IndieView with Nagendra Murti, author of Thar Express

Thar Express

I think the story has a plot with a “can’t wait to see what happens next” appeal that most age groups can appreciate. While I did find it hard to categorize my book, I believe it will be an enjoyable read for anyone who likes intrigue, adventure and travel.

Nagendra Murti – 22 February 2015

The Back Flap

Am I dead? Is this how it feels to be dead……? A man is found near the India-Pakistan LoC, barely alive and with no memory of his identity, his past or the circumstances that led him to that remote and sensitive part of the country.As he begins to recall tiny fragments of his past, he ends up on a journey of self-discovery that takes him across seven different states and brings him in contact with people, who wittingly or unwittingly help him.After stumbling on to incriminating evidence, the army intelligence launches a relentless manhunt to capture who they now suspect to be a dangerous insurgent. Will their worst fears come true or are they just chasing an illusion? What they find reveals a wholly unexpected truth.

About the book

What is the book about?

Thar Express tells the story of a man who is rescued from the aftermath of a landslide near the India-Pakistan Line of Control. He is barely alive and appears to have no memory of his identity, his past or the circumstances that led him to a remote and sensitive part of the country that he was rescued from. After initially being cared for in an army hospital, he is sent to a doctor who specializes in treating those afflicted by memory loss. Diagnosed with Focal Retrograde Amnesia and under the unconventional but effective care of this doctor, he begins to remember tiny fragments of his past and sets off on a journey of re-discovering himself that leads him across seven different states and brings him in contact with people who wittingly or unwittingly help him along in this journey. The army intelligence, initially suspicious of his antecedents and intent but with no hard facts to act on, stumbles across information that pushes them beyond suspicion. They launch a relentless manhunt to re-capture what they now consider to be a dangerous insurgent. Will our protagonist eventually find out the truth about his past? Will the authorities’ worst fears come true or are they just chasing an illusion? The story takes the reader through twists and turns, introduces characters who represent the eccentric mixture of mirth and cynicism that is twenty-first century India and unfolds the unexpected truth about our protagonist.

When did you start writing the book?

Summer of 2011.

How long did it take you to write it?

Nearly three years.

Where did you get the idea from?

Essentially, looking at the sea of humanity on the streets of India, I’ve always wondered if any of them have interesting stories to tell. The idea came to me in bits and pieces during my various travels across the country. I wanted to write an intriguing story about a very ordinary man.

Were there any parts of the book where you struggled?

There were situations and places in the story that I had no familiarity with but were nevertheless essential to the plot. So, I had to research it on the Internet, read blogs, view photographs and arrive at how it “feels” to be there. This was the toughest part and I wrote and re-wrote many such parts.

What came easily?

This is probably something most authors will agree with – the “core” part of the plot is the easiest to write. For instance, Mano (the protagonist in my book) discovers an old acquaintance, the interaction with that friend and clues to his past life that he discovers, came as a natural flow. Improvising and even introducing some new twists or details also comes easily in such parts.

Are your characters entirely fictitious or have you borrowed from real world people you know?

The characters are purely fictitious – however certain characteristics about them may have been borrowed from real people that I know.

We all know how important it is for writers to read. Are there any particular authors that have influenced how you write and, if so, how have they influenced you?

Ruskin Bond, Lincoln-Child and Ernest Hemingway are among my favorite fiction writers. I also read a lot of non-fiction like tales of survival, history and even some biographies. However, I don’t think I can claim that any of them have influenced my writing style.

Do you have a target reader?

I think the story has a plot with a “can’t wait to see what happens next” appeal that most age groups can appreciate. While I did find it hard to categorize my book, I believe it will be an enjoyable read for anyone who likes intrigue, adventure and travel. Also, since the story is set in India, it might be of interest to readers who have traveled to India or have an interest / curiosity about India and the geo-political situation in the subcontinent.

About Writing

Do you have a writing process? If so can you please describe it?

Honestly, I don’t have a specific process. The way I approached it was what came naturally –  I developed a high-level outline in my mind about the main character(s), the crux of the plot and how I would like it to end. Once that was in place, I simply started writing. The most enjoyable part for me was to introduce the links that sew the outline into a complete story.

Do you outline? If so, do you do so extensively or just chapter headings and a couple of sentences?

After I was about halfway done with my book, I came across this nifty software for writers called Scrivener.  If I had this tool to begin with, I would’ve probably done some bit of outlining. While I used Scrivener and many of its features for completing the book, I didn’t use outlines as much I would’ve liked to.

Do you edit as you go or wait until you’ve finished?

After each day’s worth of work was completed (only a couple of pages on some days, up to ten on others), I would do a read-through to make sure the flow was progressing to my satisfaction.  This served as a light-weight form of editing.  I hired a professional editor once the book was complete.

Did you hire a professional editor?

Yes – I did hire a professional editor after the book was complete.

Do you listen to music while you write? If yes, what gets the fingers tapping?

I don’t remember listening to music when writing. I found that I did my best and most productive work during the quiet of the night when everyone was fast asleep. But if you insist 🙂 – I can tell you that I enjoy classic rock (favorites being Rainbow, The Rolling Stones, The Guess Who) and Indian Carnatic classical.

About Publishing

Did you submit your work to Agents?

Yes – I did try a few literary agents.

What made you decide to go Indie, whether self-publishing or with an indie publisher? Was it a particular event or a gradual process?

As I was getting closer to completing my book, I read many blogs and articles from other new writers. Most of their experiences seemed to point to self-publishing as the best option. There were even a few whose book had been accepted by a publishing house but found it better to self-publish. So, I should say I was almost convinced that I should self-publish too. However, once the writing was done, I was very keen to see the reaction I would get from agents and publishing houses. So, I did give that a shot until I realized that I don’t want to wait any longer.

Did you get your book cover professionally done or did you do it yourself?

I had it professionally done.

Do you have a marketing plan for the book or are you just winging it?

I don’t have a well laid-out marketing plan. What I have tried to do is reach out to other Indie authors and learn from their experience. But I have also come to realize that there is no one-size-fits-all template. Some authors have found a lot of success by doing certain things while others have had no luck trying the same set of things. So, I explore new options on a regular basis and whatever makes sense to me (or in some cases, whatever is affordable within my modest budget J:) ), I try.

Any advice that you would like to give to other newbies considering becoming Indie authors?

Enjoy the process of writing – don’t worry about whether the book will be successful or what kind of readers it will appeal to.  Your best work will happen if you have enjoyed writing it.  Once the book is complete, the hardest and the most important part is to transform yourself from being a writer to a marketer. Some things I believe are important: get your cover professionally done; hire a professional editor; don’t hesitate talking / writing about your book in any and every forum – no publicity is too small.  And finally remember – patience is the key!

About You

Where did you grow up?

Bengaluru, India

Where do you live now?

Returned to Bengaluru a few years back after spending a decade in Boston, USA

What would you like readers to know about you?

Can’t think of one specific thing – but will be happy to answer any questions. Readers can reach out to me via email or via my blog.

What are you working on now?

A collection of short stories and also toying with an idea for a story that I can categorize as historical-fiction.

End of Interview:

For more from Nagendra, visit his blog or follow him on Twitter.

Get your copy of Thar Express from Amazon US (paper or ebook), Amazon UK (paper or ebook), or Barnes & Noble.

One response to “IndieView with Nagendra Murti, author of Thar Express

  1. Interesting read.

    Why/how did you decide on not going on ‘e-book’ only format?