Recently the cover of ‘A Murder in Gurgaon’ was launched by Srishti Publishers, a novel written by Debut Author Manish Dubey which grabbed a lot of eyeballs.
Manish Dubey is a policy analyst with time for politics, cricket, sitcoms and PTA work. A Murder in Gurgaon is his first work of fiction, was drafted alongside work on water sector reform in Bihar and climate change issues in Kolkata and Surat. He lives in Gurgaon with his wife, two children, and mother-in-law.
One of our correspondents had tête-à-tête with the author recently and here are the highlights of the interview.
Q. How is the response of your 1st novel A Murder in Gurgaon’s cover and pre-order? Are you satisfied with it?
A: Satisfied would be an understatement (smiles)! But seriously… the response to both the cover and the pre-order have been overwhelming. A new author couldn’t have asked for more. We, (publisher) Arup (Bose) and I that is, always knew the cover would ‘connect’ but reactions to it have surpassed our expectations. The bigger deal, in a sense, has been the pre-order response. Heartening, but also a little scary. The expectations of so many have created a certain kind of pressure, a sweet pressure is what I would call it, and I just hope (crosses fingers) readers have as much fun reading the book as I had writing it.
(The cover art of A Murder in Gurgaon. Source: Srishti Publishers)
Q. Tell us something about your journey to be an author, how it feels now?
A: I am yet to get used to being introduced as an author! Having said that, there is a huge sense of satisfaction – and not a little bit of relief – at having seen the book through. Enjoyable as it is, writing is also terribly lonely. However encouraging your spouse and friends are, there are days when you end up doubting all that you have typed up, think whether it will connect with anyone at all and wonder if you have wasted x months of your life. All of it, thankfully, goes away once a publisher greenlights the project.
Q. What is your quest as an author? Where you want to see yourself in 10 years from now?
A: Critical acclaim and commercial success never killed anyone (smiles)! Like I said earlier, if readers have as much fun reading my work as I had while writing, I will be happy. Ten years from now… hmm… ten years is a long time and, honestly speaking, I haven’t thought that far ahead but writing is something I love and I would like to do as much of it as I can.
Q. Cover is superb, our team is excited to read the novel, tell us something about your debut novel, What can we expect from it?
A: If I had to choose two words for AMIG (A Murder In Gurgaon), they would be ‘pacy’ and ‘racy.’ Hardcore crime thriller enthusiasts will like the accent on the minutiae of crime and the narrow cast of morally ambivalent characters. I would also like to think that there’s some freshness in terms of narrative style but saying more on that may end up revealing a little too much, so…
Q. In which genre you want to continue writing? Your debut novel seems a cracking thriller but will you switch the genre in future or not?
A: Crime writing fascinates me and I suppose it’s safe to say I’m not leaving it anytime soon. Having said that, I wouldn’t mind trying my hand at another, completely different genre in time. Sports writing is one I can immediately think of. The responses to some of my cricket pieces in The Hindu and ESPNCricinfo have been pretty encouraging.
Q. Is finding a publisher was difficult? How is your experience of working with Srishti Publishers, the distribution giant of our country?
A: Let’s just say finding a publisher wasn’t as difficult as I thought it would be. Partly because I had been adequately forewarned about rejection. Learning that even the likes of Rowling suffered multiple rejections was, for want of a better word, comforting. The toughest part, for a first-time author at least, is the wait. The wait while publishers look at your proposal, the wait while publishers look at your manuscript. You don’t know what’s going on in their heads and there are days you pray that you just hear from someone, even if it’s a rejection.
As for the association with Srishti, their known strengths aside, the best part for me has been their patience. I’m a jitterbug, even by the standards of first-time authors, and have had hazaar, mostly stupid questions at every stage. The good folk at Srishti have nicely and patiently responded to each of those. If I’m not a nervous wreck now, it’s much credit to them.
Q. What else you do apart from writing?
A: I’m a policy analyst by day, working as an advisor to government agencies, international and domestic NGOs and multilateral development partners such as the United Nations and the World Bank.
Q. Who are your favorite writers?
A: More than favorite authors, I have favorite books. And it’s a long list. Top of the mind: Keigo Higashino’s The Devotion of Suspect X and Malice, Kalpana Swaminathan’s The Bougainvillea House, Orhan Pamuk’s My Name is Red, Mohammed Hanif’s Our Lady of Alice Bhatti, Margaret Atwood’s Oryx and Crake, Mohsin Hamid’s Moth Smoke and Siddharth Chowdhury’s Patna Roughcut. I could go on and on.
Q. Who or what is your inspiration to write?
A: Everyday things, more than anything else. I firmly believe there are interesting stories unfolding around us all the time. For instance, take AMIG. It began when a couple I often saw at my regular coffee shop suddenly stopped coming. They had had the vibe of lovers even though they were mismatched in every way – age, appearance, dress, general comfort – and I started wondering what could have happened between them. And how they got together in the first place? AMIG flowed from there. Recently, I saw a teary middle-aged lady sitting on a park bench watching two crows fight over some food. Now, sit back and think. Isn’t there a story there? Why couldn’t she find a place to cry other than a crowded park? What was she thinking as she watched the birds?