Simon is a Mechanical Engineer with Masters in Business Management. He has been a Consumer Insights professional throughout his career and has served Market Research biggies like KANTAR-IMRB and Nielsen before leading and managing roles at some of the renowned corporates and start-ups in BFSI, Real Estate and eCommerce segments. Meeting consumers and listening to their preferences and viewpoints helped him craft stories for Brands he has handled, which later got transformed into his passion for storytelling.
The Bitter Half : a dichotomy of Trust & Betrayal is his debut novel published by Leadstart publishing, which is inspired by a set of true events.
He is based out of Mumbai, and is a passionate quizzer who likes to explore varieties of cuisines. He is also in absolute love with Spanish flicks and retro Bollywood numbers.
TBE: Your latest book ‘The Bitter Half’, as described in blurb, is inspired from true events. How would you describe it for those who haven’t picked it up yet?
Simon: “The Bitter Half” is unique. The theme which this book captures has not yet been covered in Indian literature space till date. Hence, this realistic fiction written in a non-linear narrative style will definitely appeal to the readers and bibliophiles. Along with the protagonist, the readers will experience an emotional roller-coaster ride and get to know the dark alleyways of our judiciary, and how it is not easy for a first-timer to deal with such legal intricacies.
TBE: As the story was inspired by real life incidents, how scary is it to tell the truth in this way, or is it really liberating?
Simon: Why should it be scary to tell the truth? Not all truths are known to everybody unless one experiences it and hence at times “ignorance is bliss”. Truths be rather told, there should be awareness of these lesser known truths. Life is full of uncertainty, you never know what’s waiting for you next. Certain truths are unpleasant, and leaves you with awkward silence, but then it gives strength and builds immunity.
TBE: Who are your main characters? Tell us a little about what makes them tick. Are your characters based off real people or did they all come entirely from your imagination?
Simon: Sumit, Moulina, Sanat, Advocate Ganguly, DSP Naidu – are some of the key characters in my book. Well, all these characters are very ordinary and relatable to many personalities which we come across every day. They all have their own perspective and their own ways of looking at things, whether right or wrong, that’s something the readers will have to decide. These aren’t any larger-than-life characters, rather these are very common, guy-next-door kind of characters.
Yes, these characters are inspired by real people. However, it’s not 1:1 but 3:1 may be. It’s like one character is a medley of 3 real life characters. Hence, studying those 3 characters closely and fleshing them out to retrofit the kind of character I visualised was a bit tough and challenging.
TBE: Do you think your story is a great reminder that law and justice don’t always meet? What was the message you want to convey through ‘The Bitter Half’? What do you hope your readers take away from this book?
Simon: Absolutely!! Law and justice do not necessarily coincide – there’s many a slip between a cup and the lip. Honestly speaking, “The Bitter Half” conveys a lot of messages which is hard to list them all here. And leaving out one for the sake of other will be unjust. Well, readers come with varied background, demographics, social setup and experiences. And for obvious reasons, their take away from this book would widely vary. As a result, I am open to my readers deducing the story accordingly.
TBE: What was your writing process for this book? Do the words just kind of rush out and then you shape them, or do you labor over every word as it appears?
Simon: For me the story is important and that should flow uninterrupted. Tonality, use of right vocabulary, sequencing and other dramatics can be chiseled out later to give a proper shape.
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?
Simon: Publishing a book is like a hurdle race, every stage is more or less equally challenging yet you can’t afford to lose your focus. Putting across emotions lively through the pages of the book is a huge writing challenge, I feel.
TBE: How was your publishing experience with Leadstart?
Simon: This is my debut novel and I was inquisitive about every stages of the publishing procedure and I must say folks at Leadstart has been real sweetheart in addressing each and every query of mine. The best part of Leadstart is their transparency and promptness in responding to my queries. They made the entire process look easy and smooth without any ambiguity.
TBE: Do you read much and if so, who are your favorite authors? What are some must-read titles in your genre?
Simon: Due to lack of time I don’t get much time to read regularly. But at times, I do pick up a novel here and there. Erle Stanley Gardner, Satyajit Ray, and Robert Ludlum are few of my favourites.
“The Bitter Half” on a broader sense is a realistic fiction. It’s a fusion genre and can be described as a socio-legal crime thriller, and till date I’ve not come across any literary work on the subject which I have written. So, can’t suggest any such equivalents.
TBE: What was one of the most surprising things you learned during creation of your book?
Simon: While researching for this book, I learned the details of police procedural and legalities which I wasn’t aware of earlier.
TBE: What aspects of your creative process do you enjoy most? Which are most challenging?
Simon: Giving life to a character and making it lively and relatable is what I enjoy the most. I tend to draw symbolism in my narrative, and that’s the challenging part. Readers should be able to interpret it, the way I mean it.
TBE: Is there anything you are currently working on that may intrigue the interest of your readers?
Simon: Right now, I am mid-way through my second novel, putting together piece by piece evidences of a murder mystery that takes place in Mumbai’s celebrity circuit. This crime thriller with full of unexpected twists and turns will be an intriguing read for sure.