Today we have Sapan Saxena, author of UNNS- The Captivation. He is an amazing person to interact with. This book is his second novel, first one being Finders, Keepers. Apart from this, he is a great cook and a die hard fan of Shahrukh Khan.
Sur:Tell us something more beside your bio mentioned on social sites.
Sapan: That I am a great singer when I am in my bathroom? OK, jokes apart, I am a good dancer as well and have won many prizes in my college. In fact, I did a little jig on SRK’s Jabra Fan and SRK himself shared it on Twitter from his official account. Also I like cooking a lot, and Hyderabadi Biryani is my specialty. My wife has no complaints except that the kitchen is a mess afterwards.
Sur: When did you realise that you have thoughts of being a writer, even though you are a software engineer?
Sapan: So, that’s a great question, in fact. My father accidently gave me the idea of my first book. I thought the idea was interesting enough to be converted into a book. But still, the social stigma was very much there. My wife was very helpful in pulling me out of the social stigma. Every time I would doubt, she would just say, you can write such complex algorithms, why cant you write a book.
Sur: What inspired you to write this book?
Sapan: To be honest, UNNS was supposed to be my last book. Well, if not last, at least after 4-5 books as I believed I was not ready to handle romance. I could write another mystery, a thriller like my first book. But then, I moved to Nashua during winters and it was snow all around. Somehow I had imagined the last part of my book in hut blocked by snow. This pumped me up and I wrote UNNS.
Sur: I really loved the names, Atharva and Meher Qasim. Are these characters fictional or you have met someone whom you wanted to write about?
Sapan: I usually like to keep the names of my characters inspire by people I know, or my friends. But Atharva and Meher Qasim just clicked. There are other characters like Shruti, Shobhit, Dev, Sasha and I know people with these names.
Sur: This book has a potential of being converted into a movie under crime or detective thriller. So, do you have any plans for that?
Sapan: Yeah, only if SRK agrees to play the lead. Anyways, just kidding. I am trying to take one step at a time. So, right now, too focused on marketing of the book, but anything which comes would be a decent surprise.
Sur:How was your experience with the publishing industry?
Sapan:I have been fortunate to meet some really nice and hardworking people here. The experience overall has been a positive. To break into a new industry leaving behind my comfort zone was tough, but the people here are creative and very enthusiastic. But like any other industry, this has some black sheep as well. Just be aware of them and you are fine.
Sur:Which genre makes you more comfortable?
Sapan:Well if you ask me, I am most comfortable in thriller/mystery/suspense genre. If I add a pinch of mythology to that, I am back into my comfort zone. That said, I have tried to shape up UNNS like a thriller/mystery in spite of it being a romance based on Sufi-styles seven stages of love.
Sur:Is there any genre which you master your skills in it?
Sapan:Mythology and Indian history is something I can easily claim I master my skills in them. I am not generally a fan of mythological or historical fiction, but I like touching those topics in any forum or my literary work. In fact, even in UNNS, you will quite notice how history tidbits keep popping their heads time and again.
Sur:What are your thoughts about the detective stories. Is there any author that inspired you?
Sapan:Well, a friend of mine, Dev Ashish once quoted, “Simplify. Then amplify.” For a good detective story, as per me, there should be a very simple and basic emotion, be it love, revenge, anger, greed, and then it needs to have layers of complexities, which should be revealed to the reader one by one. The shock value is always recommended and the pace should match up with mystery quotient of the book. I am a big fan of Sherlock Holmes. How he would use the simplest of idea and knowledge to analyze hints which would be too normal or obvious to an otherwise semi-attentive eye.
Sur:What matters for a book to be a bestseller? Good Marketing or a Good writing?
Sapan:So my viewpoint may not necessarily echo with others, but having a stable job has its own perks. I can afford to take risks and not bow down to the whims of the market. For that reason, writing is always important. I mean you can invest in a good marketing anyways. Good writing always guarantees that your book has the potential to reach there.
Sur:Why you chose an Indian publisher beside of being living in a foreign land?
Sapan:Well firstly the context and the theme of the book was something I found more relatable to India. And then, I already had worked with some people from the industry, so was on a familiar territory. Fortunately, Inspire India came along and decided to publish it. So, it all fell into the right slots thankfully.
Sur:Your choice and profession are totally opposite. How you manage both the things side by side?
Sapan:Well a lot of people ask that question.
See, my theory is “lack of time is just a state of mind”. I mean you can complain, but if you really want to do something, you will find out time.
I get a lot of support from my wife. She manages a lot on her own while I am busy writing.
Software is a very demanding industry, but if there is work, that takes priority over everything else. If the load is lesser, time to write!
Sur:How far your relations helped you in your growth?
Sapan:The recent trailer of Injustce 2 has a line. “Nobody wins it all by themselves. Not even Batman.” So, that’s true. Friends and family are your basic support system. They have always helped, supported in anyway they can in my journey as an author till now. For that reason, I have a big big list of acknowledgements in my books.
Sur:Please tell us in brief about UNNS-The Captivation.
Sapan:So, UNNS is a romantic espionage thriller. UNNS is largely inspired by the Sufi themed 7 stages of love. UNNS, in fact of the 2nd stage of love. It’s the story of Atharva Rathod and Meher Qasim who fall in love when they are in school, and separate and then meet again. But this time, Atharva is carrying a secret. Will their secret consume their love, or destiny has planned a surprise for them? Contrary to what a lot of people believed and have asked me, its not a Hindu-Muslim love story, per se.
Sur:Your message for the budding writers.
Sapan:Invest your time in writing great stories. Blog, and build an audience early in the day. Network and try to make a positive use of social media. Writing a book is a tough job, if you are thinking about it, just do it. If you have done it, pat yourself and work on a marketing plan. Always remember, everyone remembers a good story, so write it for them.
You can also read the review of the book here.