NAW Interview with Aditya Sudarshan

Formally trained as a lawyer, Aditya Sudarshan is the author of ‘A Nice Quiet Holiday’ (Westland Books, 2009), and ‘Show Me A Hero.’ He also writes literary criticism for The Hindu Literary Review and other publications.

NAW- When did your literary journey begin? At what age did you discover that you wanted to write?

I’ve read a lot of fiction from a very young age, and as a child I wrote stories of my own now and then. Then in about my second year of law school I started to write more seriously and more regularly. I wrote my first novel when I was in my final year of college. But I only decided to be a full-time writer nine months after graduation, when that book found a publisher.

NAW- Tell us about your first book ‘A Nice Quiet Holiday’. How did you get the idea for the book?

It was not one thing in particular. I think I was simply raring to write a novel, and then when I scoured my mind with that motivation, the themes and the setting and the characters emerged. For my subsequent novels, the process has been different, the things on my mind consciously led me into a novel, but for my first novel I discovered them.

How difficult was it working part time as a writer?

I’ve never been in this position really. After I graduated from law school, I was working full-time as a lawyer, and in this period I did only little bits of writing, nothing significant. After I quit I wrote my second novel without any other work alongside. Since then I’ve done script-writing part-time for television, but luckily this has not tired me out for fiction writing.

NAW- How difficult was it finding a publisher? How did you make your pitch?

For my first novel, I found a publisher via a pitching process organized by a literary group, Caferati. Again for my second novel I pitched myself via query letters to various publishers. For my third novel (which is forthcoming), I had an agent to help me in the process. It was not easy finding a publisher in any instance.

NAW- Tell us about yourself. What do you do apart from writing?

Not a lot, to be honest. I read a lot of course. I also play tennis as often as I can and I always look out for adventure games to play on the computer. But I am also idle a great deal.

NAW- Did you carry out research for your book? If yes, then how did you go about it?

No. Basic research on certain aspects of course, but nothing worth the name. My writing is based on a lot of thinking and imagining; research has not been key.

NAW- Tell us about your second book, ‘Show me a Hero’. Were you apprehensive people would expect a certain standard from you give that you already had another published work to your name?

No, because I actually wrote the draft of Show Me A Hero before A Nice Quiet Holiday was published. I had greater expectations of myself though. I wanted to ratchet up the complexity of my narrative and pull of certain specific things. Show Me A Hero is a more layered book than my first. It contains the story of a controversial ex-cricketer who offended various social and religious groups with his lifestyle and his mannerisms, but the overarching story is of the group of young boys who are making a movie about him, and how they come face to face with the difficulties of navigating Indian society- the crush and discord of our public life.

NAW- Please name your 5 favourite books.

In no particular order,

The Idiot, by Dostoevsky

Crime and Punishment, by Dostoevsky

Works of Love, by Kierkegaard

The Apprentice, by Arun Joshi

The Great Gatsby, by Scott Fitzgerald

NAW- What are your upcoming projects?

My third novel, titled The Persecution of Madhav Tripathi, is coming soon from Harper Collins India. It’s a surreal fantasy about the crisis of conscience among India’s educated elite. I’m writing a new novel at the moment too, but it’s going to be long and will take a while to finish. It’s a story based out of Mumbai’s independent cinema scene, and expanding into political and religious themes.

NAW- Any advice for upcoming authors?

Always persevere.

Illustration by Alan Van Every (Featured image on the front page)

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