Author Amish Tripathi or Amish as he prefers to be called, is now the stuff of Indian publishing legends. The latest in Shiva Trilogy “The Oath of the Vayuputras” sold five lakh copies within a week of publication, and cumulative sales of the Trilogy have clocked Rs 40 crore.
While Amishs’ brand in Masala Mythology has given him a cult following, his book marketing methods could win easy place in any management handbook. The author who already has a Rs 5 crore advance for his next work from publishers Westland is on CNBC-TV18’s special show A list today, savouring his success.
Below is an edited transcript of the interview on CNBC-TV18.
Q: The third book, the ‘The Oath of the Vayuputras’ is out. The Trilogy is over, something that you started many years back has finally reached its culmination point. Is it cathartic?
A: There is certainly a sense of completion with the third book. This is a book series that has changed my life by 180 degrees, I am a far happier person than I used to be, and much calmer, so there is certainly a sense of completion. But I am not going to miss the Shiva Trilogy. You miss the book only if the characters go away. Lord Shiva isn’t going away anywhere. I am going to hold onto him. So, I am not going to miss the book series, but yes, there is a sense of completion.
Q: I just mean letting go of the characters.
A: That's the point I am making, I am not letting go all the characters, they are with me, they are not going away anywhere.
Q: I think maybe the readers will feel a little bereft, because there will be a closure. That happens to any series, Like if you read Harry Potter and after the last one its like ‘Oh! now what, it is over?’
A: For a reader yes, I can, perhaps I can sense that. Yes, I have read the Harry Potter series and I will certainly feel that at the end of this Trilogy whenever Amitav Ghosh comes out with the last book. But as an author you don't really feel that. At least for me, it is not for me that the characters have gone away anywhere.
So many times I am dreaming and I think of them or I am on a walk, I think of them and there are sub-plots that will emerge which will never come in the book. But there are things which keep emerging, so they haven't gone away anywhere at least as far as I am concerned.
Q: You have already got the Rs 5 crore advance for your next book. Do you have any idea what it is going to be about?
A: No, I haven't decided as yet what topic I am going to write on, there are a couple of ideas. Westland and I, what we have is a preemptive contract. I haven't decided which specific one it will be. What is certain is that it will be in the space of mythology and history. That is my area of passion and that is where I will be writing most of my books.
Q: When your books are dubbed as masala mythology, how do you take to that? Is it something that describes it aptly?
A: There are various descriptions that emerge. In fact, one of the reasons that I had been told for my first book being rejected by every publisher was that couldn't figure out where to slot it, is it a philosophy book, is it a religious book, is it a mythology book or is it a historical book. So, they were saying, how do we market it if we don't know where to slot it? So, that is one of the reasons been given to me.
So, there are various descriptions that do emerge from different people. In my mind I don't think of a genre, I think of the story the way it comes to me. I don't think of what genre - does it fit into philosophy genre, does it fit into a religious genre, does it fit into an action thriller genre, does it fit into mythology retelling genre I don't think about that and frankly I don't care about that.
I am bothered about the story itself. Everyone has their own description and one of the beauties of India, one of the beautiful aspects of living in India is that we are a free country, everyone has a right to their opinion.
Q: There are a lot of reviews which you get. Mainline publications now carry a review of your books. It is almost done with, okay we have to do this. There is this whole - okay we are doing it but this is in spite of how he writes, but it is about what he writes. That what he writes has become very important, though we have serious problems with how he writes, does that affect you?
A: The reviews are usually kind on the story and the philosophy. One gets good reviews on that aspect. But on the language there are concerns which one receives from the mainline press. Every person should be true to who they are and behave naturally not just in terms of writing books but in every aspect of your life.
Having said that are there improvements possible in my books? Of course there are and I won’t stop at the language, I would go further into the philosophical aspects because I only know the philosophies of Hinduism very well. Do I know other philosophies well enough - Christianity, Islam, of other great cultures around the world, other great countries? No, I don’t. I know them at a superficial level. I don’t know them as deeply as I know the philosophies of Hinduism and Buddhism.
So, I need to learn a lot more on that aspect which will help me improve my books further. The way I see it there is huge room for improvement in my books, I will keep working at it but having said that I will always be true to myself. I will never do anything that appears unnatural to me. Any feedback is an opportunity to improve, but whether to accept or reject that feedback is my call and I will only do things which appear natural to me.