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History beckons ...

 

In the short time he’s spent writing, anurag anand has self-help, popular fiction and historical fiction under his belt already. anshak kalia chats up the banker-turned-author in the wake of his latest outing, 'the legend of amrapali'…
TSI | Issue Dated: February 26, 2012, New Delhi
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Writing is an unconventional career choice. How did you get here, that too, at the young age of 24?
My first book was a research book titled Pillars of Success, and that was when I was working with an NGO called UNIS. We did personality development presentations for school students as a part of the youth development programme that the NGO had. So there was plenty of studying that went into it from my end as well. Also, the interactions left me with a lot of unanswered questions. So the first thing I wrote was an amalgamation of all that I had learnt through my association with UNIS and interacting with the school kids there. That’s essentially how I started writing.


What kinds of subjects attract you?
If you look around, each individual has a story, and everything that you see has a story. It’s all about figuring out what you want to sell as an author. Once I finish a book, I give myself a little bit of break and then I go on a hawk-eyed lookout for a story. Eventually, the one that I feel most excited about is the one that I start working on.


How was the experience of switching from non-fiction to fiction? Which of the two genres is tougher to write?
Tougher to write would be fiction because you need to basically conjure up a completely different world. Non-fiction is more like gyan-giving, which we Indians are inherently pretty good at! So that really is not so much of an effort. Between the two genres, I enjoy fiction more. Despite the effort, it gives you more of a feeling of creation that non-fiction never can.


Why did you choose to write a book based on medieval times and the issues from around that time (The Legend of Amrapali)?
The book is as relevant in the current times as much as it would have been in the time of Amrapali. You’ll find the sheer emotion that was there during that time even today in the newspapers and television. Women, till date, don’t find themselves on an equal footing in our society. And during those days the situation was much worse. The story is about Amrapali who was known as the most beautiful woman to have walked the earth, and she was also a prolific dancer. For a girl so pretty and so beautiful, what makes her take up a morally depraved kind of a role of a ‘Nagarvadhu’ and entertain the rich and famous of the society? This is something that happens with women even today and so people can draw a lot of inspiration from it. There are a lot of mythical stories about Amrapali and her early years, so as an author it leaves you with a lot of scope to use your own imagination and
to produce a story in an comprehensible and explainable manner.


Fictional books require the mind to swim in the pool of creativity, how do you equip your life jacket when in need?

I think there is no such thing as creative blockage unless you’re writing something like poetry where you need to have words rhyming and where you need to look for appropriate expression so that it doesn’t sound off tune. I have never in my life experienced it, but yes, there are certain things that are required to make you perform better. I usually try and write either late in the night or early in the morning when external disturbances are minimal.


How important is recognition for an author? Is that the fodder for keeping up motivation levels?
Absolutely! Writing is not a commercially viable venture. You need to write in a genre which has so much of mass appeal that it goes on to sell a million copies, which doesn’t happen for many people. Other than Chetan Bhagat, there is no other author who is selling more than a million copies. Unless the numbers are there with you, even if it be a bestselling book, it would sell about 30-40 million copies in about two-three years and the royalty that one gets from that is not enough to sustain a household. That is one reason why you’ll find a lot of authors with a full-time profession, which helps them run the kitchen, and where writing is more of a passion than a vocation. Hence, the reason why we write is not to earn money, but to get recognition.

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Issue Dated: Feb 5, 2017