Academically overburdened (Engineering from WCE Sangli + MBA1 from NMIMS Mumbai + MBA2 from IIM Ahmedabad) and professionally scarred (a 19-year circuitous pursuit of corporate nirvana), Anirban Das is finally getting serious in life by dabbling in humor.’
In 2019, Anirban was nominated by Salismania and NE8x for ‘Best Author Award’ and ‘Author of the Year’ respectively.
Anirban’s latest book ‘Are You Kiddin’ Me?’, which follows the success of his first book ‘Just Kidding…Yours, Destiny’, has been ranked amongst the top 15 in the Indian Writing Charts at WH Smith Store, T3 terminal, New Delhi IGI Airport.
TBE: Tell us about your book, can you share with us something about the book that isn’t in the blurb?
Anirban Das: My original title for the book was supposed to be ‘Came, Saw, Struggling to Conquer’, based on an adaptation of Julius Caesar’s famous quote. But my editor, Stuti (due credit to her) felt that this was a little convoluted (to put it kindly). So I came up with at least 50 title options until we identified the one that immediately struck a chord: ‘Are You Kiddin’ Me?’ In fact, if you notice, the ‘mis’ spelling of ‘Kidding’ is deliberate J
In addition, I would also like to mention that one of the most humorous set of books that I have ever read is the Asterix and Obelix comic series; Uderzo and Goscinny were nothing short of geniuses. There is a special tribute to them in one of my short stories.
TBE: Why did you choose to write short stories instead of writing a full-length novel?
Anirban Das: My first book ‘Just Kidding…Yours, Destiny’, was a novel. The book was about an unusual love story with humorous undertones; the essence of the book was about making choices, their consequences and the role of destiny. The book was a runaway success; looking at the popularity of my first book, I wrote a thematic sequel tentatively titled ‘Just Kidding…Yours, Destiny 2’. Both books are in the humorous fiction genre. I had so many interesting ideas during the writing of my second book that I decided to opt for a short story format.
And that’s how ‘Are You Kiddin’ Me?’ was born; incidentally, this was my 3rd book, but it got published before my 2nd book.
TBE: What is the key theme and/or message in the book?
Anirban Das: ‘Are You Kiddin’ Me?’ is a collection of humorous stories, with a medley of emotions and anecdotes from our everyday lives. The stories are a celebration of life, our dreams, aspirations, relationships, and our disappointments. From the aspirations of a wannabe entrepreneur to the fate of the student who thinks he knows more than his teachers; from a young management trainee in love with his boss’s daughter to the out of body experience of an urban man; each story is unique with several subtle underlying messages for the discerning reader wanting to read between the lines and find that elusive deeper meaning.
The takeaways will vary from reader to reader depending upon his/ her life experiences and interpretation. These hilarious stories will not only entertain but also inspire and motivate you to love more, live better and laugh louder.
TBE: Are your characters based off real people or did they all come entirely from your imagination?
Anirban Das: 5% inspiration, 95% imagination. My characters are very real, relatable and often flawed personalities. And they are not necessarily in human form as you can see with the Gubbara Yadav story. They could very well be you, me, or someone you happen to know very well.
TBE: What was your writing process for this book?
Anirban Das: I am a very undisciplined writer. Writers are supposed to be moody people and I take that tag a little too seriously. Sometimes, I write for a few days and then don’t write for months, simply because ‘I am not in the mood’.
But there one quirk of mine I wish to share: I make it a point not to read any book when I am writing, lest it influence my writing in any way. I believe that every author has his/her own unique style; I have mine too. Probably one of the reasons why my books are trending with the hastag #The New Face of Humour.
TBE: How long does it take you to write this book?
Anirban Das: A little more than 3 years.
TBE: Which is your most favorite story from this collection? and why?
Anirban Das: A mother loves all her children equally; all my stories are dear to me.
TBE: During your journey from the idea of this book to the publication, what was the most difficult thing you faced? Is there anything you find particularly challenging in your writing?
Anirban Das: Nothing worthwhile comes easy in life. There have been challenges plenty but I have enjoyed them. For example, one of the key challenges: publisher rejections. Mentally I had told myself that my book was worth it if it was rejected by at least 20 publishers/ agencies. Considering that my book was a relatively untapped genre, I could not expect publishers to share my enthusiasm. Finally, after countless rejections, my manuscript was accepted by Srishti. I wear my rejections proudly like badges.
TBE: What do you hope your readers take away from this book?
Anirban Das: Entertainment, love, life, laughter, lots of subtle takeaways & a dash of inspiration. After all, #Life Mein Thodisi Humour Ho Jaye.
TBE: According to you what is the most challenging thing for budding writer?
Anirban Das: Pretty much everything. If you thought that writing was the most difficult part, then I have news for you; you are just getting started. You need to find a good publisher and then there is marketing. All this, while fending off the sharks in the business.
But then again, nothing worthwhile comes easy.
Welcome to the literary world!
TBE: How did you celebrate the publishing of your first book, Just Kidding… Yours, Destiny?
Anirban Das: What I celebrate are the moments when I receive when readers write back to me telling me how much my book touched them. Sample this feedback from a final year engineering student from Islampur.
“I’m currently reading your book “Just kidding… Yours, Destiny”. I decided to write this email after completing your book but I couldn’t resist myself although I’m a quite patient person!
Sir I must say your book is damn nice. It truly is… After a long time I’m reading something and I never expected it’ll be this good! I read a lot but there are very few writers in my life who Keeps me engaged in their books, and you are one of them. I just loved your book thoroughly and I’m totally in love with this book.”
Moments like these make me feel blessed to be an author.
TBE: Do you read much and if so, who are your favorite authors?
Anirban Das: I love so many authors: Keigo Higashino, JK Rowling, Mark Twain, Fredrik Backman and so on but my absolute favorite is R K Narayan; I have read all his books. His book ‘The Guide’ is a phenomenal piece of work; it is light, yet it touches you at so many different levels.
TBE: What do you like to do when you’re not writing?
Anirban Das: In addition to writing, I love teaching; I teach management students across several Tier I management colleges in India.
TBE: Have you ever learned anything thing from a negative review and incorporated it in your writing?
Anirban Das: Yes and No. It’s a given that not everybody is going to like my book. Instead of solitary comments, I pay more attention to common threads across reviews. I like to focus on my strengths and pay more attention to the positive reviews to see if they reflect the sentiment that I had myself experienced or envisaged for the readers whilst writing the books.
TBE: What is the most unethical practice in the publishing industry?
Anirban Das: There are some elements in the industry who exist primarily to con new authors; these range from shady publishers, so called influencers and fly by night marketeers. A new author needs to do due diligence and research to avoid such elements.
TBE: Did you ever have a rough patch in writing, where nothing in the story seemed to fit or make sense?
Anirban Das: Oh absolutely, so many times; I have consigned entire chapters/ stories to the dustbin on this account. This period is really frustrating but turns equally blissful when everything eventually does fall into place.
TBE: In your opinion, what is the most important thing about any book?
Anirban Das: The story/ content, Title and Book Cover. From a new book perspective, the Title and Book Cover is critical.
TBE: What are common traps for aspiring writers?
Anirban Das: Feedback: It is a good idea to get your writing reviewed by a few genuine readers and incorporate their feedback. However, listening to too many people, many of whom do not know the subject as well as you do, can actually hamper your writing.
Finding the right publisher is as critical as writing the book.
TBE: Do you try more to be original or to deliver to readers what they want?
Anirban Das: Definitely, original content. I write for myself first and foremost. Only if I as a reader like my content of Anirban Das, the author, only then I release the content.
TBE: Do you have any suggestions to help me (any one) become a better writer? If so, what are they?
- Shanti, Shanti, Shanti, uske baad Kranti. Basically have a lot of patience; it pays off.
- Read a lot.
- Write a lot.
TBE: A common misconception entwined with authors is that they are socially inept, and they are often associated with loner tendencies; is there any truth to that?
Anirban Das: Perhaps, to a limited extent. If you notice one common trait amongst most authors including me, we love reading. Now it is difficult to make time for both reading and socializing. A typical reader will tell you that a book is his/her best friend. At the same time, it does not mean authors are anti-social. I, for example, socialize when I choose to, not when I have to.
TBE: Do you have a set schedule for writing, or are you one of those who write only when they feel inspired?
Anirban Das: The latter, which is essentially to say that I am a very lazy writer.
TBE: What are the most important magazines for writers to subscribe to?
Anirban Das: I restrict my reading to books and books only; all genres except horror.
TBE: What does literary success look like to you?
Anirban Das: My niche is Humorous Fiction and all my work so far has been in this genre; the vision is to become the reference for literary humour.
My literary icons are R K Narayan, Uderzo & Goscinny, Mark Twain, J K Rowling to name a few. If I can achieve even a fraction of what they have achieved, I would be grateful.
TBE: If you could tell your younger writing-self anything, what would it be?
Anirban Das: Thank you for not taking yourself seriously.
TBE: Is there anything you are currently working on that may intrigue the interest of your readers?
Anirban Das: Yes, I am gearing up for the thematic sequel to my first book titled ‘Just Kidding…Yours, Destiny 2’. Hoping for the book release sometime in the middle of 2020.
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