07 January, 2015

#Interview with Prasun Choudhary, #Author of How Did it Go?

About the Author:
Currently working with a bank in New York, Prasun Choudhary is an alumnus of IIT Kharagpur, who spent a considerable amount of time as a consultant before switching over to Banking. Described by his friends and batch mates as a passionate person, who instils confidence in everyone he meets, the author is particularly fond of visiting new places and running marathons; he considers running to be the most liberating and satisfying of experiences.
The author's active involvement, in all sorts of student activities during his IIT days, has given him detailed insights into the lives and characteristics of the different types of students he came across during the years he spent at university, which he has put to good use in his first work of fiction, 'How Did It Go?'

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Interview With the Author:

When did you first realize that you wanted to be a writer/ a storyteller?
I first thought of writing around 5-6 years back. Whenever our group of college friends met we always discussed about the college stories and it was then that I decided to pen down all the stories. My second strong impetus came when a lot of people appreciated my blogs/writings on long distance running. A lot of them asked me to take writing seriously. I guess that was the motivation I needed. 

What inspires you to write?
The impact it has on the readers. I wrote a long email (my thoughts) after running an ultramarathon. That email was circulated multiple times among many people. I got thousand emails from people who liked my writing and a lot of them actually took to running after reading that email. I realized the power of writing.

How did you come up with the idea for your current story?
This idea had been with me for a long time. I believe that our undergraduate / college life plays a very vital role in shaping our personality / character. The poignant moments, the failures, the success, the embarrassments all these shape us for bigger challenges in life. This is where I got the idea for my story.

Is there some stories tucked away in some drawer that was written before and never saw the light of the day?
Yes.  There are some stories. These stories are about the confusions of a person from a conservative society when he is exposed to the life of modern Indian societies in metro cities. 

Tell us about your writing process.
My writing process followed the following sequence:
- Story collection: For two years I just kept on collecting stories. Always carried a notebook and a pen with me. After 2 years I had a notebook filled with stories about college life.
- Finalization of characters: It took some time for me to finalize the characters around which the story could be weaved. 
- Actual writing: It took around 2 years for me to finally write the book, weaving the stories around the few fictional characters.

What is your favorite scene in the book? Why?
My favorite scene is the Gymkhana. Working for the college fest was a big learning for all of us. The place where we were awake for the entire night finalizing the performers and the teams. This scene will always be close to my heart. 

Did any of your characters inherit some of your own quirks?
Yes. “Percy” did inherit some of my traits.

What is your most interesting writing quirk?
Nothing as such. It was a very hard work for me. Writing for the first time it really needed a lot of patience and self-assurance that it can be turned into a novel.

What is your usual writing routine?
I never had a routine and hence it took a long time for me to complete the book as I lacked discipline. But the story always remained in my subconscious mind. So the moment I remembered some story / event I started writing. Then there would be days when I totally stopped. Then suddenly one weekend I would wake up and continued writing for 2-3 days. I guess for me it depended a lot on my mood. 

Do you read? Who are your favourite authors and how have they influenced your writing style?
Yes I do read a lot. Lately I have not been reading as I got too busy with my own writing. I don’t have any favorite authors. I read diverse topics – spirituality, autobiographies, romantic novels and others. None of the authors have shaped my writing. My first book is very simple and original. 

What is the best piece of advice you have received, as a writer, till date?
My writing is very original and stories are real life which anyone can co-relate. 

What is the best piece of advice you would give to someone that wants to get into writing?
Follow your heart. Don’t give up. It’s tough to write 200-250 pages but once you write, it gives you a lot of personal satisfaction. Don’t write for someone else. Don’t keep a time line but enjoy the process, and let it flow.

What would be the Dream Cast for you book if it was to be turned into a movie?
Sharman Joshi, Shreyas Talpade, Purab Kohli, Rajkumar Rao and Sushant Singh Rajput

If you were to be stranded on the famous deserted island, what three things would you carry?
My running shoes, one laptop to write my thoughts (with unlimited battery) and a good bed to rest. 

How do you spend your free time? Do you have a favorite place to go and unwind?
I don’t have a favorite place but there are few things which I do in my free time: 
- I go for long runs. Running is my favorite pass time/hobby. It’s the best way to unwind/de-stress.
- Have a good meal with just few good friends (I don’t like to go for parties). 
- I do enjoy going to a sunny beach. 

Can you share with us something off your bucket list?
Some things on my bucket list:
- I want to run a marathon in all the continents of the world, marathon in the snow, marathon in the desert and marathon on the hills.
- Keep writing. Publish many more novels.
- Travel around the world (not bag packs / not hectic travels but easy and leisure travel).

Tell us three fun facts about yourself.
I am not a funny person. That’s my shortcoming, I need to learn the art of humor. 

What do you have in store next for your readers?
I want to write on the Indian youth and its conflicts in relationships. 

Is there anything else you’d like to share with your readers?
My first book “How did it go?” is a very novice/honest attempt at writing a novel. Don’t read it as a literary treasure but as a fun book. It highlights the learnings which we can take from everyday life/activities.

Percy and his friends are just like other university students – trying hard to toe line between having the time of their lives and keeping up with their academics. When the constant pressures of competition start to get to them, they figure that they’d rather be having fun instead. And that’s when everything starts to fall apart! Will they be able to find their way back again? Or will it be too late?

‘How Did It Go?’ is an account of how an average student goes about navigating the intensely competitive waters of IIT, but its messages are universal. The constant fight to stay afloat, the loss of hope and your drive to succeed, the internal politics – it can all be a bit much for one person to take on. If you think getting in was difficult, think again! But, as Percy rightly puts it, nothing is too intimidating as long as you find where you belong, pick up a few life lessons and good friends along the way, and just have fun doing it all!

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