M.H. Rahman, 23, was born and raised in the steel city of Jamshedpur (Jharkhand, India). He pursued his B. Tech. from BIT Sindri, the Government Engineering College of Jharkhand, and is currently working in the Tata Consultancy Services Ltd. A software professional by day and an author by night, Rahman loves spending his time with his friends and on social media Facebook, Twitter, Blogger and Writers Carnival, to name a few. Here is an excerpt of our exclusive conversation –
- Tell us something about your book Half Life.
Whenever I’m asked this question, I usually say that Half Life is a murder mystery set against the backdrop of United Kingdom. But that’s not completely true. My editors and I really had a tough time deciding the book’s genre and sub-genre. This is a love story, a murder mystery, a thriller and a horror story. And that’s not just it! Half Life is the first ever Indian novel with a complimentary music album (by the same name)!
- Wow! That’s interesting! When did you start writing?
Not many know that I began as a poet. I wrote my first poem when I was 13. Fortunately, a couple of them found their way into the local daily too.
- What is the purpose of your writing?
Initially, when I began writing stories, my sole purpose was entertaining the readers. With time, I realized that stories could be a medium to do a lot more. So, I tried to adopt fiction to inspire reality for good. But after the international success of Half Life, I discovered yet anther big purpose- to take India to the international level through my Indian International thrillers. I dream to take the rich Indian culture, history, diversity and most importantly, the indigenous stories across the globe.
- What an amazing thought, Rahman! We wish you see this dream of yours fulfilled soon 🙂
What inspired you to bring forth this idea of Half Life as a book?
Back in 2008, I was watching this movie on Zee Studio titled Half Life, which I couldn’t complete watching by the way. It got me thinking all about this term Half Life. From that day on, I have had long, deep thoughts about what all it could mean — an incomplete life, a ghost, a half living-half dead human. And that’s when the supernatural theme struck me and I spun the whole story around it.
- Great! Is any part of Half Life inspired from real life?
It is completely a work of my imagination. However, I would like to take an opportunity to say this that a few of my upcoming works will be inspired from real life incidents.
- Looking forward to it! Which of your works have been published so far?
A couple of my poems have found their way in the local newspapers.I was also a consistent contributor to my college’s national magazine called SARJANA.
My debut novel Half Life hit the shelves worldwide in September 2014.
Besides these, my band – The B.A.N.N.E.D Indians, have recently released their songs on soundcloud, reverbnation and some other music related sites.
- That’s amazing! It is an achievement for any author to see the work being adopted by the movie industry. Do you see a movie based on Half Life being made?
Ah, that’s really a dream I think about and work towards every day… well some day, definitely! Wish me luck 🙂
- So how was this journey of becoming a published author? Give some insights of your efforts on getting your work published.
Truly speaking, the journey has been a roller-coaster. The transition from poetry to stories was pretty challenging for me. I must thank my teachers, friends and family whose constant support and encouragement helped me through it. Speaking of publishing, I only applied to 3 publishing houses out of which 2 of them rejected my work.
- Have you self-published your book or followed the traditional approach?
- Which approach is better according to you and why?
Both the approaches have their own set of pros and cons. But traditional publishing definitely takes away a lot of your pain and you can then solely focus on promotion and marketing.
- You are starting a new trend of FREE WEB-ONLY SERIES in India. Tell us more about it and what should we expect from it? And if this is any threat to the traditional book-publishing in India?
Frankly speaking, this is the first time on record that I’m talking about this at length. So allow me to be a little more descriptive 🙂
Web-only series is my personal initiative to digitize literary entertainment. We have now entered an era where entertainment is being redefined and revolutionized. Kindle has been fast gaining momentum over traditional paperback versions. Netflix, Amazon, HULU and HBO are fast replacing traditional cable TV.
With POLITICS, Rahman’s Universe (my home production) will be launching WritersTV – free web-only series. It implies that readers can enjoy a story free of cost anytime, anywhere and in any web-enabled device.
In these series, the story will unfold gradually, one season at a time with a break of 3 or more months between consecutive seasons. Each season will comprise of WEBISODES ranging from 8 to 23 webisodes per season. The webisodes would be very differently scripted unlike the chapters of a book. Just so you understand better, this is pretty much what a WEBISODE would look like.
I hope to release the PILOT (i.e. Season 1-Webisode 1) of POLITICS in late 2016.
Now speaking of the threat to the traditional book-publishing in India, I do not think that this would in any way endanger the beauty and essence of books. We do have songs on our phones, but we still buy iPods. We do have laptops/tablets to play games but we still buy Play Stations. It’s all about enhancing the experience of entertainment by offering them a variety of choices. And that’s exactly what WritersTV is going to do 🙂
- I only have one word to say – AWESOME! What are your forthcoming writings?
There are a few stories I’ve been working on for a long time now. But currently I’m concentrating on POLITICS, an Indian International thriller. It will be my first web-only series.
But besides that, Rahman’s Universe will also be producing a few more titles in 2016-2017:
- MUNICH HORROR – another Indian International horrifying thriller will be a mini web-only series set against the backdrop of India and Germany.
- MY SUPRHERO STORY – as the name clearly suggests, will be a superhero story set in Modern Day United States.
- POLITICS and MY SUPERHERO STORY seem to be two very different genres. Any specific reason to choose such different genres?
Yes, these are two very different genres that I’m trying. I always like to stretch and try to do something new or do something different every time. Personally, I write pretty much everything that intrigues me or inspires me or challenges me in some way. No offense, but I don’t want to be one of those writers who get stereotyped after the success of their first story and owing to the public demand, limit themselves to one genre for lifetime. Trying different genres allows me to grow both as a writer as well as an individual.
- Tell us something about this new venture of yours, POLITICS
POLITICS is nasty story of an intriguing conspiracy against India. I’m sorry but I can’t reveal much about this series as of now but I do promise that this story will take you on a roller-coaster ride from the Parliament of India to the White House in DC.
- You dedicated the story, POLITICS to Mr. Amitabh Bachchan. Any particular reason behind that?
Yes, I am a huge fan of Mr. Amitabh Bachchan. I respect him a lot and it has always been my dream, like many others I’m sure, to get to work with him some day. While I was sketching the protagonist of POLITICS, Harshvardhan Pratap Singh, I realized that this character cannot be played by any other Indian actor except Mr. Bachchan. This work of mine is only a small tribute to my all-time favorite actor and the legend of Indian cinema as well as our nation.
- As you’ve been calling your story (POLITICS) to be your tryst with politics, it intrigues me to ask what was your first tryst with POLITICS in real life.
#MyTrystWithPOLITICS is one of the hashtags I’ve been using for this series of mine. Fortunately or unfortunately I have had a few rendezvous with politics at different stages of my life. Back in school, I got my first opportunity to be a majority whip leader where in I was whipping up support and votes for one of the candidates of the school presidential elections. Fortunately and to my surprise, our candidate won at those elections. I got another chance to be a whip when I was in my 3rd year of engineering but unfortunately that didn’t go too well for me and out of two only one of my candidates could make it to the position.
- You recently shared that you have been reading House of Cards by Michael Dobbs and that Netflix’s House of Cards is your favorite show. So, is POLITICS going to be the Indian House of Cards?
The mere comparison of POLITICS and House of Cards (book and/or Series) is in itself a huge honor for me. Both Michael Dobbs and Beau Willimon are geniuses and their creations are internationally acclaimed masterpieces. However to be very honest, I don’t think it would be fair to draw this comparison because firstly, I’m too young and too inexperienced to even dare to compete with these awe-inspiring writers. And secondly, though the genres are the same, the stories are way too different.
- POLITICS, My Superhero Story, what more should we expect from Rahman’s Universe?
As of now, it’s too early for me to comment on this. But I just want to say that Rahman’s Universe will not be limited to producing stories. It’s going to be home to a lot of other stuff too 🙂
- What are some of the challenges that you have faced while pursuing this hobby of yours?
There have been quite a few challenges along the way. One of them was to become an author. Having no formal training in English or creative writing, I had to learn it all by myself. Back in those days, I had said to my English teacher that I could never become an author because I didn’t know how to write dialogues. But she always encouraged me and said that I would learn it one day.
- Teachers are gifted in identifying the bright stars among students, you were one of hers. Just like your teacher advised you, what would you advise the debutantes / beginners of today?
I’d only say that believe in yourself and believe in your stories because only then will the world believe in you and your stories.
- What are the four top most things you take care of while writing a book?
There are a whole bunch of things that come into writing a book. The chief among them are:
- Planning: The overall plot of the story matters a lot. So, the first thing I do is to lay out an overall plan- what would be the setting (background) of the story, who will be the main characters and whether it is going to be a male protagonist centric or female protagonist-centric or both or multi-character. I write each of these things down in detail.
- Writing Style: This pretty much defines any writer uniquely. With time, this becomes his/her signature.
- Time management: Owing to my full-time job and a lot of my other commitments, the only time I now get is during the weekends. And I try making good use of that.
- Stakeholders: This is crucial. By stakeholders, I mean myself and the audience I write for. Almost every story targets an audience- children, teenagers, young adults, adults, Indian or international. But of course, major part of this comes into play only when the story is out in the market.
- What is your favorite genre and why?
I am a fan of thrillers. Especially those which make you turn pages incessantly. I believe I don’t have much patience for slow-paced stuff, be it books or movies.
- What / Who is your biggest source of inspiration in life?
I do look up to a lot of people for inspiration – Mark Zuckerberg, Reed Hastings, Jeff Bezos, Christopher Nolan, Ian Somerhalder to name a few. But mostly to keep myself motivated, I look back in the past at my achievements – big and small. It makes me want to do more and a lot better. It makes me feel that everything is possible! I believe that when one is happy with the person one sees in the mirror, life gets easier and one always stay self-motivated.
- If you had to live a day of your life as one of the living or dead personality, who would it be and why?
Well, I think I have said this before. But as you asked, I would want to live one day as Christopher Nolan– the writer/director of blockbuster movies like Inception and The Dark Knight Trilogy. I want to know what it’s like to be a perfectionist 😉
- And finally, any message for the readers?
Firstly, I would like to thank all those angel readers from around the world who’ve been taking out the time to read my stories. I don’t know how else to say this but that really means a lot to me 🙂 I love you guys so much ❤ And I promise to work harder than before and you will get a new, better story pretty soon.
So that was Rahman for you, author of “Half Life” and a man of many genres.
You can get in touch with Rahman directly at: firstname.lastname@example.org
Contact Madhuri for your author interview and getting your book reviewed / edited: email@example.com
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