“There was a story etched in each wrinkle on his forehead-the stories any long life can amass but that only a lonely life locks forever.”
― Ashay Abbhi, Chronicles of Urban Nomads
The wait is over. Here's the promised 'Coming Soon'! (http://critiquedontcriticize./2015/04/coming-soon-interview-with-ashay-abbhi.html)
Before we get into the tidbits from the candid chat, let me tell you that Ashay's writings invoke imagination in the reader. Yes, even in the sleepiest being around. To think is to become and with that, we arrive at this destination, at this point in time when our futures don't matter and our pasts have stopped bothering us. We are at 'now' right now!
"They speak about long-lost wars and make merry in the name of foregone victories,
All that now lies bare is the bleeding heart at the end of despair!
And yet they make merry, at the end of the street's turning,
with their wide eyes gazing longingly at the night star that revelled in their merriment!"
I made that up just now. Guess the concoction to fire up the imagination is working!
* Wink wink*.
So here's Ashay for you, truly and candidly-
1. The book invokes the reader’s imagination right from the beginning by saying - ‘Imagine it says, Imagine I will … Imagine the rush, Imagine the thrill … Imagine the last, Imagine the nil, For Imagine you must death, to live until’
Your stories seem more like a journey or an experience than a ‘story’. Would you like to say something about your style of writing?
Firstly, thank you for having me here. It is a pleasure.
I follow a simple rule while writing – Imagine! The day I stop imagining, the writer in me will die. It is the same with any artist. Imagination breeds creativity. It is the blood in my stories, the death and the life that hangs by a thread in them.
My stories are experiences lived through another body. And that could be anyone. The reader may think of it as my story, your story, their own story, or just some random nameless, faceless person’s story. The point is to not just for me to imagine, but also to provoke the reader’s imagination.
2. Co-author of Chronicles of Urban Nomads and now The Inevitable, would you like to share your journey?
Chronicles happened when I was a few stories old. It was a pivotal point in my journey. I was published in it as part of a contest, which I won, and that gave me the confidence to carry on. The credit for my growth as a writer goes to Kirthi Jayakumar – someone who has mentored me, helped me, scolded me, hit me, encouraged me and supported me through the journey, and continues to do so.
3. Is there a role-model who inspires you to write?
Apart from the person mentioned above, there are many inspirations in the literary world. The innocence of Ruskin Bond’s stories to the thrill of Mario Puzo’s tales, there is something to be learned from everyone. I look up to these and many more stalwarts to guide me through the process of creativity.
4. Ashay, the author and Ashay, ‘author’-kept-aside. Does it ever happen? Or are you constantly on the lookout for something that serves as fodder for your pen or an itch to your fingers to get it typed as soon as possible?
The author in me yearns to come out on normal days – the days when I don’t write. The ‘author-kept-aside’ part of me observes life and introspects to give lines and sentences and plots and stories to the author. And the author, in return, gives the other one the satisfaction of having created something. The two sides of me feed off of each other.
5. How much, according to you, does the cover page impact the sales of a book? With that said, are you satisfied with the cover page of The Inevitable?
The cover is one of the most essential parts of the book. The cover of my book actually has a very interesting story. We wanted to be true to the theme, and go for something minimalistic. We had a few ideas, created some samples and nearly finalized it. But it wasn’t appealing enough, I mean, it was intriguing but it didn’t call out to the reader saying, ‘Hey there! Come and get me.’ Then my dear friend had a wonderful idea of showcasing the theme as a gateway into the nether world, of course with the brilliant hues of fall (my favorite season). And the result is right in front of us.
We wanted to write the title in a different way, hence the vertical. I absolutely love the cover. The sobriety of it would interest me, intrigue me and allure me as a reader. The designer has spent many days mulling over it and has done a great job. Thank you, Kirthi Jayakumar.
6. In The Inevitable, the reader finds a poem before every story which builds up the momentum for the upcoming story. Was it intentional or did it just happen as you wrote?
It was neither intentional nor did it happen as I wrote. It is a little known fact that these poems were written years before the stories were born. The way the two parts of my writing came together only reaffirms my faith in the age-old saying ‘the leaf does not fall far from the tree.’ Whatever style I may choose to write in, prose or verse, I can’t go too far away from the theme. I feel it is a gift, to be able to think about everything with the same undercurrent.
7. What do you prefer more- genre specific writing or otherwise? Why?
As my previous answer would tell you, I am all about genre-specific writing. I believe in expertise, and pledging your lifelong allegiance to it. I believe if you stick to one thing, be it in writing or in life, you will gather enough experience to live it. Keep jumping subjects and you risk becoming a generalist. Jack of all trades is no longer preferred rather a king of one trade is what the world wants.
8. As an author, you know your baby well more than anybody else. But you probably would love your baby more than anybody else, as well. With that kept in mind, is there a specific reader base you would recommend your book to?
I would like to think that ‘The Inevitable’ has something for everyone. I have had young kids writing to me about how they found some stories therapeutic, and veterans telling me how they could relate to some. There have been encouraging reviews from the teenagers and adults alike. Again, it all depends on how the reader sees the story.
9. Writing is therapeutic, say some. It’s emotionally draining, say others. Which league do you belong to?
Oh I am definitely in the first one. Sometimes I write when I am emotionally drained, so writing is nothing but therapy for me, and believe me, I’ve needed a lot of it. Having said that, I am not always able to write well when I am drained. Most of my stories were written when I was particularly happy. It just depends on when the muse visits. But whatever the mood, writing always helps alleviate it.
In fact, I believe we all have these fears, these stories in us. Some can connect to them when emotional, while some don’t need the mood. That’s where the difference lies.
10. When can the readers hear from Ashay Abbhi, the author, next? (Are any projects in the pipeline?)
Work does not permit me to write much these days – how I wish I could become a full time writer but I’d end up eating more paper than I’d be writing on. But I am currently working on a novel which, if someone is willing to publish it, would soon hit the bookstores.
11. Would you like to give any tips/ message/ advice to upcoming writers who visualize themselves as authors, someday?
There is nothing wrong with the dream of becoming an author. But just because one is able to put together a sentence with words flowery enough to embarrass a flower-show, does not necessarily mean one is a good writer or an author. There is something known as depth of thought which is essential to good writing. Good language is a must but not flowery, pretentious words. One must remember that as a writer, one has the power to influence minds, and with great power comes great responsibility (sorry for quoting the clichéd Spiderman dialogue but it fits here).
Also, I would request them to break the shackles of formula-based writing and come up with something unique. The college romance set-up has been done to death, buried, exhumed a hundred times, and buried again. Please leave it alone!
12. How is the publishing scenario in India, according to you? Is it easy to get books published?
Well, when I see my book in ink and paper, I think that the publishing industry has become quite easy. Then I see some other books on the shelves and I realize that it has become easier than eating, which used to be the easiest thing ever.
There are as many new publishers as there are new authors, and as long as the demand will not outrun supply, we will continue to see a glut of books that are not just unreadable but also unsellable. The sanctity of the written word must be preserved.
13. How important is an editor to the final draft of a future book?
The editor of a book is like one of the four wheels of the car, it is absolutely essential to have it for the book to function properly. However, since the editor has not written the book, understanding the why behind what’s written could be a challenge. So, the edits suggested must be carefully examined by the author to see that it should not change the meaning of the sentence or the point that is being made. But most editors are cognitive of this and raise flags wherever necessary. One appeal I’d like to make to the book critics - don’t judge editors too harshly, they’re human after all.
14. Describe yourself in as less words as possible.
I am an end looking for the means to justify it.
That was insightful from his behalf. Thank you Ashay for being a part of my journey as a Blogger.
Wishing you all the success and happiness this life can bring. May you find the means to justify your end, if and when there happens to be one ! :)