the option for bringing one of your novels to cinematic life, which one would you chose and why?
Rohit: Well, it would take a succession of incredible miracles for anyone significant in the Indian Film Industry to take notice of my books. But just to fantasize, I would pay the price of a premium ticket to watch an adaptation of The Guardian Angels starring Ranbir Kapoor and KanganaRanaut or Parineeti Chopra. It has the most commercial appeal among all of my novels. Closely followed by FOCUS, SAM.
Every writer adheres strictly to a schedule for writing. Or say a lot of myths. How true is this statement for you?
Rohit: All the things that you have heard about the craft of writing, this statement probably has to be the most significant. Writing is all about discipline. The more disciplined you are, the more output you will produce. I would say either have a target of words (say 2000 words a day) or have a schedule (say five to eight in the evening). Probably the greatest writers had both – a target and a schedule!
And what are your other hobbies?
Rohit: Apart from being a voracious reader, I love history. I was a bit of a stage actor when I was a child, so I love theatre. I am a music buff too, across the genres and eras, although I am partial to the 70s and 80s era rock.
When can we expect your next novel? And could you tell us (tentatively) what it would be about?
Rohit: I am in the middle of my next novel. Hopefully I will see the end of it soon! It tackles paranormal themes.
Do you have message for all your fans?
Rohit: Please read a lot. Don’t stop reading. And please talk about books at every opportunity you get. Talk about Indian fiction. Spread its awareness.
And any advice for our readers who might secretly wish to become a writer like you someday?
Rohit: To writers, I would suggest that they ‘read a lot and write a lot’. Some of the greatest authors have said that, so it has a grain of truth in it. Reading is the most essential activity for a writer. If you are not a big fan of reading novels, you cannot be a good writer. Can you be a very good guitarist if you don’t really like listening to notes from a guitar? Read across the genres. Don’t stick to just what is popular. Read classics and contemporary. Just read a lot! To be a good writer a certain discipline for the craft is required, as I have said in the previous question. Writing is a craft. Like the guitarists, painters and sculptors, you have to practice the craft.
Thank you so much for taking the time out to talk to us. We wish you all the best for all you future endeavors, and hope to talk to you again in one of our future issues.