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Gregory Roberts: 'I'd write with an ashtray by the side'

Last updated on: June 24, 2013 10:30 IST

Gregory Roberts: 'I'd write with an ashtray by the side'

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Shantaram author takes India non-fiction festival by storm and charms audiences.

It was an irony that couldn't be missed but the two literary superstars who had the audience following them in droves were in fact writers of fiction.

On Day One of the India non-fiction Festival, being held in Mumbai, Amish Tripathi was mobbed by his fans, a scene that was repeated on the third day with Gregory David Roberts.

In conversation with the actor Rahul Bose, Roberts was without a doubt the biggest star attraction of the day (and of the festival, if one may daresay). Best known for his semi-autobiographical novel Shantaram, Roberts is currently working on his new novel, a sequel to Shantaram.

Roberts said he avoided reading fiction while he was writing it though he loved listening to music while writing.

"When I was younger, I would write with an ashtray and a bottle on the side. By the time I was done, the ashtray would be full and the bottle would be empty. Now, I prefer to be clean while I am writing (he has given up drinking) and listen to music!" he said.

And what sort of music would inspire him to write?

"Bollywood!" was the emphatic reply.

Roberts' next is The Mountain Shadow, which is a sequel to Shantaram. "The theme for the new book is search," he said. "the search for meaning, purpose, identity, home and love. Everyone in the book is involved in some sort of a search. (The book) is an exploration of being what it is to be in exile. Most adventures in the book take place in Mumbai, though we do travel to Germany, Italy and Sri Lanka."

Watch Gregory David Roberts speak about The Mountain Shadow here and click here for more photos!

You can also purchase Shantaram here!


Image: Gregory David Roberts and Rahul Bose in conversation
Photographs: Abhishek Mande

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WATCH: Is Shantaram fact or fiction?

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When you write a novel like Shantaram, you are often asked how much of it was true and how much fiction. Gregory David Roberts took the question what seemed to be for the umpteenth time!

Here he speaks about the real life Prabhakar who in the book is an important character who introduces Lindsay, the protagonist to India and its realities, taking him to his village in Maharashtra and whose mother gives Lindsay the Indian name which also becomes the title of the book -- Shantaram.




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WATCH: Is Shantaram fact or fiction?

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Even as Gregory David Roberts was enthralling the audiences in one of the seminar rooms, Raksha Bharadia co-author of the Indian edition of the Chicken Soup series was holding a workshop of sorts simultaneously in the other.

The worldwide bestselling series that features a collection of short inspirational and motivational stories have seen over 200 titles worldwide.

Bharadia is also a writer of fiction and has been a columnist for several newspapers and magazines.

Here, Raksha Bharadia talks about the most inspirational stories she's come across.

You can buy the Chicken Soup series here!

 




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WATCH: The weirdest jobs in India

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The festival drew to a close with a stand-up act by Mumbai-based writer and comedian Rohan Joshi. When he isn't performing around the country for corporate clients, he writes scripts for television and cinema. Joshi has had the distinction of performing at the prestigious Fringe Festival in Edinburgh in 2011.

Watch Rohan Joshi take off on Indian fast food and some really weird Indian jobs.




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