Ahmed Faiyaz is the bestselling author of Love, Life & All That Jazz…, Another Chance, Scammed and the editor of the Urban Shots anthologies. He was born and raised in Bengaluru. Apart from being a passionate writer, he dabbles with film-making and travels to lesser-known destinations to better understand life and the times we live in. He lives and works in Dubai, with his two boys and their tabby cat named, Bob.
In Conversation with the Author
1. What inspired you to start writing?
The inspiration to write and tell stories perhaps was within me along. It was spurred by my love for fiction being a voracious reader since a very young age, and maybe being in love and also losing that person could be something that motivated the initial ‘what if’ stories.
2. What does literary success look like to you?
For me success is being able to connect, inspire, engage and entertain those who read my books.
3. Do you read much and if so, who are your favourite authors?
I read a lot, perhaps not as much as I like, but compared to the average person I would say quite a lot, maybe 40-50 books a year. F. Scott Fitzgerald, Murakami, Charles Dickens, Oscar Wilde, Paul Auster are some of my favourite international authors, while I also love the works of Ruskin Bond, Saadat Hassan Manto, Sankar, RK Narayan and Amitav Ghosh from India.
4. How do you think being a writer has helped you as a person?
It adds another layer to my personality. I’m different things to different people, more importantly a son and a father, but also something different and fun compared to the average Joe. I like being a writer 🙂
5. How many books have you written? Which is your favourite?
Five published novels (including a novella), two short stories collections that I edited as well as three others that my stories have been an integral part of. I would say 10 books in total including the 5 Urban Shots series excluding Urban Shots Yuva which I consciously didn’t contribute to. I would say Another Chance is very close to my heart given what inspired it, and the characters of Aditya which is lot like who I am as a person, and the inspiration for Ruheen. Also, Bestseller is very special and equally so, because it was the fastest first draft I wrote, and the final book retains 90% or more of the first draft, and it felt very spontaneous and fun while writing it. I had a lot of frustration with the publishing business and the way things worked, and writing it was a cathartic experience.
6. What do you like to do when you are not writing?
A lot of things actually – I love to travel, play outdoors and indoors with my boys and read to them, play tennis and basketball, read, watch movies and listen to music (which is a must have even when I am writing)
7. How important is research to you when writing a book?
I don’t do research as given my books and my writing its all imagination and inspired by people and places I’ve seen.
8. Does one of the main characters of “Bestseller” hold a special place in your heart? If so, why?
Certainly I would pick Akshay, because again at several points in the book I’m speaking through him and breaking that 4th wall, and just given his character arc which is quite inspiring because he turns his life around and grows as a person given the role he plays and situations he faces. I also love Roshan Khan and Mihin as I think they are the most entertaining and complex characters, and each of them can be spun off to have a book about them.
9. What were your goals and intentions in this book, and how well do you feel you achieved them?
My aim was to tell an interesting and entertaining story. Despite my frustrations with publishing, its a funny business and its an upside down world with all kinds of tricks being played to churn out bestsellers or to masquerade as a bestselling author. I felt it deserved a book as there’s nothing like this. I feel we are still working to achieve what we want with the book, which is for more people to read it and be entertained by it.
10. What, in your opinion, are the most important elements of good writing?
It is to be true to yourself and to be honest with the story you’re trying to tell. You have to be really inspired to spend all that energy to write something. You can’t go with the trends of the market and author a book in a certain genre just because books in that genre are doing well. The market is a fickle place and trends change very quickly.
11. Do you read your book reviews? How do you deal with bad or good ones?
Ofcourse, I do. I enjoy reading them and I get to understand and see the book from the eyes of the reviewer in the sense of what was interesting from their perspective, and what they liked or didn’t. But I don’t dwell on this feedback for too long. You can’t afford to be drunk on good reviews, and you shouldn’t let negative ones fester and bother you. The important thing is that you’re getting a reaction, and you hope that most of it is positive and it will help the book.
12. What were your greatest failures and what did they teach you?
I wouldn’t call it failures but yes certain events, situations or circumstances teach you a lot. Losing a loved one, a set back at work, failing an attempt of CA exams and then coming back to do better next time, falling in love and losing that person…all of these moments and situations teach you about life. They teach you about what is important, make you stronger and make you a better person.
13. What advice would you like to pass on to young writers of today?
Tell the stories that you really want to, but be patient and work with a good publisher (self – publishing will 99.8% of the time end up in heartbreak and misery) and focus on the craft of writing. A good book is small part imagination and a big part is how its written.
14. Are you working on anything at the present you would like to share with your readers about?
I’ve written a book called Faces – Places which has seven interconnected stories about different people and situations, and they are mostly stories of love, desire and connections, and how the life and choices of one person impacts another. Kind of life a domino effect. Its slightly darker than any of my previous work, but the hope is that it is relatable, racy and an engaging page-turner for readers. Then there’s a contemporary love story of two people who go off in different directions and find their way back to each other, and the narrative spans twenty years.