Can you sell a thriller?
Anil Goel, author of Exit Point takes questions from you, our dear readers!
Is Writer's Block just a sexy phrase?
How does one get published?
Is it easier to get your second book published?
And finally, is there a market for thrillers?
Author of Exit Point, Anil Goel took these questions and more from you in a live chat on Rediff ZaraBol!
Could you tell us a little about the primary characters in your book?
Exit Point revolves around the relationship of two very young, very intelligent people -- a boy and a girl -- who find themselves withdrawing more and more from a physical world where relationships are limited by geography and drawn more to the internet where there is endless choice.
Their minds meet... and things suddenly begin to happen... bigger things... all over the net...
Anil, I read your Release 2.0 long ago :)
Did you already have Exit Point in mind when you were writing R2.0 or did the story develop later?
I didn't have Exit Point in mind then.
I started thinking about it around the time Release 2.0 was in editing... but no connection... Exit Point came flying into my imagination from a completely chance experience.
Of course there is a beautiful linkage in the stories now... but u have to rd Exit Point to find out :)
Recently I happened to read your IT Thriller. Must say you have done a good job.
I too have penned a romantic thriller An Appointment with Death which is being sold on Amazon and Flipkart.
My question is do you think Indian reader is ready for thriller or they are still interested in romance and mythology?
Sahil... great work... good luck with your book.
I'm sure people are ready for thrillers man... there is no reason why anyone would not enjoy a good thriller... good luck
Who is your inspiration and how you keep yourself inspire for such lovely writing?
Thanks for the kind words.
Have you read my books? :)
Only the story inspires me really...
I don't have a role model etc...
Any movie in making for the novels you authored, as I am not very much a reader but do like to watch movies.
Shubhadeep... Both, Release 2.0 and Exit Point are very "visual".
They would make for good movies
But they don't fit anything I can see in Bollywood right now.
And I don't see how they could reach western shores
Exit Point is a story for anyone, anywhere who has been online... but is a slick, tech thriller... who would make a film here? :)
Are you Alok? :-P
Hahahha Simon. Grinning ear to ear :-)
My life and Alok's life are very different.
Yet as a writer, I am every character I ever created.
I live them.
I experience their pain, their hopes, their dreams, their world view.
I experience it and I create it for them.
When Alok is talking to Lucy I have been both Alok and Lucy... it sounds bizarre but it's true...I'm all of them
Hello Sir, I too would like to write... there are a lot of stories revolving in my head... but not sure how it will proceed... can you advise me please?
Hi Gitanjali. I can't prescribe an exact process but write out each story in at least one page.
All stories can really be told in just one page.
Write that out.
Then examine it.
Is the char more imp or the plot?
Do you already now the ending or is the writing journey going to be more about figuring out the ending.
Get those first few fundamental things in place.
Once you have that in place it will serve two key purposes.
One, it will serve as a springboard from which your imagination will make leaps every now and then when you were least expecting it.
That will allow you explore the boundaries of your story and characters.
Two: it will give u skeleton against which you can rein in your imagination so you're always working towards a story.
That balance is imp. Good luck!
What have your greatest learnings been as an author?
I think being an author has made me humble inside... very humble... I've realised that writers think they create stories but its actually stories that create writers... stories look for a writer to bring them into the world... you have to surrender completely
What do you do when you are not writing?
What were the challenges you faced to get your first book published?
Was it easier the second time around?
Aprosh, Release 2.0 was published in 2007.
The industry was nascent; you had to submit hard copies by courier etc;
Now you can make electronic submissions.
And of course being a published writer helped a lot... quite a few publishers read the full manuscript.
During Release 2.0, I got polite rejection slips on the query letter itself.
Sir, First of all congrats for creating a new league of writing (IT Thriller) in India.
I am trying to write short stories.
Do you see any future of Short Stories as it is a lost art now?
Short stories should actually work better in today's day and age where attention spans are really low.
At the risk of being repetitive, serve the story and not your own selfish end.
If you've got a story in your head, write it out the way its coming to you.
If it's not looking more than 20-30 thousand words consider writing short stories
I read Release 2.0 sometime in 2007 (I think) and it very accurately described the state of IT as it is today!
Haven't read Exit Point yet but it seems to paint a grim picture of the future of human civilisation. You think we're headed towards doom?
Exit Point doesn't paint a grim picture at all.
It actually reminds us that at the end of the day, we are "intelligent" beings.
Our intelligence is the essence of who we are and what makes us human.
Exit Point encourages us to address our intelligence.
The Deccan Herald christened me the "The Prophet of Doom" although Release 2.0 shows both a dystopian and a utopian view of where the technology industry could be.
I have the character of Sudharsan Rao much more dynamics and energy and passion for Infinity than you know who has actually shown for Infinity... likewise for Exit Point... I don't want a moniker related to "Doom" man!
Where do you get ideas for your books?
Ideas are all around Gurmeet.
As human being we tend to be very closed people.
We create scripts that help us navigate our day to day lives despite our limitations.
If you want to be a writer you have to let go of that security.
You have to be open to all possibilities.
It has side effects.
Being too open has side effects but there is no other way.
If you question everything, ideas will come :)
Do you see yourself giving up your day job to be a full-time author like Amish Tripathi or Chetan Bhagat?
Dunno Sukhvinder. Writing is a form of self expression.
It needs soul.
You have to be ready to give, not waiting to receive.
If you start writing for a living, the pressure to succeed or earn may take the soul out of it.
The magic may abandon you.
I don't want to kill the hen that lays the golden egg... writing has brought beauty to me life... the beauty may leave me if I am disloyal.
That is for all of us but especially true for youngsters... all you frigging young kids out there... the world is a connected place... you have tech at your finger tips...you can use your dad's credit card to buy space on a cloud and create a business your dad could never imagine in his time...aim high...think tech...don't lax
And to aspiring writers... the world needs stories... we all need stories...if you've been bitten by the bug... you're lucky... its a curse and a blessing at the same time.... don't do it for a living... surrender to the story... write for yourself... the rest will follow... write a story that you will enjoy reading first!
Guys. Will be signing out soon. Can take a few last questions.
My message for all of you.
This is your age. Wake up. Seize it.
Don't try to survive and earn a living.
This is not the '90s.
Certainly not the '70s of Meri pehli salary...
There will be food on the table no matter what you do... find higher purpose....
Please click NEXT to continue reading...
Image: Picture used here for representational purposes only.
Photographs: Mansi Thapliyal/Reuters
Can you sell a thriller?
What could make us to read this book as to get some conclusion in our life?
We all wonder at some time or the other about our purpose.
Who am I? Why am I here? In this life? Where did I come from?
Where will I go?
Exit Point makes you think about all of that and gives you perspective... about who you possible are... and what your purpose possibly is? :)
Alok is trying to find his purpose in Exit Point... see if you can find yours :)
How does one get published?
All publishers have a standard book query format.
You can make electronic submissions.
Check their website.
The proposal typically needs to include a synopsis, some sample chapters, who you are, what market you are addressing etc.
Gurashan... s***w the publishing bit...just write... just go and write man...the rest will follow:)
When did you first realise you wanted to be a writer?
I was thinking endlessly about the future of the tech industry.
This was 2005... my mind wandered in crazy areas...
I followed it... realised this is actually looking like a story... hadn't read much after Grisham... so googled to see if an Indian in India can actually even be allowed to write a story...
Thankfully Chetan Bhagat had got it going...
That gave me the courage to write a novel... to invest that much of my soul... knowing there is a small chance of it getting published...but then i started wondering what the eff I was doing for 30 years of my life till then... I realised how much I enjoyed it...
I'd never really planned or "wanted" to be a writer... Release 2.0 did it to me
What's your advice to aspiring authors?
Focus on the story more than the writing.
I've met loads and loads of people who are too hung up about "writing" while they don't even have a story in their head.
People want to read good stories.
They don't want to read good writing.
They will wade thru the crappiest of writing if the story is gripping but the best writing can't save an uninspiring story.
What did you want to be when you were a child?
I wanted to be an aeronautical engineer...I had a crazy bunch for friends at KC College (Mumbai)...5 guys and 5 girls...5 toppers all girls... 5 guys all louging... We went to fetch Huma from the library...I passed at least three guys studying for IIT... I saw the books and instantly lost my love for aeronautics
Could you tell us a little about what you do when you are not writing?
Hey Amit. Right now mostly just one of two things man.
Most likely working. I work really long weeks!
Otherwise the same boring stuff you probably do as well -- running after a plumber to get a leak fixed in the house etc :)
Are you going to venture out to non techie thrillers? Or non fiction? Techie romantic novel maybe?
Never say never.
But I can't imagine writing romance.
I don't want to write non fiction simply because fiction is what excited me more than anything else.
There are three stories waiting to be written -- all thrillers!
One is a psychological thriller but tech will come in.
The others have a lot of tech.
Exit Point also weaves through an intense relationship between two youngsters... but it's the subtext
The Indian publishing industry has been booming but the successful books are either mythological thrillers or romances.
How much space is there for an IT thriller like Exit Point, according to you?
Maybe I'll carve out a new niche.
Isn't that good for readers? For the publishing industry?
I've grown up fascinated by the science and tech in Jurassic Park, Matrix, the stuff by Tom Clancy... technology is not elitist man... tech is a part of everyone's lives...even my maid teaches her son using YouTube videos... my watchman has a Facebok account...
We live in an age of technology... and it surrounds us... there is an incredible amount of tech sophistication that gets into play every time you do simple things like open a web page... the packets travel through servers and networks all over the world using sophisticated algorithms... you don't need to know that to use it...but getting a perspective cud light a spark :)
What inspires you to write books?
I write to save myself man.
I find myself speculating over things endlessly.
When a speculation threatens to overwhelm I try to bring it to a logical closure through a fictional outcome.
I wrote Release 2.0 to stop myself from endlessly wondering about what would happen if all Indian techies in the world resigned on the same day.
I started writing Exit Point when I found I couldn't stop myself thinking endlessly about a chance Facebook chat with a complete stranger.
I write really honestly for myself first... to find closure in such situations...
Do you also read non-fiction? Could you recommend any authors?
Hey Chinmay! Yes mostly non-fiction actually.
The world is changing at an incredible pace.
It's already a very different world today and will be very different in 5-10 years from now.
Look for the guys who are changing it -- the kids at Google, Facebook, Whatsapp; Bezos at Amazon etc -- and see what they are talking about or reading... and start there.
Before you know your shopping cart will be full of books!
What do you turn to when you want to unwind?
I live a lot inside my own head.
It's an intense, dark place buzzing with all kinds of things.
That gets intense.
The best way for me to unwind from that is to get a sense of realism.
I enjoy being lonely in a crowd.
I enjoy going for a walk or chatting with strangers.
It brings me out of my head and into the "real" world... thats what unwinding means to me :)
Who are your favorite authors?
I used to read a lot of fiction as a kid. Grisham, Stephen King, Dean R. Koontz. I don't read much nowadays :)
How do you manage a day job and write? Could you tell us how you managed to do both? What was the schedule like?
It's impossible to balance.
I don't think I do enough writing.
I could be on my fifth book right now.
I was travelling a lot when I wrote Release 2.0 so I got time on flights, airports etc.
Exit Point was a very different experience.
I lived for months, sometimes years with scenes and chars "festering" inside me and I had infrequent spells of "massive writing"
Did you face Writer's Block? How do you get over it?
I must confess Writer's Block is a bit overrated.
It's almost sexy.
Actually "imagination block" is probably a better term.
You don't imagine and write at the same time.
The imagination is active all the time and it's terrible when it stops.
There were definitely times I had such blocks but a lot of it was emotional.
Exit Point is an intense story. It scared me at times.
Pleasure chatting with you.
Thanks a lot for making the time.
Try to read, try to write, aim high... especially all you kids out there... Don't cut slack... try to change the world... lots of love, blessing and best wishes :) Ciaooo!
Image: Picture used here for representational purposes only.
Photographs: Cover of Exit Point