With his debut fiction Resonance already garnering rave reviews, we bring you excerpts from our exclusive interview with the author Ajay Pandey:
1. What sparked off the idea for your novel?
The idea of my first novel was conceptualized more than four years back. Its theme and cast were set in USA, Sudan, Syria and India and the main plot revolved around a Vietnamese girl with an extraordinary memory. I toyed with the idea of placing my submission to publishers in U.K. or USA. However, it was shelved. A friend of mine suggested that I write a novel with its central theme and character based in the Indian subcontinent.
After being stuck with a writer’s block for two years, one night the idea of my present novel suddenly struck me. The plot wove itself rapidly in my mind, and I mulled over thrashing out of the details all night. By morning, the plot and the central characters were fully fleshed out before me.
After that day, the ideas, subplots, scenes, all flowed and fit snugly into the main plot and characterization of my story, Resonance.
2. Have any career experiences shaped this book? Any interesting anecdote that came to mind?
Yes. My very close interaction with a few friends, working in the higher positions of government gave me a lot of ideas.
My conversation with a young man from Surat on my way to Anand is one anecdote that shaped some of the main characters of my story. He told me about his life experiences and I listened. I experienced the pain of a man, wronged by an influential persona (also from Surat). His story was a universal story. My empathy with that ‘storyteller’ and his ‘story’ finds its place in Resonance.
3. What has been the toughest criticism given to you as an author and what was the best compliment?
My wife’s suggestion to refer to grammar books on my syntactical errors. Her sarcastic remark that I was the product of ‘Grammar School’ is the toughest criticism till date!
The best compliment came from my friend Tarun Seem, who once called me the Sydney Sheldon of India and then rechristened me Ajay Fredrick Pandey Forsyth– an interesting soundbite.
4. Can you tell us about your upcoming book?
Yes. Why not! This too is a thriller. I’ve completed the first draft and it’ll be sometime before I submit it to the publishing house.
It is the story of a young Jewish scientist, who was convinced that in the famous Philadelphia experiment conducted in 1943, a US Navy Warship USS Eldridge had actually disappeared from the Philadelphia dockyard and reappeared within seconds at Virginia, some two hundred nautical miles away. Question rise in his mind–Was Einstein present on that ship? Did he design a machine, capable of pulling off such an impossible feat? If so, could this young boy replicate what had been done? Would his results be as disastrous as those of the Philadelphia Experiment?
In due course of time, the boy develops a machine, while pursuing his masters program in the University of Austin, Texas. This wonder machine does not require any fuel, and derives its own input from Zero field or in other words, from nowhere. Then starts the geopolitical game of all the powerful players of the Gulf World, USA, Russia and several other nations. Each vying to beg, borrow or steal the boy’s research work to become masters of the Universe by wielding this source of free energy.
The boy gets entrapped in a world of deceit and treachery as each country and individuals with vested interests attempt to capture this energy, which would change not just the dynamics of global economics, but also the very stability of the world. The boy, however, understands the full repercussion of his invention.
The court scenes played out in the District Court of Austin with the FBI chasing the boy. Five countries getting into the nasty game of snatching secrets of the machine from one another weaves a snare of global propositions. India and USA are the main contenders and they come to a point where they are capable of shifting the entire geopolitics of the world and change the definition of rich and mighty.
5. Do you have any advice for those who want to become a published writer? Any interesting anecdote you would like to share with us?
To all my dear friends who dream of becoming a published writer, if you have a good story, tell it to the world.
I suggest you to write a linear plot with subplots running parallel to the main plot. Characterization is one of the main parts of a good novel. Your objective should be to flesh out everyone: the protagonist, the antagonistic and even minor characters to an extent. Make them living flesh and blood, plausible people.
Then starts the difficult journey where you have to place your story in the form of a submission before an agent or a publisher. After submission, wait very patiently. After all, you are among several others whose stories are lying before them for consideration. However, if you don’t hear from them for a long time (six months at least), send in a gentle reminder.
Try to visit book signing events, book trades and other shows, where you can get a chance to interact with some well known author or personnel from a publishing house. It’s usually easy to get close to the author during recess to introduce yourself and say that you are a budding author. But don’t be in a hurry to belt out your story in front of him or her. Tell your theme only if he or she asks you what your story is about. If she likes your creation, the spark in her eyes will tell you so, and this is a good omen. Then ask, very gingerly, if she could tell you how to get in touch with an agent or better still, get you introduced to an agent or publisher, so that your submission is at least read. Otherwise, it may be left lying in the slush pile.
Who knows one day you may be lucky enough and your book might find its place in the hands and minds of readers.
Good luck to everyone who dreams.