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Interview with Ahmed Faiyaz

Post by: BookChums

People know him as "a Chartered Accountant and Management Consultant by accident, a civil servant by day and a writer by night. A voracious reader and a lover of cinema. And of course the Managing Director, Grey Oak Publishers."

But this barely sums up the personality of author Ahmed Faiyaz.
Those familiar with his previous work will vouch for his insight to observe and meticulously jot human emotions and relationships. And with his latest offering Scammed: Confessions of a confused accountant, he has scaled another achievement as a prolific author.

BookChums interviews him once again.


Let’s begin with a brief synopsis of Scammed, in the author’s words.
Its my most commercial work as a writer as it lends itself to a much wider audience than Another Chance. Scammed is the story of a struggler, or in some ways a loser, who's educated, hard working and still doesn't quite manage to get the things he wants from life. He takes short cuts, finds what he thinks is love, some success and a lot of fame. But things go awry when the folks he pulled down on his way up, plot a devious plan and plant allegations of investor fraud on him. Soon, he is set up as a scrape goat by the dubious management, and he has to find a way out of the mess he finds himself in. Scammed is a breezy read aimed at the 18-24 audience. I'm not going to pretend that its a great literary masterpiece, it isn't and it was never meant to be that way. Its probably the first book I've written keeping an audience's taste and the times we live in on top of my mind, while Love, life... and Another Chance had a lot of myself - my feelings, beliefs, insecurities through the lives of my characters.



How did the character of Hitesh Shah come about? Is it a pure fictitious character or does he have traits of people you know?
It's fictitious as all my characters are...or at least most of them are. I think people will connect to Hitesh and find some of their own insecurities in him. We have a large middle class in Urban India today, and all of them want to be like the top 10% of the income group who are the privileged lot. They want to indulge in gadgets, gizmos, fast cars and foreign holidays, and are willing to cut corners to get there. Through this story, its a way of saying, if you do this, something else can happen too, there's a risk that the outcome could be disastrous. But of this is conveyed through the plot in a very entertaining way.



Why was Scammed released as an offering from an Anonymous writer?
I believe that when someone looks at a book that says 'Scammed' and 'Confessions of a Confused Accountant' it creates an element of intrigue which helps the title. Besides, I'm kinda tired seeing my name on every other book ;) I'm joking, maybe I don't care so much about my name as a writer. Most contemporary writers today are spending more time selling themselves on Facebook, Twitter and through other channels, as opposed to writing a book. When you have that, what you have is mediocrity, and a stupid rat race which I want to to stay away from.



All your books Love, Life and All That Jazz, Another Chance and now Scammed are about confusion, relationships gone awry and chaos in urban, modern life. Why does confusion, entangled love triangles and trouble, in well-to-do people’s life, form the crux of every book you pen?
If this is a commonly held belief, it is something I completely disagree with. In Love, life & all that jazz..., Tanveer, Tanaz, Anuj, Naina and Sarah are all from very ordinary backgrounds, and go through a series of ups and downs on various facets of life. In Another Chance again, Aditya, is someone very ordinary, and Ruheen, goes from being an heiress to waiting tables at a cafe. In Scammed, Hitesh, is from a lower middle class background, and so are the other key characters in this plot.
Yes, they are urban and this is about contemporary lives, where there is confusion, ambition, insecurity and all that jazz, but no these aren't love stories about the rich and well heeled, quite far from it actually, for anyone who's familiar my work.



Would you like to share your writing methodology with the readers?
I don't have a methodology, I write because I want to. I have this inner demon (or angel) that makes me do what I do. Four weeks back, I wrote a short story, and having done that, I realized that this should be bigger than it is, and developed that into a novella called The Graveyard Shift, in just a week. We'll publish this in April and the feature film is in the works, with production from February - April 2012. Even Scammed was written over a period of one month in March 2011, its my fastest piece of work as a full length novel. I suggest that readers don't follow my methodology as writing consumes me and takes way too much of my time.



How have you seen yourself evolve as a writer?
I think we all keep evolving as long as we breathe. There's something new to learn everyday. There's always a new experience in meeting new readers, being at a launch, going through the long check in queue's at an airport, catching up with an old friend, or even taking a holiday at a beach resort. One is always confronted by interesting people and interesting characters. People I've met on a flight, to those I've met in the hills of Shimla, have been my inspiration for new writing. Am I writing better than I was two years ago? I don't know, I guess its what appeals to a person. So to answer your question, there's of course a difference from then to now, but it may not necessary be an evolution, its just a part of a hopefully long journey where each book, and within it the characters, are an exciting new place to explore.



You have also written short stories. What do you find more challenging? What is the difference in writing for the two mediums?
I've been asked this quite often, and its a difficult one to answer. A novel is certainly more exhausting and time consuming as you spend that much time with the plot and the characters, while its much simpler with a short story which is almost like a summer shower, at least for me. I tend to not go back and change/ play with stories that I write, and that's the way its always been. On the other hand, there are writers who revisit a short story some 14 times before anyone else sees them.



Among the short stories that you have penned, which one do you think can be evolved into a novel?
Apart from The Graveyard Shift that has evolved as a novella, I feel the rest of them stand best the way they are. We are taking 7 independent short stories I've written and I'm connecting the dots to bring them under one larger novella called 20-12, which is about 20 characters in 12 places, and is set in 2012. But this is without tampering with the soul of these stories.



Any other genre that you would like to try your hands at?
I don't see myself as being slotted to a genre, I never have and never will be. In Urban Shots Bright Lights, you'll read, Mr. Periera, my first ever short story, which is about the relationship with a boy and neighborhood uncle who inspires his love for literature, and I wrote this right after Love, life... and before Another Chance. Love, life & all that jazz... was a coming of age story about the quarter life crisis, Another Chance was an epic romance that depicted selfless love in an urban contemporary setting, and Scammed is a thriller/ corporate drama of sorts. The Graveyard Shift has everything - humour, love, drama, intrigue, crime and thrill in equal measure. Bestseller, my next novel in 2012 is a comic satire set in the publishing world, while my short stories (including those in 20-12) are all over the place in terms of genre.



Considering that you are a great fan of classics, what is that one element of classic novels that make them timeless and make a person read them even after so many years?
I think the honesty with which they were written is what makes them timeless classics. They portray the life and times of people in that age and of a particular era. I think there's a lot of Indian writing that will stand the test of time, that of Premchand, R K Narayan, Sankar, Saadat Hasan Manto and Ruskin Bond among others.



Do you think the social networking sites and blogging make the job of a writer any easy?
I don't think they do. To some extent, they help a writer reach out to an audience, which helps. To a large extent, they're a distraction and one has to cut the noise out if they have to write, its as simple as that.



What next do we see from your desk?
There are a number of stories, including that first five I'd written that will feature in the Urban Shots - Crossroads, Bright Lights and The Love Collection. There's a novella, The Graveyard Shift, in April 2012, and hopefully Bestseller in November 2012 or Jan 2013. 20-12, a novella of inter connected shorts, should also come out in 2012, if we can manage that. So there's a spate of writing from my desk. I'm on a writing break through 2012, so my next effort as a writer will begin in 2013. At this point I'm unsure about what its going to be, there are two stories, one day I'm more excited about one, and on another day about the other plot. But let's see...time will tell.

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