Shantanu Munshi comes from the city of Indore where his upbringing and education has taken place. He got his MBA from IIFT, Delhi and is presently working in a private bank in Chennai. His debut novel, The Surrogate Lies is already making waves and Shantanu hopes that this is the first of many more to come. Read his interview with Half Baked Beans to know him better.
Q1. Tell us a little about yourself and your background.
I come from the humble foodie city of Indore where most of my upbringing happened. Central India is a place where life is still very relaxed and I most certainly come from that school of belief-one should have a nice balance between everything life throws at you.
I did my engineering from Medicaps Indore and MBA from IIFT Delhi and am currently working in a pvt bank in the cultural city of Chennai. I belong to a middle class family with values and hard work as the backbone of its ethos.
Q2. What are your ambitions for your writing career?
Writing means the world to me-I feel as if my sole purpose on this earth is to become a writer and share my words with others. I want to write at least 100 books before I complete my life, whether they get published, whether they are appreciated doesn’t concern me as much.
Q3. Which writers inspire you?
J K Rowling-For her life story inspires you even during rejections and tribulations.
P G Wodehouse-For he makes you realize how powerful a written word can be.
Q4. Tell us something about the plot of your debut book, “The Surrogate Lies” and character insights.
I think revealing much about the plot would rob the book of its sheen. I can summarize it as-
Four strangers meet and immediately hit off for an adventure. Each one is as eccentric and unique as they come and they play their part in making the journey fun and full of misadventures.
Q5. Give us an insight into the main character of your book. What is the most special feature of this character?
There is no one main character. In fact there are three of them. Paul, who is the narrator of the story is your average struggling writer, Hazare, who is an eccentric consultant and Raj who is the driver for their road trip adventures.
There is no special thing about these or any other characters in the book save for their ability to view the regular life moments differently and hence create the humor without knowing or acknowledging the same.
Q6. What makes for good content? How do you know if a piece of content is doing well?
Good content is something that touches emotions. Whether its book/movie/TV series of any genre-horror/sci-fi/comedy/romance : if the same connects with the consumer emotionally, makes him cry/laugh/fear/enjoy/gives him goose bumps with the characters and scenarios so much so that you feel you are part of their lives, the content is good.
Good content is when the reader/consumer would feel like they are transported to the story and feel everything themselves, the way the same happens to the characters.
So, essentially if the piece of content is good, you will know it with what intensity of interest people converse about it or the general interest levels associated with the same.
Q7. What do you need to know about a project before you start writing?
Depends on the project, if its fact based, one should do lot of research before starting the same, especially true for non-fiction or fiction woven around facts. Though if it’s a pure fiction, you should just follow your heart and go with the flow; I am not very keen when it comes to doing any kind of market research as to what kind of books readers are reading these days-I write as my heart commands me.
Q8. How do you talk about a dry or technical subject without relying on buzzwords?
I hate talking about dry/technical subjects.
Q9. How do you tell a credible source from a not-so-credible source?
I have not used any till date, once I will use one, probably I can answer this.
Q10. How do you incorporate feedback and edits into your work?
Feedback/edits/rework is a very important step for furnishing a quality product much like the quality testing of any tangible consumer product. For a book, it’s very important that both publisher and author work together towards a common goal: getting the best version of the book out in the market.
I generally take help from my family and friends too for any feedbacks/edits that their neutral eyes would see, which my biased eyes might have missed.
The only thing about editing the book is that any such changes should enable the book to retain its flow and essence.
Q11. What advice would you give to aspiring writers?
I don’t think I am yet qualified enough to advise any aspiring writers. Though I will just share my personal thought process which I follow while writing anything.
-Write first for yourself; don’t think about your readers/publishers. So in essence, deep dive in your senses and just write what your heart desires.
Q12. Where do you see the stream of publishing going in the future?
I cannot say as I have not seen much of it myself, but yes things are moving towards digital and quick turnaround time from an author`s point of view. Certainly the authors in the future cannot be expected to wait for months before seeing their book in print.
From a publisher point of view, it will be very important to create a niche in the market along with the gumption of publishing not-so-commercially viable books.
Q13. How can readers discover more about you and your work?
Readers can follow me and my book on their social handles as well as follow my blog: www.shantanumunshi.blogspot.in. Soon enough, I will have my own website where readers can check what I am up to next.
Get your copy of The Surrogate Lies on Amazon.