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Author Interview: Shreyan Laha

Published Book: Not Worth Living For
Genre: Fiction
Order Here: Amazon Paperback
Publisher: Bigfoot Publications, 2018

Interviewer: Welcome, Shreyan. How are you doing these days? Your latest book “Not Worth Living For” is reaching the hearts of the readers. How do you enjoy this success?
I am doing great, thank you. Right now, I am over the moon. With least possible effort in marketing my book (both offline and online), this book has gone way too far compared to the initial organic outreach I had expected. I am elated.

Interviewer: The story is unique with the best possible elements a successful book can have. How much time did it take you to write this book?
It took me six months. The last two chapters were crucial and it took most of the time. Happens with all the books I write. To be honest, this is also one of my weakness which I look to improvise upon.

Interviewer: “Not Worth Living For” The title very catchy and surely seems perfect for this novel. How did you come across it? Additionally, I would love to know from you, how much is the importance of deciding a good title for any book?
Thank you. According to me, there are three elements by which one can choose the perfect title for the novel. One is the central theme, second one is to rouse certain questions in the mind of the readers and third: something which is easy to remember. Now, since I am dealing with science-fiction here, I have ample scope to have a pretentious name for the novel but what if ordinary non-readers do not feel attracted towards it. In the first few books of an author’s career, 85% of our readers are the ones we know or mutual friends. The miscellaneous readers are a meagre 15%. Hence, the name of the novel should be easy to remember for our immediate friends. A curiosity also needs to be raised to a certain degree and I guess, this is where the strength of “Not Worth Living For” lies in. If someone writes a book with that title, the immediate presumption one would have would be ‘What was going through the mind of the author?’, ‘Has he written a heartbreaking tale?’ As absurd as it may sound, common Indians love focusing on books and music which have an element of loneliness and heartbreak. Hence, I ticked off the second and third aspects but what about the primary one: central theme? Luckily, I got that one as well.

Interviewer: What other genres you are interested in reading and writing? Readers might ask so.
Thrillers. Apart from that, I read educational books on psychology and marketing apart from science-fiction.

Interviewer: I have seen many good reviews of this book. As an author, how exactly it feels to see such kind of love and appreciations from the reader.
I’m quite thankful to my readers to have showered such love for my book. There are authors who have more calibre and put more effort into both writing and marketing. However, they end up having one-stars in their reviews which is painful at the same time. I’m only glad that this book didn’t receive a one-star till date.

Interviewer: When did it dawn upon you that you wanted to be a writer? Do you have a set schedule for writing, or are you one of those who writes only when they feel inspired?
The thought about writing books and going a long way dawned upon me in 2009. That year, I was published in a local daily called ‘The Telegraph (not the UK one, the one manufactured in East India). I had provided an op-ed regarding what children in Jamshedpur wish to see in the future. However, writing articles and novels are poles apart. It’s much like comparing a 100-metre-race to a triathlon. Later in 2011, I was again published in Telegraph. This time, I definitely decided that I would have my book in stores. The same article of 2011 is currently available in a Readomania website, published in 2014. I remember the now-giant publishing house had only started spreading their wings back then. I do not have any set-schedule as such as forcing an idea can turn out to be catastrophic.

Interviewer: How is your experience in self-publishing till now? Lots of authors are there and don’t know how to start with and how to have a perfect content to publish. What is your message for emerging writers?
Horrid at the beginning, decent with my second book “Never Again” and finally, exceptional with ‘Not Worth Living For’. Perhaps, this has got more to do with my maturity while dealing with publishers rather than experience. My advice to new authors would be to have patience, go for traditional publishers, check their market outreach and secure a deal. If not, go for a self-publishing house where you do the same assessment again: check the deals with all the self publishers, assess the market outreach one has and which one has comparatively less pocket-pinching packages. Calculate the return on investment. It might not be a break-even but it should ultimately be the aim for the author to reach there in a matter of two years.

Interviewer: Your previous book “Never Again” has also been favourite of many readers and received lots of love as well. You have also mentioned this book name in the top of the cover of “Not Worth Living For”. How close is this book to you?
Not quite close. The first two books of mine, honestly are a product of a child’s wild imagination. I see my literary career taking a rebirth with Not Worth Living For. ‘Never Again’ has a lot of readers within Odisha, that’s for sure. There’s a school called Jawahar Navodaya Vidyalaya in Jagatsinghpur. I receive requests from children of that school almost twice every month. Kids love fantasies and perhaps, ‘Never Again’ resonates with them. There are few factual mistakes in the book but if one likes to read the book for purely storytelling, they can go with it.

Interviewer: In the book “Not Worth Living For”, who is your favourite character? Can you say something that character to our readers?
My favourite character in the book will definitely be the one in the supporting role: Kunal Anand, a cameo character. Kunal is what college students might describe as the laidback, casual junior who has a positive impression upon his senior roommate, Devesh. Kunal also convinces the otherwise simpleton Devesh to smoke weed with him on his first day in the college! Though both of these characters play a negligible role in the novel (especially Kunal, as Devesh has at least some role to play), I feel cameo characters should have the aspect to lighten up the minds of the readers. Sometimes, reading on and on can be hectic – especially for the voracious readers who complete two or three books a day and hence, I introduced him right in Chapter 16. This is because readers are expected to undergo severe twists and turns juggling between science fiction in one page and normal, college stories in the next.

Interviewer: Thanks for the wonderful talk, Shreyan. At last, surely I want to ask on behalf of all readers that will we get another book from you very soon? How much time do we need to wait to have a next book authored by you?
Thank you. By the end of the year for sure! If not, two books by the end of March 2020 in quick succession to be realistic.

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