Ahmed Faiyaz grew up in Bangalore and now lives in Dubai. He’s a book and film addict, and apart from reading books and watching cinema of all genres, he is a passionate writer. He is the bestselling author of Love, life & all that jazz…, Another Chance and Scammed, and the editor of Urban Shots – Crossroads and Down the Road. He has written and directed 6 short films and 2 feature films including Graveyard Shift. He has also just completed an international film, shot in Prague called ‘All the Lost Souls’ with a cast and crew from Germany, UK, USA, Venezuela, Spain, Serbia, Croatia, India and Czech Republic.
NAW- When did your literary journey begin? At what age did you discover that you wanted to write?
I realized I wanted to write when I was a teenager, but never quite got down to it till 5 years ago. I was in a good place with work and relationships and decided it was a good time to sit down and attempt to write a story that had been building in my head for many years. Love, life & all that jazz… took shape over a period of six months and is about life, love and career choices about four twenty somthings. It captures the mood and realities of our lives and depicts the quarter life crisis that I’d been through and that I realized most people around me went through when we moved from being college students to working executives with careers and responsibilities.
NAW- Tell us about your book ‘Scammed’. How did you get the idea for the book?
The story for Scammed grew in my head over a short span of time after I’d read about a scam in a local Indian newspaper where a bunch of people got thousands of people to invest in a car rental agency promising them exhorbitant returns. The scamsters made off with the loot while some employees of the company were mobbed and beaten up by angry investors. I took that real life situation and built a story around a young protragonist, Hitesh, one from the aspiring class who works extra hard to grow and succeed as an auditor in a dog eat dog world. His life begins to change dramatically when he begins to take risks and bends the rules, which is mostly what the book is about. I feel it very much reflects the current situation in India where young people are very aspirational in nature and want to grow quickly in life. Some are willing to trade off and take riskes to rise quickly in the workplace. It’s a heady mix of ambitlon and insecurity that leads to such moves. Scammed looks at the pitfalls of where one takes a risk and it backfires, bringing a truckload of troubles in their life.
NAW- How difficult was it to find time for writing given that you have another job?
I do have another job, but it wasn’t difficult back then as I would get home at a certain time and could dedicate the evening to writing. I also spent much of the weekend working on the stories. It’s possible to do this once you begin to write, you’re disciplined about the time you dedicate and are passionate about getting your stories out there. It is also necessary to have a supportive family and a very supporting spouse in my case who can’t be thanked enough. She’s given a lot of love, time and endured quite a bit for me taking time away on by passion projects. Balancing your life and writing is the key and I’m only starting to find that balance after five years.
NAW- Weren’t you apprehensive how the book would be received given it’s a thriller and this genre has limited readership in India?
I believe I was quite optimistic actually. To be honest, the book could have done much better than it has if it had better distribution. Having said that, it was among the trendsetters a couple of years ago when the reading audience had begun to evolve to reading more thrillers due to the overdose of campus romances and coming of age stories by several authors. Lately this genre has only grown and we’ve seen so many successes in India in the thriller genre.
NAW- Tell us about yourself. What do you do apart from writing?
I enjoy travelling, listening to music and making movies aside from writing and reading. I’ve finished my first English feature film, All the Lost Souls, which is expected to release this year in the US. I’ve been working on a number of scripts and the plan as it stands is to direct the adaption of Another Chance, my second novel. Plans are afoot to raise finance, cast and shoot the film through 2015.
NAW- Did you carry out research for your book? If yes, then how did you go about it?
I didn’t need to any research as the audit/ accounting world was a space I had experience in for many years and a lot of those experience(s) helped shape the journey of the lead protragonists and gave them their motivations.
NAW- Tell us about your other works?
My first book, a tale of love, life and relationships of four youngsters, Love, Life & all that Jazz did really well and became a national bestseller. This was followed by an intense love saga of a modern Indian woman called Another Chance. Scammed followed the success of these two titles. Post Scammed’s success, I wrote a novella called The Graveyard Shift, which has been turned into a feature film featuring theatre and television actors. At the end of the year, my next book, Bestseller, will be released. This is a satire and revolves around a man who was born and raised in London to turn around the fortunes of the oldest publishing house in the country. Again, a lot of my experiences as a writer and publisher has helped in etching the characters in this story.
NAW- Please name your 5 favourite books.
Great Expectations by Charles Dickens, The Great Gatsby by Scott Fitzgerald, The Revolutionary Road by Richard Yates, The Middleman by Sankar and Norweigian Wood by Haruki Murakami. Lately I’ve been reading a lot of Chinese and Japanese fiction and I’m beginning to like a lot of the works coming from these countries.
NAW- What are your upcoming projects?
I’ve been busy with the scripting of Another Chance and another film called Mirrors and Voices based on some of our short stories in Urban Shots. I’m soon getting down to working on a script for Scammed as this is one of the films on our slate for 2016. In terms of next release, readers will see more of me in Bestseller which should be out in December 2014 and three of my stories are featured in Urban Shots Stories in the City which should be out around the same time. On my next novel, I’ve sort of got three stories working themselves out in my head and I’m not sure which of these will be written first and I’m not sure if all three of them will ever be written. One is about a fallen motorsports hero and his rise and fall, another is an intriguing murder mystery and the last is an intense love story between a couple over a period of 15 years in their lives.