Nation Other News 10 Sep 2017 Q&A: Rahul Mitra

Q&A: Rahul Mitra

Published Sep 10, 2017, 6:41 am IST
Updated Sep 10, 2017, 6:41 am IST
Rahul Mitra is an author masquerading as an IT marketing professional. The Boy from Pataliputra is his debut novel.
Rahul Mitra
 Rahul Mitra

Why do you write?
I think it stems mainly from a sense of dissatisfaction with almost everything else. There are a lot of everyday things that I just cannot take as part and parcel of life as others can, I just cannot accept them. And writing for me is a way of expressing that dissatisfaction, of criticising aspects of society and of talking about things as they should be. 

Describe your favourite writing space.
My favourite writing space is in my own home, in my study with the door closed. 


Your favourite word?
“Ukulele” it not only sounds funny, but quite frankly, I think the instrument itself is slightly ridiculous. “Gruntled” is another favourite it’s basically the opposite of disgruntled. In fact, I’m pretty gruntled you asked that question. I’m so gruntled, I feel like playing on my ukulele.  

Do you have a writing schedule?
Yes. I find that routine and repetition really help when writing, so I make sure to write at roughly the same time everyday. I prefer to do my writing as early in the morning as possible so I can get that off my plate before the routine distractions of the workday set in. 


Ever struggled with writer’s block?
The very process of writing is a big struggle. When you sit down to write, you sit down in front of a blank page and you usually have no idea of what to write on it. You have to stare at that blank page and you have to think and think and think until you get something, anything, no matter how bad, to fill up that page. That’s what real writing is all about. As Dorothy Parker said, “Writing is the art of applying the a** to the seat”. 

What inspires you to write? Do you have a secret trick, or a book/author that helps?
See the things that inspire you, will be the things that you are interested in, the experiences and life learnings you have lived and the things you think about when alone. Those things will inevitably show up in your writing. As for secret tricks, there is no such magic process to writing. In order to write, you must write it’s as simple and idiotic as that. You can get up everyday at 3 am and listen to Mozart for “creative inspiration” or do shirshasana every half hour to promote blood flow to the brain, but if you aren’t sitting down and working, no process, no inspirational trick, no magic is gonna do the work for you.


Best piece of advice you’ve ever got?
To get the first draft out no matter how bad it is.

Coffee/tea/cigarettes numbers please while you are writing…
Coffee, always coffee. As many as 8-10 cups in a day when I’m in the middle of a novel.

Which books are you reading at present?
I just finished Our Moon has blood clots by Rahul Pandita. It really shook me up. Apart from that, am also reading a book called Dansh by Laxman Rao and Lone fox dancing which is Ruskin Bond’s autobiography. 

Who are your favourite authors?
I can read Ernest Hemingway, Manto, Satyajt Ray, Ismat Chughtai, Parsai, Ryszard Kapuscinski, John Irving, Alexandre Dumas or William Saroyan on any given day. 


Which book/author should be banned on grounds of bad taste?
I don’t want to pull anyone down. However bad they are, they are making an effort and if they are also so successful, there must be something they are doing right.

Which are your favourite children’s books?
That’s something I’ve been thinking about quite a bit lately. About some of my favourite childhood books and where they’ve disappeared. So when I was a kid, there were these pocket classics, very condensed versions of the classics with text on one page and illustrations on the other. I used to love some of the adventure stories like Treasure Island, Robinson Crusoe, The call of the wild etc. 


Which classics do you want to read?
I’ve often felt that I’d love to know a few other languages so I can read the classics of those languages. So I’d love to learn Persian so I could really get a feel for that literature or know Spanish so I could get a peek into South American literature. 

Your favourite literary character.
Currently, with Game of Thrones season, it’s Arya Stark. I just love her for being such a fighter no matter what life throws at her, she just rolls with the punches but never gives up! 


Which is the funniest book you have read?
If you want to laugh out loud, while sitting in an empty room I highly recommend Three men in a boat or any of the Bertie and Jeeves books by P.G. Wodehouse. 
And I’d say Pula if you are Marathi and in Hindi, I think Parsai was a great one for exposing the hypocrisies of Indians, though I wouldn’t call him laugh-out loud funny.

Which is the most erotic book you have read?
Haha, well I can tell you which is the most disappointing erotic book I read it’s 50 Shades of Grey. An ex-colleague gave it to me as she didn’t want to keep it at home, so I was all excited and I rushed home and straight away started skimming through it to get to the juicy parts. Unfortunately, it didn’t do anything for me and the writing was pretty bad.


Which book do you wish you had written?
I’d love to have written the Mahabharata.