Friday, June 3, 2011

Interview: Anurag Anand

Hi! Today I have on my blog none other than Anurag Anand, whose book I raved about a few days ago. Welcome, Anurag. 

1. I'd like to begin this interview by asking you what kinds 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?
On my bookshelf you would find everything from comic books, light reads to serious fiction. My frame of mind dictates the kind of books I read. Nothing works like a P G Wodehouse or a Tintin/ Archie Comic book to rejuvenate me after a grueling day at work, while the likes of Gabriel Garcia Marquez, Milan Kundera, Orhan Pamuk, Salman Rushdie etc make up my more serious reads. I am not much into non-fiction, but a few biographies/ autobiographies (Lance Armstrong, Richard Branson etc) have managed to enthrall me as well. When I read a book, I get absorbed in the story and hence it doesn’t carry the same novelty after I have read it once. However, I can read a comic book again and again and enjoy it all the same.  

2. Tell us something about your work before "The Quest for Nothing"?
My first book, 'Pillars of Success' was published when I was 25 (2004). The book was an assimilation of my experiences with the Youth Development Program of a Delhi based NGO, UNES and talked about the simple things in life that can be the differentiators between success and failure. I followed it up with another book in the self-help genre titled, 'Corporate Mantras'. As the name suggests, the book dwelled upon the vagaries of the corporate world and provided its readers with simple tips for survival.
Thereafter, the storyteller within me took charge and I penned my first work of fiction, 'Tic Toc – A tale of love, hate & terror". The book was launched by the acclaimed filmmaker Mr Mahesh Bhatt and was widely appreciated for its differential treatment of a sensitive subject like terrorism. 'The Quest for Nothing' is my second fiction title and fourth published book.

3. Did you always want to be a writer? How did you get into writing? What inspired you to write "The Quest for Nothing"?
I wouldn’t say I always knew that I would be writing. In fact, when I first started to pen down the manuscript of Pillars of Success, I had no idea that it would eventually culminate into a book. Once the manuscript was ready, I sent it to just the one publisher who luckily agreed to publish it. From there on, it was the high of creating something that could touch a chord with people I did not personally know that propelled me further into writing.
The Quest for Nothing was deeply inspired by what I saw all around me on an everyday basis. Individuals who unabashedly go about chasing an idea called success which does not have a concrete shape or a defined form even in their own minds; the spoils eventually permeating into their personal lives and relationships. Though there are books that have been written with similar settings, they have mostly focused on sensationalism behind the office doors. I wanted to write something that was more relatable and would force people to pause and think about the things that they tend to take for granted in their quest for a successful career.

4. What kind of people do you think this book will reach out to?
The USP of The Quest for Nothing is its realistic setting, story line and characters. The relationships have been treated in an utterly real-world fashion and I hope that a lot of people will find a slice or two from their own lives in the book. As was aptly summarized by a review in the Hindustan Times, 'And as you stream through the pages, you are bound to sit up more than once and exclaim, 'Hey, that’s exactly how it happens with me!'' Thus, I expect the story to resonate with every individual who is sensitive towards people and relationships.

5. What is your favorite thing about books and reading? How have books made an impact on your life?
Reading and books are as integral to my life as possibly my mobile phone and so it is difficult for me to point out one single favorite thing about the experience of reading. It is simply difficult for me to imagine life without books.
In addition to the felt benefits like better understanding of language, knowledge and information gain, reading has a host of other benefits that often go unnoticed. Books play a crucial role in enriching the mind and enabling an individual to view a situation from various perspectives. Not a scientific fact, but I have often noticed that most vociferous of readers are generally the in-control, calm personalities that people enjoy being with.
My earliest brush with reading has been the comic books that I used to sneak between my text books in the numerous unsuccessful attempts at dodging my mother's keen eyes. The impact often left me with reddened ears or cheeks, when I was caught. But since then, I have gained a lot from the books I have read and I would attribute a large part of my current understanding of the human mind and behavior to my reading.

6. Quick take. Answer the following with the first words/phrase that comes to your mind, in five words or less:
-Love: A badly abused word and an indescribable emotion.

Life: A gift, meant to be cherished.

Marriage:  A commitment that, when made to the right partner, can make life a heavenly experience.

Akash (the character): You, me and every other person running in the mad race for success.

Books: The most willing partner you can ever find.

Other thoughts: (Let the author inform you of his newest work, out for pre-order already!)
My next title, 'Reality Bites' is expected to hit the stands in June 2011 and if you liked 'The Quest for Nothing', you will simply love 'Reality Bites'.

It is a love thriller set in a co-ed high school hostel with numerous unexpected twists and turns. The protagonist sets out on a pursuit of love, guided not by the callings of his heart but by peer pressure to lose the tag of being single. Amid the clan-esque hierarchy and the curiously bizarre characters that are nurtured within the boundaries of the hostel, will he eventually succeed in finding his true love?

More thoughts: Attended author Shrenik Mutha's book launch for Broken Hearts in Pune yesterday! Quite a showing. Check out my review of his book here along with my interview of Shrenik!

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