An engineer, an MBA, a thinker and now a writer – Abhishek Hemrajani balances more stuff than we’d imagine. He speaks up about his debut novel and more on books and life.
A little about you
I’m an engineer and an MBA, spending most of life in Mumbai and Dallas. I’m also extremely passionate about technology and aviation. In addition to becoming an author, I also have a personal goal to get my pilot’s license. Hopefully, I’ll get to it!
As an author, I would like to think of myself as someone who writes from the heart. My style is more contemporary, but is also rooted in the value system that I believe in. I started writing as a means to give expression to my words and dilemmas about the endless shades of grays that most of us struggle with.
How do you manage writing with a day job?
I am a Senior Product Manager for Microsoft Corporation. I moved to India to do my MBA and joined Microsoft right after I graduated. I love what I do professionally and I was absolutely certain that I would have to make time to write without compromising on my work. I do travel for work and get on conference calls that align with different time zones.
That said, I have realized that writing is the easy part. Promoting the book and other release activities are what put the most strain on a person that is managing a professional career and trying to become an author at the same time. When I was writing the book, I established a strict target for myself – I wrote between 1500 to 2000 words every week. I would write before bed or the first thing in the morning. I also enlisted my closest friends to “test” my product (incorporating my product management skills in my writing) by getting them to read finite chapters and soliciting their feedback. I wanted to avoid rewrites by learning, adapting and evolving in the process.
What made you write this book?
I have always wanted to write. I developed a love for reading at a very young age. I think it was my parent’s way to get me to develop a command on the English language and become eloquent.
I used to blog at one point but I found the medium very restrictive for what I wanted to write. I have always wanted to write a story about relationships. Even when not bound by blood, the affection between individuals bound by emotions is sincere and has the power to influence destinies. I wanted to explore many such relationships with the help of my characters. I first started writing this book eight years ago, but I felt it needed maturity. I decided to wait until I had developed a more nuanced perspective on the central themes and then started to write it.
About the book
Kanak is one of Houston’s most respected and successful doctors. Neil is the charming Head Boy from St. Teresa’s and her first childhood crush. Fate had reunited the two young lovers during their medical residency at the Baylor College of Medicine. In a life that had an extraordinary ability to leave her unfulfilled, Neil and her Pa, Keshav, were the only two men who had brought peace and happiness to the motherless Kanak. They had supported her, applauded her, and held her close through the turns of life.
Rukhsar is the beautiful twenty-four-year-old daughter of Barqat Malik, the noor of her Abbu’s eyes. Ashar is the handsome lover, who yearns to make his Rukhsar smile. Unlike Kanak, Rukhsar did have a caring Ammi. She also had and a proud Abbu. However, she was eager to cast them off, along with the traditional values that she was expected to represent. Ashar was the only thread that still reeled her in, but even that could never be enough for a girl who just wanted to fly away.
Black, White and the Grays in Between is an emotional saga of hope, betrayed dreams, and the endless shades of gray. Set across three generations and three cities – Houston, Hyderabad, and the Bombay of the ‘70s – this is a story about love that is often selfless and self-doubting, and the unexpected virtue of listening to your heart.
What do you think readers will love about this book?
On a serious note, based on the feedback that I received from my friends who read the manuscript, I think my readers will love the handling of the various relationships the most. They will root for Kanak and they will find a way to forgive Rukhsar. I also think they will love the different elements from the narrative: the architecture, the cities, the food, the romance. Personally, I hope they will introspect about the central theme.
Your favourite books
The Alchemist and The Kite Runner had a strong impact on me at different times of my life. In many ways, I consider those two books the strongest influence on my writing. If I had to pick one favourite book, it would have to One Hundred Years of Solitude. The whims of life and the relentless search for truth and spirituality are beautiful themes. As a reader, my taste is very diverse – from the Harry Potter series to iconic works such as Moby Dick. These days, between promoting my book, I am reading The Girl on the Train by Paula Hawkins.
Advice for aspiring authors
Just write. Write because your most favourite words need expression. Write because your thoughts need a voice.
I am amazed that I managed to do it, but I also believe, more than ever before, that if you love what you do and believe in what you want to say, the words will come.
About the Author:
Abhishek A. Hemrajani is a Hyderabad-based debut novelist. He holds an MBA from the Indian School of Business, and a Master’s Degree in Engineering from the University of Texas, Arlington. He was raised in Mumbai, India and spent most of his twenties in Dallas, Texas. He’s the son of a very structured and methodical Engineer father and a Creative Arts major mother. Both of their attributes have had a strong influence on him. He spends most of his (free) time thinking about this universe and the endless, small but enormously coherent actions that influence our destiny. He’s also extremely passionate about technology and aviation. In addition to becoming an author, he also has a personal goal to get his pilot’s license. Hopefully, he’ll get to it.
Catch the book trailer here.
Author: Abhishek Hemrajani
Publisher: Notion Press
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