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Interview – Amol Kulkarni (He Lost his Mobile and…)

An engineer by profession, Mr. Amol Kulkarni is always looking out for opportunities to pursue his hobbies, having dabbled in making short films, writing scripts (for his own short films), and now, a published author of this fiction novel.
He did his engineering from COEP (College of Engg, Pune) and is currently working in an MNC. For a professional working in MNC, balancing professional and personal life is a circus, and on top of it if one wants to pursue a hobby, then it’s herculean. He somehow managed to balance all three without compromising on anyone, and hopes to continue doing it in the future.
Below is a little script of our chit-chat.

Q: What inspires you to write?
A: I have always believed that storytelling is a very strong and effective medium to express yourself and make an impression on the audience. Even in my professional role, I experimented with storytelling for the technical problems we faced.
The most popular storytelling mediums worldwide are books and movies. I chose writing as a medium to express my thoughts, my feelings, and my stories, which though fictional, are close to and relatable to the real characters we come across in life.
Movie making is cumbersome and has its own pitfalls (with nepotism allegedly ruling the industry). I do not want to denigrate the field of movie-making as being at a lower stratum compared to books, but it is a fact that mostly the movies are being made based on books and not vice versa. I think books are a notch higher in reach and have more (literary and scholarly) value, and that inspires me to write.

Q: Is writing a full-time job for you? If not, do you plan to in the future?
A: No, currently I can give only 5-10% of the time in a day to write. It may or may not become a full-time job in the future since it depends on many factors, and the foremost is the passion to create plots and weave them in a story.
I hope in future this passion is not taken over by some other hobby, and I continue to write many more books!

Oh yes, I would love to read your books! The first one was a classic for me.

Q: How did “He lost his mobile and..” happen?
A: There were two incidences in my life that inspired this story.Incident one – My daughter (age – 2 years that time) was once playing with my wife’s mobile phone at home. It had a battery issue and used to get discharged very fast. She kept it somewhere and we did not know about it. The next day we searched for it but could not find it anywhere. We knew that it was at home but could not search since the battery was dead and hence trying to locate it by giving a ring was futile. Finally, we blocked the SIM and bought a new mobile phone. After a year or so, when we were cleaning our home and discarding some old items, we opened the lid of an old coffee mug and found the mobile there!!
The second incidence was – I received an email from one of my friends saying that she had lost her mobile phone and asked for my number since she didn’t remember. I gave her my mobile number, but not before giving her advice that if she didn’t remember mobile numbers then she should either maintain a diary or make a database on her computer.
The first incidence gave me a one-liner theme that if you misplace your mobile and its battery is going to get discharged, then it is near impossible to search it.
The one-liner theme from the second incidence was that if you do not remember mobile numbers and also do not maintain a diary or database, then its loss wipes your slate clean and you become incommunicado.
The above two incidences were blended for the main protagonist and it formed the main plot of this book. Some of the other incidences in this book were real-life events in my life (like the traffic jam and nostalgia), while some were pure imagination.
It also shows that simple events in life can make interesting stories if blended with the correct mix of fiction.

Q: Gautam’s characteristic of not remembering any phone numbers is shared by a lot of people today. In fact, Manasi’s hurriedness is also common. Mobiles have made life simpler as well as a burden. What is your take on them?
A: Mobile phones have made life simpler in the sense that you can communicate with one another at any time, any place, and from anywhere. But as the saying goes, overindulgence in anything is bad, more so with the futuristic gadgets. And mobile phones are the best examples of this.
The story of Gautam and Manasi is a decade old. The mobile phones had just started to become popular and indispensable in India then. Today, even kids as young as 5-6 years demand it and get it, so the dependence has increased. Among the young generation, it’s used more for keeping themselves active on social media, playing games, and doing many other kinds of stuff. This young generation is so pro in these devices that they can easily misguide or block the person they don’t want to communicate with, defeating the basic purpose of mobile phones.
Today, parents are wary of giving mobile phones to young kids fearing that it may be misused or they may get addicted to some game or to social networking sites or they may get entrapped in some insane online challenges.
Hence, my take is that futuristic gadgets like mobile phones, etc., are good as long as we use them responsibly and are not addicted to it.

Q: Given a chance, would you revert to the older days, or would you fast forward to the future? Why?
A: Older days had its own charm, but the future is what everyone looks forward to. So if you want to grow and make progress, you should think about the future. But when you want to relax and become nostalgic, you revert to the older days.
You need a balance of both worlds.

Q: How was your journey from the first draft to published work?
A: I presume that the journey for me was the same as it would have been for most of the first time authors. It was a big struggle running from pillar to post. Except for a few authors, like Chetan Bhagat, who got their first book published by renowned publishing houses, the rest of us first-time authors went through the same harrowing time.
The basic question that the first time author faces is, whether they should approach a traditional publishing house or do self-publishing. Whether they should hire a literary agent or go on their own.
I spent most of the time researching on the net for the best ways to go ahead. There were pros and cons to both types of publishing. Finally, I got in touch with a publishing house in Pune, and through them, I published my first fiction novel. The arrangement with this publisher was somewhere in between traditional and self-publishing. Looking back, instead of pros, it had cons of both the worlds.
It gives me a lot of pain to think that for my next novel, I have to go through this again. But learning here is, go for the renowned publishing houses, and if you do not get selected by one, then go for self-publishing.

Q: An author whom you idolize.
A: Not one but two most revered authors whom I idolize are – Agatha Christie and Frederick Forsyth.

Q: What is the next project you are working on?
A: I am working on a plot with the background of a political event that created unrest in the minds of many people. It’s sort of a psychological thriller based on relationships.
But looking at my usual pace of writing, it may take another 1-2 years. My target is mid of 2018.

Q: A message for your readers.
A: One thing that every reader likes is – ‘twist in the tale’. Most of the readers who read suspense /mystery novels or in fact any fiction novel are always looking out for this twist which increases their curiosity to know what next and go on reading.
Then there are some other types of readers who are only keen to know the plot and the climax. They skip sentences or paragraphs or even entire chapters. My advice to them is to read every line. You may miss an important sentence that has some meaning attached to it, which you would not know even though you know the story.
Then there are few voracious readers who read the book twice or thrice if they like it. These are the people who transition from readers to writers. I could be placed in this category.
I would like to share some intricacies which I realized while writing my first book, and which would help the aspiring writers.
Writing is putting together real-life incidences and interweaving it with your imagination. But this is only part of it. If you are not logical in your plot, or if your facts are not correct, then all the good imagination would seem impractical and the reader’s focus shifts to fault finding. Some research for facts, through the internet and experts, is needed. You need to approach people who have experience in the topic you are researching.
Another thing to understand is that writing an article or a few pages of the blog is different than writing more than 60000 words of coherent thoughts. Many times while writing a book or novel, you get distracted or disillusioned. Halfway, or sometimes even after a few pages, you discard it thinking that people may not like it. In these situations, you need to believe in yourself and your story, and keep writing.
Hence, my advice to all types of readers is to enjoy reading more and more books with an open mind, open heart, and open eyes.

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