In the second series of getting to know an author we have Ishaan Lalit. He is an outlier and dares to write what he loves to rather than following the trend. The Readers Cosmos loves this quality of his and therefore decided to get to know how did he finally realize his dream of being an author and a little sneak into his current science fiction book "The Hexagon".
Q. When did you begin writing?
A: I can’t tell you when I actually began writing because I don’t remember a particular age. My earliest memory of writing was when I was sitting on a chair when even my feet didn’t touch the floor typing on one of my grandmother’s Remington typewriter.
Q. What is your motivation behind the same?
A: For a long while I didn’t get any motivation hence I didn’t look at it as a viable stream for me. I remember showing one of my works to my mom and she wasn’t really impressed (laughs). I guess I really did suck back then, but 4 years back I sent a concept called Horsemen to my brother from Philippines and he called me and asked me why don’t you write a book or something? Then when I started writing my wife saw the happiness it brought to me and she insisted that I take it very seriously.
Q. Tell us a little bit about your recent book?
A: My recent book is called Hexagon. It is a Sci-Fi in which Rahul and Ria, the main protagonist are art thieves who somehow get involved in a trans dimensional war brewing between humans and mysterious mad superhuman creatures called Moths.
Q. Why did you think of writing a science fiction story?
A: I love Science Fiction. I know it is not a commercially viable medium but something about this genre revs me up. I want to continuously push myself and imagine more. It is fun and I really enjoy writing it.
Q. Tell us a little bit about your book Hexagon?
A: Hexagon, as the name suggest is a six sided device which can transport you six dimensions of Earth. One of them is the world we live in. But as soon as we even come to activating it we realize that there is a very dangerous war brewing on the other side which the human’s are losing and we are next. There is only one man who could save us which is Rahul. The only problem is that he is an art thief who not only has a problem with authority but also is a adrenaline junkie who has a hard time taking anything seriously.
Q. What triggered your imagination to write this story? How did you imagine the concept, the characters, etc?
A: To be completely honest I was reading about our Hindu mythology and the idea of lokas and I thought why we Indians don’t use it somewhere. To completely imagine the concept didn’t happen like in a fortnight, it was more like adding layer after layer. It took a long time to do that and then when I was finished I started thinking about characters and I knew I had to put an unpredictable character in the middle of this unpredictable situation (Rahul) and then his calm base (Ria). Then the other guys who you can call the sidekicks and then the bad guys. And then the allies and after 4 months I was ready to write the first 6 chapters.
Q. Science Fiction by an Indian Author is not much heard about before. What was the journey/struggle like to publish one?
A: How I cannot stress how hard it was to get this book published. I would call send it to publishers and they would completely disregard it. I called up an agent who asked me point blank “Are you crazy?” In the end, after 4 months Mahaveer Publishers wrote a mail with one line saying ‘Yeah Ishaan we will publish your book.’
Q. Is there anything you find particularly challenging in your writing?
A: What is extremely challenging for me is to explain what the scene feels like. Like a fight sequence where everybody is chanting and banging their feet on the floor. I feel the reader should smell the sweat of the fighters along with the odor of the arena but to put it in words is hard when you are trying to tell a story without getting sidetracked.
Q. How has it been received by the readers in India and abroad?
A: Hexagon has been received pretty well. It has recently won an award for the Best Science Fiction 2012 at Indian Literary Awards in Delhi and has got great reviews from a lot of places. I don’t think Mahaveer Publishers promotes its books abroad but I have a few fans from Europe who have bought the book online and have loved it. They were the first ones to urge me to write the second part.
Q. What is the best part about being an author in your opinion?
A: Your life revolves around telling stories and imagining stuff. How cool is that?
Q. Did you ever get “The Writers Block” ? How did you overcome it?
A: I did and there was a time I was disgusted by it. You just have to give yourself time and try to write. I know there are times when you going through a writer’s block and you read what you written, which is two lines and you know instantly that this is shit but you have to keep writing. That is the only way you can get out of it.
Q. Who are your favorite authors and what is it that really strikes you about their work?
Arthur C. Clarke, Isaac Asimov, Stephen King, John Mann and Richard Bach are just a few of my favorites. I love Isaac Asimov’s and Arthur C. Clarke’s imagination, I love Stephen King’s intensity, I am in awe with Richard Bach’s writing because it is full of hope and positivity even at the darkest times and John Mann, the man is a genius. He can take your most mundane nonfiction history and tell a story which just encapsulates you and take you to the time when Genghis Khan was alive or when our written words were being first written.
Q. What books have most influenced your life most?
A: Jonathan Livingston Seagull by Richard Bach and Blood Brothers by Dean R. Koontz. They both taught me a lot about myself.
Q. What are you reading currently?
A: I am just beginning to read Assassin’s Creed - Forsaken by Oliver Bowden.
Q. Broadly what are your next projects?
A: My next book is called Dinner Date, it is comedy and as already been picked up by Author’s Empire Publications. It is all set to release in March if nothing goes wrong. I am also working on a spy thriller next and then there will be a sequel to Hexagon called Icarus.
Q. What is your opinion about writing as a career?
A: I take my writing seriously but I can tell you that although the industry is growing but it is very hard to make a living out of it right now. You need to be patient and let things take a turn for the good. It will but you just have to wait.
Q. What do you think about the current trend of writing in India? Is the current lineage of Indian authors ready for an international audience/market?
A: I don’t want to sound brutal but Indian authors need to change their stories if they want to be globally accepted. 13 out of 15 books are semi fiction campus romances full of masala. Internationally you can’t expect them to work. And there are some authors who do get read internationally and win awards, who are just writing about India as a poverty ridden state with patriarchal system but are there aren’t many takers for that either. We need to change our ideology and write books like Dan Brown or J. K. Rowling if we want to have a global impact.
Q. Any advice for budding writers?
A: Yeah don’t stick to just one concept and write what your publisher wants you to write. Write what you want to and you’ll see the response you get when you write from the heart.
A: Read my next book, Dinner Date. A lot of people said that I can’t do a story in the real world with real life characters. I did it and I made it funny(winks). I am sure you guys will enjoy it. It is a laugh a minute kind of a book with a pretty good story and for those who are waiting for the sequel of Hexagon, please be patient. It is very hard to write such a story with so many angles. I promise you that it will be darker and deeper.
A Review Of Hexagon by The Readers Cosmos: http://thereaderscosmos.blogspot.com/2012/11/hexagon-by-ishaan-lalit.html