With a passion for storytelling, Himanshu Rai is a bestselling author. His bestselling titles include ‘My Mute Girlfriend and ‘I Am Always Here With You‘ which have graced the Amazon Best Reads List.
The former was inspired by the author’s personal life. His latest novel – ‘Rhythm Roger- The Secrets of Electon’ is the world’s first Telecom Fantasy Book released on Amazon. Readers have even drawn comparisons to the Harry Potter series for its vivid imagery and it has maintained the #1 spot on the Amazon India charts.
Himanshu has been honored by the Jashn Management & Literature at the Gorakhpur Literature Festival and also by the Shamlam Literature Society in Madhya Pradesh.
Team Storiyaan had a chat with the acclaimed author who spoke about his work and writing life.
Questions and answers
How do you manage to fit writing into your schedule? Do you allot a fixed time to write?
Since I work as a professional in the Telecom industry, there is no fixed schedule for my writing. Generally, I do not get much time to write, so I keep it for the nights. I start by eleven and finish off by midnight. The plot depends on my mood.
Writing a book at the age of 14 is a commendable feat. What inputs did you receive from your family while writing Chariots of Mahabharata?
I come from a joint family in Sagar, Madhya Pradesh. I was barely seven years old when my brothers would read novels to me. Apart from being fascinated with those novels, I would create my own mini-novels using papers and sticking them on cardboard. I still have fond memories of my parents carefully saving my books. Scribbling a few lines in them was the first thing I did towards writing. Gradually, I converted my notebooks into novels and wrote in them. I wrote Mahabharata’s Chariots when I was in middle school but reveal it to my family. I was into poetry and wrote for my family. Since my grandfather was an MLA for Congress, I would be approached by popular newspapers. I narrated my poetry on All India Radio and then worked for Kist Programme. I had the support I needed to continue my work from a family of teachers and doctors. My cousins and I built stories, wrote scripts, directed plays, and acted them out. Once we finalized the script, we invited everyone in the family to look into it. My grandfather would arrive with a bunch of bananas as a reward. He assigned us a room where my father taught tuitions in the daytime, and we enacted plays in the evening. It acted as a gesture of appreciation that I would seek later in life.
Can you elaborate on your writing process? How do you sketch character arcs, decide names for your characters, and finalize the title?
I usually determine a plotline and title through my dreams. Whenever I am awake, I try to narrate it to my wife. I continue it into a novel with a positive input that I receive on my stories; this is a simple concept that I like to follow. In my dreams, the characters start narrating their own stories, and that is how they are developed. Every character has its own features and emotions which complete a novel.
You have written in three different genres namely Classic Fiction (Chariots of Mahabharata), Crime (Recollecting the End: Fingers Crossed), Romance (My Mute Girlfriend and I am always here with you) and the recent one is a Science Fiction (Rhythm Roger - The Secrets of Electon). How did you manage to churn out books in different categories that have received positive reviews on Amazon?
I think of myself as an entertainer. I look at storytelling as a means of getting entertained. To write a novel is to rent out some entertaining content to my readers. It hardly matters to me, whether it is a thriller, mythology, romance, or fiction. Any concept or a story that I feel is interesting becomes my next project. Recollecting End was my first suspense thriller novel, which I wrote as a hobby. When I noticed that people loved it, Chariots of Mahabharata happened, then came My Mute Girlfriend, a classic romance novel. This was followed by I’m always here with you, a contemporary romance novel. Finally, Rhythm Roger was released as a science fiction children’s fantasy book. Rhythm Roger is getting much appreciation. Within half a month, we garnered 100+ reviews and are still maintaining the title of No. 1 Bestseller. Many reviewers and readers compared it to Harry Potter. Along with that, I am working on one of my romance novels set to release by the end, of 2020.
I am also working on Piddu, a romantic yet traditional story that leaves a message on to the readers. The other day, I reviewed a piece of news that is about to be published in the Asian Chronicle. They talked about how my book is as entertaining as Harry Potter. You may point that the cover picture looks different, but the level of entertainment we are talking about in the book matches that of the Harry Potter series.
Which are your all-time favorite books, and what aspects left a lasting impression on you?
I’m not an avid reader. I write a lot, but I read very little. I always loved reading Tom Sawyer as a classic. That was my all-time favorite! One aspect that I still carry from the character is its innocent trait.
What inspired you to write your latest book, Rhythm Roger - The Secrets of Electon? We read that you were planning to release on 26th March, but the paperback release was hampered due to the Covid-19 pandemic. How did you react to the situation?
Rhythm is the name of my son. I would narrate the story of Rhythm Roger to him during bedtime. Soon I realized that he loved this character. I thought if he loves it, other kids may also like it. Then, I decided to pen down the book. While writing, I made it look more exclusive and entertaining. For him, it was a little fantasy world, but I added more science fiction terms for the readers. This is how ‘Rhythm Roger’ was born. I tried publishing it through Srishti Publishers as I had worked with them before as a romance writer, but since they did not print this genre, they suggested I go for other houses. During one of the literature festival, I met Invincible Publishers, and we discussed my book over a cup of coffee. They immediately offered me a contract for 10,000 copies, that is how the journey started. We planned everything, did shoots, and created marketing strategies. The book was scheduled to be released on 26th March but halted because of the pandemic. We sat down to make strategies again and realized that avid readers were slightly avoiding paperbacks because of the spreading disease. We decided to release it on Kindle and waited for the response. Readers created a buzz out of the book, and within a month, we sold almost 1000 copies or more. Now that paperback pre-orders are out, we plan to release it once the lockdown is over.
Can you briefly tell us the plot of your Science Fiction book? How did you feel when it attained No #1 position in all categories that you listed? Did you expect this kind of reaction?
The plot is based on the current situation. I had been monitoring it for quite a period. I was observing kids; even my son is growing. I was just keen to know about their behavior.
Today’s generation is totally into mobile phones! They are playing PUBG all day or watching something on YouTube and all those things. Something which was hitting me hard to understand why kids are moving from socializing to the virtual world. Rhythm Roger is a concept which talks about mobile technology. This book talks about a character called ‘Rhythm’ who discovered the first mobile call in 1991 in Finland. But soon, he realized when a man called Markboo entered his life and took him to a new world called Electon, which is an electromagnetic world. As we are talking about the mobile phone, we have electromagnetic radiation all around us. It is something that we cannot see. So in this electromagnetic radiation is shown in a separate universe known as Electon. Every technological term or technical thing we as humans can touch, see, feel, or invent is in the form of a human being. The guy who comes and takes Rhythm to the world of Electon is Markboo – so he is Facebook. Mark Zuckerberg and Boo are from Facebook. So in the human world, Mark Boo is Facebook.
Similarly, all characters, V Slots, a community in the Electon, is our mobile call that runs over voice time slots. So Rhythm in that world belongs to V Slot. Similarly, D Slots that are Data Time Slots. Our mobile calls also have data requests, or we using data over our mobile phones that run over data time slots. Every element, the unique thing that we have in our human world, is having a replica in that world as a form of a human being.
In that world, in 1991, there was a rule of Anaglo (analog signals) at that time, and there were only V Slots in the Electon world. But yes, Data Time slots that were in the future of Electon want to rule that world. When Electon was created by Heinrich Rudolf Hertz, who discovered electromagnetic radiation, the world was created. When Thomas Alva Edison invented bulb, the bulb is the first device that transforms electromagnetic emissions to form up light, which humans can see. So this bulb became a path between Electon and the human world. Through that path, noise, when we talk about mobile phones, we see a disturbance. That disturbance is known as noise. That disturbance is the main villain in that novel who enters Electon world through the bulb and is known ‘s “Devil Noi’e.” Now he wants to rule that world. It ‘st’s a story about the technical revolution and how these technical things wish to save the human world.
How long did you take to complete Rhythm Roger? It ended in a cliff hanger, according to you and the readers. When can we expect the sequel?
In the first book, we talked about the first generation of mobile phones, and since we have stories until the 5th generation of mobile phones now, the novel will continue further. It took me four to five months to complete this book. Later, editing took around a year to happen. I get incredibly excited when I see that the book is in the first or second mention in any of the categories.
The sci-fi book's protagonist resembles Harry Potter, and readers have even compared it to the series. How do you feel about that?
I was on cloud nine when I came across this news. The work of imagination by JK Rowling is extra-ordinary. I fall short of words when someone compares my work with the novel. I appreciate it highly.
As your current work has scientific elements, how did your background in science influence it?
A lot! I have been working in the Telecom Industry for the last two decades. I acquired an engineering degree in Electronics and Telecommunication. Back then, when I had difficulty understanding specific terms, I would create a story about them and try to learn it. These terms and concepts were never new, I am equally thorough with the know-how.
"World is not only what we see." – This particular line from the book description of Rhythm Roger caught our attention. What made you conclude the statement?
We are talking about cell phone technology here. You must have heard many people advising you against keeping your cell phones in your vicinity, as the electromagnetic radiation may be harmful. But have you ever heard that happen? The line talks about a thing you have never seen in a world of electromagnetic radiations and is known as Electon. It is a story about the technical world of Electon!
You employed different marketing strategies for all your books. How you promote your current book, and in what ways did your publisher assist you?
Every book has a different market audience. If I talk about my first two books, I have never marketed them as I had never thought about writing further. They were a source of my hobbies, purely. I received a call from one of my close friends who works in the television industry for Chariots of Mahabharata. He told me that the lead actor of the soap picked up that book and started reading it during his break. He got so glued into it that he was urging my friend to have a word with me. So I talked with him, and he told me how impressed he was with my work. Soon after, he sent a surprise my way as he had also mentioned it over the call. And after half an hour I received a lot of pictures on my mobile.
They were clicked by all the actors of the serial – the entire cast posing with my book. I used their kind gesture for marketing. When ‘My Mute Girlfriend’ came out, I did not need any marketing because it was based on my real story, so most of my friends marketed it. They circulated emails and posts everywhere. It became a market. Then, I am Always Here With ‘You’ was based on a pregnancy trimester. At that time, marketing strategy was the particular line, ‘I am always here with you’. That line means a lot!
I started thanking people who supported me in some or other way. My teachers, my old friends, I started thanking them with this particular line over Facebook. And somehow it picked up. Then for Rhythm Roger, I was so confused about what needs to be done. Still, my publisher and I decided that because this book has so many terms that are new to readers like Avalonia, Clock of venus, and Dust of Pluto, there are some things that ordinary people may not know. They might find it difficult to understand. I was sitting in publisher’s office, where they have their studio. I immediately went to the studio and shot countless videos, where I explained every term. And that was our first step. When the book came out, I think that immediately went viral because people started picking up on social media and everywhere. I always say that bloggers are people who still actually support every author. And I never ask any blogger to write anything positive about me; always ask them to write what the truth is. Write an honest review. But luckily, everyone is writing good about my books and the word spreads.
Have any of your family members read the sci-fi book. Who has been the most prominent critic in your career?
It has to be my wife as she gives constant feedback on my work. I narrate all my work to her. If she goes to sleep while listening, I understand that this book is not going to work. Besides, my son likes to sit me with my grammar and work me through every fault. My sister, who happens to be the Head of English Literature in her university, also critiques my work. In terms of language, she dismisses me by saying that I intermediate English skills. I would agree with that, but I strongly feel the need to connect with all my readers. If I’m reading a book and have to seek help from the dictionary, it will leave me uninterested. Nowadays, we find the constant competition on social media. For the upcoming generation to read a book for a mere ten minutes is tougher than browsing the internet for entertainment. I see my writing as being more effective compared to a YouTube video.
How did you simplify the book for readers who did not have a background in science?
Rhythm Roger is based on sci-fi, along with broad coverage of Telecom concepts and Quantum Physics. While writing this book, I made sure to simplify each term for all the young-adult readers to enjoy. A few YouTubers have also reviewed my book and called me to tell that they have read the book and loved it. The book takes you to a world of fantasia. It is written in such a simple way that my ten-year-old son can understand it thoroughly.
The blurb 'Rhythm Roger' is very concise and to the point. Achieving that is no less than a herculean task. How did you manage to do that?
I have been in the industry for 20 years. I started in the Telecom industry when it introduced model handsets like Nokia 3310 and Nokia 3315. They were only equipped with calls and not MMS/SMS. As I had a deep understanding of the concept, I went forward with Rhythm Roger. The first book talks about the first generation of mobile technology. I’m writing about the next generations, AI, Machine Learning, and much more awaits the pages.
I am looking forward to writing them in the genre of fantasy.
Lastly, are you satisfied with your work, and is there anything on your bucket list that you would like to tick off in the future?
I’m confident as I had never taken up writing as a profession until recently. I have always loved working in the Telecom industry. When you receive appreciation for your hobby, you feel blessed. If you make art, you would like people to appreciate.
Writing is one of the many fantastic journeys I’ve had the pleasure of indulging in. I am also planning to write a continuation of Rhythm Roger. I’m also working on a romance title with my publishers. Additionally, I am about to finish writing a book titled Piddu. Another one of my works is Emotional Bakra. I like to juggle my work as I want to keep moving and acquiring new experiences. Similarly, I work on at least two to three novels simultaneously.
Favorite character from ‘Rhythm Roger’ – Eva
Favorite Sci-Fi Book – Harry Potter, not sure if it is Sci-fi, but I love it.
Things that are on your writing table – My Laptop and mouse
Writing to you is – Hobby
A contemporary author that you look up to – Chetan Bhagat