Sunday, September 14, 2014

A conversation with Amit Shankar :)

He is the author of three national bestsellers; Flight of the Hilsa, Chapter Eleven & Love is Vodka - A Shot Ain't Enough. He is an avid music buff and a great exponent of the guitar. 

Here he lets his readers know a little more about himself and his journey so far. 

1. Tell us something about yourself and your book?

Nothing in specific, just a loner, who loves to blabber, guard his space and totally in love with writing, coffee, rock and jazz. During my professional career spanning for more than 14 years, I have donned the hats of a copywriter, creative director and a CEO.  Café Latte is my fourth title; my first collection of short stories. Prior to this, I detested the format of short stories. Never read them or even attempted writing. And here I am, now completely in love with them. What makes Café Latte special? Well, it is the only compilation, which explores and romatices ‘death’ unfurling its various hues. A majority of the stories showcase the true beauty of the only truth; death.

2.    Why Vitasta Publishing?

Why not would be my question to you. Can you recall the pubisher of Godfather or Gone with the wind? Moreover, I can never forget that Vitasta was the first one to sign me. With four titles down the line, guess we are on equal footing. Maybe it is time to seek and explore more.

3.    What inspired you to write this particular collection?

Simple, the desire to do something different from my earlier forms, titles and genres. Also, I wanted to make myself love something I hated all my life—short stories and then to excel. Read the collection, if you havent by now, and you will find it to be refreshingly different—UNUSUAL, as I term it. The reviews have been more than heart warming. Please check them out on my FB page. The response has been exceptional, both in terms of critical accalim and the numbers.

4.    How was the journey in this writing field so far?

I have always been a writer. Earlier I used to write love letters for my friends, then compelling sales stories for brands and finally, fiction. I find the journey to be enjoyable, exhilirating and exuberant.

5.    What do you think is your biggest strength when it comes to writing?

I have the courage to go where no one does. This results in telling offbeat stories. From Flight of the Hilsa to Café Latte, all of them have not been really mainstream, if you know what I mean. When the writing circuit was abuzz with love stories with IIM romance churning mill working overtime, my first title approached the grave and serious topic of demystifying happiness and that too from a woman’s POV. The second one, Chapter 11 peeked inside the shiny corporate façade juxtaposing it with our crumbling value system. Love is Vodka analysed ‘love’ thorough a microscope sans the lens of morality. And café Latte, is now enthralling readers with a bag full of UNUSUAL observations and narration.

6.    What is your least favourite part of the writing process?

I complete the manuscript so fast that I get no time to figure out the favourite or the least favourite part. Café Latte was written in four days flat. An interesting thing, what you read is the first and final draft. I never write and revisit my writing. Never let anyone to edit it. Just proof check by someone and it’s good to go. I prefer content over form factor.

7.    Share some of your interesting memories you lived while writing this book.

An apartment on the 12 floor, five days and four nights, three bottles of Glenlivet, loads of carrots and apples and macbook air. Of course my writing glasses and rubik cube.

8.    If you were to describe your book in one line, what would it be?

Nothing like anything you would have ever read, UNUSUAL.

9.    What are some things you like to do when you’re not writing?

Cook, love sitting at a café watching people, re arrange furniture, and of course strum my guitar.

10.  Readers need an author they can look upto, not a proud author. Few months ago, you publically made fun of Book Reviewers and now when your book is in the market, you are seeking reviews for your book. How far do you think your statement was justified? You wrote, “Can’t write to save your life? Become a Book Reviewer.” Don’t you think you should apologise for your words?

“Lions make leopord tame
Yeah, but but not change his spots”
The whole context of context is lost when it is taken out of the context.

11.  It may be unfair to ask but we’d love to know your personal favourites from ‘Café Latte’?

The Jazz Player. I like it for its strains of meloncholy, the interplay of life’s cruelty picthced against hope.

12.  How do you feel when someone disagrees with something you have written?

I appreciate different POVs. How boring would life be if everything was uniform? No wonder I hated my school uniform. I am one of the few writers who psot reviews as it is. When I had launched Chapter 11, a journalist tore it apart in her review. I sent her a mail thanking her for her time and expressing her point of view. She was flabbergasted.  Not that I am trying to prove a point but the fact is criticism does not affect me as I write for my self. If readers love it, it’s double whammy.

13.  Tell us something about your future projects.

A big canvas, crime thriller. This wuld be my first time in this genre. Trying my best to make it different from my earlier four titles.

14.  Anything else that you would like your readers to know about you?

I'm the devil with no makeup.

15.  Lastly, is there a message you would like to convey your readers?

“The lover of life's not a sinner
The ending is just a beginner
The closer you get to the meaning
The sooner you'll know that you're dreaming
So it's on and on and on, oh it's on and on and on
It goes on and on and on, Heaven and Hell”


 We are brought up listening to and reading stories, which makes us form a clichéd framework of expectations and concepts about life. Café Latte takes you on a tantalizing foray into the unusual with some refreshing and some startling narrations. The stories cover a broad spectrum of people and events and will have you turning the pages eagerly for the twist in the end.

So shed the mundane, become a fearless traveller and savor a fresh approach towards the enigma called Life.

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