31 December, 2017

#Interview with Rajeev Saxena, #Author of Pinto Has An Idea

About the Book:
Rajeev Saxena did his Bachelor of Technology from IIT Kanpur in 1994. He currently lives in Dallas, USA. His career in information technology with a large international company has provided him with opportunities to visit a multitude of cultures and countries.
Saxena's early days were spent in a small town in the Aligarh District of Uttar Pradesh, after which he moved between several villages, big towns, and districts in India, all of which he called home. His travels reinforced his growing belief that many people everywhere struggle daily to meet basic needs that others take for granted. 
He eventually found his way to the metropolises in India, and then around the world with several IT companies. Places such as Barbados in in the Caribbean, Johannesburg in South Africa, Mexico City in Mexico and Nassau in Bahamas reminded him the most of the country he grew up in. 
From the days of living on farms in his grandparents' village, he has been in touch with his roots throughout his life. Charity and voluntary work is also his passion. He loves providing free entertainment to his kids by singing old Hindi songs on karaoke. His wife loves that too, not because she particularly likes his voice, but because it makes their children laugh.

An Interview with an Author:

When did you first realize that you wanted to be a writer/ a storyteller?
When I was 8, my father gave me a translation assignment. It was part of our English coursework to translate simple Hindi sentences to English. One day, I was bored of translating sentences, so I created a story out of those unrelated sentences. My father was extremely impressed and bragged about it to his friends, that singular move served as an encouragement and lead to me writing a few more stories which circulated within our family friends circle but nothing more. You know there was no Facebook back then so my writing journey pretty much ended. Writing became a thing of the past for me. When I turned 12, I saw a couple of letters to editors in a newspaper and those letters spark a feeling, a motivation to pick up my pen one more time and publish in the newspaper. That marked the beginning of what I hoped would be a long and eventful chapter in my life but I had to pause for a while again due to school and competitive exams then began writing when I was in college though not seriously. And that fire lead to this book though it took a while but am glad am finally where I am today.

What inspires you to write?
Speaking to people is one thing I love to do. I want people to know my ideas, thought and stories. I would say my biggest inspiration comes from my readers. it gives me great pleasure that so many people are going to care about what I’ve written. The only problem I find with this medium is that it’s mostly a one way communication. Social media is helping a little where an author gets a chance to interact with its readers.
Another inspiration comes from the ability to give life and shape to my imaginations as there’s no limit to creativity, the sky is the limit when it comes to creativity.
Someone once asked an actor what job satisfaction he gets by acting in movies. His reply was awesome he said it doesn’t come from the fanfare or the stardom…His answer was that he gets a chance to live all kind of lives in his one lifetime. One day he is a teacher, the next day a businessman or a musician or a truck driver. Which other profession could give you that feeling.
To some extent the same is true with writing. You can give shape to your characters. You can make them think the way you like or sometimes people would like. Overall you have full control over your thought processes and imaginations which is a big motivation for writing.

How did you come up with the idea for your current story?
I’m an excellent observer and a keen critique. Sometimes it’s really bad when I’m critical towards my boss or my wife. But most times it gives me food for thought. While reading and interacting with people across the globe, especially the Indian community around the world, I found that there is a flood of books by Indian authors about Engineering or Medical colleges, then there’s the love story, some sensation and thrill. There is nothing wrong in it. In fact I also enjoy these books sometimes. 
But as an author, I wanted to do something different.  Have you observed that now a days Bollywood has taken inspiration from the western world which lead to the creation of movies such as Toilet..Ek Prem Katha etc. Though not exactly the same thing but I wanted to create entertainment as well as give positive message to the society. Dr. Sandeep Pandey has given me a very encouraging endorsement, ‘Looks like the author is going to be a trendsetter...’ and frankly speaking that’s been my idea… to create a new trend, a new genre in Indian fiction. My readers and fans alone can say if I’m successful or not. 
It’s a story about a scientist who tries to solve our day to day problems using technology. He has been an innovative person from childhood but has been discouraged to become a scientist. Later on when given a chance how he brings positive changes to the society, is interesting. And while doing so, his family life is impacted, which is highly emotional and sometimes humorous. The book also highlights the struggle of a divorced lady Lavanya who eventually becomes Pinto’s wife and tries her best to bring balance in his family life with her celebrity husband. For more on this plot just pick a copy.

Are there some stories tucked away in some drawer that was written before and never saw the light of the day?
As I said I didn’t write much. Other than the stories I wrote as an eight year old, everything whether it was a letter to the editor or a small article, was published. At the same time, I kept noting down my thoughts. There are some ideas and thought I forgot to pen down and later regretted my action. I can write several books based on those thoughts. So please wait and watch. I’m pretty confident that with my readers’ blessings, I’ll continue to make them thrilled with my new books. 

Tell us about your writing process.
It’s very simple and not much different from any other author. As this is my first book I faced some challenges and even had to dump a six months’ long work as I didn’t like it. I prepared my thoughts, ideas and events. After that I built the plot and took my time in doing so before I began writing. It took almost one year to complete, not being a fulltime author, I wrote mostly during weekends. After that it took another year to keep on improving the manuscript. Now I am well versed with the process so I can write a book much quicker. I feel it depends on the topic. Sometimes you’d just think about the plot first and then bring ideas and events into it. There is no ideal way. It’s just the way you are comfortable with. See that’s the thing I like about writing. You have full control over it. 

What is your favorite scene in the book? Why?
It’s very difficult to talk about just one scene. There is a funny one about ragging. My team has dramatized it in this video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cQr6YmlloT4  Please keep in mind that I personally do not support ragging in colleges. It’s in the book to show the reality.
For so many years, our politicians have fooled the poor so badly that they are not able to understand the difference between what’s good or bad for them. Pinto innovates several things for the poor and he does a lot of social work for them. But when a small time politician manipulates the community of maid servants, they turned against him. That showed the cruel fact about our society today where the dirty politicians can manipulate his biggest supporters “the maid servants” to turn against him protesting in front of his house. I’ll just let you read the book to find more about the scene. 

Did any of your characters inherit some of your own quirks?
As a first time author, it’s a natural thing that a little bit of you is mixed into your characters. I’ve used some of the places and locations which were part of my life but I’ve tried to fictionalize all the characters almost 100%. I believe I’ve been extremely successful in that. As I mentioned earlier that I am a good observer. The only part I can think of is with Pinto’s personality though Pinto is an extremely intelligent person and I’m not.
So in a nutshell, the book is a complete work of fiction.

What is your most interesting writing quirk?
If a thought comes to my mind, I’ll stop my car at the nearest parking lot, note down on my phone and then use it later for my book. There are other ways e.g. you can record your thought while driving and then use software to convert into text. Though I love technology in general, in this case I just like to follow the traditional approach. The only difference is that instead of pen and paper I use my mobile phone.

Do you read? Who are your favorite authors and how have they influenced your writing style?
I used to read till 12th standard but due to time constraints my reading of fictions kind of went down. I mostly read newspapers… at least 5/6 newspapers every day, not thoroughly but I cannot survive without at least going through the headlines.
My two favorite authors are Premchand and Shakespeare…primarily because of the fact that they were part of my coursework. Though I’m not a versed reader, I can say with a great confidence that Premchand’s ability to create the plot and then describing the reality is the best in the world. It definitely has influenced my writing.
In the last five years, I’ve read Chetan Bhagat and Danielle Steel as well though a little.
When you sing a song, the best thing is to use your own style rather than copying someone. I’m a firm believer of that. So my style is very unique. You’d realize it in my book. 

What is the best piece of advice you have received, as a writer, till date?
When I was frustrated with the process of finding a publisher for my book, one of my best friends told me not to give up. He worked hard to create a report for me and proved to me why it is important to publish your book through a reputed publisher and what I’d lose if I go for self-publishing. I’m so thankful to that friend. 
Again there’s nothing wrong in self-publishing. It could be a matter of personal choice as well but in my case his advice was to the point and worked really well.

What is the best piece of advice you would give to someone that wants to get into writing?
I think I’m not there yet as giving advice requires experience and I believe am still a work in progress. Though I’m getting really excellent response for my book keeping in mind that it was released just a week ago, I’ve yet to see the real success. All I can say is no matter what you write, spend a lot of time in creating a good plot. Sometimes you’d feel that you are not getting any tangible results by doing so but that’s not right. Treat that as the heart of your book. The body does not have any meaning without the heart. 

What would be the Dream Cast for you book if it was to be turned into a movie?
Wow! Such a thrilling and exciting question. I think Amitabh Bachchan, Amir Khan, Sridevi and Deepika Padukone. And of course comic character such as Rajpal Yadav would be absolutely necessary. It’d really be a dream coming true.

If you were to be stranded on the famous deserted island, what three things would you carry?
I’m not that adventurous so I think that’ll never happen to me. Still if you have a magic wand and you put me in that situation, I’d like to carry things which I need for my survival in modern days. The first one is internet and phone so I’ll carry a satellite phone to be in touch with the rest of the world and especially with my readers. The second one would be a laptop. Who knows what kind of thoughts come to your mind in that situation and you want to write them immediately. Ultimately I am going to use them for my next book. And the last but not the least a family picture as that’ll give me moral support. Now one would ask what about food and water. Well! You just said it’s a famous island. Don’t you think that help will be on my way if I call my folks over the satellite phone or just post it on social media?

How do you spend your free time? Do you have a favorite place to go and unwind?
I’m generally a boring person. Most of the time I’d be found reading newspapers on the internet or singing old Bollywood songs on my karaoke system for my kids. As far as places go, I’ve two on my list, going to my hometown Orai to meet my childhood friends. Secondly,  I love going to Paris and hanging out around the Eiffel Tower area and various markets there.

Can you share with us something off your bucket list?
I am afraid of heights but want to do sky diving once. I know it’s not going to happen very soon. I also want to go on a road trip around the entire world. I think it’ll never happen. Also would love to do some long term work in slum areas in India, maybe I’ll get a chance to do it after retirement.

Tell us three fun facts about yourself.
- I have passion for charity work. With the help of a few friends, I ran a charity organization in India.
- My first stage performance was in my college fresher’s night to sing a duet song. Before that I never performed on a stage.
- I love cooking, maybe I’ll create a video about that one day.

What do you have in store next for your readers?
It’ll be too early to announce anything. All I can say is I’ve already started working on my next book. It’s going to be very different than Pinto Has An Idea. In future, I’m going to write a sequel of Pinto Has An Idea as well.

About the Book:
Young Pinto has from his childhood been an out-of-the box thinker, finding solutions in his everyday surroundings to a myriad ancient global problems. A certain machine he invents in his childhood makes him a hero in his village but it's not sufficient to change the mindset of naysayers for Pinto to pursue his career in hardcore science.
Pinto has an Idea is the tale of Dr Pinto, a small-town boy, an IITian and a scientist working in MIT, who suddenly experiences a life-changing revelation in the early days of his research, throwing away his work on theoretical physics and setting out to solve the practical everyday problems of the world he lives in.
Returning to his native India, he finds his noble quest beset by unexpected adversaries, obstacles and trials, but emerges triumphant from each battle.
Pinto does not like to appear a romantic person, and keeps women at bay. But when Lavanya returns to haunt his life, and eventually shoe-horns him into marriage, he obligingly falls in love. Because Lavanya is not just a pretty face, she's his partner in research. And Pinto, a newbie in romance, discovers a whole new craze. 
But life takes directions never aimed for. Pinto is on the road to becoming rich and famous. He invents a mechanism to eradicate corruption in the land, and in that process moves towards politics. That impinges on the couple's relationship so severely that Lavanya disappears suddenly without telling Pinto. Why does she leave their child with Pinto? Will he lose his greatest 'idea', Lavanya, and thereby, himself? Sure, Pinto's ideas bring dramatic changes to society. But how much romance can a scientist handle as well?

Praise for the book

A strong plot with full of emotions, love, pragmatism and very important humor. The author has touched a genre which doesn't exist in the traditional publishing in India. It's a must read... shouldn't miss it.
– Boney Kapoor, Indian Movie Director & Producer

The moment I got the book, I could not resist finishing it in one go. You'll always be curious to know what Pinto is going to do next. I hope the author writes a series of it. Best of luck for your book.
– Sridevi, Film Actress & Producer

Looks like the author is going to be a trendsetter. It’s first time when I see a romantic fiction raising social issues in a highly entertaining and interesting fashion.
–Sandeep Pandey, Social Activist and Magsaysay Award Winner

Superb story.  It brings you back to college days and soon takes you to your professional journey. The humor is really awesome.
– Manu Agarwal, CEO Naaptol

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