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Chillibreeze Interview with Ahmed Faiyaz
Ahmed Faiyaz, a Management and Strategy Advisor by profession, has also set up an independent publishing firm, is an independent filmmaker and is the author of the bestselling titles, Another Chance/Love, Life & All That Jazz/ Scammed - Confessions of a Confused Accountant. He has contributed to popular anthologies - Urban Shots, Urban Shots Bright Lights, Urban Shots - The Love Collection, and is the editor of the bestselling, Urban Shots Crossroads and Down the Road.
1. Please tell us about yourself.
I grew up in Bangalore and now live in Dubai. I am a strategist by profession, with a number of years of experience in Management Consulting. I am a book and film addict, and apart from reading books and watching cinema of all genres, I’m also a writer and a filmmaker. My first book, Love, Life & All That Jazz, was published in April 2010. It’s a popular bestseller across major cities. A few months later, with the launch of Grey Oak Publishers, we released, Another Chance - my second, bestselling full-length novel. I’ve also contributed stories to the bestselling Urban Shots series. Besides writing I enjoy long getaways in the mountains or to secluded beaches, where I catch up on reading. I also review books for Asian Age, Helter Skelter and The Tossed Salad from time to time. In 2011, my 3rd novel, Scammed - Confessions of a Confused Accountant, was released, it is among the top new releases nationwide, and I’ve edited the bestselling, Urban Shots – Crossroads and Down the Road.
2. What draws a Chartered Accountant to creative writing? Can you share the path with other professionals who want to break-free and make it big as writers?
I believe writing came naturally to me as I was quite good at making up stories. I've been an avid reader from a very young age when most of my friends were reading Tinkle and Archie comics, I on the other hand had finished reading a number of classics as well as several collections by O Henry, Roald Dahl and Leo Tolstoy. I finally decided to sit down and pen a story that had been on my mind for many years. The global recession was causing a lot of worry for people across the globe, and my first novel essentially told a story of youngsters who initially run the rat race and then made a course correction to find happiness in life.
3. Tell us something about your first book release “Love, Life and All That Jazz”. What was the inspiration behind writing this book?
What led to its conception was the emptiness in people's lives I saw around me. I saw peers slogging it out for bonuses, taking loans to buy houses, but deep down they felt lonely and frustrated. The book is about passion and I want to inspire people. While growing up, we aspire to do many things and change the world. When you start working, you are more bothered about paying bills, appraisals and traffic woes. Through the journey of the characters over a period of seven to eight years -- I attempted to tell the story of fast-paced city life, how it changes people and its aftermath on relationships and career.
4. What are you reading right now? Are there any authors that you would name as influences?
I tend to read 3-4 books at a time. At the moment, I’m reading Saturday by Ian McEwan, The American by Martin Booth and Afterparty, a recent release. There are a number of writers I’m inspired by – Charles Dickens, Truman Capote, F. Scott Fitzgerald, R.K. Narayan, John Grisham and Haruki Murakami among a number of other writers.
5. What do you find the toughest part of writing? What are your recommendations to the new and upcoming writers?
Writing is very time consuming and exhausting as it requires you to be absolutely focused, disciplined and committed as nobody is compelling you to do it. I wouldn’t want to say anything more than that, do it if you truly enjoy it and if you have a sense of belief in what you’re writing. If there is honesty in you’re writing, then it makes sense investing that time and effort. It’s pointless if you’re doing it because someone else has.
6. What kind of resources do you think are lacking for young writers in India today? What are young writers looking for?
I don’t think the current generation lacks anything in terms of resources; we’re quite a privileged
7. Did you face any challenges while publishing your first book?
It was difficult, as it was rejected or ignored by the big publishers. To start with, it ended up being published by a small publisher based in Delhi and that was a problem in a number of ways. Honestly for your book to work it isn't just the writing but it’s more importantly what your editor brings to your table as ideas for improvement and what your publisher is able to do in terms of designing, marketing, distributing and publicizing your book. All of this needs to be in sync for a book to reach its target audience. I didn't have any of this with Love,Life & All That Jazz and we built it up from scratch along the way after launching the book, which in turn gave Another Chance, Urban Shots and everything else that's followed a better platform.
8. Tell us something very exciting about your new release Scammed – Confessions of a Confused Accountant that might prompt the readers to pick the book right away.
After the very successful but intense love story, Another Chance, I was wondering what to write next. I was toying with another plot which was again relationships focused but decided against it after writing 3 chapters. I felt that its time to explore my lighter side and write something around the corporate world, the sleaze and politics that's often behind the scenes and how youngsters are drawn to this like bees to honey. The urban India that one sees today, the rat race, chaos, corruption and materialism inspired Scammed - Confessions of a Confused Accountant. It's a witty and racy account of the life of Hitesh Patel, a young frustrated accountant who takes shortcuts to success, which prove to be mistakes later. I think by keeping it anonymous, it does raise the level of mystery and intrigue about who the author is and what the book is about.