In Conversation with Faraaz Kazi
In Conversation with Faraaz Kazi, bestselling author of Truly, Madly, Deeply.
A certified soft-skills trainer, Faraaz Kazi operates his own academy in Mumbai and works as a strategist in a PR and communications firm. He is fondly referred to as ‘The Young Marketer’ and operates a revolutionary blog with the same name and writes for major media houses. He is a fellow member of the esteemed ‘Film Writers Association of India’. He can be reached at [email protected] and to know more about him do log onto www.faraazkazi.com. Of course, he does ‘Face’ his books and ‘tweets’ when he is not speaking! ‘Truly Madly Deeply, memoirs of a broken heart’s first love!’ is his debut novel.
Q. When was the first time that the thought of writing a book occurred to you?
Honestly speaking, the book stems from a short story I had written for a national story-writing competition of a popular newspaper, seven years back. Once it won there, I knew it had potential and six years and a creative writing course later, an idea came into my head that it could be expanded into a novel.
People advised me against it, saying it will lose the flavour of brevity. But I believe if your heart says so, then there’s no use delaying it. I had the plot, I just changed the surroundings a bit and did all the things that fiction writers do, to make it more appealing and more pleasurable to the reader.
Q. Are you working on some project right now?
I am working on a college romance, quite contemporary again and a book of short-stories with a little twist of fantasy.
Q. What part of writing a novel do you love best?
Crafting characters. It is almost a Godly feeling and moreover you get to decide who does what, who gets to keep the girl and who gets bashed up by the guy. That is why fiction is much better than reality, they say and even I agree.
Q. What, according to you, is the most important thing to be kept in mind while penning a successful novel
Success is a very relative term here. These days a writer’s success is defined more and more by his readers than his own work. However whatever may be the outcome, it is important to give each step in the writing process, your best shot and feel content with it. A writer should not go overboard in drawing large portions of the story from his life. Apart from that, it is very important to believe in your own work if you are to convince your editor, publisher and the reader.
Q. Tell us about your experience when you received your first fan-mail?
It is always exciting to see your name in print and your work being read by the world. I do get a lot of mails from eager readers from across the country and some from the West too. I usually try and reply to everyone.
The first fan mail was special and gave me the feeling “Yes, people are going to appreciate my work.”
And since then each mail has been important as it provides me with valuable feedback on many things. A couple of weeks back, TMD got featured in the Top 100 YA Fiction list that went viral on book blogs across the world. Since then, my mail box is getting clogged with messages from across the world and it is a very special feeling.
Q. How do you deal with your critics, if any?
It is always good to know what people think about your work. If they don’t have an opinion, then that means you are not being noticed. Someone said I had it in me to become the Nicholas Sparks of India and at the same time someone dismissed me as just another kid on the block. It is very important not to take things too seriously here, be it praise or criticism. Too much praise can get to your head and too much of criticism taken to heart and can deter you from writing any further.
I try to address such things in the best manner possible. The rule is simple ‘Accept, then ignore/move on.’ Each review contains the pros and cons of the work and I’m always happy to read it and learn from it. It is very important to realize that imperfection defines our lives; after all to err is human. Fortunately though, most of the opinions on the book have been positive. For example, on Goodreads where the book was nominated in seven categories for the annual Goodreads readers choice awards, the book has an eighty-two percent rating in the four and five stars category combined.
Q. Where do you see yourself ten years from now? Still in the writing industry?
We are currently in the process of starting an agency for author promotions where we are going to sign up promising new authors on merit and provide a platform for their published works purely on the digital medium. So over a period of time I see myself realizing this dream.
Writing is more than a hobby but less than a career choice. Yes, it is a passion but in India this passion unfortunately does not provide for comfortable living unless and until you end up drawing five points on someone during a night in some call centre. Writing will continue but as and when time permits.
Q. Did you ever write something before Truly, Madly, Deeply? Tell us about it?
I have done media write-ups for various media houses in the country, articles and short-stories for some websites and freelanced for some print publications.
Q. How did you choose your genre? Was it something you always wanted to write about, or did it happen by chance?
I am a romantic at heart, so it was only natural that I selected that as my genre as it meant I would be in my skin. Being an ardent fan of Nicholas Sparks and Cecelia Ahern, I guess the inspiration for turning the story into a romance novel came from reading their works.
Q. Which has been your craziest experience regarding your book?
Marketing the book has been tough and I have had to do it all myself with the aid of some friends. There was no such crazy experience with respect to the book but yes, during the Mumbai event I got mobbed by a gang of girls towards the end. And it was kind of insane.
Q. You have written a romance novel being a guy. After Nicholas Sparks, I wouldn’t dare question your choice, but was it difficult?
Guys too have a heart. If they didn’t, then there wouldn’t have been such a hue and cry over homosexuality. It is a myth that guys don’t read romance books, men don’t cry, a true man does not feel pain, etc. That is sheer nonsense. If a guy gets down to loving his girl truly, madly, deeply; then all these myths are shattered because it is love that ultimately prevails.
Trust me, if it wasn’t for market research, a lot of men would have still being applying ‘ladkiyon waali fairness cream’ and Shah Rukh Khan would have had one brand less to endorse.
I would sum this up in author Sarat Kasyap’s words: “When romances, though read voraciously, are frowned upon as girlie, it is very sweet of Kazi to boldly come up with one.”
Q. Different from the “supposed” bestsellers of today, your book has achieved critical acclaim. Who would you thank for your success?
I think I could write a whole book on that! The care of my parents and their upbringing gave me the strength to complete the project. My aunt always supported me and encouraged me to follow my heart.
In the industry, I had no godfather. The blurbs on the book came after I had found a publisher and the book was almost on the printer’s shelves. But fellow writers like N. Sampath Kumar and Tuhin Sinha have been a great guide. And last but not the least, any book is incomplete if it does not have dedicated readers and I am blessed to have many such gems from all age groups and from all corners of the country and the world.
Q. Has your life changed after the success of your novel?
Yes. I have been blessed to see many readers connecting to TMD and telling me such was their tale too. Many readers have reviewed it on their blogs and online bookstores, praising it to no end. It feels good to see that and does make you feel proud.
Being a published author gives you that aura of confidence and reflects in other things that you do in life. The important thing is that you have earned people’s respect and recognition.
Q. When it comes to reading for pleasure, which is the book you would never hesitate in picking up?
No particular book as such. I read all books seriously, there is no pleasure reading. But genre-wise, horror and light rom-coms fascinate me.
Q. Any message to your readers?
Life gives everyone the same presents but not everyone opens their gifts. Discover your true potential, surprise yourself and everyone around you and be amazed what your belief can achieve.
And even if life does not give you any present but gives you lemons, don’t fret. Squeeze them, spice it up a bit and enjoy the lemon juice.
From the back blurb:
What happens when the most popular guy in school falls in love with his beautiful female equivalent? A pompous Rahul is head over heels in love with Seema, a shy lady from the same school. After a whirlwind of innocent encounters, their teenage romance blossoms but the two never confess their love for each other. Friends and even a few teachers approve of their relationship which is no secret to anyone thanks to Rahul?s flaunting nature. Seema, on the other hand, finds it difficult to handle the unnecessary attention she gets due to Rahul?s ostentatiousness. What follows is a series of misunderstandings and ego clashes causing them to drift apart. Rahul loses his popularity, his numero uno status, his sanity and ultimately his love. By the time he realizes what he has lost, it?s too late. He takes desperate measures to woo her back and win back her love. But will Rahul ever get back Seema? And will Seema ever realize how much Rahul loved her and all the misunderstandings that transpired between them? Is there really any room for misunderstandings in love? In today?s world, can a person?s first love ever be his last? This teenage love story seeks answers to all these and more as it alternates between the past and the present events in the life of Rahul and makes you wonder; do all love stories have a happy ending? Or do all love stories end, ever? TRULY, MADLY, DEEPLY promises to be a heart-warming and emotion filled tale that will captivate the reader?s heart and fascinate his mind and leave him pondering-DOES LOVE TRULY CONQUER ALL ODDS?