Last month, I read Aashish Gupta’s debut novel, Demons in My Mind, loved it, and wanted to do an interview with him. He very kindly obliged and answered all my questions.
Here’s a gist of my review, that went up a couple of days ago, of the book (which I liked quite a lot):
“Demons in My Mind is a stunning first time attempt, though there is, as I mentioned earlier in the post, scope for improvisation. While it is repulsive in some places because of what all the mind is capable of, it also brings a sense of identification in a lot of places. Liked the book a lot!”
Here’s my interview with the author.
(MB: Melodramatic Bookworm; AG: Aashish Gupta)
MB: Putting such thoughts as those portrayed in ‘Demons in My Mind’ must have been difficult. What was your thought process like as you progressed with the story?
AG: When you are writing a book as dark as this, you have to put yourself through greater darkness. How intensely you imagine something determines how good it will come on paper. My anxiety problems worsened during those times, but my solid determination kept me going. There were times when I spent months just running the story in my head and not writing a single word. Imagination is a key part of the exercise.
MB: All the characters in ‘Demons in My Mind’ are intense, and bring to the narrative a helplessness and desperation that is almost inconceivable. Take us through how you brought this forward in words with such ease.
AG: The intensity comes from narrating their thought process. When I say thought process, it means – what comes to their mind? How are they fighting or accepting it? Is there another thought that emerges from the parent thought? When you put the readers in the character’s head, they become the character.
MB: Is there a character in Demons in My Mind that you identify with?
AG: Rizwan is the one closest to my own character. However, I have been saved from his consequences. You can be rest assured of that.
MB: Some events in ‘Demons in My Mind’ are outlandish, thought they could happen to anyone. Is any part of the book based on events from your real life?
AG: Fortunately, nothing is based on events from my real life. It’s only the thought process of the characters, where mind enters a cycle of negative ideas and finds it hard to break free, resembles my experience with depression and anxiety.
MB: How did Rizwan, Murli, Joseph, Alia, and the priest come about? Take us through how the idea of them was born.
AG: Rizwan, Murli, and Jospeh are means to deliver the three messages at the end. Their stories have been created to deliver those messages. The objective behind keeping their names from different communities was to make the point that crime and illness don’t pick religions. Priest is actually representative of the ‘demon’ in our mind, which is self-created. Alia’s character is the strongest in the story and shows us how a controlled mind looks like.
MB: How long did it take you to write ‘Demons in My Mind’? From the first thought to the last flourish of the final, edited version, how long did it take?
AG: It took me three and a half years to write the book. Another one and a half years to get published. Then another year to get it republished. Why it took such a long time is a story in itself that would take an entire book.
MB: What would be your advice for people suffering from mental illnesses like depression, bipolar, and anxiety? How can one sustain hope when all seems hopeless?
AG: Most people refrain from consulting a doctor either due to fear of being ridiculed by family or relatives. Sometimes, we ourselves are not ready to accept it. Think of mental illness as just any other illness. Just like any other organ, your brain can get sick too. And there should be absolutely no embarrassment in admitting it. Not seeking treatment, is the biggest mistake one can make. Earlier you treat it, better it will be. I have done this and continue to suffer from prolonged illness due to breaks in medication. It’s hard to get accustomed to the effects of medication, but you will get used to it. There will be days when you won’t understand what’s wrong with you. Just know that your mind is sick. Or better, playing tricks with you. It doesn’t solve your problem, but gives you strength to fight it.
MB: What activities do you feel help lessen the weight on the burdened mind? What makes you tick during the tough times?
AG: Talking helps me the most. Always have one person you can confide in.
MB: What inspires you to keep writing?
AG: I am nothing but a box of emotions. If I do not open the flap, I will burst.
MB: Are you working on your next book? If yes, what is it about and when can we hope to read it?
AG: Yes, the next two books are already completed. The second one is a corporate satire and the third one is once again a spiritual thrillers that explores faith.
MB: What is your advice for aspiring authors?
AG: “Do not go gentle into that good night….rage, rage, rage against the dying of light.”
That was my interview with author Aashish Gupta, filled with insights on a variety of topics. I hope you liked reading this it. Do let me know what you think in the comments section below. 🙂
I’ll see you in the next blog post.
Until next time, keep reading, and add melodrama to your life! 🙂