Monday, April 28, 2014

#AuthorInterview : Aditya Magal

Almost eighty thousand people follow him on twitter. There, he is @Jhunjhunwala, and the account is a parody. All these years, we have read his wit in the form of tweets or his blog entries, without knowing who he really was. His book How To Become A Billionaire By Selling Nothing releases on May 9, and I found it to be an absolute laugh riot. Before you pick up the book (which you should, I'd say), and experience some rib-tickling laughter, here we are in conversation with author Aditya Magal:
Congratulations! The book releases in a few days! Nervous?  
Thank you! And yes, nervous. ‘ Petrified’ would be more like it!
Please tell our readers a bit about you? About Aditya Magal! Those of us who are from twitter, are more acquainted with @Jhunjhunwala, would love to know about the brain behind this laugh riot! 
The biggest laugh riot is my bank balance :-/. Apart from that I’m an ordinary guy, very happy and very lucky to engage with people online and have fun with them cracking silly jokes. India makes me happy and sad so I try to entertain people with that in mind!
How did @Jhunjhunwala come into being? I know it was a social experiment of sorts to begin with, but am curious to know how did the journey progress, and when did the thought to turn it into a book germinate?  
@jhunjhunwala was the extension of the blog ‘The Secret Journal of Rakesh Jhunjhunwala’ and the handle started in 2009. Since then, I’ve tried to make people laugh. At times I’ve succeeded and many times I have failed but I’ve had fun doing it and that’s what makes the journey rewarding – the fact that I can have fun online with people generous enough to read my nonsense!
The book came about in the closing months of 2012 where the idea was to put the ‘Jhunjhunwala’ character from the blog and twitter in a story situation. An exploration of that led the thought to germinate and with time a book to fruition.
Please tell our readers a bit about the book? 
How To Become A Billionaire By Selling Nothing’ is the story of two men. One, a freakishly egotistical but fun loving billionaire who has worked honestly to become rich and another, an entrepreneur who is struggling to reach the top strata of financial independence. He does this by selling Nothing – emptiness which we struggle our whole lives to obtain without stopping a moment to think why we are actually struggling for the same. The story deals with contrasting values in people and takes a funny look at human nature through the spectrum of making money. 
Tell us something about your struggle with getting published. We have a fair idea that it isn’t a cake walk. But how was the real deal for you?
Most publishers did not want to take a chance on a blogger who had been clawing in one corner of the internet for almost five years. However, I was fortunate to have two publishers express an interest in my manuscript and extremely lucky to have Random House give me the support and guidance required to write a funny debut novel.
As an individual you are already famous, been featured in so many publications and written in as many. But this is your debut as an author of a full-fledged book. Different? Difficult?  
A completely testing experience. It required a different mindset and a very structured and disciplined approach. Since I had been preparing for this for a long time I knew what the struggle entailed. Writing humour is also not easy, as they say ‘making someone cry is easy. making someone laugh is very hard’. So, a debut novel almost 400 pages long and funny has been a challenge – physically and mentally. But, most importantly it has also been fun and a learning experience so I am grateful for it.
What next? Another new genre maybe? 
Absolutely! Poetry, short stories, comic books! Whatever I try, I hope the readers like it.
Who do you read, who are your favourites? 
RK Narayan, Goscinny and Uderzo, Roald Dahl, Agatha Christie, Conan Doyle, Charles Dickens, Oscar Wilde, Haruki Murakami, Stan Lee, Jerome K Jerome, Tolkien, Rowling, Mark Twain and simply many many many more!
Too many authors mushrooming over the Indian literary scene of late. More authors than readers, maybe. Does that disturb you as a writer? Or would you say, genuine readers would dig out a worthy book from anywhere? 
I really don’t know. I’ve just written my first book so I’m not an expert on gauging the scene but I think in my own experience, the writers who have influenced me the most have always been the ones that have been able to communicate with me through their words. I guess readers look for such writers to hold sway over them during the course of their lives.
Any to-dos for wannabe authors?
Absolutely none!

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