Rajeev Saxena was eight when he wrote his first story. “There was no social media at that time. It was circulated among a couple of my father’s acquaintances, got some appreciation and the chapter was over,” he recalls. For the youngster whose 14 stories have been published in local Hindi newspapers, it is a dream come true to bring out his debut book Pinto has an Idea (Bloomsbury publication). The book tells the story of Pinto, an IITian scientist who hails from a small town and sets out to solve practical problems of the world. The narrative takes a turn when Lavanya enters Pinto’s life as his research partner. Laced with wit and humour, the book takes readers on an emotional journey with Pinto. Rajeev was both excited and anxious about readers’ reaction. “A corollary is that when you serve food in a new restaurant, you have no idea how it’d suit everyone’s palette. I consider my book as a dessert, which fits every occasion and is liked by all. Once in a while I get bad reviews and I take that seriously.” Excerpts from an interview:
What was the inspiration for the book?
The idea developed slowly. One of my professors in MBA suggested it to me when he was checking a paper. Although I pondered and became ‘serious’, it took a lot of time. I observe things deeply and when ideas come, I’d just note them. I realised that this could be woven into a story. Gradually the book took shape. After travelling around several countries, I realised some of the problems are the same no matter how developed or underdeveloped you are. I decided to talk about those issues and solutions in a story form. I also noticethere are not many novels focusing around scientists so I gave it a shot.
Like Pinto, you spent your early days in a small village and studied in IIT, Kanpur. Is the story autobiographical?
I’ve used the locations but the story is not mine. Writing about my college and other places is an attempt to pay back in my way. These places are small towns that nobody knows. If people read them in the book they’ll be curious to discover. As a first time author, it’s difficult to keep yourself completely out of the book.
Is writing therapeutic for you?
Writing definitely gives me enormous satisfaction. It’s very relaxing. It’s the only medium through which I can give shape to my imagination.
What were the challenges?
The biggest challenge was to find a good publisher. Believe me it’s at least a good one-year long process for a new author. Every publisher wants proposal submission in a little different form so that’s tedious, time-consuming and at times frustrating. In the beginning, my approach was to write just one chapter again and again and try to reach perfection. I realised that it’s better to write the entire book and then perfect it towards the end. When I I was busy with work, I could not write for a few weeks and that broke the flow. It took some time for me to come back to the story.
How do you balance work and writing?
To be honest, it was not easy. I cut down my TV time; I also devote my vacation time for writing. Whenever I get time — during lunch or commute — I think of writing. In the evening, I just need to type my thoughts on computer. The writing process slows down with work. Hopefully a time will come when I can make writing my living.
What are your other interests?
Writing is the topmost but I love public speaking as well. My work takes me around the world. Meeting with different people and cultures excites me. I love Bollywood music; Though I’m an amateur singer, I love performing in parties with my friends and sing during karaoke nights.
After travelling around several countries, I realised some of the problems are the same no matter how developed or underdeveloped you are. I decided to talk about those issues and solutions in a story form.