Having written three short stories called ‘From the Land of Palaces’, ‘The Legend of Birbal’s Bull’ and ‘Inspiring Indians’, author Fawaz Jaleel was noticed for his engaging stories and crisp writing style.
Who doesn’t love an edge-of-the-seat thriller? Aware of this simple truth, prolific author Fawaz Jaleel churns out nail-biting suspense stories with intriguing plots and relatable characters. Having written three short stories called ‘From the Land of Palaces’, ‘The Legend of Birbal’s Bull’ and ‘Inspiring Indians’, he was noticed for his engaging stories and crisp writing style. His short stories are available on Amazon, Juggernaut and select bookstores in the country. The Legend of Birbal’s Bull was even featured on the Amazon Bestsellers list. His latest book, ‘Nobody Likes an Outsider’ climbed to the top of bestseller lists across the country and brought him many accolades. It has also been optioned for conversion to a webseries. On the occasion, he joins Sunday Guardian for a freewheeling chat. Excerpts from an edited interview:
Q. Please tell us about your journey of becoming a writer?
A. I grew up in Bahrain and completed my schooling there. Then, I moved to Chennai for my graduation where I went to Madras Christian College. I attained my post-graduation degree from Azim Premji University and decided to work in the public health sector for a while. From there, I moved on to working as a branding and communications consultant with the Government of India. I have also worked as Senior Brand Manager with a couple of fintech and ed-tech firms. You may be wondering how my corporate journey ties in with my writing aspirations…
Before I wrote my first novel, I wrote three short stories and loved the experience of writing them. When I received a positive response for them, I knew I wanted to go bigger and so my first novel came about which is ‘Nobody Likes an Outsider’. I am overwhelmed to see how well it has been received!
However, I continue to maintain my corporate career alongside following my passion to write. Currently, I work for a leading Indian fintech organisation based out of Bengaluru, and I happily juggle both these roles.
Q. When did you first discover a love of writing?
A. It was probably during my school days when I first became aware of my love for writing. However, it was at Madras Christian College and Azim Premji University that I gained the perspective I needed to make my stories visually rich and believable reflections of life. When I began working in the corporate sector, I had plenty of opportunities to travel and interact with people that lived in metro cities as well as the deepest interiors of our country. Being able to meet and observe them up close really shaped my opinion of the diversity of people and shined a light on a lot of on-ground issues I may not otherwise have learned about. I haven’t received any formal training in writing, but I feel a journey to the soul of real India is the best training that any writer can get.
Q. How did you choose the subject for your book?
A. I have been fascinated by Indian politics and most of my non-fiction reads are about political theory and contemporary Indian politics. I had the good fortune of working in this sector too, which gave me insider knowledge. In this novel, I speak about an aspect of political theory, which is not really highlighted in mainstream literature. I don’t want to reveal it for fear of letting spoilers out, but I urge readers to pick the novel and solve the mystery for themselves. Further, I feel that the concept of outsiders and how they are treated is relatable to a large section of the audience.
Q. How has your book been received so far?
A. The response has been great so far. It is a national bestseller now and a Bollywood based production house has acquired the option rights. We are finalizing the paperwork to push this into the pre-production phase. The greatest feeling is when readers email you with their thoughts and critiques of the book too.
Q. Please tell us about your writing process from start to finish.
A. I usually create an outline of the story and spend the next couple of months delving deep into research pertaining to the context, history, place, and everything surrounding it. However, I leave the envisioning of the twists and important breakthroughs for when I sit down to write, as I want to surprise myself, so that I can create a gripping experience for the readers.
My favourite part of writing is the research and being able to weave multiple plot angles into one story.
Q. How long did it take you to write this book?
A. This book required around four months of research and then took another three months to write.
Q. If not crime fiction, what genre do you think you would write?
A. That’s an interesting question. I would love to try my hand at writing magical realism and perhaps some inspirational fiction too.
Q. Where do you get your inspiration and how do you research your body of work?
A. For this book, the subject or I should say ‘the mystery’ hit me during one of my trips to Uttar Pradesh. However, my book is set in Bihar – a place that I have never visited so I depended a lot on research papers, conversations with people and scholars in the region, and of course my wonderful friends. That is the process I always adopt when I’m writing.
My friends read my stories first and give their brutal and honest feedback. After this, I hire consultants to review the work so that I get third-party feedback as well.
Q. What are you working on next?
A. There are lots of things in the works. I am simultaneously writing two books – the second part of the Yohan Tytler mystery series and another crime thriller mystery set in West Bengal. I’m also busy with the webseries production of this book.
Q. What have been your biggest rewards so far?
A. It has been a wonderful and exciting journey so far. The book has received several awards including the ‘Best Political Thriller’ by Firebox. After the success of the first book, the publisher signed a contract with me for my second and third books. While I love writing, I also believe that it is important to focus on getting the return-on-investment (ROI) for publishers and I feel happy to have achieved that. Writing is as much a commercial venture as it is an art and I have always focused on creating ROI-centric marketing strategies to ensure that commercial expectations are met. I’m very grateful that this book has received great reviews on Amazon, Goodreads, and several media outlets, and I urge those who haven’t already got a copy to buy their own through Amazon, Flipkart, and other e-commerce websites.
Noor Anand Chawla pens lifestyle articles for various publications and her blog www.nooranandchawla.com. She can be reached on firstname.lastname@example.org.