In conversation with 'Shiva Trilogy' author Amish Tripathi
With the last book of the Shiva trilogy � The Oath of the Vayuputras � flying off the shelf, and a Rs five-crore deal for his next, AMISH TRIPATHI is the toast of the Indian literary world today. He speaks to PHORUM DALAL about his love for history, drawing a line between writing and marketing, and the 180-degree turn in his life from being a banker to a writer. Excerpts:
You just signed a five-crore deal with Westland for your next book, making you the first Indian author to have been received such a sum. Happy?
I’m delighted that it is Westland, which published my Shiva trilogy, and which has offered to publish my next project as well. So the next project too will be a lot of fun. I think we are a good team.
I don’t think that I have achieved a milestone in Indian publishing. The industry has been moving in the right direction and the increase in book sales is clearly visible. The industry is bigger, and there are funds to pay better salaries to the staff and spend more on marketing. More money, I would say, means better quality. For people who want to write or set up their own publishing house, this is the right time.
What is you writing schedule?
I’m a morning person. I’m up by 5.30 am, and sit down to write soon after my puja. I have a marketing phase, and a writing phase. During the latter, I cut myself off from people, except my family. Music is my sole accompaniment. I choose genres depending on what kind of scene I am working on.
What made you write your first book on mythology?
All my books are based on history and mythology. I am passionate about these subjects. I am a voracious reader since childhood and history was one of my favourite subjects. Sadly, when I finished school in the’90s, becoming a historian was a terrible career choice and I took the pragmatic approach. But I continue reading history
How did you develop the trilogy plot?
While I had the entire plot for all three books clear in my head even before I wrote the first book, I went with the flow during the process. While the sub-plots may have expanded, I stuck to my original storyline. For those who have finished the third book, go back to book one and two, and you’ll find clues for the suspense that unfolds in the end.
How has life changed post the success of the trilogy?
It’s a 180-degree turn (laughs). Now, I have more time to do what I like to do e.g. reading. Earlier, as a banker I had to steal time to read, and the 10–hours, six-days-a-week routine made me miss out on family time. I am much calmer and happier, unlike my earlier very aggressive avatar.
Do you miss being a banker?
Not at all. I liked my job and the people I met, but my present life is great.
Any words of advice for aspiring writers?
Writing a book and selling it are two different things. An author should not think about money, and be true to the story and write it honestly. Money should be out of the equation, as it corrupts the book. Once the writing phase is over, then it’s time to be pragmatic and figure out how to sell the book.