literary
Prioritisation helps in balancing corporate job and writing: Christopher C Doyle
Trans World Features | @twfindia | 27 Nov 2019
Prioritisation helps in balancing corporate job and writing: Christopher C Doyle
Author-musician Christopher C Doyle, a busy person in corporate sector, was the guest at An Author's Afternoon organised by the Prabha Khaitan Foundation in Kolkata. During his interaction with Anjum Katyal for about an hour, Doyle spoke about his book The Mahabharata Quest Series, his creation Quest Club, balancing corporate job and writing and how his daughter was an inspiration for his venturing into the authors' world. Souvik Ghosh brings the excerpts of the conversation.

How did you come to this genre when the entire market is flooded with books of fantasy. Why did you select this genre?

 

From my childhood, I wanted to be an author and always had the dreams of seeing my books in the bookstore. I kept writing through schools, colleges. But the corporate sector (where he now works) does not allow much time for writing. I give a lot of thanks to my daughter for my comeback in serious writing. I used to tell made-up bedtime stories to my daughter since she was three years old. But when my daughter grew older and turned seven, she refused to listen to those made-up stories.

 

 

I was doing a lot of reading in mid-1990s and there were some fascinating non-fiction books, which looked at interpreting western mythology using science, written by western authors. In the west, they had the advantage of having archaeological evidences unlike in India. So I was very fascinated by the whole thing. I always had that desire to write something like that someday. My daughter was very fond of mythology and history. So when my daughter refused to hear the bedtime stories, I felt like writing a story for her combining history, mythology and a bit of elementary science. It was not aimed at being a writer but making a story for my daughter.

 

So you say you started writing for children?

 

Yes, one can say that in the manner of speaking. But by the time the book was published, it was altered a bit to make it relevant to the adults. We had to do a lot of rework. We had to rewrite some parts. The book which one sees at a bookstore is an edited version of what I had originally written for my daughter.

 

 

Will you share a story of an international agent who wanted to publish your book but with certain changes?

 

I wanted to be an internationally best-selling author as I was an insanely ambitious person. In international publishing markets, one has to go through agents to approach the publishers. Only one of 18 publishers whom I had contacted had replied but he wanted to switch the two lead actors. He had asked me to make the American man the first lead while the Indian one second to make the book commercially viable. Finding the idea litter disconcerting, I refused to rewrite the book. After this I had started looking for an Indian publisher.

 

What is it about this genre of mystery, fantasy, thriller with its deep root in mythology that draws you?

 

The whole thinking from my perspective has evolved over time. The first idea came to me in mid-1990s from Mahabharata. I always wondered if there was something that could link science with some of the fantastic stories about Mahabharata long before it became fashionable for politicians to start linking science with Mahabharata. But I wanted to do using scientific facts and not science fiction. So it had to be rooted in reality. One of the things which fascinated me was the possibility which is being propagated by a lot of authors writing in the west that there was a possible ancient civilisation in pre-dating hours which advanced technology. I wanted to see if one could actually credibly tie different threads together but I did not want to write mythological fiction and put it in the past but link it to modern times. For me, it had to be relevant for our lives in today's world. So that is where it started from.

 

 

Can you tell us about the Quest Club? What is it actually?

 

Quest Club is something very close to my heart. It is a very different initiative which I have not seen in India at least. It is now a strong community of 11,000 members spread over 20 countries. The members are primarily the readers who read my books. It started because I used to get emails from readers belonging to all age groups. They were unsure about what was true and what was fiction. People used to go to Google (Google.com) and try to know and 90 per cent of Wikipedia information are fake. There was also a section of my readers who wanted to know about my research. Putting all of these together, I realised that I actually can help my readers to know more, answer their questions and more importantly interact with them. So in 2015 I started the Quest Club which now comprises several things like my research, research related to specific parts of my books and interactions. I used to interact with my readers on a particular evening. The international readers also join the interaction through online platforms.

 

 

Can you tell us about your favourite characters that you have created.

 

One of my really favourite characters was actually an antagonist in my first book The Mahabharata Secret and I created him as a collage from a few people I have known in real life. His name was Bhim Singh, a Maharaja of a small state. I love the character because of his quirks. Also I like one of my main characters, Vijay, because he is so real. He gets beaten up all the time which is actually a reality. But in other ways, Vijay is an extremely strong character and very determined.

 

 

How do you balance your corporate job and writing? Is there any writing process or routine?

 

To be very honest, I don't have a writing routine. I typically write when I get time. My most bouts have been when I was on international flights because of the absence of any phone and also I don't watch a lot of movies anyway. I also write in my cars. I write best in my study. I am typically one of those who remain awake on nights. If I get an off day, I start writing from 10 pm the previous night and continue till 4 in the morning. I also write during the familiy holidays and I have got an extremely understanding and supportive family. But I think the balancing is basically done by sheer prioritisation. Sometimes I don't write for several months when my work remains the priority.