I Write About Topics That Challenge Me: Tuhin

Who is Tuhin?

I’m an uncomplicated guy, a little old school, an ambivert for the most part, and may tend towards being introvert during most creative moments. I was born and brought up in a small town in Uttar Pradesh (India). As a kid, I felt sad watching very poor but hard-working people around me. There’s an old lady who has been doing manual scavenging in my society ever since I was a kid. And occasionally, if I’m around, a gentle but fulfilling smile occupies her lips. She says ‘Jug jug jiye, meri umar bhi lag jaye.’ (May you live million generations. May you get my age as well). This old lady, with nothing to count as hers, has the heart to wish so much for me! This leaves me overwhelmed, feeling smaller and humbled every time.

As a writer, I like to write about topics that challenge me, make me uncomfortable and are yet important. I like to work with simple, uncomplicated plots and my biggest focus is always on building the characters, making the readers relate to it, rejoice in its happiness and clinch in its pain.

Why do you write?

As I said, I like to address issues which I feel strongly about. Mannu Rikshewala, for e.g., subtly addresses deeply ingrained social hypocrisy. Philosophically, I shift between fatalism and realism.

What made you write this book?

As I said, topics which challenge me and make me uncomfortable, interest me. The deeply ingrained hypocrisy of Indian society is one such topic. The pain, loneliness and magical power of love, is another one. This book is an attempt to address that problem, to make people look at life from the perspective of a Rikshewala. So many of our assumptions about life, the false ego, the fairness of life, the things we ‘deserve,’ would disappear. What will be left is a yearning, to be loved, to have basic needs fulfilled… I thought this was important, as my generation becomes more west looking, it should not forget its roots.

About the book

The story is about a Rikshewala, how his lonely life changes when a girl, or more precisely her diary, enters it. For the first time, he feels that there is someone or something for him, which he could relate to, intimately his. This makes him feel powerful, a reason to fight, to be a better person, to trust his gut and not his wisdom. And just when things seem a little brighter, she gets taken from him. And he has a choice to make which will decide the rest of his life. Entwined in the story is also this girl’s boyfriend, a metro boy who lives a planned life. Some incidents happen which shatter his beliefs and make him rethink his life.

The story is told from the perspective of all three individuals. It is sometimes dark and sometimes bright mélange of emotions.

What do you think the readers will love about the book?

People should like the painfully honest set-pieces on each and every page, the emphasis on character building, the perpetual fight between darkness and light and the character’s ability to choose between them, a belief that all human are born equal, and the expression of an unsaid love, and its ability to solve all problems.

How do you balance writing with another day job?

I’m an investment banker.  I guess for people like me persistence is the key. I make it a point that I write every day, even if for fifteen minutes. Also, I need a dedicated physical space only for writing. It could simply be a chair in my room, near the window, where I sit only when I’m writing such works. Or it could be the garden in my society. Being close to nature helps me write more creatively and expressively.

For Mannu Rikshewala specifically, I spent a good amount of time with cycle-rikshewalas in Meerut, my hometown. I used to have casual chitchat over tea, to have them open up. While on the passenger seat, I would offer them extra money if they’d allow me to ride, with them on the seat. Some of them would agree. But I could never ride for long, riding a rikshaw is not as easy as it seems.

Is there a writing schedule you follow? How do you deal with Writer’s Block?

Persistence is the key. I write for 15 mins to 2 hours every day and like to be close to nature while writing.

This doesn’t mean a plush garden, on days I even feel okay with an open window.

The only solution I’ve found to writer’s block is to take a break and do things I wouldn’t do. Go out barefoot in the park, talk to my neighbors, watch kids playing, talk to strangers on road, play some music etc. Writing, in-spite of writer’s block, makes matters worse.

Tell us more about your body of work

This is my first published work of fiction. Aside, I’ve written a short funny story based on a true incident which has been released in the Nov issue of Muse India Magazine. Another big part of my work is in form of romantic hHindipoetry.

In fiction, my choice varies but the characters have to feel real. I should be able to express the character in such details that the readers are able to associate themselves with it. That’s the most important thing because that’s what my writing is all about.

The story should be related to such an issue that I’m able to feel passionate about it. But I write in an unbiased manner. In Mannu Rikshewala, for e.g., this issue is subtly addressed, by creating an analogy between the way Mannu thinks and the way Ankita’s metro bred boyfriend thinks.

Also, I write on macro-economics and have some articles published in reputed news articles.

Your advice for aspiring writers on writing/self-publishing/book-marketing

Writing needs dedication, and more importantly persistence! After I wrote the book, so many people approached me saying that they have some story to tell the world but lack the patience to sit and write. For me, that’s like saying, I want to swim, but I lack the skills to swim… Patience comes through persistence.

Remember, each book has a certain kind of readership. It is extremely critical to know them. Once you know them, all your efforts, in designing and marketing the book should be very specifically addressed towards them.

Choosing a publisher is a painful process. Trust your heart in this. Word of mouth helps, but it should come from a trust-worthy source.

Digital marketing is simple, and yet effective. Use Facebook, Twitter, Linkedin, Blogs, WattsApp to maximize reach. Give easy to understand, yet an impactful description of your book along with links. It’s helpful to run small surveys about the impact of your posts, blurb etc. before posting it on digital media.

Tuhin’s favourite books and authors

Jhumpa Lahiri remains my all time favorite. I love her way of building characters in their finest possible details. Arvind Adiga is another writer who has had an impact on me. His ability to really ‘become’ varied characters that he portrays is inspirational.

Author: Tuhin
Publisher: Notion Press
Release: 2016
Genre: Fiction / Contemporary
Buy from Amazon

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