I wanted to write a story from the perspective of an immature man: Abhaidev

The Bookoholics: How did you get the idea for ‘That Thing About You’?

Abhaidev: First of all, I want to thank you for giving me the opportunity to connect with the readers. Now coming back to the question, I believe that everyone has known a person, who, despite all odds, refuses to grow up. I too once had a friend like him during my college days. It was he who was the inspiration behind ‘That Thing About You.’ I wanted to write a story from the perspective of an immature man. There are a lot of books about mature people but very few in which the main character is childish. Thus the idea of ‘That Thing About You’ was born, for I wanted to write something different.

How long did it take you to write this book?

Book writing is a step by step process. You write, then you rewrite, then you edit it countless times until you are satisfied and truly believe that you have done justice to your capabilities and you can’t improve your book anymore. So your question is a bit difficult to answer. However, I will tell you how long it took me to write the first draft. Six months. Yes, six months is what I took to write the first draft. And I took six more months to rewrite and edit it. ‘That Thing About You’ is an old story which I wrote five years back. It is just that I got the chance to publish it now.

How did you deal with the self-doubts a writer goes through?

Writing is one of the few professions in which the better you get, the more you doubt yourself. It is because the more you improve, the more you become aware of your shortcomings. You start comparing yourself with great writers, which is natural. I, too, at times, have low moments. But then I tell myself that no one but I can write the story that is in my head. Yes, If Dostoevsky knew the story which is in my head, he could have written it better. But then it would have turned out different. Also, there is no way anyone can know what is precisely in my messed up head. It is I, and only I who can do justice to what is in my mind. Well, this is how I deal with self-doubts.

What was the most challenging part to write?

Well, the most challenging parts to write in the book were the pep talks by Kalpana. I struggled a lot, for I didn’t want her to sound too condescending or patronising. There is a thin line, after all, between helping someone in making the right choices in one’s life and lecturing in a disdainful and supercilious manner. I don’t know whether I succeeded or failed, that’s up to readers to decide. But, yeah, I tried my best.

Why did you choose a pen name? And why this one in particular?

Believe it or not, I am one of the few people who named themselves. And I did that when I was four. And when I ventured into the world of writing, I thought that life was giving me one more opportunity to name myself. So went through a lot of names and came across ‘Abhaidev.’ It stuck like no other. ‘Abhaidev‘ means one who is free of fear. I am not ‘Abhaidev.’ Not yet. But it is what I aspire to become one day. Plus I feel that it sounds good. There you have it — my reasons for choosing this pen name.

“If God is really out there, then there are all the more reasons for free will to exist. If everything is predestined, what’s the fun in that? Humans must surprise the Almighty at times.”

How was the journey from finishing the manuscript to publishing?

I think I should be honest. The journey from finishing the book to publishing it was full of ups and downs. Like every other new author, I faced a lot of rejections. But I had a fair share of surprises and moments of hope too. Many of the publishers considered my book for publishing. And in many cases, it went to the last round. In the end, my book found its home at Write India Publishers. A writer’s journey is not a 100-meter sprint but a marathon. And I think I have the necessary patience to participate and finish this long race.

What’s your favourite piece from ‘That Thing About You’?

My favourite piece from the book is a quote. In fact, it is one of the many thoughts, many ruminations of Subodh, on the issue of free will and determinism. It goes like this – “If God is really out there, then there are all the more reasons for free will to exist. If everything is predestined, what’s the fun in that? Humans must surprise the Almighty at times.”

What publishing advice would you give to new authors?

I am not in a position to advise young authors yet. However, I would like to state the obvious – one needs to be patient.

Did you ever face the so-called writer’s block? How did you deal with it?

Yes, time again and again, I go into a phase when I find it difficult to write. To deal with such dry days, I immerse myself into books and go into a reading spree. It helps a lot. And after too much reading, I am finally able to write.

Is there a second book on the way? If yes, what is it about?

Yeah, I am simultaneously working on two books. One of them is a science fiction thriller. The other is speculative fiction with some philosophy sprinkled over it. I can’t disclose what these two books are about. But I can assure you that they are a complete departure from my first.

Was writing a childhood dream or it just came to you recently?

I was a voracious reader even when I was extremely young, and I devoured books irrespective of the subject matter. But it was when I read “Smriti Ek Prem Ki” by Krishan Khatwani, I realised that words wield enormous power. Since then, I started dreaming about writing my own book. But I never gave that thought much importance. It was only during my colleges days that I started taking this dream seriously.

How did your family react to your decision of quitting your job as an investment banker and writing?

I am lucky. My family has always supported me. And they supported my decision when I finally took the plunge. My parents want me to realise my dreams. And for that, I will always be indebted to them.