Author Ravinder Singh made a smooth entry to the hearts of a million readers via his debut romantic novel `I too Had a Love Story’ which was a heartfelt account of his own tragic love life. The admirable and robust popular author whose second romantic novel ‘Can Love Happen Twice’ sold more than million copies on its first day of release thereby setting a benchmark of Penguin India’s fastest selling book in the last twenty five years, was at the Jaipur Literature Festival 2013 as one of the speakers. And he happily agreed for a tête-à-tête on the afternoon of the third day of the mega event. Resham Sengar of Zeenews.com asked the author cum Sr. Program Manager at Microsoft about his life post marriage, his upcoming work, his passion to promote budding talent, his favourite authors and much more.
Congratulations Ravinder! You embraced the holy wedlock a few months ago. Please begin by telling us something about your wife Khushboo.
Thank you. We met sometime back in Delhi. She was one of the readers of my first book and that’s how we got connected. She was working in Delhi but now she has moved to Hyderabad. That’s pretty much of it that I want to reveal about.
Has marriage changed you as a person? If yes, then please tell us in what way?
I am posting lots of aftermaths of marriage quotes on my facebook fan page. A lot of things have changed in me and these are lot of funny facts out there. For example earlier if I had to leave at 9:00 am, I would start at 08:30 am. I would take my bath and by 9:00 am I used to be ready to leave for work. But now if I have to leave at 9:00 am, I have to wake her (wife) up at 05:30 am so that we can leave on time. Now I am getting adapted to the feminine side of getting ready.
How does it feel to be at the Jaipur Literature Festival?
I feel amazing. This is my first time out here. Last year, during this time, I was giving my interviews in the Indian School of Business (ISB, Hyderabad) because it was my placement season and that is why I could not make it to the JLF. But ever since I got an invitation to be here, I could not wait to attend the festival. I think this festival is a great platform for the authors. I think that in a way is our Filmfare awards. The fact which makes JLF different from other literary events is that it is a flagship event that India hosts for the world to be a part of.
You have written two love stories and the third book is a collection of love stories which are written by budding writers albeit edited by you. So now are you not willing to experiment with a different genre in your next book?
Yes, I am doing that. So the next book I am writing is not a love story. The reason why I wrote my first book was that I wanted to share my feelings of loss of my love, Khushi, with the world. And the reason to write my second book was that after reading my first book, a lot of my readers came to me and narrated their heart break stories. Listening to all those tales made me wonder what is different in their love stories and my own love story. The point is that the reason behind the failure of other love stories was divorce and break ups. That made me very upset and I questioned myself ‘Can Love Happen Twice?’ and thus I came up with the subject of my second book.
Please share with us the details of your next book.
My next book is scheduled to release in May 2013. The only thing that I can reveal right now is that it is not a love story. So the experiment part that you asked about is coming in my next work.
Would you like your books to be made into films as well? If yes, then which film maker would you choose to hand over the rights of your books to?
Of course. I have been getting a lot of proposals from film makers. My priority is to research and then decide as to who I have to give the rights of my book to be adapted into a film. Moneymaking is not my goal. I will be very cautious about giving my baby to someone else. I don’t want a peppy masala number to be made out of my novel which I wrote as a tribute to my dead girl friend. Of the film makers, there are lot of them and it all depends how he or she is going to do justice to my work. It does not matter from which banner they come from. What matters is how well they are doing justice to that story.
Which actor and actress would you prefer to play the male and female leads in the film adaptations of your books?
I have no idea about that. Let the right person decide that. For me what matters is that a good film is being made with good actors. It does not matter for me if Ranbir Kapoor plays the male lead in the film or Shah Rukh.
I have gathered that authors tend to exaggerate the content of their book to make it more appealing. So how true is that?
I think it depends from person to person. But why would someone like to exaggerate the content of his book. But the problem is that an exaggerated story fails to connect a chord with the reader. Perhaps, a real life story could be exaggerated but if I am writing fiction, then you can’t draw a line of exaggeration there because I can’t exaggerate my thoughts.
There is a wide gap being drawn between the kind of mass-friendly books that Chetan Bhagat writes and the heavy literary ones written by Sir Salman Rushdie. Can you comment on that?
Both these authors are good. The difference is that they have different audiences. People who listen to rock music are different, as are those who love listening to Hindustani classical music. But both are doing well in their own ways.
Who all do you love reading in the fiction and the non-fiction category?
I don’t read non-fiction and in the fiction category I am selective about who I read. I like Nicholas Sparks, Eric Segal. In fact, I got to know about Eric Segal’s ‘Love Story’ while I was writing my own love story. And that is how we penned down the name of my book ‘I too had a Love Story’. I read Mitch Albom. He is a great author.
What do you keep busy with when you are not writing or doing a 9-5 job?
I love playing Snooker. I have also started playing lawn tennis because the place where I recently moved-in has two tennis courts. I watch television and spend an hour and half connecting with my fans on Facebook and I make sure that I answer at least 40-50 messages of the total number I get on a daily basis. I am also planning of a venture which will bring forth a lot of budding authors. The reason I edited that book called ‘Love Stories that Touched My Heart’ because I believe I have a responsibility to bring forth budding debutant authors. So we did that thing by inviting entries from across India and choosing the top 25 stories among the thousands of stories we received. I want to bring at least 5 new authors with their own book in the next 18 months. I wish to do this solely on my own by opening my own venture to publish these debutants with all my guidance and experience. That is something which has kept me busy for the past 45 days.
How have you planned to finance this new venture of yours?
I am going to do it on my own and if I go to an event as a guest speaker, I may request the audience to co-fund this project. Otherwise, I will go about handling this project on my own.
How should a first time author sell his work to a publisher?
Always remember that the first impression is the last impression. Now that I have got the hang of how the publishing world works after editing those 25 love stories, I have realised that it is very hard to pick up 25 best stories out of the 1000 entries you get because you have to sift through the junk and garbage too at times. Also one has to exercise his or her brain to choose the best of the selected lot. At the end of the day it is important to make sure that you present your work in the right way and the second main thing is to market it well. I believe that when there is a will, there is a way.
How useful is it to hire a literary agent to market the book?
If the literary agent has good networks and is not over-charging you then it is good to hire one. But if he is charging you with a promise of getting you published then one may go for it. But sadly it is very hard to find good literary agents. There are barely one or two out there.
Image courtesy: Ravinder Singh Facebook page