Novelist and corporate honcho Mainak Dhar on his new book and his journey as an author .
MAINAK Dhar’s first published work was when he was in class seven in Canada. He had stapled together maths solutions, with his collection of poems on the back, and sold it to his classmates at 50 cents a piece. “That day, I came home and told my mother that I had become a professional author,” the MD at General Mills, and author of more than a dozen books, fondly recalls. Due to his father’s government job, the Mumbai-based author travelled a lot during his childhood. “I think that had a lot to do with me relying on my own imagination. When you move so much you don’t have a stable group of friends,” says the author of the recently-released 03:02, a contemporary thriller based in Mumbai.
03:02 is set in Mumbai during a blackout—so, no working phones, television or the internet—and the world is facing a terror threat. When terrorism is a daily part of our reality today, the book seems very relevant to our times. Dhar, who had also conducted a survey on India’s preparedness for terror attacks, explains that today there is a “heightened awareness and concern about this.” His book deals with not only the prospect of a terror attack, but how ordinary people react when something happens. None of his protagonists are people with special skills because, as he puts it, in the event of an actual threat to our lives, “no superhero is going to come and save us. What if something happened where you didn’t have a choice of changing the channel or logging off on Facebook? Where you had to deal with it?” asks Dhar, explaining the inspiration behind 03:02.
From getting 54 rejection slips for his first book to becoming a bestselling author, Dhar has come a long way. Two decades of working in the corporate set up and simultaneously authoring fiction and non fiction novels, I ask Dhar how he does it all. “The inspiration part of it can come anytime,” he says, for which he keeps an old diary handy to jot down ideas. Dhar, who goes for a run daily and devotes that time to figure out how to develop his stories, says that with time he has learned to become more disciplined with his writing and has found ways to balance it with other aspects of his busy life. He also tries to get in 30 minutes for writing every day.
Available at Higgin-bothams.
Rs 295 Details: 28513519