He is a writer who is known for his strong female protagonists, dark plots and mystery. Often recognized as the Sidney Sheldon of India, this young man is breaking the stereotypes with his series of books. His popular erotica Black Suits You, was adapted into a blockbuster web series by Balaji along with his Stranger Trilogy as Hello Mini on MX player.
The bestselling author of fourteen thriller novels, we have with us our very own Novoneel Chakraborty talking about his books and his life as a writer.
Questions and answers
You are a known name when it comes to the romantic thriller genre in India. Was it a planned move to focus on psychological thrillers as a genre instead of the mushy romance stories which most of the Indians authors do?
No, it wasn’t a planned move. It was while I was penning my second book, I realized this is something which comes out naturally from me and I decided to respect it. And hence, I tell my stories within the genre of a romantic thriller.
Pursuing one's passion and turning it into a profession is a dream only a few are able to attain, especially when it comes to becoming a full-time writer. Indian authors are underpaid in comparison to other professions. What is your take on the same?
Compared to most of the other professions, it usually takes time for an author to get to the payment bracket which is enough for one to become a full-time author or writer. There are other factors as well. But fortunately, there are other avenues if one wants to explore like TV, web and film writing where the payment can be satisfactory.
JK Rowling had self-published her book after getting rejected by publications. We are sure in the initial stage you too must have been through rejections and difficulties while sending the manuscript to an editor. Can you share with us what problems did you face when you had started as a writer?
When I started, the Indian publishing houses hadn’t warmed up to the idea of Indian authors writing in the commercial fiction zone. It was a clear demarcation. Indian authors had to win a western award to be taken seriously here or they should have the Lutyens Delhi’s stamp to be talked about. And thus rejections, for someone like me who had no friends in the publishing circle nor had any background to support it, were but natural till my debut book was picked up by a publisher after which the market also started changing. So did the attitude of other publishers towards commercial fiction written by Indian authors in English. But to be honest I was so sucked into the fact that I want to share my stories with the world that I never sulked when rejections happened. I simply went ahead and submitted my manuscript to another publisher.
I am sure all of us must have read the Stranger Trilogy and is undoubtedly one of the best trilogies we ever had. While writing the book, how did you overcome the block, and what kept you going?
The sheer excitement of telling the story, got me going. Thankfully there wasn’t any block of any kind except the fear of acceptance from the readers since it was a one of a kind trilogy and experimenting in India is always a risk.
All your books have very unique titles. How do you manage to come up with titles that are this intriguing?
I think book titles are very important since they are the first thing one reads in a book. The vibe and the sound of it have to be correct and they should give away just the kind of thrill and romance there is in the story. Hence, I really brainstorm hard before locking a title.
Piracy in Bollywood is a debated topic, and almost every creative industry today is going through it. A lot of books after they release are available online on sites in PDF formats illegally. Any measures that you would like to take to stop books being pirated soon after their release?
This has been a bother for me all the time. My publisher and I have worked to curb it but time and again this menace pops its ugly head which doesn’t seem to have a permanent solution. It’s one of those things which can come to an end only if people boycott it fully. But that, I am afraid, sounds too rosy to be real.
Wattpad is often stereotyped to have amateur teenagers writing cliché stories. What made you venture into a platform like Wattpad with a pen name?
I wanted to experiment with some narratives which I wasn’t sure of how it would be taken if I come out paperback wise hence Wattpad seemed like the best place. Whenever I’ll have an experimental narrative I shall try and pen it down on Wattpad. The pen name part was used for the same reason so readers don’t expect the same they do from my paperbacks.
Black Suits You were adapted by Alt Balaji as Bekaboo. How does it feel to see your story in absolutely two mediums of art?
As long as people appreciate, an adaptation feels good. With Bekaboo I remember a lot of people actually reading the book after watching the series, which was simply amazing.
You won the national bestseller just after the release of your first book' A Thing Beyond Forever'. What was your first reaction when you heard about it?
I was ecstatic and extremely grateful. I shared the news with my parents who were equally joyous.
Your grandfather is your inspiration behind the beautiful storytelling that you do. Could you give us an insight into how has your grandfather made a difference in your life?
Since he never lived with me, I remember meeting him during vacations and when I used to write letters to him. His knowledge of the English language was always an inspiration as he used to share quotations and lines from classics which made me fall in love with the language as well.
You have written two series of novels until now. What is your mantra of rejuvenation when you write a story that expands beyond one book?
I see it as one big story which is spliced into parts. I even write it like that to maintain the ‘feeling of continuation’ and also helps me develop the arc and plot points better. I do not feel the need to rejuvenate since writing is my passion and I always cannot get enough of it.
Half Torn Hearts is one of your latest works, and it revolves around the most important three women that you have had. Did the nostalgia take you over while writing, and how was your overall experience of writing an autobiographical book?
It was one of those sweet pain that engulfed me while I was penning Half Torn Hearts. I guess artists are the only people who need to treasure their pain as it’s from the pain that they sculpt their true identity as an artist. The experience while writing this book was evocative and soul-stirring.
Micro tales, flash fictions, and short stories are very much in trend when it comes to a medium like Instagram. Can you give us a few tips and tricks and what according to you should be necessarily incorporated while writing them?
To maintain brevity is the key when it comes to writing any flash fiction. Another thing to remember is to remain concise and yet to drive home the point is an art which comes with practice.
We have heard that your readers play an essential role in the creation of your drafts, and you end up writing a book based on your anecdotal experiences with your readers. To what extent is this true?
Not only readers but everything and everyone I come across play a role since I make subconscious notes as I go along in life. And I guess that’s true for any creative person. Of course, if something interesting happens in real life, I do fine-tune it and put in my work of fiction as well in a way that it feels organic with the story I am telling.