Author Interview: Mayur Patel
Both his books are fiery and a perfect fodder for wrath of Moral policies in our country, yet his book stand upright and vivid with its message and bold theme. Catch the author of “Scarlet Nights” in a candid chat with us
Could you brief us a bit about yourself and how you started writing?
My name is Mayur Patel. I live in Valsad, a small town in Gujarat. I have studied Civil Engineering and have worked in the field of Interior designing for some years. At present I am associated with a media firm in Surat, Gujarat. My first novel was ‘Vivek and I’ which was published by penguin books India in 2011. ‘Scarlet nights’ is my second novel. I write novels and columns in Gujarati, my mother tongue, too. My first Gujarati novel ‘TarpanYatra’ will be published within a few months.
Besides Reading and Writing, I like gardening, cooking, watching movies and playing badminton, but the thing I love the most is traveling, because it enables me to explore a better person and writer within me.
There has always been a storyteller inside me. The neighboring kids and my classmates loved to listen to the stories I told them. Believe me, my stories, loaded with exaggerations and animated sounds, were very popular. I started to read novels in Gujarati at the age of 10 and tried to pen the first novel of my life when I was 12. Needless to say, it was a mere copy of the authors I used to read. I kept attempting to writing novels (in Gujarati and Hindi) for years and finally succeeded in finishing one at the age of 17. Though it never got published, it gave me a confidence that I can write a full-length novel. Years went by, I kept reading novels in Gujarati, Hindi and English, and then came a day in the year 2004 when I started to write my first English novel, a horror thriller titled ‘the woods’. That one also didn’t get published. It was the year 2006 when I began writing ‘Vivek and I’ which later was published by Penguin Books India. And then happened the latest one, ‘Scarlet Nights’.
Your book ‘Scarlet Nights’ is very mature and bold in its treatment and considering the Indian sensibilities, I would say it was a huge risk that you took. What is your take on it?
I am a very liberal person as far as moralities and sensibilities are concerned. I knew since day one that ‘Scarlet Nights’ was going to be a bold story. When I read the final product, I too felt it was very mature so I went for ruthless editing. What you now read now is actually a milder version! The original was far more explicit. I believe Indian readers will take it in a positive way for whatever boldness the story holds is not unnecessary. While reading the book, one might get an idea that these bold scenes are unnecessary, but once he starts understanding the core of the story, he would realize the importance of those bold scenes. While the first half of the story seems disturbing, the second half justifies everything, and the reader comes to a conclusion that nothing has been served unnecessarily. I expect this much of maturity from Indian readers. And the way the novel has shaped up, it’s worth a risk.
The theme and story is very complex at many levels and I wonder what made you take up such a theme. Was there a particular event or story that you stumbled upon which made you pick this as a core theme for the book?
Well, I love studying people’s psychology in everyday life. I observe people’s body language, their expressions, and their words. They teach me so much. I love to chase the lies in peoples’ eyes! I love to try to jump into one’s psychology. ‘Scarlet Nights’ deals with something similar. The traits the characters in the novel have can be easily found around us, if you are a keen observer. I deliberately kept the complexity in the narration for I wanted to add a little bit of confusion in the story. Why serve the readers everything straight when they can have the pleasure of becoming a part of the protagonist’s confusing journey? For the entire first half, Malvika Chauhan, the protagonist remains confused with the ongoing events. I wanted the readers to pass through the same confusion and I have succeeded in it. It was a deliberate attempt. Still, I don’t think it is VERY complex. Just a little use of the brain and the reader will start unfolding the mystery, even before the book starts doing so.
The character of Malvika seems to be a representative of any modern girl, independent and working towards her career and yet in spite of being surrounded by everything modern, is still a bit of conservative somewhere which is evident by the frequent clashes she has with Manyata and Margarita. What kind of research or who would you say was an inspiration for this character which seems so real?
No matter how modern we claim to have become, we Indians will still be Indians from within. We cannot cast off our tradition and culture from our being. Malvika, too, has her own set of morals, and she fights back when she is compelled to go against them. Yes, she is conservative but that is not the only thing why she clashes with Margrita and Manyata. She is an independent woman who doesn’t want to be dominated by other people, hence the clashes.
I did a lot of research for the psychosis the book talks about. As far as characters are concerned, not much of research was needed. I took inspiration from Priyanka Chopra’s personality for Malvika’s character.
There are a whole lot of characters and yet they had all to be tied up with the same rope so which one of these characters gave you nightmares when it came to writing and portraying them in the book?
Etching out Margrita Christian’s character was difficult. I didn’t want her to be a typical, overplaying vamp and that was the biggest challenge. I had to very careful while writing about her, be it her body language, her attitude or her dialogues. Any EXTRA effort would have made her look artificial, so I can say that she was the most difficult task.
Though I had not read your first book, I happened to read its synopsis and it occurred to me as a gay romance (if I am not mistaken) and it started giving me a vibe that you like to take up topics and themes that are sort of forced by our society to be keep a silence on. When authors usually prefer to keep their books safe and something worth the mass appeal, what made you go for the bolder topics that you chose for your books?
‘Vivek and I’ was accepted by Penguin Books India because of its bold and unique theme. Compared to it, ‘Scarlet Nights’ is not that much bold! It does have a mass appeal for sure. I like to plough the untouched grounds because I believe that uniqueness is remembered and cherished for long in any field.
What do you think about the current emerging roles of reviewers are and how much does they actually support or hamper any author?As an author, would you be able to give any advice to reviewers in perspective to being a true support system for authors?
Book Reviews do help when they are genuine. If a writer or a publisher sends a free copy, the reviewer must do an in-depth review. Many write merely five lines of their view and fill the rest of the space with the blurb and author bio. That’s wrong! If you opt for a book review, do full justice to it, whether you like it or not. There are some incredible blog we have in India today. Their opinion does affect the sales.
There are many reviewers who do paid reviews. Their blogs are flooding with 4 and 5 stars only. What’s the use? What’s their credibility? Everybody in the literature fraternity knows them now. Nobody takes them seriously. Nobody buys books reading their reviews. Writers should keep away from such reviewers because they are not going to be a help.Many of them don’t have sense of ‘how to review a book’! Some don’t even know the basic rules of English, especially the college-goers who seek opportunity of earning pocket money through book reviewing. Hey guys, take this job seriously because what you write says a lot about you. I have a set of reviewers whono writer should approach.
Most reviewers don’t trash a book which is good. Valuing the efforts the writer puts in writing a book is important. If you totally dislike a book, don’t write a review. You can curse the write in your mind for writing such crap. To get rid of the bad taste a bad book leaves in your mind, you can throw it away. Burn it, Tear it, but don’t trash it.
What is the toughest part about being a writer?
Conceptualizing the plot is the best part because many a times, I do get surprised by my own imaginations. A great new twist in the tale can keep me euphoric the whole day. Re-writing is also fun. Editing/trimming is difficult. Keeping me motivated and not losing interest from the plot is the toughest part for me. Once I know the entire story, once I finalize the series of the event, I have to just write, write and write, and that is when I get a little bored for I have nothing new to think about. That’s tough for me as I am a person who gets easily bored.
Creative people are said to be very emotional and highly sensitive and they need to have their own space for creativity to flourish. So is there anything like that with you too as in do you have a writing ritual or space that you prefer while writing a book?
I need peace of mind while writing. I hate to be disturbed when I am dating the characters of my Novel. A particular place is not important. What is important is solitude because solitude brings a better writer out of me and that’s probably the ultimate truth for all the writers. I am not a laborious writer. I cannot write for 8-10-12 hours a day. Even if I am free the whole day, the maximum I can write for is 6 hours a day. I spend the rest of the time in reading, watching movies/TV, sleeping and wandering around the streets. My mood swings determine my writing. I cannot force myself to write. Writing is something that just happens to me naturally, and that’s why I am always behind deadlines. Deadlines never work for me.
I am sure my reviews were one of those that actually can be rude and overly critical of your works, so how would you deal with negative or harsh reviews?
I didn’t find your review rude or overly critical. I am open for criticism and yours was a positive one. Actually you have analyzed my book so well, and I must congratulate and thank you for understanding the subject of my book. I would certainly approach you for my next book’s review or, if you agree, I would like to send you the sample chapters of my third novel for an honest opinion.
What would be your advice to the aspiring authors?
Do proper research, Keep the language simple, and be honest. What I believe is that fiction is best digested when the writer keeps it close to reality. I mean, even when one writes a fiction, he must keep the aspects of reality keep flowing through the narration. Many writers, who are heavily inspired from movies, create characters that behave over the top and talk in filmy language. That’s insane! A character from a book must not talk the way an actor on the silver screen does. Cinema can afford to have things overdone, books cannot. Let your characters be normal humans, keep them from the filmy dialoguebazzi and your story for sure will connect with the readers. A touch of reality is important.
What are the future projects for Mayur Patel?
My next release is a Gujarati novel ‘TarpanYatra’, which is the first ‘Travel Novel’ written in Gujarati. It will be released within two-three months.
In English, I am writing an Epic Fantasy Saga which is a mixture of Fantasy, Indian Mythology and Science Fiction. Loaded with action, it’ll have interesting subplots and a lot of characters.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Mayur Patel has studied Civil Engineering. He has worked as a civil engineer and an Interior Designer. He was a part of an orchestra as a singer some years back. At present he works in a Newspaper as a sub-editor. His first book ‘Vivek and I’ was a work of romance and was published by Penguin Books India. He writes Novels, Short Stories and Columns in Gujarati, too. Besides writing, he enjoys a wide variety of activities like reading, gardening, singing, watching movies and playing badminton. Travelling is an addiction which enables him to bring life to his writing. The author lives in Valsad, India with his family. He can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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