We have all been bitten, at some point in life, by the “love” bug. Certain “in your face” traits are absolutely hard to overlook. But certain hidden facets (of the bug) reveal their true self only after you’ve been battered and shattered, crushing many a dreams and aspirations.
Ankit Uttam, a published author/ software engineer, reveals the true nature of the bug in a very realistic manner in his first published work –Beyond Love. A roller coaster ride through college life when the bug bites most of us, bringing in a furor of emotions, the story bares the different layers of Life and Love and everything beneath and beyond it.
His insight into the realms of human emotions is sure to make you nostalgic and take a drive down memory lane.
Is writing your mainstream profession, or a passion?
Professionally I am a very bad software engineer. I started writing as a part time hobby in the final year which later became a passion and now it is an integral part of my life.
Since when have you been in the field of writing? Is this your debut novel?
I started writing, as a hobby, in the final year of my college. But in the wake of the recession I was forced to search a job. And in the process of job-hunting I thought of creating another option for myself in case I didn’t get one. That’s when I started taking it (writing) seriously.
This is my second book, but the first to be published. My first book was on a very revolting subject. It’s got rejected by many publishers but I still hope to get it published one day.
What inspired you to write this book/ this particular subject?
Recession. It inspired me to find another vocation in the form of writing. There were no jobs in the market and I felt this could happen again in the future too. I could be kicked out of my job at any time. So this (writing), in a way, is my survival backup plan. My first written work was very revolting for my age, that’s what most of the publishers said. So I started writing on a college love story which apparently is a more appealing topic for our dear publishers and definitely had better prospects of getting published.
In the mean time I also learned the basics of investing in the stock market and how to determine which companies are worth putting your money on by checking their balance sheet. So in a way recession is the golden era as far as I am concerned.
What brought about the ideation of four (and a half) love stories?
I really don’t know. There were many lives which touched mine in the college. When you go to college you meet many people. There are many aspects and facets of life that you observe. Same thing happened in the story. I had tried to keep it as real as possible with no lovey dovey overdoses.
I had tried to touch all the aspects of love through various couples. As I have already said in the books’ synopsis that love doesn’t have a single trait. My aim was to touch as many facets as I could without breaking the story.
When I finished the story I actually counted the number of couples and it turned out to be 4.5 in number.
How would you summarize this book for people who have not yet read it? I have seen/read numerous books on college lives and budding love stories. But most of them are purely a work of fiction, presenting a rosy picture of colleges and college life, mostly based on movies and far from reality. “Beyond Love” though fictitious brings out real feelings and real dreams of the aspiring few.
For instance, when I went to college I really felt that girls would welcome me in miniskirts and guys will be playing guitars.
Maybe it was the after effect of “Bollywood” but at that point in life it made sense (in my head) – just like it did to the umpteen other newbies around. But come to think of it, the reality will always be much different rather opposite.
If someone is about to leave his/her home for college or is studying in one already or preparing for some competitive exams, he/she has certain aspirations and dreams about their second home in their mind.
“Beyond Love” is a tale of real dreams, few achieved and several broken, wrapped with characters that are close to each one of us at some point in our lives. This book is not about the characters but YOU, The Readers.
We can’t deny the simple fact that we feel jealous when someone looks at the girl we like even though we have never ever talked to her. We end up finding our best friends (for life) in college but also lose some.
“Beyond Love” is an effort to capture all this and much more in some 200 odd pages through four and a half love stories.
Any particular instance from your college life that you wanted to pen but did not?
I wrote this novel at least five times before penning the final draft which eventually got published. In my initial drafts there were many instances college but they don’t feature in the published work.
I won’t disclose them here too. Like they say – some things are better left unsaid.
Any aversions from critics that you did not expect?
I expected a far better loathing from them about the literary quality of my book, which I am still waiting for.
I expected a rating of about 1/5 or 0.5/5 but surprisingly the response is amazing. I never expected a simple story to touch the lives of so many people in such different ways, to accumulate such popularity. I’m thankful and amazed!
What next novel are you working on?
I am working on the second part of a trilogy. The first and thirds part will come later. So I am starting from the middle.
Why such an approach?
While developing the story I saw a great potential in extending it in a trilogy.
The book deals with the protagonist’s encounters with failures, and even death at a certain point of time. He then realizes that there has to be another way to live one’s life.
The person who helps him in this was evidently a drug peddler, a car thief and a fraudster. But he had something, so invaluable, in his possession that the main protagonist agrees to do whatever is asked of him.
All the three parts are complete in themselves. So the readers won’t have any problem in reading the book.
But the main theme will remain the same in all the three parts.
What according to you makes a best seller?
I am not sure about it but I guess when I go to a book store only two things attract me towards a book are:
1) Its cover design and
2) The synopsis on the back cover
But the ultimate point is the content. You just can’t do away with that. Without a story everything is worthless.
Name some of your favorite authors/books/inspirations?
Ayn Rand’s “The Fountainhead”. I had stopped reading fiction after reading that book. Every other fiction was worthless for me after I stumbled on that novel in my college library.
Fiction bores me to death. I just can’t stand reading them. I mostly read non-fiction.
Among the non-fiction writers and speakers I respect Zig Ziglar, Robert Kiyosaki, Brian Tracy, Anthony Robbins, Jim Rohn and Shiv Khera.
What is it that you like doing the most, apart from writing?
Sleeping and eating.
If you had a book club – what would you name it?
I might name it Books-Pals or Books-Bums.