Monday, February 6, 2017

Meet Travel Fiction Writer - Mohit Goyal - Author of RoadTrippers

There are less books around travelogue specially from Indian author. Mohit Goyal in his debut work has tried to create an interesting travelogue of an awesome threesome. We have reviewed his book in our blog few months back. We got a chance to talk with Mohit few days back. Today we are presenting what he has to say about his book - COLORFUL NOTIONS 1.0.


Congratulations Mohit for you book. Can you tell our reader about your educational background?
I have completed my schooling from Ramjas School, New Delhi. I hold Bachelors in Business Administration from JIMS, IP University (2001-04), New Delhi. I did my MSc in Supply Chain from Cranfield University (2007-08), England.

What were you like at school/college apart from studies?
I have always been a backbencher, never into studies because of an intrinsic flaw of our education system – study for results. I still did fairly well in conventional education but never really took too much of it home.
During school, I was not too much into extra-curricular either. I basically preferred the ‘middle of the pack’ approach in everything I did. Maybe I was shy, or maybe I wasn’t genuinely not interested – I still don’t know.
In college and in masters though, I did open up a lot and looked forward to activities – be it college fests or other aspects of overall development. I particularly remember representing the ‘Cranfield Students Union’ as its elected Communications Officer – my role was to write for our University’s newsletter, edit some articles and other broadcasts sent out.
What is your mainstream job?
I was born to a family of entrepreneurs (father runs a successful, self-made business and elder brother is into education business) so there has always been inclination to do things for my own.
I first started an International Logistics organisation and it is doing pretty well now, been around for over 10 years. It is the one that pays my bills.
Then I also ventured out into hospitality business and setup a restro-bar. Very recently have started a small travel-division as an extension of hospitality.
Overall I intend to continue entrepreneurship pursuits for life. The biggest advantage of working for yourself is that you are master of your time and you get to decide which risks are worth taking. It also (in my case) helps you to push the envelope and chase bigger milestones in life.
Do you read much and if so who are your favourite authors? Which author inspire you the most?
I am a voracious reader indeed. One cant be a writer if he/ she isn’t a reader in the first place. In fact more of my time is taken by reading than writing, which is how it should be.
I generally read all kind of books though I prefer the Indian authors more. Also I do not read romance as a genre, I prefer satires, biographies or tales of inspiration.
My all-time favorite author is Zubin J Shroff, and I particularly love his book – The Gandhian Adventures. It’s a light satire and even though I don’t think this book did too well as compared to his other works, it remains my personal favorite.
When did you start writing?
It must have been in school. I still remember a newsletter called NEWSJOY, it was a weekly for teenagers and I frequently used to contribute small articles on regular teenage issues. I still cherish a small token of appreciation in form of a certificate that they sent me across. 
When did you decide to become a writer?
The desire was always there (again from school I think). Though I was pretty sure that it won’t be enough as it’s not a very rewarding career (monetarily). Chetan Bhagat hadn’t arrived back then…
Somewhere in college I had decided that if after working for 8-10 years, I am able to make reasonable money to cushion myself, then I will take the plunge and venture into writing. So in a way, it was a very planned move.
What are your ambitions for your writing career?
Very big. Over the next five years I want my ‘Roadtrippers Series’ to be completed and taken well by the readers. Then I have another series on ‘Sporting Heroics’ which I intend to develop after travel.
Overall I see myself coming out with a book every two years atleast.
I don’t care too much about the results in the sense that I never intend to take up writing to make wealth. Life has been kind to me, and so whatever money I make from selling books is anyway going to charity. (proceeds from my debut book goes to CRY)
I am chasing a bigger purpose here – to create a legacy. To create a body of work that gives reading pleasure along with provoking soul-searching. 
Is this your debut work?
Yes, it is by debut released work. COLORFUL NOTIONS was 1.0 of India’s first travel-fiction series that I am developing. The series is titled THE ROADTRIPPERS. It is going to be a trilogy.
What genre are your books?
The genre is travel-fiction, a sort of a criss-cross between travelogue and pulp-fiction. As much as I am committed to it; I do not want to be labelled as a ‘travel writer’; if anything I am eager to share that next series/ trilogy is going to be about sports.
I would like my writing-style to make readers think about life, and inspire them to achieve at the same time.

Can you describe your current book in few lines? What’s it about?
Colorful Notions is a 10000 km roadtrip that three twenty-five somethings undertake; they have their own set of personal issues and demons in their cupboard. But they decide to chuck it aside and go on this exciting roadtrip across 25 destinations in India and make a movie out of it.
Throughout their journey, they have some exciting and enviable misadventures. They also evolve in their personal life journeys, often fighting but coming back together again and end up being better off than where they started. 
Give us an insight into your main character(s)
So there are three main protagonists here; Abhay a rich-dude having a dysfunctional family and unresolved issues with his mother. He is also the narrator and the guy who conceived this idea of road-trip. Colorful Notions is mainly his story.
There is Sashank or Sasha, his best friend who comes along for the sake of adventure and nothing better to do. He is a foodie, a simple guy who needs Abhay in everything that he ought to go after. He has a lovely girl-friend and an unhappy career.
Unnati the x-factor for the story is Sasha’s girl-friend who sees herself as ignored by her beau, and joins this road-trip to spend more time with him.
Where do your ideas come from?
I have always had this belief that every person has many facets. The right metaphor for it will be like Ravana; every person has ten different individuals living inside him/ her. I guess I pick up all shades of my characters from my own personality traits and my Ravana’s different manifestations.
As far as plot is concerned, I look for inspiration and little anecdotes everywhere. 
How much research did you do for this book?
Because COLORFUL NOTIONS is a travel book, I had to do some extensive research especially regarding the road-maps. I mean I can’t just make that stuff up. Then I also had to be authentic with local cuisine and eateries etc.
But mostly the research went into finding about the genre. I was amazed to find this genre being so untapped by Indian authors. Maybe a little lack of imagination is to be blamed?
Our readers’ are flooded with love stories, crime fiction, and mythology-of-late but no travel stories. 
What was the hardest thing about writing your latest book?
As I said above, lack of a clear-market, and this goes out to my entire series. There are travelogues but no travel-fictions.
The biggest risk and challenge I face is my ‘ideal’ target audience doesn’t pick up the book at all, dismissing it as a travelogue (traditionally, a non-fictional and say-as-you-see account of one’s travels). It is a threat I knew before I typed out the first line. But I am going by my own conviction here of doing something meaningful in long-term.
Which actor/actress would you like to see playing the lead character from your most recent book?
Interesting question. If given the opportunity, I’d like some young movie stars to play protagonists here. As far as persona-matching is concerned, Abhay will be played by Aditya Roy Kapoor and Sasha by his real-life brother, Kunaal Roy Kapoor.
Unnati will be Kalki Koechlin.
Not just their energies, but even their physical characteristics match my characters exactly the way they are!
What are you working on at the minute?
Roadtrippers 2.0, tentatively titled Shangri-La. While 1.0 was more about adrenalin rush of the youth, 2.0 is more mature in its content and character aspirations. This is a Himalayan adventure and through its never-ending secrets. Its redo of an English-classic, with a very Indian taste. I am most excited about this one.
What are your thoughts on writing a book series?
I don’t know about other authors here, but I think writing series is actually better than a single book. In a series, you have a greater vision, a bigger canvas so to speak. Also your characters get an extended life so there is more to play with.
Though you have to keep them relevant in every book, and with same core personality, so that’s a challenge too. 
What advice would you give to aspiring writers?
Don’t write for money or fame. The returns are too slow and indefinite. Also, only one in a million authors becomes a JK Rowling. The odds are too low. Don’t chase them, there are many other simpler ways of attaining name/ fame/ money.
Write because you get real joy out of it. Write because you have a story to tell. Because you love doing it. If you write with a carrot dangling in front of you, your work will never be honest. 
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