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An Interesting Author Interview With Mayank Chandna (Abhaidev)

Allow me to Introduce Mayank Chandna, the author of “That Thing About You” (published by: Write India Publishers) who loves to be referred to as “Abhaidev” – his pen name.

To know more about the book you can read our detailed review for the same at:

Mayank is an MDI Gurgaon alumnus who worked in the banking sector after completing his studies. His love for writing, however, brought him to the field he was always interested in. He is an avid reader whose favourite genre includes science and classic literature.

Mayank Chandna (Abhaidev) - The Author Of - That Thing About You

Mayank Chandna (Abhaidev) – The Author Of – That Thing About You

Reading “That Thing About You” made us curious to know more about him and thus we approached him. Fortunately, the things worked out positively and from our team, I got a chance to have a small Q/A session with him. I would love to share it with you all.

Greetings from team ThinkerViews…!
We are glad to have a conversation with you. Thank you for sparing some time to have a Q/A session with us. Your book “That Thing About You” is getting positive responses in both commercial and critical aspects since a while. It is a nice book indeed. Please accepts our congratulations for the same and tell us something about it (the response to the book).

Thank you. I feel elated by the response, indeed. The book is receiving rave reviews, and people are finding it different. I never thought that people could relate to the protagonist of my story so much. Subodh, after all, had been or is still a part of everyone’s life.

I am grateful to all the readers who found my book worth their time. So far, the feedback has been awesome. Since it was the first attempt of mine at writing a full-blown novel, I feel that I have done justice to my capabilities as a debutant. True, there is a new lesson to be learnt every day. Hence, I am keeping myself focussed and attentive. I think my journey as a writer has begun at an extremely positive note. Yes, the career of an author or a novelist is not a 100-meter sprint, but a long, taxing marathon. I believe that I have got off to a great start and will evolve and improve with time.

It is a kind of cliché question, obviously, you are feeling joyous, accomplished and happy. Each time we are able to follow our passions the way we want to and getting a positive response on the course, we feel, inching more towards completeness. Do you think so?

I believe that more than anything a man seeks meaning in his life. It could be anything. From as simple as having a happy family life to a seeking purpose in divine suffering. From doing something to give ourselves a sense of superiority over others to living a life of an epicurean, of an aesthete. The possibilities are endless. But whatever be our choices, the motive, however, remains the same. We desperately want to make this senseless existence meaningful.

I too am no different. I seek transcendence in the practice of writing. And I would keep on pursuing my dreams even if I do not succeed commercially. But like every other author, I too crave recognition. Nothing gives me as much joy as a few kind words of appreciation for what I am doing. Nothing gives me as much happiness as few sentences of praise for what I wrote. So, yeah, you are right. Every positive response is a boost. Every feedback is a step towards constructive evolution. Moreover, it assures me that I am on the right path. It gives me the much-needed motivation to keep on moving forward. I am grateful to everyone who took out time not only to read my book but to give me feedback as well—critical or constructive. Yes, it is very easy to please we writers. All we require is adulation.

It is really nice to know your frank thoughts. Can you tell us more about yourself, your background, your profession, and your passions?

God! Unless asked in a job interview, this is one of the toughest questions to answer. Well, I am a Capricorn, who, like most of the people, did his engineering, worked in an IT company for a while and then cracked CAT to pursue MBA from a reputed college. I worked for a short while in an investment bank, too. But then one day I had an epiphany. ‘What the hell I am doing? Yes, I have to earn money. But is it the only thing?’ Such were my thoughts. And then I finally took the plunge and told myself that I should pursue my passion. And here I am, trying to do what I always wanted to.

I have started late, yes (becoming a published writer). But there is no age to realise one’s dreams. The number 33 doesn’t bother me. There are a lot of writers who began their journey at a much later age. I am lucky to have parents who support me in every possible way and back my undertakings no matter what. And for that, I will always be indebted to them. Without them, I am nothing. I am single, and I don’t plan to marry anytime soon. Freedom is more important to me than emotional security.

I am passionate about Progressive House music. And I am planning to train myself to produce electronic music. I also have a penchant for philosophy. I love reading even didactic and obscure books that most modern-day readers would find tedious, heavy, and time-consuming. Continental and Indian philosophy interests me a lot. I also devour science books. Especially the ones on physics.

Physics is on the verge of collapse, and it needs a complete overhaul. But mainstream scientists and Institutes want to maintain the status quo for obvious reasons and are coming up with quick fixes and patches whenever there is an anomaly. I believe there is a revolution underway. Very soon, there will rise a new “Einstein” who would come up with a completely new theory that would turn the world of science upside down. And I am positive that this would happen in our own lifetime.

Oops. I think I digressed too much. Lol.

So detailed response. Appreciated! We came to know a lot about you. Can you tell us what draws your interest in writing?

I overthink. At times, I am consumed with a single idea. Moreover, I have stories to tell. I write to relieve myself of the burden. It is an itch actually. A day without writing is an awful day. I have to write, you see. To remain sane. It is difficult to explain this urge in words.

Yes, it is expected of writers to explain even the unexplainable. But at times even we can’t. Only a writer can understand this compulsive need, this pressing and overpowering desire to pen down one’s thoughts. I know I am talking gibberish. Wittgenstein said,

Whereof one can’t speak, thereof one must remain silent.

I think I should do the same.

Can you tell us how the idea of writing “That Thing About You” conceived?

That Thing About You is an old story. I conceived the plot nine years back and wrote the first draft three years later. So, it has been almost six years. Since then, I have evolved a lot. And you’ll notice that in my next books.

That Thing About You by Mayank Chandna (ABhaidev) | Book Cover

That Thing About You by Mayank Chandna (ABhaidev) | Book Cover

Anyway, coming back to the question of how I conceived it – Well, it was easy. It is semi-autobiographical. I was a lot like Subodh, the protagonist of my story, a decade back. And I am still a little like him (when it comes to the issue of discipline). One day I had an epiphany. Why not write a book about a man who is seemingly intelligent, philosophical, yet immature?

Salinger wrote about a boy having teenage angst. But Holden was not a grown-up man. He was a teenager. I think there are only a few authors who have written a book in which the main character is an immature man. I wanted to tell a story from the perspective of an immature man-child. I wanted to write about his inner turmoil, his journey on the path to self-discovery. I wanted to write about a man who refuses to grow up. Hence, the idea of That Thing About You was born! We all have been Subodh, at some point in our lives. “That Thing About You” is a story of everyone.

Can you tell us about your choice of the genre? Actually, we’ve often seen authors mostly go with something related to their jobs, especially when it comes to their debut work. Ravi Subramanian, for example, writes banking thrillers. John Grisham explores legal thrillers and so on. Of course, there are authors who write fantasy fictions or mythology retelling which are far from their area of profession. We just want to know about the reasons behind your choices.

I don’t have an affinity to a particular genre. I am exploring several at the moment. But yeah, paranormal and fantasy give me enough leeway. You can make even the impossible possible. If there is magic, anything can happen, right? It is just a coincidence that many of my books would fall into the paranormal, fantasy, science-fiction, and magical-realism category. I do not want to limit myself to a particular genre. I would, however, avoid mythology and romance, for reasons that I don’t wish to talk about.

Can you tell us more about your writing regime? Are you a method writer or an impulsive one?

I make sure that I write at least 100 words a day. My goal is to bring it to 1000. But presently, I lack either the discipline or the mental makeup to achieve this feat. So, my writing streak is completely haphazard with ups and lows the way it is in an ECG graph. On some lucky days, I manage to write 2000 words, but on most of the others, I struggle to write even 200! It bothers me a lot, for this is one of the areas that I need to improve on. Yes, I am an impulsive one. If an idea strikes my mind, I can’t rest, unless I write it all down, the very same moment.

Can we see “Abhaidev” writing a book/books in other genres? Is there a book already in writing? Can you tell us something about it, if so?

Yes. My second book in the making is a blend of Science-fiction, Fantasy, and Thriller. My third book in the making is a blend of Fantasy, paranormal and Philosophy. And I expect my fourth book to be a complete departure from all three. Talking more about them right now would be too premature. I am not loath to experiment. And I for certain don’t want to limit myself to a particular style or genre.

Wow, that’s pretty good news! The book cover plays an important role in bookselling, were you involved in the book cover designing process? How much?

Yes, I was involved in the cover designing process. I wanted to keep the design minimal, yet mysterious. It was I who suggested my publisher the design and helped them get the photograph. The picture that I chose is not at all random. Only after finishing my book, a reader would realise why it makes sense.

Every book affects its author in some way. How do you think writing “That Thing About You” affected you?

Writing “That Thing About You” didn’t change me per se. It did bring me relief, though. As if the burden on my shoulders had magically vanished. As I told, this book is semi-autographical. So, finishing it brought a sort of closure. It helped me move on. Now I can finally write about characters who haven’t been in my life ever, are entirely fictional, and have nothing to do with me, howsoever.

Who are your favorite authors whom you love to read?

I devour classics, so there are too many acclaimed writers who are my favourites. To name a few–Huxley, Dostoyevsky, Salinger, Hesse, Fitzgerald, Wilde, Camus, Kafka, Steinbeck, Tolstoy, Chekhov etc. Vonnegut, Keyes & Bradbury are the latest addition to the list.

When it comes to Science Fiction, I am a fan of Philip. K. Dick, H. G. Wells, and Richard. K. Morgan of Takeshi Kovacs series.

Which are the book(s) you are reading currently?

I have read seven books by Vonnegut recently. And I plan to finish all of his novels in the coming two months. Currently, I am reading Mother Night (again a Vonnegut one). I am also reading Narcissus and Goldmund by Hesse, and Flowers for Algernon by Daniel Keyes. I can’t write If I stop reading. To me, like every other writer, reading is the input (the breath taken), and writing is the output (the breath exhaled).

What are your hobbies apart from writing?

Writing is no longer my hobby. It is the only activity that gives meaning to my life. Moreover, it gives me relief, a sense of high. I plan to become a professional writer one day. In my opinion, a professional writer is one who writes at least 1000 words a day. I am not there yet. But I think, with enough discipline, it would be possible.

As I told earlier, my other interests include reading science and philosophy books. I am also an ardent fan of progressive music. One can find me with my headphones all the time. I also love watching independent drama movies. They are mostly poetic, for the producers of such movies aren’t bothered about commercial success. Works of science-fiction interest me too.

What do you think about video trailers of the book(s) which are an almost inevitable part of marketing these days?

With the advent of the internet and video sharing apps and websites, we have become increasingly visual. And we want everything quick. We don’t have the patience to imagine things ourselves. So, yeah, trailers have become almost a necessity. But they work well for plot-driven novels. A character-driven novel is a different thing, altogether. I don’t have a trailer for my book yet. But I too am thinking of creating one. Let’s see how it goes.

What is your opinion about EBook readers and their impact on the generation overall?

E-books are convenient, cheaper than physical copies, and available at a single click. Indubitably they are bound to get popular. However, they aren’t going to replace paperbacks anytime soon. The experience of having an actual paper book in your hands can’t be substituted with. I am indifferent when it comes favouring physical copies or e-books. But I do want to point out that the belief that e-books are 100% eco-friendly is a misconception.

Well, the digital file? Yes! But what about the e-readers? I think we should find other avenues to make paper. Hemp is a good alternative. But unfortunately, legalizing its cultivation is a big risk and a matter of huge debate. Well, I think I have made my point. I shouldn’t digress further.

Of course, anything which has anything to do with electricity is not purely eco-friendly, so far. I agree. Do you love to read traditional printed books more or EBooks?

It’s actually a healthy mix of both. But many a time I prefer an e-book. Especially when the book I am reading is a classic or in a public domain. You see, it is easier to make notes with e-books. All you have to do is select and copy paste. All classics have grandiose words, sentences, and metaphorical writing that you can’t help but ponder. Making notes on a printed book would thus be messy. For contemporary novels, however, and for science and philosophy books, I prefer a hard copy.

What are your opinions about various social networks and the way it can be used to spread awareness about some important cause around the globe?

Gone are the times when people used to get together or commute to a common place to discuss important ideas. In this fast-paced world, nobody has the time and money for that. So, yes, social media is our only option. It has unimaginable reach at almost the speed of light. Plus, it offers people the platform to connect at zero cost. The power of social media, thus, can’t be downplayed. It can make or destroy careers. It can start a revolution or bring a movement to its end. Yes, we shouldn’t be an addict. But at the same time, we can’t afford to be absent. Like the Buddhists say, “one should take the middle path“. Social media is an excellent medium if you use it right.

Did you grow up hearing moral and ethical stories from parents/grandparents? If yes, how it affected your persona?

Yes, I was born in the times when nuclear families were a rarity. Joint families were convenient both for economic reasons and from a social point of view. So, yeah, my grandmother and my great grandmother would often tell me stories when I was young. We also had a mini library of books. I finished almost all of Premchand and Sharatchandra books when I was not even 15. True, our parents and our relatives are our first teachers, but I believe that it is our college years that give us a final touch. The importance of ethical and moral stories can’t be denied. However, it is our teenage years when iron is the hottest.

That’s right. Do you think that we are gradually losing the tradition of hearing “moral and ethical stories from grandparents”?

Yes, of course. Kids these days are glued to screens.

Not only kids but even the grandparents and parents are also glued to smartphones too. The short-animated videos for children on video sharing sites are more impactful. People are losing the art of story-telling. Everything is visual.

Fifty years back, almost everyone was a decent writer and storyteller. For the only way to contact our loved ones was through letters. As a result, everyone did their best to sound intelligent and creative. No wonder why our ancestors had bigger vocabularies and were good at writing prose and poetry.

Modern writers are nothing compared to Dostoyevsky and Tolstoy. And even If we want to write like them, we can’t! This fast-paced modern life has ended a lot of traditions. And one of them is that of hearing moral stories from our grandparents.

Kids these days are missing something that they don’t even know about.

Technology has taken over. But for the bad!

Do you think it affects the social canvas of our culture?

It has, indeed. As a result, the philosophy of a modern-day man is YOLO. You only live once.

So why not do whatever you can to fulfill your desires? Why not exploit the resources to the extreme and consume as much as you can? One life, after all, right? The present-day man is incapable of sacrifice. The present-day man is incapable of carrying the flag of revolution.

Had Bhagat Singh, Subash Chandra Bose and Chandra Shekhar Azad believed in the concept of YOLO, India would have never earned her freedom. We take things for granted. And those who sacrifice themselves for others appear to us as fools. All of this is because we have stopped hearing stories from our grandparents.

We have lost our connect with the age-old wisdom and our past. Call me pessimistic, but we are heading towards dire times. YOLO is not a very practical philosophy. It is the renunciation of all our responsibilities as a citizen. And it is the cause of all our social and environmental problems.

Please share your social media/web presence, so readers can connect with you.

Sure…

Please share anything you want to from your end?

I want to applaud you and your team for the excellent work you are doing. Your website is one of a kind. There are no book bloggers in India at least who provide such detailed, yet spoiler-free reviews. Kudos! Your platform is one place that every Indian writer or reader should check out. Thank you for empowering authors and helping them connect with serious readers.

Besides this, I also to want to give my two cents to those who want to pursue writing and are yet to begin their game.

Please, don’t try to emulate others! Find your own voice and style.
Commercial success is a matter of chance. Do what you are supposed to.

Thanks.

Thank you for the fantastic words! It was really one of the most interesting author interviews we’ve had and we enjoyed it throughout 🙂

Here is a quick link to purchase “That Thing About You“.

Over To You:

Let us know that what do you think about this Interview session? Do you want us to ask anything else to him on your behalf? Do let us know. Also, let us know which other authors you like us to interview? Do let us know your thoughts and remarks via comments below. Do not forget to share this article with your friends over various social networks via Twitter, Facebook and others. And yes, you may like to subscribe to our RSS feeds and follow us on various Social networks to get latest updates for the site to land right in your mail box.

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