“I do not require the government to do anything except ensure that freedom of expression is protected at all costs”
Geetanjali Minhas | September 29, 2016
Often hailed as India’s Dan Brown, Ashwin Sanghi is among the best-selling authors of the country. His books are based on historical and mythological themes set in a contemporary context. His first novel, The Rozabal Line, was rejected by several publishers and finally he had to self-publish it under the anagrammed name, Shawn Haigins, in 2007. His other popular books are Chanakya’s Chant, The Krishna Key and the recently released The Sialkot Saga. Besides writing, Ashwin is an entrepreneur by profession.
What is most integral to the work of an author?
Most prolific writers first need to be good readers and observers. I spend half of my creative time in reading, researching and collating because without creative input there can be no meaningful creative output.
As an author, what’s your role in society?
I have three objectives as a writer and I call them the three Es – Entertain, Educate and Enlighten.
How can the government help writers?
I do not require the government to do anything except ensure that freedom of expression is protected at all costs.
How does the socio-political climate impact your creative expression?
There is an old proverb that says that fact is stranger than fiction. Frankly, all my fictions are inspired by facts. The social, political, religious, cultural and economic events around me usually become the fodder for my writing. It was the general elections of 2009 that prompted me to write Chanakya’s Chant and it was the scams during UPA2 that prompted me to write The Sialkot Saga.
Anything that you’d like to change in the creative field?
Copyright, intellectual property rights and trademarks are the basis on which one can ensure that writers, directors, producers and artists can protect and fairly monetise their work. This framework needs to be strengthened.
Has technology influenced your working style?
I use a custom-built database system that allows me to collate articles, PDF files, book extracts, images and web links while tagging them. The system enables me to access my research at lightning speed. For plotting, I use Excel spreadsheets that allow me to develop each chapter sequentially. For my writing, I use Scrivener that enables me to break down my writing into manageable chunks. I write anywhere and everywhere using laptops, tablets and phones. I would be unable to write if it weren’t for technology!
What does India mean to you?
It means so many things: colours, tradition, history, faith, knowledge, philosophy, democracy, liberalism, progress, secularism, freedom… We are lucky to be living in this country.
What are you busy with at present?
I am wrapping up a crime thriller that I hope to publish by the end of 2016. In addition, I am working on another two titles in my 13 Steps series. I have recently published the fourth book in my Bharat series [The Sialkot Saga].
Your message to the youngsters:
It is my belief that the only thing separating good writers from success is the stubborn and thick-skinned approach of getting up after every failure and rejection. This is my only message to the youth.
As told to Geetanjali Minhas
(The article appears in the September 16-30, 2016 issue)
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