Hello Mayur, thank you so much for taking the time out to talk to me. 🙂
First things first: how did you take up writing?
Mayur- I was a bit of a precocious reader. I could read a newspaper (Marathi) by the time I was six or so. I could read novels in Marathi by the time I was eight or so. I wrote a few short stories in Marathi during my school days. In my teens and twenties, I started reading English novels primarily as a way to improve English and then around the time I graduated, I began experimenting English writing.
What was your very first attempt at creative writing?
Mayur- While I was studying in Fergusson College, I read Godfather and ended up writing 300 odd pages (long hand) of a highly derivative story. I think I used to call it the King. Of course, nobody ever read it. 🙂
My first novel ‘Kumbhpur Rising’ was my first finished writing project. It took my five years of writing after work between 2004 and 2009 to do that.
Where did you get the ideas for your stories?
Mayur- A lot of material I used for ‘Kumbhur Rising’ came out of news items I read over a 6 months period or so and a dream I once had. I think for someone like me who writes stories set in contemporary times, the ideas are a result of how your imagination responds to the surroundings, more of than not, very mundane. A few days back, as I waited on my scooter at a signal, a girl handed me a flyer for a work-from-home business. The flyer said: One call can change your life. In the next forty five seconds, I had a fairly complete idea of a short story. I wrote it over the next 4-5 days and now you can read it as a Juggernaut short this month.
What in particular gave you the idea for The Dark Road?
Mayur- I am a fan of the so called moody thrillers that examine the crime as well as the effect of the crime on those affected by it. I think Dennis Lehane’s ‘Mystic River’ is an excellent example of that kind of story. So my story started from the single thought, morbid as it might be- what if a family lost two young daughters, both women in their early twenties, to violence? Losing your loved one to murder is perhaps the worst nightmare of any sane mind, what would happen if a couple is forced to go through the same tragedy twice?
Do you have particular schedules or writing routines when it comes to your work?
Mayur- While writing ‘the dark road’ I was haunted by the amount of time I had taken to write my first novel. So I converted this into a National Novel writing Month like challenge and set to write the first draft in 30 days flat. I was working with Aditya Birla group then and I would mostly write at night, last thing before going to bed. Funny as it might sound- being a little tired actually helped me focus. I wrote the last line of my first draft exactly 30 days after I wrote the first.
A lot of authors are taking the indie publishing route. What’s your view about it?
Mayur- I self-published ‘Kumbhpur Rising’, five years after I finished writing it. It was an exhilarating experience to put the book through the whole process, placing it in book-stores and doing a few book reading sessions etc. Now, I see a lot of successful writers taking that route. There are definite advantages of indie publishing as the energy spent on pitching your project to publishers is diverted on productive things like preparing your book and marketing it. With advent of online retailing and social media, it is possible to reach a wider audience too.
The pitfall, according to me, is as you are the boss, sometimes your myopia about your product might get in the way of its development. Developmental editing is a necessary and cruel process that requires someone else to take control of your book and an indie author might not be willing to let go like that.
What made you zero in on Juggernaut Books as your publisher?
Mayur- I wanted someone who is pushing into the digital space. Moreover, in spite of being a start-up, they boasted of an excellent editing team with loads of experience. Something I needed very much at this stage in my writing career. Thankfully, they liked the story and I was fortunate to have Sivapriya and her team to work on my novel.
If your story got turned into a movie, who would you like to see star as leads?
Mayur- difficult to answer as I don’t watch a lot of Hindi movies and it would be difficult to set this story in Hollywood. I guess VidyaBalan as Prasanna even though she is younger than the character. Her onscreen persona has a combination of intelligence and compassion that I think Prasanna has. RandeepHooda as Siddharth Pandit, mostly because he is so fit and athletic and there is some sadness in him.
Would you like to write in any other genre besides Mystery, Crime and Thriller?
Mayur- Kumbhpur Rising was an out and out horror novel in the ’30 days of night’ category, so I guess I have already written in two genres for my first two books.
I think at some point I would love to try my hand at a political satire fused with a dystopian tale. Something like Catch 22 or Animal Farm. Though, I must say at this point in time I have no such project in work.
What are your future plans for writing? Can you give out a teaser or two for your readers?
Mayur- Last year, as ‘The Dark Road’ was going through its editing paces, I wrote five short stories that were all commissioned by Juggernaut. These stories will be released as stand-alone shorts from this month onwards. As a genre, they are in the twilight zone between supernatural and thriller. In a short story, you can really allow your imagination to run wild as the reader has to support his incredulity for a shorter amount of time.
I also finished writing another novel that I am calling ‘Tears for Strangers’ and at the moment, I am in the process of finalizing a deal for it. The novel is about a young woman journalist, on the brink of personal and financial ruin, investigating the murder of another woman journalist, who died broke and alone.
Now, I am kind of working on two ideas at the same time, I will decide in a few weeks which one to finish first. One of them is about how violence suffered in childhood shapes a person’s life forever. A woman, victim of domestic abuse both as a child and as a married woman, finds herself back in the town she grew up in, only to get involved in a murder investigation as a serial killer from her past is on the prowl.
The second project is the next Prasanna Killedar novel. It is one of the most ambitious projects that I have undertaken so far. In this novel, we will send Prasanna after a serial killer who is killing young women after luring them into dating him. I have spent two years doing extensive research on the seedy underbelly of internet where predators and victims are hard to tell apart.
Do you have any particular authors who inspire your work?
Mayur- Stephen King is the single biggest source of inspiration, even though he does not represent the genre I aim to write in. His stories are about everyday situations and his protagonists are the ordinary people- writers, school teachers, students, cops. I can relate to that.
I am also a huge fan of Michael Connelly whose psychological thrillers I can never get enough of. It is remarkable how consistent his books are in terms of quality when you consider the number of books he has written.
In last couple of years, I was blown away by Gone Girl and The Girl on the Train and I guess both Jillian Flynn and Paula Hawkins have a lifelong reader in me now.
What would your advice be to aspiring authors?
Mayur- have a day job to pay bills. I don’t want to discourage anyone, but this is an extremely low success rate industry with a long gestation period. If you are not dependent on writing for income, then you can take the long term view, may be even say no to an offer that doesn’t suit your long term career goals.
Second, of course is to resist the temptation of instant gratification. Many times, we see authors posting incomplete drafts of their works in writer’s forum for feedback. I don’t see a point of that. There is a genuine danger of losing confidence if strangers bash your book while it is still in creation. More importantly, writing a long work of fiction is like building pressure on yourself without an outlet. You have to let that steam build to push yourself. The moment you send your work out before it is complete and ready, you are letting yourself off the hook.
What would be an ideal gift for you?
Mayur- Depends on the occasion but I guess one can never go wrong with a bottle of single malt or an author signed copy of a popular novel. 🙂
And finally, if there was a book you could turn into a movie, what would it be and why?
Mayur- Mario Puzo’s The Sicilian was such an outstanding book, better than Godfather in some respects, and yet the Cimino movie version of it was such a roaring big disappointment. May be someone could do a better job of that.
Of the recent ones, I think Stephen King’s Bill Hodges trilogy (Mr Mercedes/ Finders Keepers/End of Watch) are novels that are meant to be dramatized. They feature a charismatic, sociopathic villain, a brooding, ageing protagonist in crisis and a couple of unlikely characters you would want to root for. Ideal material for movie in my opinion.
Thank you once again for talking to BUZZ Magazine. I wish you all the best with your current work and future works.
My pleasure. Thank you for this opportunity to interact with your readers.
A financial services professional, Mayur wrote and self-published his first novel ‘Kumbhpur Rising’ in 2014. His second novel ‘The Dark Road’ was released as a digital imprint by Juggernaut this June. Other than fiction, Mayur also writes regularly for several online publications on contemporary issues.
Mayur has run two full marathons and does a bit of stand-up comedy whenever the opportunity presents itself. He claims his marathon timings provide him with great material for his stand-up routine.