Home Amish Tripathi Amish Tripathi Interview Culture Diary of a Dancebee Exclusive Indian Authors Indian Authors In English Interviews Priya Adivarekar Scion of Ikshvaku The Shiva Trilogy Westland I have got stories ready for the next 25 years - Amish Tripathi | Exclusive Interview
I have got stories ready for the next 25 years - Amish Tripathi | Exclusive Interview
From working for a bank to becoming the only Indian author to get a record $1m advance for his trilogy, Amish Tripathi has surely come a long way. The author, who hails from a simple Pandit family and owes all his success to Lord Shiva's blessings, has got a huge fan base in several parts of the globe. All his books generate curiosity and excitement among his fans. We witnessed this enthusiasm during all the launch events of the Shiva trilogy and now, the phenomenon was repeated at the launch of his latest book, Scion of Ikshvaku (one and a half years in the making), which was launched with a record number of pre-orders last month.
Be it hitting the bulls eye with his perfect promotional strategy or setting an advanced goal of writing multiple series in the next 25 years, Amish is doing it all, but all this, while ensuring that he gives enough time to everything that he loves - reading, traveling and of course, his family. In a candid conversation with Priya Adivarekar, on a super busy Thursday morning, the Million Dollar author talks about Scion of Ikshvaku, life as a writer, spirituality and more.
If you had to describe the book - Scion of Ikshvaku - to someone who hasn't read it, how would you do it?
One way of looking at it is the fact that it is a thriller, and I admit many will read it just as that. The other way is the fact that there is a core philosophy behind all my books. Scion of Ikshvaku is no different. Like in the Shiva trilogy, the core philosophy was “What is evil?” Similarly, in this book, the core philosophy is “What is an ideal society?” So I guess, that would be the perfect way to describe the book.
After The Shiva Trilogy, did the idea of writing about Lord Ram come naturally to you or were there other concepts that you had in mind as well?
Well, I had many concepts in mind. In fact, all these concepts are somehow linked. Once you see all these concepts releasing in the form of books over the next 20-25 years (smiles), you can come back to the Shiva trilogy and notice how I have left clues and hints related to all the concepts. They are all linked.
So, is it true that the Ram Chandra series will have 5-6 books?
Absolutely! I have several series in my mind. All of them will tell the stories of the vedic people of our age, over a period of nine thousand years. These stories will explore their highs and lows, the beginning of their culture to the times when it was destroyed. Well, I just believe we are their unworthy descendants (smiles).
What was your reference for this particular book and subsequently, the series?
I have grown up listening to several versions of the Ramayana, thanks to my parents and the fact that my grandfather was a Pandit. That was one source. Secondly, I read a lot. So, I have read some versions of the Ramayana as well, one of them being the Ramcharitmanas, which is widely read and well known among the North Indians (and was also a reference for the popular 1980’s Indian show – Ramayan – by Ramanand Sagar). I have also read the Valmiki Ramayan, Kambaramayanam, Adhbhuta Ramayan among several others.
You are known to be someone who is actively involved with the promotional strategy of your books. Do you add your inputs during the conceptualizing stage?
Of course I do! I have always been closely involved. There is a core team, which apart from my wife and I, also includes the senior staff at Westland and our agency partner.
Apart from the exclusive promotional activities organized with Amazon (Midnight delivery, Kindle – Exclusive chapter launch), what else is on the cards?
Our partnership with Amazon has been wonderful and apart from the above mentioned concepts, they also brought out prominent advertisements and developed great buzz on social media. Yes, we have already planned several marketing ideas for the next couple of months. We had a few celebrity launch events and during the Mumbai launch, we also had an exclusive drum circle, where even I played the drums. There is also an activity with Kotak Bank called ‘Tweet to Purchase’, where the bank customers can tweet and purchase the Scion of Ikshvaku through their Twitter banking facility. From what I think, this is the first time something like this is being done.
As a writer, what is a typical day in the life of Amish Tripathi like?
My day starts at around 5:30 am. I start off with an exercise, and then I do my pooja. I read four newspapers every morning. During my writing phase, I get down to work and start writing at around 9 am. I don’t focus on any form of marketing or interactions during the writing period. Right now, it’s my marketing phase, so all my attention and energies are focused on that.
Every writer has special way of unwinding or a stress buster that keeps writer’s block at bay. How do you unwind while writing?
To be honest, I guess I have been lucky and have been blessed by Lord Shiva, because I never really suffered from writer’s block. But then, there are several other sources of stress in life. For me, listening to music, spending time with family, traveling and reading are the best stress busters.
How often do you read? And what are you currently hooked on to?
I read anywhere between 4-8 books every month. Primarily, I read a lot of non-fiction. But around 10 – 20 per cent of my reading is dedicated to fiction. Recently, I finished reading Bhima by M.T. Vasudevan Nair, an English translation of the popular Malayalam classic. Next on the reading list is Flood of Fire by Amitav Ghosh.
What does spirituality mean to you?
Spirituality is essentially a search for the divine in your life. This is a search that everyone should undertake. And for me, divine is the god within.
Back in time, was there any moment or period where you thought your work will get the kind of tremendous success that is eventually did?
Not at all! In fact, I didn't even know if my books will get published (smiles). Everything that has happened is way beyond my expectations.
Was it the success and response from fans that eventually led you to taking the plunge and quitting your job?
I know it sounds boring, but then, I don’t come from a very wealthy family. I have grown up in a humble family, so one has to be responsible when it comes to taking any career decisions. But eventually, the decision was primarily taken on a logical and rational basis. I wrote my first two books while I was still working. So, I was burning the candle at night and then, reporting to work in the day. By the third book, my loyalty cheque had become more than my salary. That’s when my elder brother and wife spoke to me, stating that it is rational for me to resign and focus on my writing career. And that’s how I took the plunge.
#AskAmish Twitter Fan Questions
Amish: I write all my books the way they come to me. Honestly, I don't control the process. It was the same with Shiva Trilogy, where I wrote Lord Shiva's character the way he came to me and not out of any conscious choices. So, that's the first aspect. Secondly, Lord Ram has been depicted in many ways. As I mentioned earlier, the version that most modern North Indians read is actually the version of the 1980's tele-series. If you read the Jain version of Ramayan, which is an extremely old version, Lord Ram is completely non-violent.
Amish: Yes, I have been approached for quite a few projects, but I haven't considered any offer as of yet. I am very clear that the core activities that I do and will always continue to do is writing books. So, if I can find some way to write scripts, without affecting the time that I utilize to write my books, I'll probably do that. But, it will never be at the cost of my books. My main focus will always be books - that is one thing I have always been clear about.
Amish: Of course, I do have the Maharabharata story in my mind. And as mentioned earlier, I will be writing all those stories in the coming years.
Which means, you will be keeping your readers busy for the next 25 years. That's impressive!
Which means, you will be keeping your readers busy for the next 25 years. That's impressive!
Well, I hope they keep me busy and continue to read, buy my books. Otherwise I'll have to go back to banking (laughs).
Has there been any update on the Immortals of Meluha film adaptation?
Well, originally only The Immortals of Meluha was part of the contract. But now, the entire trilogy is a part of the contract, the right of which are with Dharma Productions. The trilogy will be adapted into a series of films and will be directed by Karan Malhotra. Karan and his wife Ekta are writing the script. My role is that of a creative consultant. I have explained the world and concept to them. I am not involved with the project in any other way.
It's been quite a busy year, with all the pre and post book release promotions and other work. Are you taking some time off for a vacation anytime soon?
I always take time out for a vacation. My wife and I love traveling, so we make sure that we include 1-2 foreign trips every year and at least 4-5 domestic holidays. Earlier, we would back pack while traveling. But now that we have a kid, comfortable traveling is a must. Recently, we traveled to Kenya for a wildlife safari vacation. We had a great experience, with some wonderful memorable moments. In fact, once there was a cheetah who climbed up on our jeep. It was a jeep that we had hired, where only my family (Amish, his wife and son) and the guide / driver were seated. The cheetah was at a distance where we could literally touch him, and well, there was no glass in between either. That was a divine experience!
What’s the rest of 2015 going to be like for you?
I need to start writing now (smiles). Well, I need to start work on the next book, which I will once all the promotional work for Scion of Ikshvaku is done. There are a few visits and tours left. So, I'll probably start writing the second book in a month or two.