Today we are very happy to have Kishore Modak to be in yet another segment of Let’s Talk. Kishore Modak, who is known for his unconventional way of story-telling, shares with us all about the making of his latest book Lost in Pattaya
- Let’s talk
Team WordBite (TWB): First you came up with the novel, Maid in Singapore and now you are back with your second, Lost in Pattaya. Can you take us back to those days when you thought of writing a novel?
Kishore Modak (KM): First, I would like to thank you for choosing to interview me here. The thought of writing with intent to find readers surfaced about three years back. At that point, I felt certain themes and thoughts building inside me and they needed to just get out of my mind. Writing provided me the vent for my thinking to be presented for others to examine as well. Fiction, I believe does provide that freedom of expression for an author to present himself or herself.
The first book that I wrote proved to be fruitful, since with that experience I came to test the waters that later gave birth to the two books that have been published by Grapevine. I really liked the process of penning things down and just living and breathing the characters and situations that were being brought to life each day.
TWB: Both your books have some very unconventional stories with great characters. Any particular reason and are they inspired by some real life incidences?
KM: I get asked that question quite a lot. The truth is that both these books recount real life instances that I have come across in conversation with friends and acquaintances from my day to day interactions. So in that sense these are very real stories, simply put forth through the factory of my own minds judgment. In fact I was tempted to even interview the true life characters on whose experiences these stories are based. However, given the often tragic situations that get recounted I thought it best to distance the real life characters from the fictitious ones that have been presented to the audience.
TWB: All things must pass; all things must pass away, what is your thinking behind this thinking?
KM: Other than being one of my favorite songs from one of my favorite performers, whose songs often played in the background as I furiously struck away at my keyboard, these lines also encompass the central message that I wanted to convey to my readers – Through all the twists and turns, ups and downs of our life, eventually all things will pass making our lives mostly insignificant. Just that the book takes fifty thousand words and all of the storytelling to do that, hopefully leaving some joy in some readers who may have the opportunity of reading Lost in Pattaya.
TWB: You have thanked a person, in the very second page of your recent book Lost in Pattya. It is mentioned that you have never met him, don’t know how he look but indeed he was a catalyst in some part of your life. Do you think that sometimes a stranger can change your life?
KM: Yes I do believe that we are presented from time to time with people who impact our lives, both in positive and negative ways. Harsh was the editor of Lost in Pattaya. As you may know, a good author shares a very special relationship with the editor, since the process of editing often involves complete-naked-discovery of each other’s mental built and beliefs. In the hands of the wrong editor, often things end in disaster as was the case with ‘Lost in Pattaya’. Grapevine offered me a few editors before we chanced upon Harsh. In fact, one of the editors I was offered is a best-selling author in the country. I still have the comments that she made on the initial manuscript, it was a disaster since she had taken an immense amount of time to drag the work down rather than understand and enhance the same. She may be a great author, but her editing just did not make space for collaboration and up-leveling of the content.
I must also mention Padma Malini here, who was the other editor-genius behind Maid in Singapore. With Harsh and Padma, I have had long and intense conversations, both on the topic of book-edits, and strangely a whole lot of other topics that were not connected with the books. They will always remain close friends and I am completely indebted to them for the time and effort that has helped both these books become what they are today. They have put as much heart and soul into these books as I have.
TWB: How tough was it for you to find yourself a publisher and finally landing up as an author for this illustrious publishing firm called Grapevine?
KM: I never received any rejections, because almost no publisher ever responded back to my proposals. However, my first book (The Corruption of Inspector Deshmukh) eventually did find about four willing publishers. Grapevine was the clear winner, simply because they were ready to link my success with theirs. Their commitment to me as an author was absolute, with a vast amount of energy being expended in each and every detail that goes into the publishing of a book.
TWB: Why should one read your book? Is there anything that you want to tell a reader that the blurb of the book doesn’t tell him?
KM: There is the aspect of being an entertaining book which I hope my readers will ratify. Other than that, yes I hope they do pick up on some of the messages that the book carries. The infinitesimal smallness of our lives and our so called achievements, the importance of family in providing a balance to our lives, the eventual decay caused by the excesses of our life styles; these are three important aspects that the books talks of. I must confess though that being an entertaining read which provides some joy to some readers is probably the single most important objective which I hope this book meets.
TWB: Who was your inspiration in this writing journey?
KM: I chanced upon Jeet Thayil right in the middle of writing ‘Lost in Pattaya’ and that did leave a deep impression on me, which I am sure in some way crept into the book. Other than that, over the years James Michener, Vladimir Nabokov, Herge, Kurt Vonnegut, RK Narayan and a host of other authors have influenced me.
TWB: I personally loved the cover of the book; tell us something about how this particular cover came up for Lost in Pattaya
KM: Yes the cover came out very well. It is another example of how Grapevine puts in the detail on each aspect of publishing. Saurav too was very patient and understanding through all the iterations that we put him through. It came down to two options which we simply put up for a vote before picking up the winner.
TWB: Amidst all those positive replies and fan mails all throughout the days, when your books were being appreciated, was there any bit of advice that you got from anyone, for your work, which you have emulated thereafter?
KM: Yes there has been a lot of analysis and commentary on the book. I am glad that most of it is very positive; however from the right people often the areas of improvement offer a lot more learning. I am very glad and relieved about the positive reviews, of-course. I am also thoughtful about areas that some co-authors have pointed out as possible zones of improvement. Some of them, I have kept in mind as I am crafting my next work.
TWB: Can you give us a little sneak peak of your upcoming books? What are you been working on?
KM: There are always a few ideas that are bouncing in the mind. Currently I am working on a radio play and a children’s book. We will see how those progress and where that journey leads.
TWB: Were there times when you felt that this story is not turning out to be the way you wanted and felt like scrapping it?
KM: Never with Lost in Pattaya. Other works like The corruption of Inspector Deshmukh, which we decided to shelve for now did evolve in a manner that was very different from what I had conceived. However, with Lost in Pattaya the book simply became better and better with each page that got penned. In fact, I thought it became richer and richer with each day that I put into it.
TWB: When was the last time you did something for the first time? And what was it?
KM: Flying in a vertical wind tunnel a year or so back was a first for me and it was a lot of fun.
- Rapid Fire
TWB: Your favorite Book(s): Life of Pi, Narcopolis, The Drifters, Alaska, Disgrace, Tintin Journals, The Sirens of Titan
TWB: Your favorite Author(s): James Michener, Jeet Thayil, Herge, JM Coetze, Vladimir Nabokov
TWB: Describe yourself in three words: Squash, stamps, writing
TWB: Thank you Kishore for this interview, we wish you a great life ahead.
KM: Thanks a lot for your time here, it has been a pleasure.