'Don’t go about pointing mistakes in the book, instead enjoy the read...’
TGC Prasad, author of “Unusual People Do Things Differently” (Portfolio, Penguin) and "Along the Way" (Rupa, Fiction) speaks to Faraaz Kazi on his books, life, and future. Apart from writing, Prasad also offers Strategy, General Management and HR advisory consulting.
Excerpts from the interview.
Prasad’s next book is ‘Naughty men’ which is expected to be out mid next year
What has been you writing journey like?
My writing journey has been extremely gratifying. I never knew that I could write until one day it all started to happen in a flow. Then I started to experiment with genre, both fiction and non-fiction.
Fortunately readers have accepted both the books, ‘Unusual People Do Things Differently’ and ‘Along the Way’ in equal stride and both have become national best sellers.
As a writer, whom do you follow or take inspiration from?
From a management/business perspective writings of Peter Drucker, Micheal Porter, Charles Handy, CK Prahalad, Gary Hamel, Tom Peters, David Maister have influenced me.
From a fiction point of view, Jeffery Archer, John Grisham, Ken Follett have been influential.
In the Indian space, the profound and yet the simplicity of works delivered by Sri Rajagopalachari and Sri R K Narayan are memorable.
In literature, Somerset Maugham, Charles Dickens, Tolstoy, Shakespeare are iconic figures.
The best thing that happened to me was inculcation of reading habit, right from childhood. My dad used to ask, ‘so, what have you read today?’ and we used to ramble out. I remember my dad spending hours with us, telling stories.
What was the experience while getting your first book published?
I never expected to publish. Never wanted to be a writer, never knew I could be one. By chance, a stroke of fate, one fine day, in extenuating circumstances, recovering from an ankle surgery, out of sheer boredom, I started to write and I started to discover myself.
I guess everybody comes to a state when the covers start to unpeel, the true self emerges, and in my case, at least while writing the book, the writer became the writing!
When Penguin called and said, ‘we want to,’ I was exhilarated, a new route was chalked and here I am thinking of my next ruse to publish!
Now you have two books under your belt, one is a humurous account of fiction and the other is a motivational non-fiction book. What was the difference in experience in writing each?
Writing a management book is not easy at all and takes longer than writing fiction, because of the amount of research that is involved. One cannot take liberties because it will be read by experts in the field and they can easily spot a needle in a haystack. If written incorrectly, the book can easily land at the bottom of the heap.
On the other hand, one has to write a management book which appeals to a normal bystander, with very little clue about management. So, the real challenge is to make a daunting management book easily readable by a housewife and that is what I tried accomplishing in ‘Unusual People Do Things Differently’.
Fiction is very different. It is about lacing the story with intriguing characters and with events that overlap the plot. Yes, many liberties can be taken, to add an element of surprise, one can be inconsistent with the characters, one can play with space and time and one can liberate one’s feelings in a way that appeals to the readers.
In ‘Along the Way’, I have conveyed the most romantic story keeping software industry background. Obviously research is needed in writing fiction too, but then one can take liberties.
Like John Grisham wrote in the foreword for one of his books, ‘well, there are and hence don’t go about pointing mistakes in the book, instead enjoy the read...’ It is fun to dabble in both, gives respite from one to the other and the reader enjoys the lucidity of both.
Have you ever faced writer's block? What do you do then?
At times I think about what to write, and I end up not writing anything. That is when I just get up and start to read something interesting.
I realize that whenever I push myself too hard to write, when I want to write ‘rationally’, it kind of bounces back on me. But when I write from the ‘heart’, the flow is immense and my fingers ache at the end of the day.
I guess it works differently for different people. In my case, I keep a certain time to write and don’t push myself too hard. If I am too exhausted either writing or reading, then I go and watch a movie, listen to music, go for a drive, eat good food, shop, play with my son, at times solve puzzles.
Any advice to your readers out there?
I really don’t know what to advise my readers. They are such wonderfully smart people.
Ok, let me give a life lesson which I learnt - ‘If you want to be happy in life, do what you love doing’.
‘Naughty men’, a rib-tickling hilarious fiction should be out mid next year. The book is about ‘how do men think, what do they do?’ Meanwhile, I am trying to write the movie script for ‘Along the Way’, which I find interesting. Researching on ‘Entrepreneurial success factors’ and soon to start a book on ‘Autism’.
Faraaz Kazi is the author of the romantic best-seller ‘Truly madly Deeply’ that was recently nominated as the only Indian book in the ‘Top 100 YA Fiction’ global list. He is also the CEO of Digi Imprint Solutions, India’s first exclusive promotional agency for authors. Prasad is one of his clients. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.