Me, My books – a different side to my life

A few days back Kiran Manral, a close friend a fabulous author and a wonderful human being did a Q&A with me on her blog. I had reblogged her post yesterday. Here’s the link to it… Thanks Kiran for featuring me on your blog. 

As a part of the Q&A, Kiran had implored her readers to ask me further questions about me, my books and anything else that they wanted me to respond on. She even offered 5 copies of Bankerupt as give aways for people with the best questions. I realised the fan following Kiran has, when i saw the number of questions the followers of her blog asked. It took me some time to respond to the questions and select the five winners of the giveaway. The answers to the second lot of Questions asked by the followers of Kiran Manral’s blog is given below. Each Question starts with the name of the blogger who asked the question.

Rashmi : How did you finalize the title of the book and how important the title is for book’s success?

The title of a book is one of the most important elements of any book. It has to be intriguing and enticing enough to make a casual browser pick up the book and consider it. Remember it is the first thing that anyone notices about the book. That said, you can never sell a lousy product by giving it a good title.

 In the case of Bankerupt, we came up with a longlist of some 100 odd titles, which could have fit the bill. And after days of discussions between the publisher and me, and multiple rounds of elimination we came up with the title BANKERUPT. We felt that given that the book in question was a thriller, this title had the punch required to go with a thriller. And given that the story was about a banker caught in an eruption at MIT, BANKERUPT was an apt and intriguing title to go with.

 Manjulika Pramod : When you set out to write, do you have one story in mind or many and then how does the final one take shape…?

 When I set out to write a story, I only have the backdrop in mind. I have a brief idea of the field I am going to set my story in. And I also have a brief idea of how my story would begin. But beyond that … absolutely nothing. I have no idea which direction the story would take. It works fine for me because if I don’t know what the next page contains, the reader has a slim chance of figuring that out. It helps in adding to the intrigue element in the final product.

 Digi88 : In all the books you have penned, you have thoroughly shown us the inside details of the banking world. In a way, you are the MADHUR BHANDARKAR of the banking world, showing us the glaring reality. Do you take inspiration from his style of writing?

Look, Madhur Bhandarkar is a good filmmaker. But in his films, his detailing of the subject, at best, scratches the surface. Whether it is Fashion or Heroine or Traffic Signal or even Corporate – the films don’t cover the industry in detail. To be fair to him, it is very difficult to cover a subject in detail in a film of 150 minutes.  Authors have it slightly better, because we have the liberty of taking as many pages as we deem fit, to build the characters, to detail the story, to explain incidents etc. Hence you will find my books much more detailed than you would find a typical Madhur Bhandarkar film. The short answer to your question is..No. I have not been inspired by Madhur Bhandarkars style of film making. I hope at some point in time Madhur Bhandarkar gets inspired by my style of writing and makes a film called BANK.

RG : The Indian banking and finance world has had more than its share of colourful personalities, methinks. Despite masking details there is a chance that some real-life acquaintances may appear as characters in your stories (or at least some people may imagine so). How much do you worry about it, how do you handle it?

Oh, I have seen a lot of people speculate as to who the character in my book is in real life. It’s a favourite pastime of many bankers and is a favourite topic of discussion at many parties. That said, I don’t think there is much to worry here. A number of incidents in my book have been inspired by real life incidents – not necessarily ones that have happened to the same individual.  In my books, the story of Character “A” will never track a real life person “B”. The incidents in the life of Character A, in the book may be a creative juxtaposition of incidents that might have taken place in the lives of multiple people in real life. 

It will hence be very difficult for anyone to stand up and say that a character in my book is Mr Y in reality. I try to make sure of this, to the extent possible. I do not worry much about it, simply because if I tell dark stories about the underbelly of banking, I know that I am sure to antagonize some people. Hence I am prepared for it.

Nischala : If you had to choose one book of yours to be made to a Bollywood movie, which would it be? And Hollywood? What casting would he choose?

BANKERUPT without doubt, and that too only because its on a wider campus and extends to life beyond banks. The casting would be :

Aditya Raisinghania : Ranbir Kapoor / Arjun Rampal

Cirisha Narayanan : Deepika Padukone in her Plain Jane avatar.

Narayanan : Naseeruddin Shah

Michael Cardoza : John Voight

James Deahl : Kevin Costner

Shivinder Singh : Nawazuddin  Siddiqui

Given the canvas of the book (story spread over Mumbai, Boston & Mexico), it has to be an international film.

Amruta : What’s the thing you’re most proud of about your newest novel, BANKERUPT compared to your others, or the thing that sets it apart from them? 

Amongst other things, what sets Bankerupt apart from my previous books is that this is the first time I have made a departure from regular banking thrillers. Bankerupt is the first book of mine where I have had to do intense research about the political scenario in the United States of America and their Gun Control laws. It’s a generic thriller with a little bit of banking in it. It  was not easy to step away from my comfort zone, but nevertheless it was extremely fulfilling.

Indian Thoughts : How much inspiration do you draw from real life finance world blunders and scams?

Actually lots. Most of the incidents that happen in my earlier books and even in Bankerupt, have happened in different forms in real life. Take Bankerupt for instance, the scams in the book, have taken place at various times, in various parts of India.  Even the incidents related to guns and academia in the USA have taken place in reality. The benefit of building your story around real life incidents is that the story becomes a lot believable. People relate to it better.. and when people relate to it better, they tend to like it. Building a story around real life incidents is also one of the reasons why my books do not have any superheroes. They only have normal human beings, like all of us, who are inspired to do superhuman deeds on account of a trigger in their lives.

Rohan Kachalia : Have you ever got hit by the writer’s block while writing any of your books? If yes, then what did you do to come out of it? Also, why don’t we see you in the blogging world penning short stories on crime or rather some romantic lines?

Rohan, it’s a bit surprising, but I haven’t yet been hit by a serious writers block. The worst writers block for me, has been cleared during the course of a long walk of a drive back home. So really nothing to share here. I have always held and am of the view that short stories are far more difficult to write as compared to novels. Hence short stories do not make it to my blog.   And I am a very impulsive blogger. I don’t blog in a planned manner. Hence for me to write a crime thriller or romantic lines in my blog is almost impossible.

aprawriter: Do you think a scientist/mathematician can become a banker and what personality traits would she/he need to change to be successful (given that academics aren’t the best at networking or public speaking!).

If you look at the banking industry today, you find all kinds of people there. Engineers, MBA, commerce graduates, Arts graduates, even Biotechnologists (my wife being one of them). Hence I see no reason why a scientist or a mathematician cannot become a banker. To my mind, the only personality traits a person needs to become a good banker are high levels of personal integrity and empathy for the customer. All the technical knowledge and subject matter expertise can be acquired on the job. Its not as complex as it seems from the outside. Public speaking skills are helpful, but not a prerequisite for a banking job.

Meera V : If you were to look at your previous books, do you feel you could have written them better? If yes, about which book do you feel that way?

Writing is like any other skill that one acquires. You get better with time and experience. The same has happened to me too. After six books, I find myself a much better author than what I was when I began this journey. Hence all my earlier books could have been written better. This evolution will hopefully never change. When I finish writing my next book, I will feel that I could have done a better job with BANKERUPT. It’s a journey. An evolution. And as long as I continue to learn and improve, I will be very happy.

Meera V : During the course of writing any of your books, did you ever pass through a phase where you just wanted to throw everything away and run away (may be for some time only  )?

Haha. Are you a writer Meera? And have you ever felt like this? Why do I feel that many a times, you have felt like this. Yes, there have been times, particularly in the editing and re-editing stage, when you feel like throwing away everything and running away. At that stage after reading your book over two dozen times, you feel bored and frustrated. But that’s the stage where it is important to focus and keep going.

Pallavi : The book deals with gun control – something that currently the USA is grappling to find an answer to. It also has MIT, one of the finest institutions in the world, as one of its characters. How difficult was it for you to pen down a book incorporating these aspects? Also, considering that no banks have gone bankrupt recently, what inspired you to come up with the title? Are you forecasting that some more banks might go bust?

Who am I to forecast banks going bust. The title is actually symbolic of a Banker caught in the eruption at MIT.  Banker + Erupt = Bankerupt.

Writing a story set in MIT, based in the gun control and second amendment backdrop was not easy at all. It required me to do a lot of research, read books on the subject and get myself sufficiently equipped to write on the subject. It was time consuming, intensive, high intellect task, nevertheless I found it extremely interesting.  

Theabhishekkr : How seriously do you take your critics, especially the hardcore one???And who is the first person to read your novel once they are completed (not including your editor)??

To read my views on negative criticism, do read my blogpost, wherein I have covered my approach in detail.

My wife is the first one to read the novel once the first draft is done. She is my worst critic too. While she is reading the book, I wait anxiously like an expectant father outside the delivery room in a hospital, waiting for the good news. 

Categories: General, My Books

3 replies »

  1. Its always pleasure hearing from you in places other than your books. My question to you is how did you do the research, i mean did u refer any books? or like Dan Brown have you also visited the places mentioned in the book?


  2. Its always pleasure hearing from you in places other than your books. My question to you is how did you do the research,i mean did u refer any books? or like Dan Brown have you also visited the places mentioned in the book?


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