Who is Madhav Mathur? Why do you write?
I can’t think of a time when I wasn’t a writer. I write to understand, to relate and to entertain…hopefully, I have been successful in this endeavor with my latest book.
I write to understand and wrestle with ideas that bother me. It is a cathartic, relatively painless way to walk into an open wound and hopefully come to terms with it. Hopefully, readers too will find the experience both enjoyable and worth their time.
What made you write this book?
The idea for this book has lived with me for a long time. In 1992 and ’93 when India went through an ugly period of communal strife and violence, I was a child. It left an indelible mark on me and has plagued my imagination since. This book is a way of understanding who we are as a people, probing and exploring the idea of ‘us’. I have tried to use fiction to fight my fears, by visualizing them to take them apart. In this year itself, some rather unfortunate events have taken place that signal the rise of crude, provincial, divisive nationalism the world over. The book speaks about this trend and takes it to its scary conclusion. I feel it is extremely topical, even though it is removed from reality.
About the book
This book imagines an India in which all the divisive societal elements have won. I have attempted to create a world that is hateful and violent towards ‘outsiders.’ The genre is dystopian, but it is still very close to what is happening in the world today.
I found hope and meaning in this world through the lives of a simple family – my characters. They go about their lives in this totalitarian regime, and their humanity, in different ways, keeps them sane.
The only way to tell this story, was through dark humour. I hope people find it horrifying, funny, entertaining, and insightful.
People may relate to the strong female characters, in Jyoti and Samyukta. They may feel for the hardworking and ambitious Gandharva. They are likely to root for the budding young star student, Nakul. But most of all, they will recognize parts of Dvarca as being all too familiar.
What do you think readers will love about this book?
Drama within the family, thrilling mortal threats and humour are all over the pages of Dvarca. But most of all I hope readers will appreciate the dark irony and satire that makes it unique.
More about Madhav Mathur
Dvarca is my second book. It took me 7 years to write. In the meanwhile, I have made a couple of feature films and held an exhibition of my paintings. I think if people come to any of my work with an open mind, they will find something that hooks them. All my work, from writing to films and painting, is an open invitation to a collective bungee jump.
Is there a writing schedule that you follow? How do you deal with writer’s block?
I write early in the morning, getting up around 4AM to start the day. This is not a bad time to produce new work as you are at peace, the world is quiet and distractions are few. Editing, on the other hand, seems to work best in the evening when you are tired, possibly cranky and have little patience for anything superfluous.
Writer’s block is a real thing and is kind of like the ‘melty-man’ from the old TV show – ‘Coupling’. It is best not to talk too much about it and to just get on with one’s work. I give myself achievable goals in terms of writing new stuff when times are tough. Reading something that you love usually helps.
Advice to aspiring authors
I’m hardly in a position to give advice to authors.
All I’ll say is write only if you have something unique to say. Be honest with yourself about this.
There are enough clones and rip-offs out there, vying for attention, or ‘catering to a demographic.’ Don’t be that writer. Try to produce something new that challenges you and your readers.
As far as self-publishing goes, I know people who have failed miserably at it as well as those who swear by it. It all depends on what you are willing to do to make your book sell and be read.
Madhav’s favourite books and authors
I read a lot and find it to be the only way to improve my writing. ‘The Master & Margarita’ is a book that changed my way of looking at things. The works of Ernest Hemingway taught me about the economy of sentences. Dead Souls, 1984, Brave New World…these are all books that have had a profound impact on me too. Steppenwolf by Herman Hesse, even though it is about a character who is ostensibly very different from me, struck a chord that makes me think of the book now and again.
I also love stand-up comedy and think that Louis CK through his act, has a way of taking us to a dangerous place and then finding great humour in it. Ricky Gervais does this too. Jon Stewart, John Oliver and George Carlin have also had an impact on me, by demonstrating the power of words and irony to illuminate that which needs to be seen.
Author: Madhav Mathur
Publisher: Prakash Books / Fingerprint
Genre: Fiction / Dystopian
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About the author:
Madhav Mathur was born and raised in Delhi. He lives in Singapore, where he works for an MNC by day and as a writer-film-maker by night. His first novel, The Diary of an Unreasonable Man was published in 2009. His award-winning films, The Insomniac and The Outsiders have been screened at numerous festivals. He hopes he is getting better at doing the things he loves.