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‘Write A Book That Flows From Your Heart’

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Why did it take so long for your third book to come out?
The book, The Oath of the Vayuputras, has grown very long. It’s more than 160,000 words, which makes it nearly twice as long as my earlier books. I guess there were many loose ends to tie-up! So it took me a long time to write which consequently, delayed the launch of the book. 
 
What explains your interest in mythology? How did you start off with the trilogy in the first place?
I was fortunate enough to be born into a very religious family. My grandfather was a priest and both my parents are very religious. So I guess that’s where much of my interest and knowledge on this subject comes from.
 
Tell us about your writing schedules. When and where do you write?
I am a morning person, so I write in the mornings. It’s important that I hear music while writing; music which has to match the mood of the scene I am writing. Besides this condition, I can pretty much write anywhere. I have written the third book in various places, in a café in Singapore, in a temple in Benaras and at my home in Mumbai.
 
Can you share with us one of the most memorable moments you had while writing this book? 
The most memorable moment for me was when I got the ‘Har Har Mahadev’ speech (In the first book, The Immortals Of Meluha). I remember clearly; I was having a shower, when suddenly, the speech occurred to me. I started crying, rushed out and wrote the speech down. And then as I usually do with important scenes, I went to my wife and told her the speech. Her expression confirmed to me that the speech was working.
 
Tell us about the kind of books or vedic texts you had to access learn more about Indian mythology…
I learnt most of our Vedas, Upanishads and Puranas the old fashioned way — through shruti, through listening. I learnt all of this while growing up, listening to my grandfather and my parents. Maybe that’s why they are embedded in my brain. But of course, I read a lot as well. It’s good to read different interpretations; it expands your understanding of the core text. 
 
What’s your energy drink?
In the morning, I like a glass of milk. I don’t drink as much alcohol now as I used to in my younger years; but when I do, I like red wine.
 
What according to you makes a book a good read and/or a bestseller? 
It’s a mystery. I always believe that you shouldn’t set out to write a bestseller. You should write a book that flows from your heart. Let fate decide whether it’s going to be a bestseller or not.
 


The Oath Of The Vayuputras
The Oath Of The Vayuputras
By Amish Tripathi  
Westland Publications 
Pages: 600
Price: Rs 350
What's the hardest thing about being a writer?
Making money is the hardest part. Regrettably, writing is not that lucrative a profession, though a few are lucky enough to make a living from it. That’s why I always suggest that it’s good for a writer to have a job on the side — it ensures that he won’t have to compromise on his writing just so as to pay his bills.
 
So, what next?
I haven’t decided on the topic of my next book series. But it will certainly be in the space of mythology/history.
 
Tell us about the books you read in 2012…
Of the books I have read in 2012, one of the best ones was India, A Sacred Geography by Diana Eck, a professor of Comparative Religion and Indian Studies at Harvard University. Eck is an American; but her understanding of India is so deep, that I genuinely believe she must have been an Indian in her previous birth. She understands India better than many Indians do. The book can be slightly serious for those not inclined to the subject. But it's a very good book. 
 
I also liked Breakout Nations by Ruchir Sharma. What I liked about the book is the sheer width of its coverage. Sharma has covered many nations in it, and obviously, considering the broad width of analysis, he hasn't analysed each country in nauseating detail. But it gives you a broad idea of what's happening in each country’s economy, which can give you a guideline to analyse further. 
 
Em And The Big Hoom by Jerry Pinto is the another book I liked - it's a rather sad story about four people: a Mother, Father, Son and Daughter. And it's told from the son's perspective. The mother suffers from a mental illness and the book chronicles the challenges the family faces and how they handle it. Despite the extremely sad subject, it doesn’t get melodramatic. I particularly like the character of the father, a solid, old-world man. Pinto says this interesting line in the book when describing the father: "They don't make men like this anymore; men who are built for endurance, not for speed.” I believe the book is semi autobiographical.
 
Tell us about the kind of authors you like to read?
I read books by all kinds of authors, though I prefer non-fiction over fiction. I give every book a chance. I browse a lot, I read a lot, I buy a lot of books which are thankfully tax-deductible now due to my profession. I give every book about 40 pages of my attention. If I don't like it, then I don't read any further. But if it catches my fancy, I complete it. I don't work with any biases. I like to read opinionated books; where the book starts with a hypothesis and the rest of the book goes on to justify and support that hypothesis. I find that one tends to learn from such books. I like books with a purpose, with an agenda. Maybe that’s why I prefer non-fiction books. 
 
Do you think publishing industry will see more of Mommy Porn?
It’s difficult for me to hazard a guess on that. I haven't read the Fifty Shades series. I may not pick it up. However, I think it's wrong for anyone to judge what others are reading. India is a free country. Everyone has the right to read what they want. Let people decide what they want to read. 
 
Your view on content in books for children…
In India, books for children are at two extremes. Either we have historical/ mythological content or imported content. What we also need is modern Indian content. For instance, if you buy a book on foods for your toddler, you will see scones in it. It doesn't have idlis or paav bhaji. Abhi, India mein scones kaun khata hai, bhai? Adults may not know about scones and hence will not be able explain it to their child. These are not part of our daily diet. So, I would hope to see some localised content which is modern and Indian. Interestingly, my wife has the same view and has actually started a children’s book publishing company called funOKplease with this very philosophy.
 
These days we see several authors talking about their book via social media. How important is the role of an author in promoting the book?
An author should never forget what the core is about. The core of his existence as an author is the book and being true to it. So an author must write the book with his heart completely in it. But you cannot say that marketing does not matter. And that attitude, which I see persisting in some parts of publishing, is childish. I am a voracious reader and I can give you long list of books that should have been massive bestsellers. But very few people have read those books; simply because they haven’t heard of them. Authors will have to focus on marketing and cannot delegate it to the publisher. You cannot hand over your baby to someone else. 
 
Note: The interview was conducted before the launch of The Oath Of Vayuputras on 28 February 2013
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