I'd like to begin this interview by asking you what kind of books are there on your bookshelf? What books are you reading right now? Which genre of books do you generally read? Which books do you re-read again and again?
I have been a ‘book worm’ all my life. Just the fragrance of paper-new or the yellowed rusty one (doesn’t matter) - smells like perfume to my nostrils. I read everything I can lay my hands on, mostly fiction though. As a writer, romance is my usual genre but I also do lay hands on fantasy and crime fiction. I stopped counting the books in my house-earlier on I used to take a monthly stock, though I was the only ‘member’ of my ‘house library’- after the count reached an unimaginable amount. My bookshelf is too small to contain all the books in my house and we had to stuff cartons of books and stock them in the attic. A large chunk of them also went into the old cupboards at my other home.
Having so many books and so little time, as I usually multi-task, I don’t often get the time to read each book twice (though I’d love to) because the goal is to read all the books I can lay my hands on. And trust me one life doesn't suffice. I usually make a list of all the books I want to read in a month. It’s pretty much like a forecast, keeping in mind my schedule and health. Currently, I’m reading the second novel of one my favourite authors, Anuja Chauhan. It is titled ‘Battle for Bittora’ and it appears to be even better than her earlier work. Once this is done, I guess I will pick up ‘In Arabian nights’ by Tahir Shah and after that Steig Larsson’s second book in the millennium
2. Tell us something about your work before "Truly, Madly, Deeply"?
‘Truly, Madly, Deeply’ is my debut novel. I had to struggle a lot like most first time authors so that it could see the light of publication. Though I have had a decent fan following as a blogger, writing on branding and marketing from an analytical point of view but it was a completely different experience as a novelist. I have written articles for a couple of media houses but nothing more than that. I guess it all changes after your first novel and more so, if it’s a success.
3. Did you always want to be a writer? How did you get into writing? What inspired you to write "Truly, Madly, Deeply"?
I guess as kids we all conjure up dreams- I want to be this, I want to be that when I grow up. I seriously don’t remember whether I wanted to be an author (I remember acting, medicine and cricket in my list of career choices though) but I did start writing at the age of seven. It was a silly adventurous novel about six friends who somehow reach a forest full of cannibals and dangerous animals. I remember it was a novel and not a short-story as most people would expect, because I filled an entire diary scribbling about it. Next, there were a few more fantasy fiction type novels, stemming from watching too many movies and reading too much of young adult fiction. It was not until two years back, when I had taken a break from academics and had time on my hands, so I decided to enrol for a creative writing course. It opened a dormant side within me and I realised somewhere I always wanted to be a writer (not quite a full-time one though. You don’t make much of a living that way unless you end up writing about someone’s points and spending nights in call centres and then make three mistakes in a couple of states) as I found my romantic short-stories to be applauded by the other 30 odd students around me. And then, that was motivation enough to try my hands on a novel. Luckily, for me I had a readymade plot.
‘Truly, Madly, Deeply’ stems from a short-story I had written for a national-level story writing competition in 2003’. It surely had the potential as it won the fourth prize at that level. That time it was fully autobiographical, now of course it is a mixture of fact and fiction. All I had to do was expand the story, keeping the plot in mind. Of course, there were some major changes made. And I actually could notice, the difference in my writing (seven years is a lonnnnng time!) I guess it’s a healthy experience curve after all.
4. What kind of people do you think this book will reach out to?
Being a marketer, I define my target as Sec A to Sec E, age group 16-40, reading fiction, MHI> (doesn’t really matter). From a writer’s POV, I can say that the book will appeal to each and every one, who’s passed through the funny stage of ‘adolescence’ and experienced the high of first love. But yes, in general, the book tends to deal with the extremes as it handles a fragile topic at its base, of infatuation turning into an obsession. So, I do expect some criticism and people talking about how it is unrealistic in certain parts. But then no one can separate fact from fiction.
The ultimate trust is between the author and the reader and I’m sure the reader will be able to identify with parts of the story, a similar journey he or she may have experienced in some part of her life, similar decisions which could have backfired and then they would have had to embrace regret. And my thoughts are echoed by none other than Mr. Tuhin Sinha, best-selling author of ‘Of love and Politics’ and two other popular books. This is what he has to say about ‘Truly, Madly, Deeply’:
"A fascinating, roller-coaster tale of teenage love, Kazi’s book depicts the emotion in its raw, confusing form- just the way you’d have experienced it the first time you fell in love with someone. Kazi’s penchant for detail is impressive and makes the book an alluring journey for all die-hard romantics."
5. What is your favourite thing about books and reading? How have books made an impact on your life?
The best thing about books is that they take us to an almost illusion-like world, far away from the happenings of life. Mostly, when I’m in the doldrums, you’ll find me with a copy in hand, lying on the bed and soaking in the words. There’s no feeling in this world which can replace the joy of reading a good book on a rainy evening with some hot pakoras for company. Books have elevated me to an altogether different level. I have gained a lot of insight into human psychology through some extremely fine characters. My practical approach to real-life marketing also stems from reading Kotler, Levitt, Ogilvy, Seth Godin and so many other gurus. I appear knowledgeable to some, an unworthy show-off to some, a freak to the rest. But it doesn’t affect me anymore as my best friends (read ‘books’) aren’t complaining.
6. Quick take. Answer the following with the first words/phrase that comes to your mind, in five words or less:
- Love – Separates humans from the rest.
- Life – An illusion.
- The teenage years – Time machine, anyone?
- Innocence – Fake after a point of time.
- Books – Nirvana.