Childhood and early adulthood are amongst the most cherished phases of our lives. We indulge in really goofy, crazy, silly, yet amazing stunts that, usually come too naturally as a part of growing up. And it’s funny how thinking about some incidents that made you cry back then now bring a smile on your lips.
A great way to relive most of our memories, in today’s fast-paced, workaholic schedule, is by reading Shaiju Mathew’s debut novel – Knocked Up.
On a quiet evening at BookChums’ hub with Shaiju, full of laughter and mirth, reliving such memories of “wackiness at its best”, we got to know a really humble and wonderful young man behind the writer.
Read on and find out for yourself!
So when did the “writing bug” bite?
● Well…I’ve been writing poems from childhood days. We had a certain concept of Newspaper in Education (NIE) in our school, wherein different schools would be featured in the newspaper and students could send in their creative works. I wasn’t much into athletics and this was my way of standing out in class – “getting featured in a newspaper!”
I also contributed a few of my short stories to the “Chicken Soup” series. So writing has always been a part of me.
What brought about the ideation of this particular book?
● I have a great set of friends. And I used to pen a lot of “our” incidents in a journal of sorts and was an avid blogger as well. When my friends (and other people) went through it all, there was a lot of appreciation. It boosted my confidence and kinda triggered me to churn out this book. The dramatization or as we like to call it the “masala” that I sometimes added to zing things up a bit helped in pepping up the situation.
And the title – “Knocked Up” – was it a consciously chosen one or a random impromptu thought?
● (Smiles) “Knocked Up” is a slang (in the US) …for you-know-what. Yes, it involved a bit of thought process and I had to wrap up the “knocked up” part in humor to cater to readers of all ages. I did not want to offend or fall in the bad books of say a 60 year old who’d pick up this book for the pure joy of it.
A clichéd question this one: how long did you take to write this book? And how much of it is real?
● I was done writing the whole thing in about 20 days. I have a journal of sorts which helped me refresh my memories and like I said the “masala” was always there.
The book is 60% real (based on real incidents) and of course 40% fiction. All the friends mentioned herein are my real-life friends and we have pretty much lived up to most of the craziness penned in this one.
Tell us about your professional front.
● I feel that Indian authors do not really get the kind of visibility or promotion that they truly deserve. Even a great piece of work fades away soon and the author is lost in the crowd. Very few publishers go about selecting your piece and pay a meager amount as royalty. So recently a few of my friends and me have ventured into a company –Magic Moments – wherein we help (Indian) authors gain more visibility. Apart from publishing their work we do help in editing, cover page designing, events, promotions and definitely share a good chunk of the profits (with the authors) earned from book sales.
Also, I’ve been working on some movie scripts. Hopefully Knocked Up too will see its movie edition.
What are you currently working on? What next do we see from Magic Moments?
● As of now we are busy with certain events almost every month (of course related with the book promos). I am looking at certain movie scripts and also working on a script for the movie edition of Knocked Up.
Next year you’d definitely see the second part of the book.
Certain books/authors usually leave an everlasting print in our memory. What book/author has had the most influence on you and your writing?
● Khaled Hosseini’s The Kite Runner has had a tremendous impact on me. The emotions portrayed are very deep and humane. Also, his second book A Thousand Splendid Suns was a great one.
I grew up reading a lot of English Classics. Jane Austen, Charles Dickens, Ruskin Bond, Mark Twain and the likes so yes they too hold a special place.
What is it that you like doing the most, apart from writing?
● I sing, read, travel, meet people, make friends, love to go for long drives and of course watch a lot of movies. My friends call me the “encyclopedia” of Bollywood.
Any comments on India’s literary scene as you see it (shaping up)?
● We have a lot of talented writers in the country. But lack of visibility and promotions gives them a setback. I’m sure we can reach international standards provided we are given the right kind of platform. Hopefully Magic Moments should be able to do its part.
If you had a book club – what would you name it? And what would you be reading in there?
● Oh we “creative” ones are all mad in the head. I guess I would name my club The Mad Men’s Club.
I’d like to have a hoard of light-hearted comedy and humorous books for its members. But yes, I wouldn’t miss out on housing age old classics and dramas too!