Debut Author Interview #1: Aditya Mukherjee and Boomtown
10 years ago Shaili Desai 3
This blog was started out of a deep love for books and reading, at a time when I was frustrated with a meaningless internship and lot of free time. Slowly, the website’s growing, as I try to balance this with my day job in Delhi, one which I happen to like as well.
My ultimate dream is to see this website become a one stop for book reviews and information about new, upcoming books, especially those written by Indian authors. Recently, I started a feature where I write about cool bookstores and book themed places to hangout in India and now, with this post, I start another feature where I write about debut Indian authors.
Aditya Mukherjee is a recent graduate of IIM Bangalore and currently working as a strategy consultant in Delhi. He has studied computer science, economics, had a start up and been, very temporarily, a published cartoonist. Boomtown is his first published novel.
The book ‘Boomtown’ is about four people from very different backgrounds coming together to start a restaurant. It starts when Jacob James (JJ), a young idle man from a rich family decides to change his ways, and stumbles upon Jaaved Khan, grandson to the owner of an iconic Old Delhi eatery who wants to make his own recipes. JJ pulls in his old friend, Karthik Roy, who’s just got fired from the engineering job he hates, and Sheetal, a feisty, single mom who works in the hotel industry.
The book traces their adventure as they scramble from the alleys of Old Delhi to corporate offices of VCs in Gurgaon to the seedy dens of property brokers. However, the most difficult challenge of all is convincing Afzal Khan, Jaaved’s grandfather, who is hell bent on protecting his heritage and his traditional recipes.
Extremely busy with the launch of his first book ‘Boomtown’ and his current consulting job, I was lucky enough to get Aditya Mukherjee to answer a few questions about himself and his book.
Your first novel, ‘Boomtown’. is releasing soon. Are you excited?
I loved writing from the time I was a child – it’s really a childhood dream that’s coming true, so yes, it’s incredibly exciting and also a bit overwhelming.
I tried to make my first comic book when I was in Class 8. Started writing my ‘first book’ when I was in Class 9. Those were all abandoned. I wrote a full-length novel in my first year of work after Bachelors, but it never got picked up. I finally started again 2 years back – in my 2nd year at IIM Bangalore on Boomtown.
Can you tell us about your upcoming book? Who do you think this book will appeal to?
Boomtown is about four very different people coming together to try and start a restaurant and their adventure in doing so. It is also about a meeting of opposites – about traditional culture meeting modern innovation, about people from different backgrounds in our new, great cities – and it’s about breezing past these differences because you’re chasing a dream. Because I think that happens- when people are chasing dreams they don’t care about small, useless things. I think what we as a nation need to do is chase a dream – it’ll solve all our problems.
What inspired you to write this book? Why do you feel you had to tell this story?
I was very sure I didn’t want to write a love story – there are too many of those. I knew I wanted to write a slice-of-life modern urban story as well. The challenge was that I didn’t want it to be literary, but I didn’t want it to be meaningless either. It had to be about an idea, or about one of the many transformations our country is undergoing. It had to be about India in some way, not just set there. I also wanted it to be a happy, fun book. Since I had experience with entrepreneurship myself, and it’s a dynamic, interesting topic, I decided to go with that.
What was your favorite chapter to write and why?
The parts to do with Jaaved. Jaaved is the grandson of the owner of an iconic Old Delhi eatery – something like Karim’s. But he is a dreamer and an innovator. He dreams up his own recipes, he creates new things. And he’s willing to chase after that. I’m a firm believer in the transcendental nature of that – of dreaming things up. It’s a beautiful feeling, and I hope I’ve been able to capture that.
Who is your favourite character in the book? Any inspiration from real life?
Well I had a start up of my own with friends – and I keep chasing pet projects all the time. Of course my start up was about something quite boring to most people – blackberry enterprise applications. So most of the book is not based on real life – but the characters, some of the situations are inspired by people I’ve met, things that have happened.
Tell us something about yourself. What do you do when you’re not writing?
I’m an alumnus of IIM Bangalore and I currently work as a management consultant with Bain & Company in Delhi. I did my Bachelors from NTU, Singapore. I travelled a lot as a kid, new city every 2-3 years – so I’ve lived in Delhi, Lucknow, Bangalore, Manchester, Bangalore and a little bit in Mumbai and Ahmedabad. Bit of a nomad, but looking to settle down now.
I used to read a lot, but nowadays I’m usually too busy – since my job is pretty hectic, and doing anything outside of it takes up most of my time. Just keeping some time for my loved ones is a fight! I’ll tell you what I don’t do – I don’t watch TV. It’s the only way I get any time.
Plans for the future, with respect to writing?
I’ve already finished a new manuscript co-written with my brother. It explores the concept of a vigilante that has been made famous through comics like Batman, and tries to put a more realistic spin on it.
Do you have any advice for aspiring authors?
I think any content needs to have two aspects – something that makes it fit in, and something that makes it stand out. You have to straddle both of those – if you veer too deep towards one, it’s probably going to be difficult for you. For example, if you write something so out there that nobody can relate to it, you’ll find a lot of opposition to it. If you write something that everyone knows/ has seen you’re wasting your time. That’s the hard part – that’s what needs thought.
This is all about Aditya Mukherjee and Boomtown as of now. A review of Boomtown shall soon follow, when I get my hands on the book. 😛 (Update: Check out the review here.)