He reads Wodehouse and dabbles with executive training apart from his corporate life. He has written a book, pages of which have been taken from all our work lives. A truly humourous book which stands by it's title With a pinch of salt… has been written by debutant author Jas Anand. Let's know him better:
Congratulations on the book! Frankly, I was surprised at how much I was enjoying reading it, right from pages 3-4. How did you manage this!?
Thanks Samarpita, for compliment. I had also read your book review and I think, you have got the pulse of the book perfectly right. I have seen that all of us have anecdotes to share when we catch with our friends over drinks or coffee. These anecdotes are usually from our daily lives which end up being uncaptured, unrecorded or in simple words don’t have an outreach to go to readers at large. I thought that it may be good idea to come up with a concept of which identifies the funny stereotypes around us and becomes a platform for churning out anecdotes from daily life. This idea and observation led to development of this book.
Did you frame the characters based on your friends and yourself, or built them on a fresh mould? How did you come up with the witty names?
The book is inspired from our daily lives; but it is fiction and exaggerated (that’s why the title “With a pinch of salt …”). So the people around me over period of time have given me some initial seed of creativity which was later developed and moulded into full-fledged characters. My attempt was to try something different yet relatable, hence I wanted catchy names that can give some idea about what to expect. Secondly, with these names, and little customizations one can even look at niche international markets for the book. The names evolved over a period of time and I tried to find that one buzzword for each name, once I got that buzzword then the title just followed. For example, Simon behaved like a satellite that would just go round and round any topic, once the buzzword satellite got fixed in my mind then 'Simon Satellite' as a title just fell in place and so on.
Tell our readers a bit about your book?
I genuinely believe that life does not get tough, we get too serious. I believe our daily lives have so much hidden splendor and humor but we are not able to spot it due our robotic 9 to 6 pattern of living. An observant and a roving eye for fun can see anecdotes bubbling all around. This book is an endeavor to transform the mundane daily life into an opportunity to find some fun and humor. The book is thus about celebrating life by creating humor out of our daily life situations. The inspiration was to present a refreshing take on day to day life and help people find humor around them.
The book is based on observation of funny tendencies in people and then creating fictional caricatures and anecdotes around out of them. Hence each chapter is a character in itself and some anecdotes around them.
(eg) There are some people who can never come straight to a point. If you ever asked them a simple question like what is the time? They would probably reply, “Time!!! This is the most horrible time of my life. My father is not sending me more money, I can’t understand any damn thing in the lectures, no girl ever seems to be interested in me and the hostel food is pathetic. Time!!! It is the worst time of my life.”
This tendency of beating around the mulberry bush has been converted into a fictional character called ‘Simon Satellite'. And yes, there are many more such characters and anecdotes.
Untouched topic, in a way. How high was the anxiety?
Yes, I was certainly anxious. It is an experimental format so that makes it that much risky. Srishti Publishers had the conviction to give it a try and that made it easier for me to follow this experimental format. It is somewhere between a fiction and a humour. After the release lots of people have appreciated the originality and fresh concept of the book.
What does Jas Anand do? Tell us about the person behind this witty author.
I have been in corporate sector for nearly 15 years now; before that I had done my engineering and PGDBA. Currently based in Manila and I work across the South East Asia region handling business development. I am married and we have 2 boys. I have varied interests in life such as writing, reading, music, sports and I am also a corporate trainer (which I do once in a while).
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?
For me, it was not very tough in terms of finding a publisher. Mr. J.K Bose liked the concept of the book and he expressed his willingness to back it. However, the publishing got delayed by a year as I had some personal engagements in 2013 and then Srishti had a calendar of books ready for publishing. Other than one year delay, it was not a struggle.
Any brickbats which really hurt, yet?
Not really, every one’s sensibility of humour is unique just like fingerprint. So I guess there will be a small section of readers that may find it ridiculing while my take is that it is exaggerating and as we say putting tadka and mirchi– I don’t like bland stuff.
How and when did you decide to be a published author? Was it always a plan, or did you start thinking on the lines when you thought you had a plot with you.
I know my strengths well. I have a good sense of oral narration and a good sense of humour to match. Writing is like binding my two strengths together to make it readable. So I was working on a few projects in parallel. However, the different format of this book and its uniqueness acted as a catalyst. Initially, writing was a stress buster from my existing routine but slowly I developed conviction to be a publisher author.
Is it difficult to write with a full time career? How did you time it all?
It is difficult to find time. The best is not to put pressure on you and do it as and when one can find time. Deadlines are anti-creativity. Initial 50 pages are tough to write and I think after that there is a critical mass ready which itself draws attention for completing it.
What next? New genre; or you would want to stick to comedy?
I am working on a motivational / self-help book next – I think I have a good concept there at hand. But yes, I will continue to write light and humorous books that can bring mild smile and chuckle.
Who do you read, who are your favourites?
Lots of them – Kahlil Gibran is my favourite. I like reading P.G. Wodehouse, Roald Dahl, Scott Adams and also Robin Sharma on the non-fictional side. And of course, Osho books are outstanding (though its more than a book, it is a voice).
People pass snide remarks saying anyone can be a writer now. True to an extent, because there is a lot of average and below average reading material out there, but one cannot deny that there are some really talented writers. Does this perception affect writers in any way?
I don’t think it should effect; there will always be people who are critical. The safest way is to ignore negative energy.
Any to-dos for wannabe authors?
I think, one must try to break the clutter – we need more experimentation