Recently I got in touch with young debutant author Arjun Hemmady whose debut novel “You Raise Me Up” had been creating some buzz and got insight of his book as well as about his charismatic persona. Here are some excerpts from an interview Arjun Hemmady gave to Spectral Hues.
Congratulations for your debut novel “You Raise Me Up”. Tell us what kind of feedback you have been receiving…
Thanks. I have been mostly receiving positive feedback. However, some people have said that while the book is good overall, there were a couple of negative points. I took the criticism positively and have made sure that I don’t make the same mistakes in the future.
It must be a great Deja Vu moment when you touch the book for the first time. Could you please describe the experience…
It was wonderful to touch the book for the first time. That was one of the proudest moments of my life. I had proved to myself that I could do something out of the ordinary, something which none of my family members had ever done before.
What motivated you to pen down this story?
Before I started writing this story, I was working on another idea, but the going wasn’t easy. I was finding it difficult to write that story. But then I got the idea for “You Raise Me Up” out of the blue, and it hit me like a speeding truck. I couldn’t stop thinking about the story and characters. It wasn’t difficult to find motivation to write the story, because I would not find peace till I had written something. Writing the story gave me immense pleasure. It was one of the most enjoyable things I have done in my life.
Is this story based on your personal encounter? Are the central characters of this book is based on real persons known to you? How much of Aalok is Arjun Hemmady?
There are portions of it which are based on events which have happened in my life. Also, characters in the novel are a little like people known to me. But one of the central characters, Priyanka, is totally original. I doubt that there are people who would do the things that she has done in the novel. As to Aalok, there are certain similarities between him and me, but I am not Aalok, and Aalok is not me.
The title is very interesting. How did you hit upon it?
This was the only title that made sense to me. Among other things, the book is about raising yourself up after life has brought you down to your knees. It is about moving on in life in the face of adversity. Most importantly, it is about not giving up.
How did you come up with the idea of explore Shakespearean style of writing?
To be honest, I have no idea what Shakespearean style of writing means. My writing style is organic, original and unique. When I write I don’t intend to write a particular way. A lot of the people who have read the book have said that the style of writing is simple, without the use of complicated words. That also happened subconsciously. But I do hope that even someone with a rudimentary understanding of English should be able to read and enjoy my novel.
Did you have a target readership in mind while writing this book?
I think that people within the age group of 21 to 35 should enjoy the book. Also, one of the themes in the book is about failure, so the people who have experienced failure in life will appreciate the book more.
Being a debutant author did you face any kind of difficulties with publishing the book?
Even though I did face a lot of challenges while publishing the book, I found the process extremely enjoyable. I was going through a slump in life at the time of publishing the book, so the process of publication was something that I found enjoyable. I didn’t who to ask for help because I did not know anybody who had published a book through the traditional mode. I did know a few people who had self-published their books, but I was not very keen on going down that route.
It was only when I released the book that I realized that there is a large sub-culture of authors and writers. They have their own groups on Facebook and meet up on a regular basis to discuss various issues relating to publishing. When I look in hindsight I sometimes wonder how I got the book published, without any advice and guidance. That is also something I am proud of.
Was writing come easy to you? How was your journey to become a writer?
I have been writing since I was in my teens. I was never prolific, but when an idea struck me I would leave everything aside and write about it. I have written on a range of topics from my experiences about learning to drive, to my views on India’s caste system. I had tried to publish a couple of my articles in my school magazine, but was not able to. The reason given to me was that “it does not meet the standard”. But despite that, I feel a sense of pride when I read what I had written in my school days. Even today I think that the writing was of a good quality.
My first article got published in my community’s magazine called “Kanara Saraswat Magazine”. The article called “The Day Before” was about what I experienced a day before my CA Exam. It got rave reviews and it was then that people in my community started noticing me. I had always known that I would write a full-fledged novel, but I had never imagined that I would write a romance novel. I started writing “You Raise Me Up” in December 2012 and ended in around November 2014. I could have completed it earlier, but could not for some reasons. I believe that the quality of the book improved because of the relatively long period of time taken to write. I had matured as a person and a writer, and I believe that it did reflect in the writing.
I first told my parents and friends that I had written this novel when I got my first offer. I had kept it a secret till then, because I believed that I would jinx it. The response from my friends was that of surprise, especially on learning that it was a romantic novel. Actually my mother has not yet read my book completely. She has read it half way, as something or the other manages to distract her from reading it. My father who passed away in September 2017, also could not read it, though he had read a few chapters and said that he liked it. He was never much of a reader anyways, so I didn’t push him to read it.
What is the hardest thing about writing?
The hardest thing in the process of publishing a book in my opinion is editing. As I have said before I have been writing articles since a young age, but editing was never my strength. I used to write the article and send it to the publishers of the magazine without having a second look, and I would kick myself for being careless when I would notice the mistakes which would creep in the final print. Actual writing takes very little time for me. Thinking about writing (actually it is procrastination) takes a majority of the time.
What interests you other than writing? Tell us something about yourself?
My interests are driving, watching TV serials and movies and spending time with friends. I also like working. I work full time in the Treasury Department of an IT Company and I find it extremely enjoyable. I don’t find work to be stressful. In fact I find idle time to be the most stressful. That doesn’t mean that I am workaholic. I enjoy downtime also and make the most of it to recharge my batteries.
Which other books and authors do you like? Is there any single book which has particularly influenced you…
One of my favourite authors is Amish Tripathi. I find his imagination and scale of ideas to be mind boggling. His Shiva Trilogy is one of my favourite books. I also admire him for his courage to deal with such a topic. India is a very religious country and we generally don’t like it when people, especially youngsters write about religion. I remember reading that he had to deal with lots of rejections while publishing the novels. His determination is also something that I admire.
Tell us something about your future plans? Have you already started planning for your next book?
In fact I have finished writing my next book, and am waiting for the right offer to get it published. I don’t want to reveal much, except that it is a psychological sports drama.
Any message to the readers…
I hope that people continue to read my books and give me encouragement to continue writing more and more. I would also like to thank Spectralhues for considering my novel for review.
Thank you Arjun for your time! We shall meet again!
That was Arjun Hemmady! In a candid conversation he expressed his delight that his debut novel has been received well by book lovers across India. Spectralhues wishes him glorious success and hopes he would come up with many more remarkable books.Arjun Hemmady Arjun Hemmady books author author interview book lovers Book World Books Interview latest books You Raise Me Up