Rajesh Konsam, hailing from the mist-draped locale of Manipur presents his debut novel ‘Bittersweet’ set in Maximum City, Mumbai. Join us on a journey with the young Software Engineer turned author as we decode the intricacies of his novel published with Vishwakarma Publications and his inspirations.
1. You grew up in Manipur, studied in Coimbatore and now you are working in Chennai. Yet your story is based in Mumbai. What prompted this choice? Usually, the authors find it convenient to write about places they are most familiar with.
I wanted to widen my horizons and dive into something challenging. It could have been any other city, but there’s a certain charm to the city of Mumbai. The beaches, the city lights, and the people in Mumbai – all have stories of their own which blend well with my novel. I have heard fascinating stories from my friends about their trips to Mumbai. So, Mumbai was the first name that came to my mind when I was working on the setting of my novel. I would like to quote a line from a song by Alicia Keys where she sings about big cities: “Concrete jungle where dreams are made of. These streets will make you feel brand new. Big lights will inspire you.” I feel the same.
2. The resonance of young adult fiction amongst the readers have motivated a lot of young writers to tell their stories. What sets your book apart from the other writers/books in this genre?
My book has characters who step up and take adult responsibilities at a very young age because of the upheavals they go through. ‘Bittersweet’ is about headstrong young men and women who take charge of their lives and drive things forward. It will resonate well with youngsters in their twenties who are looking for belongingness – be it a successful career or a supportive lover.
3. You have used first-person narration, a technique not very frequently used by writers, to narrate your story. How do you decide on a narrative technique while writing a story?
I wanted to tell the story from a struggling artist’s point-of-view. First-person narration is more intimate. The protagonist takes you on a tour of his world – the period of his evolution, the girl who supports him when he needs her the most, and all his highs and lows. While his external goal is to be successful as a musician, readers get to know his inner conflicts better through the first-person narrative and the hurdles he must overcome internally before stepping out into the world. Not only does a first-person narration give the story a personal touch, but this technique also exposes the flaws, strengths, and ego of the protagonist, thereby leaving it to the readers to decide whether to like him or not.
4. What is your writing routine like? Do you follow a specific routine or a specific method? What are your inspirations in writing?
I motivate myself to follow a routine. I maintain an easy target of 1000 words on the weekends, but I end up writing more. I abstain from writing on the weekdays as I spend time to develop my skills as a software engineer, but when I get national holidays, I wake up at six in the morning, write all day and ensure I utilize it to the fullest. A quiet place and some green tea, and I’m all set to pour out my ideas. With that consistency, you can come up with a book every two years.
Routines aside, I channel feelings from my own experiences into my stories. My books are fictional, but the thought processes of my characters are more or less mine. I need to make sure I care for my characters. That way, my readers will feel the same about the book.
Lastly, music always helps. I maintain a playlist on YouTube which has songs with the best lyrics and the most relaxing music.
5. How has been your experience of publishing with Vishwakarma Publications?
For starters, I’d like to convey my sincere gratitude to Suhail Mathur from The Book Bakers Literary Agency for introducing me to the literary world and for finding me a good publisher. Secondly, working with Vishwakarma has been a good journey for me. Vishal Soni Sir and the team at Vishwakarma Publications paid attention to my concerns and made sure I had my dream debut as a novelist. As a young author who’s still learning the ropes on how to publish a book, I feel I’m in safe hands.
6. What is on your current reading list?
I haven’t been reading since I got busy with the editing of ‘Bittersweet’. I now need to get back on track and start reading these gems from my shelf: ‘Hippie’ by Paolo Coelho, ‘Theo’ by Amanda Prowse, ‘Latitudes of Longing’ by Shubhangi Swarup, and ‘The Nine-Chambered Heart’ by Janice Pariat.
‘Bittersweet’ is available on – https://amzn.to/2k0WsBM
Rajesh Konsam spoke to Richa Singh, Content Writer at Investronaut.