Get into writing only if your soul has something to say : Amish

It wasn’t until his second book, “The Secret of Nagas”, was published and became an instant hit among readers in 2011 that author Amish Tripathi let go of his full-time job as a banker.
“I resigned when my royalty cheque was bigger than my monthly salary,” Amish, who uses only one name in his books, told.
The “pragmatic and practical approach” of having a job to take care of the bills is the most important advice Amish has for new and upcoming writers.
“Writing is a high risk, high return game so don’t get into writing if your purpose is money or fame. There are other much easier ways, become a banker, or join IT. Get into writing only if you feel your soul has something to say,” said the author of the bestselling Shiva Trilogy.
The 48-year-old writer, who is director of the Nehru Centre in London, added that there was no dishonour in having a job. However, it means working double time if one wants to write.
“There is no escaping hard work. But once your book is ready, then you can become a practical, pragmatic guy because nothing sells by itself. You have to do proper marketing, you have to promote it properly,” he said during a recent visit to India.
Amish, who is also minister (Culture and Education) at the High Commission of India in the UK, has written eight mythological and historical fiction books, including the Shiva Trilogy and the Ram Chandra series of four books retelling the Hindu epic of Ramayan. He has also authored two non-fiction books.
Amish was one of the first Indian authors in English to set the ball rolling in the genre of mythological fiction with “The Immortals of Meluha” in 2010. The section has since seen the rise of several titles based on mythological characters by young English writers.
Other bestselling books in the mythological fiction genre include Ashwin Sanghi’s “The Krishna Key”, Anand Neelakantan’s “Asura: Tale of the Vanquished” and “Ajaya: Epic of the Kaurava Clan”, Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni’s “The Palace of Illusions” and “The Liberation of Sita” by P Lalita Kumari, who writes under the pen name Volga.
Talking about picking up the then-neglected genre of fiction writing, Amish said the demand had always been there. But there was lack of supply.
Indian readers and writers have been “obsessed” with the Ramayan, the Mahabharat and the Puranas, he said, giving the examples of Hindi writer Narendra Kohli’s depiction of the Mahabharat in his magnum opus “Mahasamar” (1988) and Marathi author Shivaji Sawant’s retelling of the epic battle from the perspective of Karna in “Mrityunjaya” (1967).
“Writing mythological fiction is a new trend only in English writing. In Indian languages this was always a big genre… We want to hear these stories again and again. It is just that in English language you didn’t see it…
“I would say this has always been what Indians wanted to read. You can say English publishing has become more Indian now,” the writer said.
Research for writing mythological and historical fiction has been an ongoing process since he was a child growing up in a family “completely immersed in our traditions”. Reading five-six books a month has also helped.
“I have been reading at that pace for decades. So all that knowledge goes somewhere at the back of your mind. How this emerged into stories? Genuinely lord Shiva’s blessings. Before ‘Immortals of Meluha’ I had not written any fictional stories in my life. My school and college friends still ask if somebody else has written these books,” Tripathi said laughing.
Born in Mumbai, he grew up in Rourkela, Odisha. He studied mostly in Mumbai, at Cathedral and John Connon School and St Xavier’s College, before completing MBA from IIM Calcutta.
The London-based author recently came out with the closing book in his Ram Chandra series, “War of Lanka”, and is planning to write books on 11th century ruler Rajendra Chola and Rani Abbakka, the first Tuluva queen who fought the Portuguese in the latter half of the 16th century.