Author Interview: Sarang Mahajan
Sarang Mahajan is the debutante author of the book series INKREDIA. His first book Luwan of Brida has hogged the limelight and has garnered rave reviews. Being an avid fantasy/ adventure novels, Sarang based his book series around the same genre. The book is popular across India, USA, and the UK. He is a screenplay writer and a big-time travel photographer and writer.
In a candid chat, he spoke about his novel, his experiences as a writer and a lot more.
Please tell our readers about yourself. How would you describe yourself in minimum words possible?
SARANG: I am trying to come up with an answer but it’s tough. So, I will take a different approach and tell you how others would describe me. I believe they will tell you that I live in my own world and it takes quite an effort to get me out of it, even for a while. Not really an outgoing person, but I do open up easily and have fun when it comes to spending time with the people I am close to. I love watching movies, especially Marvel films. They might also tell you that patience is one of my virtues and not sticking to any one thing, in particular, a drawback, as contradicting as it sounds.
How did you get into writing? Any interesting story that you would like to share?
SARANG: My father was the first person to spot my talent. He is a celebrated journalist. One day, I scribbled down a message for someone that I wanted to send through him, an utterly insignificant piece. He read it and told my mother during dinner that night that I can write. I hadn’t thought of writing as one of my talents until then. But the moment I heard him saying that a new door opened for me. I was taken by the idea of how amazing it would be if I wrote a book. He had as though said ‘open sesame’ for me by casually mentioning those one or two things that night.
Please introduce our readers to your novel INKREDIA?
SARANG: INKREDIA is set in a fictional universe that I have created, the Inkredia Universe. It has humans, nonhumans, fantasy creatures, magic and rules of magic. It’s not based on a mythology. It also doesn’t derive anything from the western fantasies, as in, you won’t find any dragons, unicorns, elves or dwarves in Inkredia. Every being or race is an original one, other than the humans.
The INKREDIA series is going to be a series of four books. The first one, Inkredia – Luwan of Brida is already out and I am delighted that readers from all over India have loved it so far. It’s the story of a young boy named Luwan, who finds himself in a grave danger and must make a dangerous journey, along with his sister, in order to survive. He heads into mysterious and powerful enemies with supernatural powers. They want him dead and he has no clue why. It’s the story of how he races across unknown regions of INKREDIA in order to survive while carrying many questions in his head.
From where do you draw inspiration for your novel?
SARANG: Usually, I just wake up with it every day. I am fortunate that way. But sometimes people doing well, doing something different or something great inspires me. It could be a singer, a cricketer, a film-maker or someone I know. In other words, stories of people achieving greatness motivate me to work.
Do you read books? Which one is your all-time favorite?
SARANG: I don’t read as much as I should or I would want to. I can’t read while I am writing as I find it difficult focusing on another story when my mind is already full of one that I am working on. I want to change this.
As for my favorite book… every time I answer this question, a different book pops up in my mind. Right now, I can think of The Pillars of the Earth by Ken Follet. It’s a wonderful work of literature. I read it nearly ten years ago but I still can’t get over the way the author has created and executed his characters.
Is writing your way to release your stress or a professional pursuit?
SARANG: Writing is a professional pursuit that makes me happy. There’s no stress, to begin with when you are doing something you love to do. I have been writing professionally for many years now (though I do other things too). I mostly wrote TV shows for the last four-five years, but I believe it diverted me from what I really love to do, which is writing novels. It’s what I am doing now and want to keep doing.
When you are not writing novels, how do you spend your time? Any specific hobby?
SARANG: I watch a lot of movies and TV shows online. I love photography, especially shooting nature and birds (because I am too lazy to go in search of animals other than cats and dogs).
Which is your favorite place for the holiday? Does your work allow you to explore the world of travel?
SARANG: I love mountains as well as forests. Sometimes I feel like being in a town (not a city) with a touristy feel and a cheerful atmosphere, like the Mall Road of Shimla or the markets of Leh, or a Goan street with cafes and happy people everywhere, music playing around.
No, my work does not demand traveling. I hate the fact that I don’t travel as much as I want to. That’s the downside of writing a fantasy, one based in a fictional universe at that. It does not require much real-life research so you are locked in your room all the time. But I want to write something that will allow me to visit nice places with my camera.
How would you describe the contemporary scenario of writing and reading in India?
SARANG: It appears that reading is a downward trend, but not necessarily writing. Many books are being written every day. Though the overall quality of writing is definitely going down because a majority of the readers today are happy with the mediocre content. I think the rise in audio-visual entertainment due to cheap and easy access through the internet and mobile phones is a contributing factor. It’s getting people addicted to instant gratification and now even the readers want light reads. Good books such as A Song of Ice and Fire are termed as heavy reads whereas a romance fiction under 200 pages is in demand. You get to hear things that you wouldn’t ten years ago, such as calling a 400-page book a ‘long’ book.
Share the experience of your journey so far?
SARANG: I have learned that writing a good book is just the beginning. It’s an equivalent of managing to get hold of a handle inside a crammed local train. The real journey is how well you can promote the book, whether you can get it to the readers or not. I believe I have just achieved the first part, as of now. As to writing the book, I absolutely loved that part. I was in no rush to get it published because I loved the process a lot.
What is your definition of success? Money/ fame/ satisfaction/ (any other)?
SARANG: I think it is satisfaction. That is what matters at the end of the day. But very few people can achieve it without money and they live in the Himalayas! The rest of us must toil along the beaten path. Fame, however, is not an obligation, unless you are in a profession where it’s necessary. I have experienced that your idea of success keeps changing/evolving as you cross one station after another. It’s an elusive thing, always out of grasp. I believe you can achieve it the day you convince yourself to stop and enjoy what you have gathered. Isn’t that the very definition of satisfaction?
Do you believe there is some sort of pattern or formula to becoming a successful writer? Please share it with our readers?
SARANG: I think it works differently for different writers. Also, the definition of the word ‘successful’ also differs. To some writers success means critical acclaim, to some, it’s commercial success. While the former will focus on their writing and leave no stone unturned to give their best before the book is published, the latter will do whatever it takes after the book has been published.
If you wish to fall in the first category, the trick is to be as patient as a rock. Even talented writers need to work hard at gaining and polishing their skills. Don’t get obsessed with the idea of getting that tag of a published author in front of your name as quickly as you can. The sun will set on such happiness within a week after the book is published, as reviews start coming out. It feels way better to be told that ‘you are a good author’ than ‘you are an author.’ Do not be afraid to change and improve your work as much as you must to make it your best. If you are writing fiction, there are many things that you need to get right. The plot, the characters, the language and the way you narrate the story; it all takes hard work and time. Make that investment and you will lay down a strong foundation for a successful career and not just one book, which, if it’s an outcome of hasty work, will eventually become meaningless and you’d wish you hadn’t written it. On the other hand, a good book stands a much better chance of becoming a commercial success than a mediocre one, given that you promote it well.
Let us know a quote that inspires you?
SARANG: There are many quotes that I love, from the likes of Mahatma Gandhi and Einstein. But in recent times, there’s one teaching that has been guiding me well. It has been said by many people, but I heard it from Sadhguru Jaggi Vasudev. I don’t remember the exact words but he says, ‘Live in this moment. All your fears and worries either concern the events in the past or those in the future. Don’t stretch yourself thin over those worries right now. Forget what happened in the past and leave what the future holds for the future. At this moment be relaxed, focus on your work and do what you love to do.’ It’s one philosophical teaching that has actually helped me become happier and more productive. He also says, ‘You are at your highest intelligence when you are happy.’ I think it’s quite true.
Are we going to read more from you in the near future? Any new project that you are working on?
SARANG: Yes. I am working on the sequel to my first book, Inkredia – Luwan of Brida, which we are planning to release in 2019. I am also planning to write some short stories set in the Inkredia Universe. Other than these, there are many half-baked novels that I keep digging out every now and then. Hopefully, one of those will also make it to the shelves soon.
Thank you very much, Khyati for letting me share my views. Loved the questions. As I have already said before, this a great blog. I am happy to be a part of it.
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