I’m a trainee lawyer whose first passion has been and always been creativity and specifically related to the written word. I write poetry, novels, short stories and recently turned my mind to biographies of actors being a major film buff. Being such a big fan of movies, a lot of my work incorporates the characterisation and dialogue you might expect in a tight drama or other genres in film.
What do you do when you are not writing? Do you have a day job as well?
I like to sketch and work on my first graphic novel comic as well as listen to music, watch films and constantly try to plot out some creative venture or the other!
When did you first start writing and when did you finish your first book?
I started writing sporadically when I first got out of high school over 12 years ago but only turned my mind seriously to it in the last few years. Up until then I had written poetry, won a few awards from my school and was awarded the 1998 Manchester Young Poets award as well as several others. I then turned my writing to a wide range of genres and finished my first book, a horror drama called ‘Dark Moon Rising’, in early Spring 2010.
How did you choose the genre you write in?
I like to take a total 90 degree turn away from the last project I did. I started with horror, but have turned my ability to drama, romance, thrillers and offbeat character studies.
Where do you get your ideas?
They can come from any source-whether it’s a really powerful song, lyrics, a film I’ve just seen that sticks in my head or even life experience-a really poor challenging day can force you to conjure up thoughts in your head and before you know it you simply have to express it in some form creatively or you just go a bit insane. Usually it starts from a quote I’ve read, a touching song lyric or even a sequence in a film but I usually find ideas parallel what’s going on in my life.
Do you ever experience writer’s block? Do you work with an outline, or just write?
Like most writers it’s the start, the immediate conception that’s the most exciting, your enthusiasm builds and it’s like a tidal wave that can’t stop. Then about half way through I usually do experience a block because I want to be true to the characters and the story and it can be a crazy dilemma trying to stay true to your original vision or simply feeling like you need to hurry up and finish the damn thing! I’ve found there is always a way to work through a block, you just need to use your life experiences and put the work away for a while and come back to it anew. I start with an outline, usually I concentrate first on my characters and try to get to know them as well as I can and then as I go on I find a bit of ‘free form’ and deviate from my structure and flesh out situations, dialogue and characters and then I find myself just writing. If I fall in love with a particular character, I can write constantly about them and what they say.
Is there any particular author or book that influenced you in any way either growing up or as an adult?
Originally I liked Stephen King, then I found I particularly liked the way writers like Yukio Mishima wrote and reading old plays like Strindberg and Chekhov really turned me towards strong dialogue and characterisation. My biggest creative influence is a director/ actor called John Cassavetes who left an astounding body of creative work and who emphasised characterisation, creative non conformity and the power of expression and his ideals, his films and his way of working left the most indelible impression on me.
Can you tell us about your challenges in getting your first book published?
Clearly it’s the hurdle of convincing a literary agent that what you have deserves to be seen and read! Amazingly my biography ‘Stand Alone: The Films of Mickey Rourke’ had a bit of a stand offish history initially concerning agents as they weren’t too sure what to do with a book that wasn’t gutter trash and tabloid gossip considering it was about a famous actor. However I found simple word of mouth and the power of his fan base led to positive reviews, great interest and truly wonderful feedback which made me realise that no matter what obstacles the ‘system’ i.e. agents, red tape, politics may put in front of you-somebody, somewhere out there wants to read what you have done. If you can touch one person and possibly change their life, it’s worth it and despite the countless rejections and abject moments it’s amazing to realise that there are people out there hungry for something new to read and if you’ve got tenacity you can do it. I had to self promote, self advertise and network and thanks to the wonder of the internet and social networking it’s possible to do those things now.
If you had to go back and do it all over, is there any aspect of your novel or getting it published that you would change?
For my book ‘Stand Alone: The Films of Mickey Rourke’ I had an option of making the book more ‘commercial’ and an easier tabloid trash read which no doubt would have got agents lining up to take the book on and probably make a pretty penny-however I realised by sticking to my guns and writing something true to my heart that people really appreciated what I did and love the book more, thus setting it apart from other biographies and that’s really pleasing to hear so I wouldn’t change a thing about this book. For other novels I’ve often strayed from my vision because I try to second guess what the audience wants. My advice is that the truth will eventually be heard, and the only thing I would change is to never sacrifice my voice, vision and narrative because I think it will please some agent sitting somewhere with a wad of manuscripts on their desk. Stay true to your vision and the rest will come.
How do you market your work? What avenues have you found to work best for your genre?
Any self published author now realises the internet is a truly wonderful thing. I started networking on forums (a powerful tool that should not be underestimated), created a video trailer and posted two of them on Youtube, got my book distributed through Amazon (the most powerful way to reach any audience on the net) and also created a website which not only promoted Mickey Rourke’s work but also included the option of purchasing my book. Tagging the book appropriately on websites so as to generate more powerful searches is another excellent way to direct internet traffic on sites like Amazon towards your book. Thanks to Facebook it’s easy to provide links, quotes from good reviews and even coupon offers through sites like Lulu-this keeps my work visible.
Have you written a book you love that you have not been able to get published?
Absolutely. A lot of my novels are fairly unconventional in narrative but powerful in character structure and dialogue, they’re a lot like plays and reward the patient reader. ‘Never Let Go’ is for me a really powerful romantic novel but not bittersweet enough to be enjoyed by a literary agent who perhaps is looking for something else more conventional and sappy-however I felt the book described love amongst persons in middle age very well and painted love and romance in a serious and realistic way. Yet rejections for this book were high even when my friends who had read the book thought it was excellent and touching.
Can you tell us about your upcoming book?
I’m currently working on two books, one is called ‘Shadow Company’ which is a conspiracy based thriller, it is fast paced, frenetic and much like a movie in the vein of the Bourne films and also very much describing what’s going on in the world today. The other is based in New Orleans and about a detective tracking down the kidnapped daughter of his best friend. The one I just finished is called ‘The Far Lonely Cry Of Trains’ and was short listed for the Amazon Breakthrough Award 2011 and is a multi layered drama about four characters all seeking redemption and solace in their broken lives.
Is anything in your book based on real life experiences or purely all imagination?
A lot of the characterisation and dialogue reflect my real thoughts. For authors they often fall in love with their characters, and for me there may be some that completely reflect aspects of my own personality and thoughts at one time-when I’m writing through their eyes sometimes it’s very autobiographic. I’m working on a book now called ‘New Terminal Hotel’ which is a very dark David Lynch-esque drama featuring some dark subject matter but which reflects a lot of prescient thoughts that people can sometimes feel when things aren’t going their way. In that sense writing is always catharsis especially when you dig deep to write about things you simply can’t express in any other way.
What was your favorite chapter (or part) to write and why?
For ‘Stand Alone’ my favourite parts of the book to write about where the years and films of Mr Rourke’s career that most people simply don’t know about or have little knowledge of-the 1990’s period where his career declined and fell into a slump. I enjoyed this because I was truly throwing some light on an area little discussed by critics, authors, fans and those interested in his life and career. I knew that my commentary, academic discussion and detail would really reward those that bought this book.
How did you come up with the title?
It’s simple, for me Mickey Rourke stands alone with his talent in an industry of pretty boy actors and talent that flog themselves purely for the dollar-it also epitomises his individualistic streak and desire to fight his own battles his own way and march to nobody else’s drum but his own.
What project are you working on now? Will you have a new book coming out soon?
I’m working on a dark thriller called ‘New Terminal Hotel’ which is very much in the vein of David Lynch and/or Clive Barker/Cronenberg as well as a book on essays about Mickey Rourke’s career which take a more scholarly approach to his work. I finished a biography on Jaws actor Roy Scheider which I am also very proud of and am working on an album of spoken poetry voiced by some well known voices as well as a biography on 21 Jump Street actor Richard Grieco who I’ve always been a fan of. At the same time ‘Shadow Company’ is constantly in motion.
Are there certain characters you would like to go back to, or is there a theme or idea you’d love to work with?
Absolutely my favourite characters are those who think they have all the answers only to find that the questions keep being changed. These are characters who feel they deserve more than they get and find themselves in a constantly paralytic state mentally and emotionally, they want to express so much but find themselves stifled by life, their defeats and the world around them. I’m fascinated by those kinds of characters and their struggles to fit in, to find love and acceptance and find a constant source of serenity.
What has been the toughest criticism given to you as an author? What has been the best compliment?
The toughest probably that ‘nobody wants to read about X, Y and Z’ or to write more commercially, to spell things out and go from A and B and C with minimal fuss. The best compliment, that I discuss things that other authors don’t, that I delve deep into the soul of a piece of work (especially with Stand Alone) and that I take the proverbial road less travelled which some people understand and get because they’ve been there too.
Do you have any advice to give to aspiring writers?
In terms of your writing, never ‘sell out’ never soften something or commercialise it or try to second guess the marketplace or the audience because that’s what you think makes money or will sell or get literary agents pounding down your door. Don’t be afraid to be different, true to your heart or be obstinate with your detail, narrative and structure. Life isn’t straightforward and easy to spell out, why should your writing be? It just has to reflect reality and real emotion and as long as it does that, people will be engaged.
Is there anything that you would like to say to your readers and fans?
Those that have bought my book ‘Stand Alone’ have given me reviews on Amazon, IMDB and Facebook that have really provided me with happiness and joy. I slaved away hours writing that book thinking only a select niche of fans would bother reading it or understand what I was doing. To suddenly see new reviews pop up praising it and describe it as being the best book on the actor or the only one worth getting on him, that’s worth its price in gold and I thank everybody who has said such nice things about the book.
Chocolate or Vanilla?
The light side or the dark side?
The dark is always more interesting and vital
If you were a superhero (or villain!) what would your power be? Would you wear a cape?
Ability to freeze, rewind and forward time. No cape!
Do you have deep dark secret? How about a shallow grey one?
Deep maybe but certainly not dark. Nothing shallow about any secret I think!
What does your main character think about you? Are you best buds or have you tortured them so much you’d run if you actually ever met?
He’d think I’m a bit too critical and outspoken
What sort of coffee would you order? Simple coffee, complicated soy-non-fat-extra-espresso-half-caff-nightmare?
Sad to say I’m a Green tea, Jasmine kinda guy
Is there any food you refuse to eat?
Drink of choice?
Green Tea and mocktails
If you could live off of chocolate would you? What kind?
Darker the better
What pets have graced your life? Which was your least favorite? What do you think the coolest pet to have would be?
None yet, the coolest pet easily a dog
If you could visit any world ever written about, where would you go?
Author Saurav Dutt has been writing for close to fifteen years after winning the 1998 Manchester Young Poet and Young Writer awards. In the horror and science fiction genre, he was winner of the Dark Tales Quarterly horror competition 2010 and the Dark Static annual short story contest 2009. He has written articles on film and music for Total Film, Empire Online, Time Out and Independent Film Magazine. He also won the Cinnamon Press Short Story Award in 2003, Writing Spirit Award in 2002 and was runner up of the Exeter Writers Short Story Competition in 2003 Most recently he published a book on Award winning actor Mickey Rourke which is an exhaustive critical analysis of the actors career and work which also includes interviews and comments from Rourke himself. As well as Lulu.com, the book is available on Amazon
Web links (website, blog etc)
Buy Saurav’s books here!