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Coffee & Conversation with Faraaz Kazi

Post by: Alpana Mallick


We’d been planning the interview for over a month, but time and other constraints kept coming up. It has been my experience that most authors prefer to do a “quick one” over email and sometimes take an awful long time to revert. It was thus a pleasant surprise when Faraaz expressed his wish to do a proper interview instead of answering an email questionnaire and what’s more, was easily accessible and quite accommodating.


We finally met up on a Thursday afternoon in Bombay and by my own admission Faraaz is one of the friendliest subjects to interview. Dressed casually, he could be mistaken for being just another youngster visiting the mall. But that’s done with once you get talking to him. For one, he’s a published author, with his novel Truly, Madly, Deeply already climbing the bestseller lists. At age 23, when most people are studying or beginning their careers, Faraaz already has his own soft skills academy, is pursuing his Masters in Business Administration and also writes. That’s something we know very few people can accomplish at this age.

 

While scouting for a café to sit and conduct the interview, Faraaz talks to me about his soft skills academy and you get the sense that here’s someone who’s already begun to put his degrees to good use. He appears to be meticulous in organization and knows where he aims to take his business. But that’s not the focus of this interview, and we approach the subject of writing.

 

When asked about how and when he started writing, Faraaz says, “Writing has always been a part of my life. It was lying dormant somewhere, but it was definitely there. After graduation when I took a year’s break, I joined the Creative Writing course at Xaviers Institute of Communication and that changed everything.” Following the completion of the course, he started on his first novel.  He had written a short story for a competition in his teens and when he had to write his first book, he revisited the idea and gave it the form it deserved. As he says, the book in essence took seven years to complete even though he spent two months wrapping up the first draft. When I ask him how long it took after that stage, he replies, “Writing is the easy part, getting it published is difficult. It took me eight edits before I could get it published.”  Truly, Madly, Deeply was published by Pustak Mahal in 2010 and after a successful run is already up for its second edition print.

 

The book has received many positive reviews and many readers have raved about its “viral promo”. Faraaz is a keen enthusiast and practitioner of social media and he applied that for the release of his debut novel. “In today’s age, an author has to think for himself. He is the best promoter for his product. And when your audience is online, I thought it best to the marketing myself”, he says talking about the social media campaign he managed for his book. He reveals that he checks up on its reviews, directs the PR team on how to proceed, and manages his fan pages and the like by himself since he has experience in the field. In fact social media is going to be the subject of his next book, but that’s supposed to be a hush-hush deal for now (remember, we didn’t tell you about it).

 

We get down to talking about the subject of his first book, which is a teenage-love story depiTruly, Madly, Deeplycted with delightful details and accurate portrayal of angst that will take the reader back to their first love. We skip the “autobiographical” question because we all know that there’s some elements from your life always present in your writing. When quizzed about the decision to write something that currently falls under the quick-read, or metro reads category, instead of choosing say literary fiction or any other genre he replies, “This was the story that I wanted to write and I think there’s an audience for such books. I think we have Chetan Bhagat to thank for starting the trend and pointing us towards this emerging market. Nowadays people want to read something short, something easy and light and have a good experience overall.” Following this train of thought we start discussing the Indian reading scene and he concurs that readership in India is increasing by leaps and bounds and this evolving genre has some role to play in making reading a popular activity.

 

What kind of books do you like to read, I ask. “I read books from any genre in fact. I like fiction more than non-fiction though.” He goes on to reveal that he’s a big fan of fantasy and also talks about his enormous book collection. You know he’s a voracious reader when he admits that currently he owns over 40,000 titles and every reader worth his/her bookshelf knows what that number means. On further prodding he mentions that he had more books and would have reached 50,000 already but a mighty attack by pests put a dampener to that dream. For someone who started reading at age four, writing at seven, and keeps visiting bookstores often, it seems he will reach that magical number easily and quite soon.

 

He mentions his favorite writer is Khaled Hosseini and his favorite book’s The Kite Runner, but when asked about the writer he idolizes and aspires to be, J K Rowling, pat comes the reply. “I’m a big fan of hers, and of fantasy”, he says and you can see the excitement with which he professes his love for the genre. I ask him if he plans to take writing as a full-time profession. “No, I don’t think so”, he answers, thoughtfully, while sipping on his hot chocolate. “I want to do many things. I’d like to write too, but right now I can’t say I’ll do that only. You can take up writing full time only when you end up drawing five points on someone while working in a call centre, making three mistakes of your life in two states.” He adds the last line with a flourish and a grin.  He seems like a big fan of Chetan Bhagat and I ask him if he plans to be India’s next Chetan Bhagat in a few years. “Sarat Kasyap (author or At 5,San Thome) has called me India’s answer to Nicholas Sparks”, he says, trying to keep a straight face, “I think I’d like to be that, if anything.”

 

As we move towards wrapping up the interview, I enquire about his other passions. He states that he plays club cricket regularly and sings. I needle on further on the singing point when he discloses that he’s been trained professionally and has also recorded nine songs! I’m sure some of his fans will become even more besotted at this revelation. 

 

Any tips for budding writers to get published, I pose the last question. “Don’t give up. Keep trying and stick on to them like a shameless leech on rhino skin”, he responds.


You can read and add your reviews of Truly, Madly, Deeply here. 

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Liked the interview. Loved the novel.
Tue,Apr 5th 2011 4:00 PM
Oh I'd love to pick up a copy and give it a read soon!
Wed,Feb 9th 2011 9:26 AM