In Conversation With Ayan Pal
By Neha Thakur | Interviews
Ayan Pal an IT Professional, an avid public speaker, mentor, and member of Toastmasters International (TMI), considered as a global leader for communication and leadership, and the recipient of the highest honor from TMI – ‘Distinguished Toastmaster’, that made him the first person from Kolkata to win this rare honor.
But most importantly, Ayan is an Author with 11 titles to his credit, several of them Amazon Bestsellers. This includes India’s first Composite Novel – ‘Crossed and Knotted’ that garnered him an entry into the ‘Limca Book of Records’ under Literature, and his solo debut novel ‘Confessions on an Island’ that released earlier this year.
Neha: When did you first realize you wanted to be a writer?
Ayan: I wanted to be a writer ever since I realized how much I enjoy creative writing – be it essays as a part of the school curricula, or the creative writing contests I won while at school! But it wasn’t until I watched the movie Signs by M. Night Shyamalan (which I watched thrice in a theater during the same week). Something about the movie made me piece together certain incidents in my life as being much more than mere coincidences. That’s when I realized that no matter what, I had to become a full-fledged writer someday!
Neha: As a child, what did you want to do when you grew up?
Ayan: The first time someone asked me that question, I replied with all of innocence that I wanted to become a bird and fly across the skies. Now that I come to think of it, I guess I did finally manage to find a way to let my imagination soar, and for my thoughts to spread their wings through my writing!
Neha: What do you think makes a good story?
Ayan: Any story told with an honest intention is a good story. I personally prefer those that touch my heart or make me think.
Neha: What was one of the most surprising things you learned in creating your books?
Ayan: That I was capable of becoming the person I was writing about. It was discomforting to an extent, especially while working on Confessions on an Island which has some very disturbing sequences. Writing them was painful as well as cathartic.
Neha: Do you write more by logic or intuition, or some combination of the two? Please summarize your writing process?
Ayan: I use logic while plotting and intuition while writing. I also ensure that I am completely logical while editing and as intuitive as possible during developmental editing. That’s my style of writing in a nutshell!
Neha: Do you do some research before writing on a particular topic? Can you share some stories about people you met while researching your books?
Ayan: I believe in researching before I attempt to write. As far as meeting people are concerned, I believe in drawing from incidents that have already transpired in my life. I also use the phone as well as email to discuss about certain events as a part of research. One particular example was a rather interesting email exchange I had with a British historian while researching on a series of books that are partially sent in England.
Neha: When did you write your first book and how old were you?
Ayan: I must have been 22-23 when I started writing it, while pursuing Engineering. It took me nearly two years to write, but then my computer crashed, the backups were lost, and I had to recreate everything almost from scratch a few years later on. The first draft of the latest version of the book was completed 2 years back. However, I am still not done with it!
Neha: How long does it take you to write a book?
Ayan: There is no simple answer to that question. While my first novel has been in the making for nearly 13 years now, I completed the first draft of Confessions on an Island in a month! It took me another 7 months to complete editing, developmental editing, and proofreading.
Neha: What is your work schedule like when you’re writing?
Ayan: My writing schedule is usually determined by my work pressure (I have a full time job as an IT Consultant). I usually prefer to write late evenings extending till the wee hours of the morning, or from early morning till noon. I generally avoid the afternoons. I do not read anything apart from the newspaper during this period. I also avoid starting anything new with unfinished work on my plate. I usually like to write without work deadlines looming large because I have to be absolutely guilt free while pursuing writing.
Neha: What is the hardest part of writing your books?
Ayan: The hardest part is developmental editing and proofreading!
Neha: Who are some of your favorite authors that you feel were influential in your work? What impact have they had on your writing?
Ayan: The authors but who inspired me through their passion, perseverance, talent, hard work and determination are Agatha Christie, Arundhati Roy Jhumpa Lahiri, JK Rowling, JRR Tolkien, and Satyajit Ray. I have also been inspired by The Kite Runner by Khaled Hosseini, The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho, Wuthering Heights by Emily Bronte, Of Human Bondage by W. Somerset Maugham, My Name Is Red by Orhan Pamuk, Animal Farm by George Orwell, All Quiet on the Western Front by Erich Maria Remarque, and A Monster Calls by Patrick Ness. Whether they have had an impact on my writing or not is for the readers to tell!.
Neha: What do you like to do when you’re not writing?
Ayan: When not writing I like to spend my time socializing, reading, listening to music, or begin watching my favorite TV shows.
Neha: What does your family think of your writing?
Ayan: My family has been incredibly supportive and proud of my writing, always. Since I got married, I can safely say that I am one of the lucky few, because my wife seems to be similarly inclined! Provided of course that my writing schedule does not clash with any vacation plans of hers, and that I write only when she is not around, asleep, busy with work, or in a ‘do not disturb’ or ‘I need space – leave me alone’ mood. Or in other words, that I write anytime apart from the time that I can spend with her instead.
Neha: Do you have any suggestions to help new kids on the block become a better writer? If so, what are they?
Ayan: My only suggestion for them is that they read. Regularly, and with passion. Because I personally feel that nothing compares to reading in order to be a better author, be it from the genre they wish to pursue, or otherwise, for their pleasure. So I suggest that they keep reading, and allow nature take its own course when it comes to their writing!.
Neha: What are your future projects?
Ayan: The sequel to Confessions on an Island is the next thing on my mind. Once done, I wish to go back to my first novel and hopefully turn it into a series, provided the first one does well. Let’s see how it all pans out!
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