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We interviewed Mohit Uppal, an alumnus of IIT Bombay who graduated with a Dual Degree in Mechanical Engineering in 2015. He has recently written a book ‘Here Be Dragons’, which will hit the stores in June. In a candid chat, he discusses his inspiration behind writing this book, managing work with his passion and much more.
Avinaash: Is there any particular incident which urged you to take up writing?
Mohit: I think I was first inspired to take up writing when I was in 10th Standard and my English teacher came across one of my essays. The topic of the essay was ‘Protect the Environment’ or something like that. And, she loved it! She gave me good grades for it and said. “Mohit, you know what, good essay; let’s save some of it for your best-seller!”
Avinaash:Has IIT Bombay played any role in terms of helping you realize your passion?
Mohit: So I’d say, one of the earliest promoters of my work was Insight and I have duly acknowledged Insight as one of the vital cogs of getting me published.
Avinaash: Is there one piece of advice that you’d want to give to a budding author from your own experience?
Mohit: So, you know, I have just written one book, so that’s what my experience is. But, from what I have learnt, you cannot expect anything at the end of the tunnel. You don’t know whether this book is going to be published. You don’t know how many people are going to read this book, right? But, you have to write just because you love writing. If you don’t love writing, this is not for you.
Avinaash: Could you shortly take us through the book? From the inspiration to write one, to the story, everything?
Mohit: The inception of the idea came during a summer in US.I went there for a summer course at UPenn (University of Pennsylvania) and I met this whole bunch of crazy characters. The kind of people whom you thought you’d never meet or never exist.I mean after that, really, they became the focal points of my book. And, once you know the characters so well, you don’t need a plot. You just put these characters together and the plot kind of unravels by itself.
Avinaash: How did the story begin? Was it a character, or a particular image which inspired you to continue writing the story?
Mohit: Yes, so the book, like you said, is all about the characters. The story actually revolves around a Korean. So, Koreans have this two year military conscription concept, wherein, after they are 18 years old, all Korean males have to compulsorily attend military. It’s about this guy who did his military conscription and came back to his university after he took a hiatus. And then he meets his friends and they realize that something has become terribly different. The focal point of the book is the Korean, but the first person narrative is from the point of view of an Indian. So, at the end of the day, the book is all about an Indian, American and a Korean and an unlikely friendship that binds them.
Avinaash: How do you manage balancing your passion with work?
Mohit: Yeah, it does get difficult at times. Since, you are working full-time, you can’t be a full-time writer, unless you are best seller. But, it all depends on work as well. Especially, in Consulting, you need to have a hobby. Sometimes you will have to travel a lot and you will spend a lot of time travelling alone. And, you simply need a passion or a hobby to keep you going.
Avinaash: How hard is it to come up with a title for a book?
Mohit: I actually had to change the title, but eventually, I could not be happier that we changed it because I love this title now. The current title, ‘Here Be Dragons’, is something that I and Harper Collins came up with. It’s best if you finish writing the book and then come up with a title.because that’s when you know what the book is all about.
Avinaash: Do you plan to become a full-time author? What’s next after ‘Here Be Dragons’?
Mohit: Maybe sometime down the line, but, as of now.. actually I really don’t know. Sometimes, I fear that if I become a full-time author, whether the lure of writing would still be there. I love doing this part-time as of now, whenever I get the chance, as a hobby. So that’s how I’d love to keep it.
About the Author:
Mohit Uppal is a proud alumni of IIT Bombay who graduated in 2015. The idea for the novel was conceived on an eventful night during his foreign internship which, originally intended as a bullet-point for his resume, transformed into much more! He completed writing the book during his last year at IIT. He is now a management consultant at A.T. Kearney.
Here Be Dragons, published by Harper Collins, is his debut novel and is available on amazon as kindle and paperback versions:Here Be Dragons
The book launch for Here Be Dragons is on 3rd June, Friday, at 6:15 p.m. at Crosswords Bookstore Kemp’s Corner, where bestselling author Ravi Subramanium will be launching his book. All insti junta are invited for the same!