Madhav Thapar, the author of The Times We Live In, is a logistics professional and a corporate executive and has over three decades of senior management experience in C level positions, with leading multi-nationals in the field. He is a seasoned traveller with a keen interest in sports and movies. Madhav is a voracious reader with a passion for writing and is an active blogger on social media. He lives in Mumbai.
Madhav Thapar has completed Masters in English Literature. By profession, he works in the Logistics Industry, and is currently employed with C.H Robinson, a US based Multi- National and Fortune 500 Company, as Vice President South Asia.
A Friend Like Karna, his first novel, was published in October 2017 and won critical acclaim across the world. The Times We Live In is his second work.
TBE: Tell us a little about both your Stories, A Friend Like Karna and The Times We Live In, and the story world you’ve created.
Madhav Thapar: A Friend Like Karna’is inspired by the heroic Karna of ‘ The Mahabharata’. Karna has been my hero since childhood, and in my opinion is one of the noblest, most admirable and yet tragic characters of Indian Mythology.
A Friend Like Karna takes elements of the legend and transplants the same into a modern day Corporate Setting. There is the backdrop of business rivalry, politics, the underworld and the glamour industry and the main setting is India’s two mega cities: Mumbai and Delhi.
The Times We Live In is a story that spans more than seven decades, starting from the partition of 1947 and encompasses many real life events including the Indo-Pak wars, The Emergency of the 70’s, The Kashmir Insurgency and 26/11. It is much wider in its time and geographic canvass. It is written in a thriller and suspense format with the foundation theme “Religion does not breed Terrorism, Hatred Does”. Some characters of A Friend Like Karna make a re-appearance and some of the incidents also feature in the timeline of the second story.
Therefore both books are independent and very different, but also connected and similar as both have strong elements of suspense, drama and romance.
TBE: How did this story first come to be. Did it start with an image, a voice, a concept, a dilemma or something else?
Madhav Thapar: Both my stories were born from a concept. They then evolved page by page. I literally did not know the plot development until I wrote each chapter.
TBE: What is the key theme and/or message in the book?
Madhav Thapar: A Friend Like Karna is about friendship, loyalty and how human beings evolve and change through circumstances.
The Times We Live In talks about the horrors of terrorism, and how evil cannot be ascribed to any religion or community, but rather that its seeds lie in the distortions of human nature which are sometimes caused by life’s events and circumstances.
TBE: Who are your main characters? Tell us a little about what makes them tick.
Madhav Thapar: The main protagonist of A Friend Like Karna is Veer, a modern day ‘Friend like Karna’. Another main character is his childhood friend Jay. Then there is the gorgeous Nisha whose substantive presence acts as the catalyst for most of the main events. Each one of these mature and develop as the story progresses.
The Times We Live In is built around the shadowy figure of an International assassin cum terrorist: Cobra whose real identity is kept a secret till the very end.
TBE: Are your characters based off real people or did they all come entirely from your imagination?
Madhav Thapar: My characters are basically fictional, but many of them carry traits that I have observed in people I have come across in real life.
TBE: Who’s your favorite character from both books and why?
Madhav Thapar: My favourite character from A Friend Like Karna is quite obviously Veer, who in turn is inspired by Karna.
The Times we Live In– Here I would pick the RAW officer Shashank, because of the various layers of his personality.
TBE: What was your writing process for this book?
Madhav Thapar: I have no fixed process. My books are written in a flow as and when the mood strikes me, and time available..
TBE: How long does it take you to write this book?
Madhav Thapar: Both my books took 6-8 months to complete the first draft.
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?
Madhav Thapar: The biggest challenge for a new and part time author is the fear of rejection. Only when positive reactions start to come in, does the confidence build to write more …
TBE: What do you hope your readers take away from this book?
Madhav Thapar: I hope first of all that the readers will enjoy both stories. Though, the essence of both novels are suspense thrillers, I do hope that the readers will also recognize and takeaway some of the human values.
TBE: According to you what is the most challenging thing for budding writer?
Madhav Thapar: The conviction to complete the novels!
TBE: How did you celebrate the publishing of your first book ‘A Friend Like Karna’?
Madhav Thapar: The appreciation of my family and friends was my biggest celebration.
TBE: Do you read much and if so, who are your favorite authors?
Madhav Thapar: I have always been a voracious reader. Besides all time favourites like Agatha Christie, P. G. Wodehouse and Irving Wallace, I read a lot of Indian authors and am very impressed by Ashwin Sanghi, Bhaskar Chattopadhyay and Preeti Shenoy amongst others.
TBE: What do you like to do when you’re not writing?
Madhav Thapar: I follow sport and watch movies.
TBE: Do you believe in the concept of a muse? What is yours like?
Madhav Thapar: No single muse, but a lot of personalities and events that impact our lives.
TBE: Do you have any unique or quirky writing habits?
Madhav Thapar: I write without a plot or an outline. Characters develop and emerge as I go along.
TBE: Have you ever learned anything thing from a negative review and incorporated it in your writing?
Madhav Thapar: Yes of course. Genuine and constructive criticism is the best source for improvement.
TBE: What aspect of writing have you most improved in over time? What resources helped you most in this area?
Madhav Thapar: Too early to say!
TBE: In your opinion, what is the most important thing about any book?
Madhav Thapar: The ability of the author to get the reader hooked and interested from the first page.
TBE: What was one of the most surprising things you learned during creation of your book?
Madhav Thapar: Its not as difficult as one thinks!
TBE: What aspects of your creative process do you enjoy most? Which are most challenging?
Madhav Thapar: Building characters is very enjoyable. Writing dialogue can be challenging at times.
TBE: What was an early experience where you learned that language had power?
Madhav Thapar: From my early days of essay writing in school.
TBE: What would you advise young writers trying to build a publishing history or an author platform?
Madhav Thapar: Both actually.
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?
Madhav Thapar: Absolutely untrue. Most authors today follow successful other professions and are great travelers and very social people.
TBE: Do you have a set schedule for writing, or are you one of those who write only when they feel inspired?
Madhav Thapar: The latter…. I firmly believe a story must flow and cannot be forced!
TBE: What are some must-read titles in your genre?
Madhav Thapar: Many but “ The Murder of Roger Acroyd” by Agatha Christie is an all time classic as is “ The Bourne Identity “ by Robert Ludlum.
TBE: Is there anything you are currently working on that may intrigue the interest of your readers?
Madhav Thapar: I have just started work on my new novel. As always, it is at concept stage still, but as a hint it will again feature an adaption of one of India’s great mythological themes into a contemporary story of the 21st century.
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