Sanil Sachar is a twenty-four-year-old author, entrepreneur, motivational speaker and a co-producer from New Delhi, India. Excerpts from his interview at WIC INDIA Dehradun Community Literature Festival 2017.
You were keen on sports since your childhood, so how did your career begin in writing?
I don’t see the difference between sports and writing. They both take a lot of practice to execute well enough, both of them demand relentless perseverance and each time you’re engaged in either of the activities, you’re bound to experience something new.
So, writing was an inevitable extension to sports. It just happened that while I was playing football and studying in England, I had time on my hands as well as a phone, which led to starting off one word at a time.
Your first book got published when you were in the first year at university and was launched by two great personalities Javed Akhtar and Manish Tewari. How was the whole experience to feel so popular at that young age?
You can’t use names of esteemed people like Javed Akhtar and Manish Tewari, and then ask me about being popular! I was as I still continue to be completely overwhelmed to be amongst stalwarts and such respected entities in their respective fields. It was an honor to be launched by them. The age factor never struck me because I don’t see the equation between age and following your passion. Having them present, being supported by so many people from around the world ever since I thought of venturing into this field is the icing on the cake.
You consider yourself a better poet or a better writer?
I can’t be the judge for that! Both these writing styles have different audiences. So I can only hope that those who like and read my poetry take me as a better poet and those who prefer prose take me as a better writer at prose!
How different is the experience of writing a poem and that of writing a story?
I find writing poetry more of a challenge than to write a story. Simply because poems are shorter and more concise, which is why you have to be to the point whilst not losing track of your writing style. For me, I rely heavily on metaphors and a lot of dual story telling within my poems, which is why it takes more effort personally to convey the message without taking away the beauty of letting the reader use their own interpretations.
To write a story, I feel it’s essential to be as honest as you can because fiction is just a tag used by authors to depict reality. Most importantly the more relatable your story and characters, the more chances your reader will forget it is a book they are reading and instead start living the story. And that should always be the aim of the writer.
You have written on varied topics like love, romance, murder, comedy… Which of these are the easiest and most difficult to write on and which one is your favorite?
Everything stems from love. It’s the first emotion we are exposed to. Yet I feel it is one of the hardest to depict, simply because while writing you’re in fact coming to terms with all that you might be conveying through your characters. I wouldn’t say any genre is easy or difficult to write in particular but to make this easy, it’s essential to do sufficient research on and off ground before devoting your time and effort into it. For me, I begin my stories with love in mind, it just happens that sometimes it’s the love for murder, mystery and of course romance, that takes over me.
Are you working on any books at present?
My next book titled Rebound is set to release between July and August this year. It’s aromantic mystery novel about a schizophrenic named Abhimanyu who escapes the traps of the circus life. The story is inspired by true events which made the research for it a completely bizarre and an unreal experience for me. While it is a fiction it is spurred by reality.
Currently I am writing a screenplay, at snail’s pace! Whilst working on my fourth book which I can’t reveal too much about just yet. Apart from the fact that the current phase I am in is an “organized mess.”
Who is your favorite author?
Currently Mitch Albom. I have a tendency of reading more than one book at a time but his work and style of writing got me going back to his books repeatedly.
Share an interesting experience you’ve had with one of your readers.
One particular moment that sticks with me is from last year’s lit fest in Dehradun, during the book singing, post my session. Two girls from the audience came with a copy of The Dark Side of Light and asked me to sign it for both of them. They were the best of friends and had a habit of reading the same book at the same time, from the same book as well. Which was one fact, I found extremely peculiar and interesting. Then, they came back to me and asked me to sign it again, this time, with an amalgamation of their name. I remember laughing with them for ages, while the others around us loved the idea too. It was incredibly creative of them to make up a new name.
This story really showcased the bond they shared and in a way I guess literature helped them extend that as well. But their spontaneity was brilliant!
In one if your interviews, you shared that you took cooking lessons in Phuket. How was the experience and do you love cooking?
I’m a foodie who lives in a home with two chefs! The cooking lessons were during a holiday with my parents and sister. It was for my mom’s birthday, so my parents teamed up while I was my sister’s assistant (more than a sous-chef I was the taster). I love trying my hand at cooking but I wouldn’t go to the extent of inviting guests to come and eat what I cook.
My mom comes from the restaurant background, with establishments like the Blue Fox in Calcutta being started by my maternal grandfather. My sister, Shreya, is a trained patisserie chef, with her brand Scuti. So while she makes desserts for the orders she gets, I keep trying my luck to get whatever is left over!
It’s hard not to love cooking and food living in such a house. While I don’t invite others for my cooking, I’m open to take orders for what my mom and sister prepare!
Does traveling inspire your writing?
Writing alone is a busy place is better than writing alone in a quiet place. Travelling makes it possible to be in a new space around faces and people you might never see again. That’s enough reason and ink to fuel the pen. I tend to sit at bars and cafés wherever I travel, just noting down everything I can see and hear. There is no set order in mind for this and that’s because I don’t want to ruin the authenticity of the moment by giving it a tag.
Travelling doesn’t have to be to exotic places or even new destinations. Taking a new route home or work is a new sight as well. It’s the most effective way to make the best of what you’ve got too.
How adventurous are you as a writer and a traveler?
I live vicariously through my characters! This is why I am more adventurous as a writer than I am a traveler. Apart from writing several genres, I like writing anything that has relevance in the world today. It’s important as writers to be able to spread a message without actually imposing it through your work.
As for travelling, I am yet to be even half as adventurous a traveler, as I am a writer.
Which are your favorite traveling destinations so far and the ones you want to go to?
I’d love to spin the globe and point my finger on a random destination. However, I am yet to make time for this and neither do I own a globe…My favorite city to visit outside India is London and within is Goa. They’re both my comfort zones and as I mentioned I am yet to be adventurous in this department which is why I am still using terms like “comfort zones.”
I’d love to travel around South America! (In case anyone is offering!)
How important do you think are literature festivals to a writer?
Like bread and butter, they go hand in hand. Lit fests, while being a celebration of literature is a forum that brings together artists and most importantly brings us closer to the people who inspire us to strive for more.
They’re always incredibly overwhelming.
To be able to connect with your readers in person is a surreal feeling. A constant reminder to work harder for them.
India’s culture for arts is due to this love and hard work that we see in these festivals. It’s a treat to be a part of them.
Do you believe that there is no battle that mind cannot win?
The mind creates the problems. It’s the department in the body that concocts issues. The headquarters for this space, really. Exactly why it is prepared to solve any conundrum.
We don’t deem everything as a battle. It’s only those parts of life that we are willing to let consume our time. Anything that we are passionate towards. The moment passion comes into the picture; it’s only a matter of time when the battle will be won.
Those who do not win it, only end up losing because they stop pursuing their goal. We’re always one step away from winning the battle.
I think we need to be sure about what we wouldn’t mind experiencing failure in, in order to strive for success.
Is there anything that you would like to share with young authors who wish to write but are clueless how to begin?
Stay clueless and confused! Confusion and chaos is the best way to begin because it’s all upwards from there. Any article, poem, book begins with a mere scribble, so don’t hold your hand against doodling your ideas wherever you can. One less word shared is one less idea executed, so please don’t stop!