Q. You see, while largely unheard of, the concept of a dog and cat going on a mission, is generally something you chance upon in a television. Probably on Cartoon Network these days. So, what was the idea behind this debut venture of yours?
Well, the story is not about a cat and dog going to a mission. It will be too simple an idea if you say it like that. The idea was that animals are so desperate due to ever shrinking habitat, that they take the desperate step of sending a team to the world of demons, hoping to negotiate a deal for co-habitation. When this idea happened to me, I got excited to no end. I thought the idea was unique, exciting and innovative, so I decided to develop it into a story. My idea was to tell a story, which was different, and had soul.
Q. How did a doctor like you decide to go into the forefront of writing?
I was into stories ever since my childhood, much before I became a doctor. I was a child brought on heavy dose of bedtime stories, which had a huge impact on my imagination, as well as my overall personality. I believe that every story has a soul of its own, and there is nothing better in this world than a good story. So writing was just a natural progression for me, and it has nothing to do with me being a doctor.
Q. There is a sweet, underlying message in this book that speaks of the condition of animals- how we humans are continuously destroying their habitat, making it difficult for them to live peacefully. How do you think your book makes people aware of that?
If you read the book carefully, you will find that though the book doesn’t resort to overt preaching, the message and the sentiment is there, albeit between the lines. The idea itself where animals prefer demons over humans has a note of sarcasm and desperation to it. I just wanted to tell a true to heart story without really going into the preaching mode by keeping the message subtle and sweet. You will only tell me if I have been able to do that!
Q. What serves as your inspiration to write? How often do you write in a day – is there any schedule you adhere to?
My only inspiration to write is my true love for good stories. I am a huge story lover. I fall in love with every story I hear. I am not a compulsive or methodical writer. It’s an instinctive thing for me. I write only when I am brimming with some exciting ideas.
Q. How did you come up with the idea of a United Animals (UA) front- one that sends the two main characters on a deadly mission?
Again, it was just an instinctive thing for me, driven by the liquid imagination flowing from the subconscious. May be I thought a dog and a cat going together on a mission will be easier to relate to, since people have more interaction with them. But again, it was largely instinctive, rather than logical.
Q. Both Katy and Dug are characters that are different as heads and tails. So, don’t you think naming a dog ‘Dug’ and a cat ‘Katy’ is clichéd when you had a vast imagination to decide better names? Also, what motto do you think Dug abides by, to help him through the mission and how is it different from what Katy does?
See, I just went with the names that were short, sweet and easy to remember. In fact people have loved the names. I didn’t even know, to be honest, that the names were cliché, since I never came across a dog with the name Dug! I thought the names were sweet and crisp, so I just named them like that. And as far as the story is innovative and thrilling, I don’t think names will do much harm anyway.
Dug has an innocent soul. He is game for a talk, and friendship for that matter. Katy is much less social in that context, thanks to the wounds that life imparted upon her. Dug doesn’t have a larger motto in life; rather, he is driven by little pleasures of life. Katy, on the other hand, is a wounded lioness, who will do anything for her larger goal, which is protection and redemption of her kind.
Q. We are aware about your passion for poetry and ‘shayari’. What’s next in the pipeline then- another novel or a collection of poems?
I am playing with 3-4 ideas for my next novel, but nothing is concrete as of yet. Let’s see how it goes.
Q. Lastly, have you received one piece of advice from someone near and dear that you feel all aspiring writers should know?
Be patient. It’s not easy to break the publishing barrier. Rejections are a rule rather than exception, so don’t take them to your heart. Publishers don’t usually pay as much attention to unknown debut authors. But if your imagination has a heart, and your story has a soul, then the sun will shine, sooner or later. So don’t lose hope. Patience is the key here.
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