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Of love, betrayal and redemption

The way Ravi Subramanian describes how his latest book came about is a good example of a story writing itself: “I was in conversation with Ashwin Sanghi and Anita Nair at The Hindu Lit for Life; Anita took umbrage at the fact that we treat books like a product instead of something divine. So I said, ‘Then why do you put a price tag on it and keep it in a bookstore?’ That discussion was the starting point. I thought I would write a book on authors and publishing and I wrote the first chapter.”

The next step was to find an interesting way to develop it. As he felt that he was being boxed into the category of a thriller writer, he wanted to break out and try something different. Inspired by The Bridges of Madison County by Robert James Waller, he decided on a middle-aged romance, a rare genre in Indian writing. And so, The Bestseller She Wrote started coming together as a tale of “love, betrayal and redemption”, featuring banker/bestselling author Aditya Kapoor and his protégé and aspiring author Shreya Kaushik.

“Everyone who has read the book asks me if I am Aditya, but I’m not! I’ve mentioned myself as an author in the story, just to make it clear that I am not him. A few traits do resemble me, like leaving the lights and TV on while sleeping in a hotel room. And I have used him to mouth a lot of my views on the publishing industry,” says Ravi. He describes the book as a romantic-intrigue; it’s a study in human nature and relationships, while exploring some aspects of publishing. He also takes not-so-sly digs at his fellow authors, which adds a certain element of fun while reading. Shreya’s is an aggressive character who is obsessive about getting published. Ask Ravi if she is based on his perception of young, yet-to-be-published authors today, and he says, “It is very indicative of the youth of today, who have a fair bit of assertiveness, ambition and passion. This often makes them desperate, and they try to use less-than-ethical ways to get what they want. The general attitude is that the ends justify the means.”

The book took him about nine months to write, which he feels is too long. “This is the longest gap between two books for me, and ideally it shouldn’t have taken so long. With thrillers, I tend to concentrate on the research and pace more than the characters. For The Bestseller… there was hardly any research, but I had to give each person a quirk, and develop their stories so that it would relate to who they are.”

With all the talk of marketing and midnight launches and home deliveries by authors, Ravi is going for a completely different approach: there will be no special book release. “It will be available online, and bookstores will put it on their shelves. That’s all,” he says, explaining, “Sure, a lot of my readers will turn up, but apart from them, I’m targeting a newer set of readers. I want them to see how they like it, without aggressively marketing the story.” Ravi says that this book was a test case for him. “If I succeed, it’s good. And even if I don’t, I will still continue experimenting.”

The Bestseller She Wrote releases today, October 19.  

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Printable version | Apr 15, 2021 7:29:32 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/features/metroplus/ravi-subramanian-on-his-latest-book-the-bestseller-she-wrote/article7774546.ece

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