Anurag Anand is a prolific author, a corporate professional and a devout family man, who finds himself shuttling between Pennsylvania, where his family is settled, and Gurugram. Two of his works—The Legend of Amrapali and The Quest forNothing—have made it to the final shortlist in the past editions of the Crossword Book Awards. His other books are Love on 3 Wheels, Where the Rainbow Ends, Birth of the Bastard Prince, Of Tattoos and Taboos! And Reality Bites.
He is a contributing author to several renowned publications, including The Times of India, and his column, ‘Corporate Whispers’, is a monthly feature in the Suburb Life magazine. The biggest reward for his writing, he believes, is hearing from his readers and interacting with them. You can reach Anurag with your comments and feedback on this book at contact @anuraganand.in
What is your motivation for writing more?
My motivation to write is the process of writing itself. Writing has always been a medium of creative expression for me, and I don’t need to consciously bring myself to do it. It just happens naturally. I like to pen down my emotions when I am feeling ecstatic, just as I end up writing when I am sad over something.
However, when it comes to writing full-length novels, it does require a fair bit of discipline. One needs to stay with the story for months at a stretch. If a work-in-progress manuscript is left idle for long, chances are that it might never see the light of day. This motivation – to complete a story once I have started working on it – comes from the need to provide my readers with something new and better each time. It is the affection of my readers that keeps me going.
Please tell us something more about your books?
My book pan across genres, from historical fiction to self-help and from love stories to thrillers. In fact, I have often been accused of not carving a niche for my writing and experimenting with one too many genres instead. But then, that’s the way I like it.
I have a regular day-job and I approach writing for what it is – my passion. This distinction allows me to express myself without commercial or other restraints, and I write what I feel like writing at any given point. However, I do believe that a story, irrespective of the genre, needs to have a message at its core. This is what I call the soul of the story. And it is my constant endeavor to write stories with such a soul.
For instance, To Hell and Back, my latest, albeit a crime thriller, aims to break the false sense of security that we tend to live with. It forces us to think about the evils that plague our world and how we need to be on our toes at all times.
Out of all the books you’ve written, do you have a favorite?
One favorite would be tough to choose, but I do have a few favorites. To Hell and Back, because it is the freshest story on my mind, and the fact that it is garnering rave reviews from all reader segments. And my duology about the yesteryear courtesan, Amrapali – The Legend of Amrapali and Birth of the Bastard Prince. This is mainly because of the amount of research and effort that went behind shaping the story. Some media outlets have accused these books of giving a second birth to the legendary danseuse, and I humbly plead guilty.
You are given two choices in life you can either live in a solitude place where you can write or you can live with everything but should not write. What will you choose?
That’s a tough one! I would have loved to say that I dream of living in solitude where I can write to my heart’s content, but that would be far from the truth. I am actually quite a social person, and while solitude works for me while I am writing, it certainly isn’t a state that I could permanently surrender myself to. Hence, I would possibly choose the second option and hope that I am still able to get some writing done when no one is looking.
What does your writing/reading space look like?
As much as I would like to do my reading in a specified space, this continues to remain a long shot for now. From airport lounges to hotel rooms and from my bed to the bathroom, I often find myself reading in the strangest of surroundings. The scene isn’t particularly different when it comes to my writing either. However, please allow me to share a picture that will give you a glimpse of the setting I would ideally like to do my reading and writing in.
What are your top three favorite books of all time?
Atlas Shrugged – Ayn Rand
The Devotion of Suspect X – Keigo Higashino
The Grapes of Wrath – John Steinbeck
A word of caution here though – don’t be surprised if you find a different list of favorites in the other interviews of mine that you come across. The world of literature is so rich and fascinating that it is utterly impossible to have a list of favorites that one can stick with for long.
Do you aim to complete a set number of pages or words each day?
Discipline, I believe, is core to the vocation of writing. So, while my job and other commitments prohibit me from committing to a daily regimen, I do set mental goals about the number of words or chapters that I need to complete within a week or a fortnight. This just helps me ensure that I don’t leave the story unattended for long.
Besides writing, what else do you do in your free time?
As I mentioned earlier, I am an outgoing person who likes to spend time meeting old friends and making new ones. This takes away a large chunk of my free time. Then there are family outings, movies, cricket and other sports fixtures on TV – not necessarily in the same order of preference – that are all too happy to stake claim to any free time they can spot. I firmly believe that life is too short for all the amazing things it has to offer, and I try and make the most of it by keeping my plate brimming at all times.
Have you ever incorporated something that happened to you in real life into your novels?
I too, like most authors I know, draw inspiration from happenings that I have experienced or witnessed in my life. So, yes, you will find that my stories (the contemporary ones at least) will have a flavor or two from my own life.
Do you enjoy discussing upcoming ideas with your partner? If yes, how much do you value their inputs?
Yes, I do! In fact, narrating the plot of a manuscript that I intend to start working on to my wife is an integral part of my writing process. Being a voracious reader herself, she helps me with the all-too-crucial outside-in view of the story and characters. However, there are times when I accuse her of being excessively critical of my writing. Just as she sometimes charges me of not paying adequate heed to her feedback. But then, this is just another cherished aspect of our journey together, and neither of us would have it any other way.
Over the years, what would you say has improved significantly in your writing?
With passing years our understanding of people and of life in general tends to evolve, and I believe that this should be visible in my writing as well. However, I try not compare my works with one another. Each one of them has been written under very different circumstances and with disparate objectives. Hence, it might not be prudent to look for a linear thread of improvement or progression that binds them together.
Did you ever think you would be unable to finish your first book Pillars of Success?
When I was writing Pillars of Success, I never thought that it would take the form of a book one day. I was simply penning down my thoughts with the sole purpose of expressing myself, and thus, the question of finishing the ‘book’ never arose. This, I would say, was a blessing in disguise. I could work on the book without haste, diving as deep into the explanations as I wished to, which was perhaps why the manuscript turned out the way it did. The book was commissioned by the first and only publisher I ever shared the manuscript of Pillars of Success with.
Now when you look back at your past, do you feel accomplished?
Yes, I have had a happy and content life thus far, and that would be my biggest accomplishment.
When can the readers expect your next book in print?
Very soon, actually! I am itching to share more about it, but at this point I am only allowed to say that it’s going to be a very different thriller from any that you might have read.
A message for aspiring writers?
Call yourself an aspiring writer only when your true aspiration is writing! If it is money or fame that you are gunning for, then writing is nothing but a medium.
I would like you to share something about yourself with the readers. Something that does not go in the about the author section something that is the real you?
The real me is a very normal human being. I feel happy when people have good things to say about my writing, and I feel sad when I believe I have let them down. I look forward to hearing from those who have read my books, and engaging with them one a one-to-one basis. So, if you do want to get to know the ‘real me’, please do reach out and I will try not to disappoint you.
It was really a privilege interviewing you. Hope you enjoyed the interview. Thank You
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