23 August, 2014

#GuestPost :: How to write a Novel by #Author Vaibhav Anand

The novel is set in the backdrop of a premier Business School campus (FMS, Delhi) in the years 2007 through 2009, when the worst recession of our lifetimes hit the world. It is inspired by a true story.

The story is told through the eyes of Hari Parmeshwar - a simple & romantic person, madly in love with Meenakshi. Hari is an IT engineer with 4 years of work experience, who dreams of being a writer. The story begins with Hari cracking the FMS MBA interview which is supposed to be his ticket to the big leagues. Little does he realize that God has other plans.

At FMS, he meets & befriends Matar- a surd who becomes his best friend, Scooby-a self proclaimed ladies’ man and Bastard- a mysterious genius. Their friendship deepens over drunken parties/ nights on town, copied assignments, Scooby’s everlasting attempts at getting laid, presentations in which they end up making public fools of themselves, run-ins with the law, intra class rivalries & tiffs, society applications, intense pre-exam mugging & summer placements. The story of Hari’s first year moves forward peppered by Hari’s narrative wit and piquant banter between these four friends.

The second year takes a dark turn as recession hits and all high paying jobs become a distant dream. The authors, through Hari, take the reader through a fictional recession MBA journey in an incredibly candid fashion as they delve into the inside story of what happened at top Business schools, when recession hit.

What sets this book apart, besides its zany & spicy characters, is that it is a bare-naked brutally honest look at not only the recent recession, its pains & its pangs and the force with which it hit premier B-Schools but also life/ culture/ scandals at B-schools. The tone of the book is sarcastic & witty, and it ends up making several startling & unknown revelations about several premier B-Schools besides FMS.

In a nutshell, it spares no one.

How to write a novel 

This story begins towards the end of my summer internship at Citi, when completely bored by my miserable & pointless B-School existence, I decided to write a novel. I had already quit the FMS Student Body and knew that I would be having a lot of free time in my hands come second year.

The story began with a Facebook update I had read that had set the novel’s story in my mind. Though I don’t remember it word for word, the Update went something like “I have come here and lost everything… I wish I had never left my job to join XXXX.” (Abridged)

Though this guy didn’t belong to FMS, Delhi and I choose not to reveal his identity, it set off this spark in my head. Here was a story –  the story of the average recession impacted Premier League B-School guy- a story I had seen unfold before my very eyes, in one hue at least, at FMS. So I sat down one day (the first of many spent in my favourite slightly stuffy drawing room –  where most of this book was written later on my Dell laptop) and noted down the broad plot outlines after one marathon session of contemplation.

And then I was off. I started gnawing off at the story one excel row at a time (I started out with 16 chapters with various plot points in an Excel file). Often through impulsive “Flashes of Genius/ Stupidity” I would end up adding more to the plot or usually contorting the plot more than the Chapters Excel had foreseen, creating fresh problems for myself. In the end, though the story is broadly what I had started off with on that long stuffy marathon night, much of it is very very different; several of the characters have turned out very differently than I had started off with. I can only imagine that’s because I have grown with the characters and seen them more closely than anyone ever will.

The story became complicated as my final placements began to approach and the pressure meant that I could not focus on writing anymore. Luckily, with ten days to go to placements, Citi finally gave me a PPO and I could go back to writing again.

Since several months had been wasted due to the placements preparation stupidity, I was way off the timeline for finishing the novel. But I set about writing with a mad zeal, cutting college (already had much more than the required 75% attendance in second year) and socializing. I locked myself up in the stuffy writing room (not literally) and finished the book in three weeks flat.

By the time I was done, I realized that most authors begin with publisher contacts or begin sending synopsis, etc. to publishers when they are anywhere from 20 to 80% done. And here I was – with the novel 100% complete – read, reviewed, attested by some of my close friends and family.

So I began googling, as MBAs are trained to do whenever faced with a problem. Soon, I landed up with email ids of a few publishers. Also, found out that most publishers didn’t have listed phone numbers. There were just that many manuscripts coming in.

After I had gotten hold of the email ids, I sent our synopsis first to two publishers which were first preferences (in order): Srishti and Rupa. Though most of you would perhaps know Rupa better, because of a certain other Citibanker (ex Citibanker) I might add, my research pointed me towards Srishti. And imagine my surprise, when Mr. Bose, the proprietor of Srishti, got back to me within 2 days.

Within 5 days, I had my first (of many) chats with Mr. Bose. He asked me to come meet him. I did. And the rest, as they say, is history.

PS: Rupa got back to me a month later, saying they were “interested” in the book, basis the synopsis.

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