Author of the debut book The Fourth Kiss, Dr. Abhinav Atul is as versatile as his blog name, The Versatile Doctor, suggests. This tryst with versatility is best showcased on his YouTube channel, where he talks about a wide variety of subjects that include movies, shows, car care, cooking, gadgets, and physical wellbeing.
An MBBS and a Diploma holder in Industrial Health, both from Kolkata, the author has been working as an occupational health physician for the last 8 years. His combination of experience and education gives him a unique perspective on life which he likes to incorporate in his writing as well.
His debut book, The Fourth Kiss stands as testimony to his writing ability and his skills as a poignant and emotional storyteller. The book narrates the story of Hrishi and Preety, who meet in an arranged-for-marriage setting but end up falling in love with each other. The book’s mass appeal lies in the fact that it narrates an extraordinary story of ordinary Indians, while also addressing social changes like love vs arranged marriages and sexual compatibility in a love relationship.
The author is currently employed as an occupational health professional in a multinational FMCG manufacturing unit in Hamirpur, Uttar Pradesh. When asked about his absolute favourites in literature, he names Dan Brown and his book Angels and Demons, at the top of his list. He is also inspired by the writing of Stephenie Meyer and Chetan Bhagat.
When not working or writing, he loves to spend time with his family which includes his loving wife, parents, and a younger brother. He is also quite enthusiastic about Hollywood movies and video editing. As an author, Dr. Abhinav Atul wishes to write characters that amplify the voices of ordinary Indians and strike his readers as relatable and unique.
We at bookGeeks got a lucky chance to have a candid conversation with him. Here is what he has to say about his love for books, reading, writing, and also his debut book, The Fourth Kiss.
|Tell us something about yourself? Who is Dr. Abhinav Atul as a person? What are his likes and dislikes?|
|To tell you about myself, I’ll have to start at the beginning. In school, for comprehension, be it Hindi or English, we had questions like – describe in your own words why this character in the story did that… things like that. I took the instruction way too literally: I never used to copy excerpts from the story or poem that the question was referring to. I always made-up sentences from the context that I understood from the story.
That has always been my driving force: to make something, to create something.
So, I like originality, I like creativity I like uniqueness. And most of my life’s journey till now has been about doing things my way and trying to learn new things in my core profession as well as in all my other pursuits.
About likes and dislikes – well I like coffee, I like food, I like Hollywood movies, and I don’t like people who think they know everything. Those who have a strong opinion about everything and don’t hesitate in giving you a piece of their mind whether you want it or not.
|Tell us about the work that you do in your professional sphere. Does it influence your writing?|
|I am an Occupational Health Physician which is a much lesser-known field of medicine, a branch of ‘preventive medicine’. So, I am quite used to having to explain what I do – when I tell anyone I am a doctor, their follow-up question, understandably, is ‘what are you a doctor of’. Then when I say I am in Occupational Health people haven’t heard of this term.
Occupational Health is that branch of medical sciences that deals with people’s health in relation to their occupation. Whatever people may be working as, whatever their profession may be, it has some inherent health risks and effects.
That is what I take care of – and not just treating disease and tending to injuries, my job is mostly to prevent illnesses. That takes many forms starting from job risk assessment, to pre-employment and regular medical check-ups to counseling to some administrative and legal compliances and so on.
On a day-to-day basis, I do see patients and consult as a general physician.
I currently work at an FMCG manufacturing factory in Hamirpur, UP.
Is my writing influenced by my profession? Of course. To a certain degree, having knowledge of medical sciences, and an orientation about physical and mental health, this awareness does tend to creep into my writing. But so far, I haven’t written any medical dramas or any story directly based on a doctor’s experiences.
|When did you first feel that urge to become a writer? What or who influenced you?|
|The urge to write came to me in school itself. At a stage of my life when I was discovering myself and my personality, crawling out of my shell of introversion, I found that writing school plays, poems, and even essays, was something I might enjoy.
At the risk of sounding cheap, the main influence that drove me towards writing was the feeling of recognition. It gave me a way of life and shaped my personality: which is a huge thing for an introvert.
The pressure of education and parental expectations pretty much extinguished the spark of writing, even limiting the number of books I read.
|Tell us about your debut book, The Fourth Kiss. What can the readers expect from it?|
|If you summarise The Fourth Kiss in one line – it is a story about growth, change, and rediscovery. The story is about an average middle-class person who could be any of us.
He is not a super-rich, ultra-successful, six-pack flaunting god of a man. The hurdles people face with their first love, fathers’ high expectations, comparison with siblings, and the struggles of a mediocre job… all that many people can relate to. And that is where the story takes place.
From a point in life when the protagonist feels his entire life is thought and planned, to the point he is lost…not just lost, but lost the will to find a new direction again. That is when love creeps in unannounced and gives a new purpose, a new light to life.
|You have the ability to conjure up poignant and passionate emotions that linger in the reader’s heart for long. What’s the secret of this writing style? How do you go about penning emotions the way you do?|
|The answer to this is very simple yet extremely difficult to put in words. I just write what I feel.
It doesn’t necessarily have to be something I have gone through in my life or experienced for real, but when things happen, when emotions flow out of the pen into the paper, the writer in me is actually living that story.
Portraying emotions and passion in words is always difficult, for the simple reason that people experience emotions differently. Even to the same situations or events. So, writing a noun to denote an emotion never works. What works is showing what a person is feeling – in his behaviour, in his train of thoughts, in his indecision, in his dialogue – that is where the feelings lie.
|How long did it take you to write this book?|
|You wouldn’t believe me if I told you – but I wrote this novel, the first draft, over 8 days.
Granted that the first draft only had 25 chapters, quite lesser character development, and absolutely no chapters from Preety’s POV, but the story was written. With the next stages of editing, the story evolved to what it is now over several years.
|According to you, how important is emotional and sexual fulfilment in a romantic relationship?|
|I don’t know how to answer that question: a romantic relationship, in my opinion, can’t exist without emotional and sexual fulfilment. The thing to note, here, is what parameters define emotional fulfilment and sexual fulfilment for the particular couple.|
|Which do you think is of more importance for youth today – emotional or sexual life?|
|Again, any person who chooses one of these two from this question is grossly short-sighted. The youth today are much more vocal, expressive, and even impulsive than what the youth of decades past were. But they are humans still. Humans need both emotional and sexual dimensions of life.
At any given point in time, the perceived priority may be different, but without both, a person cannot be complete.
|Who are the contemporary authors in the genre of romance that you look up to?|
|I don’t get to read as much as I would like to, but still, the author whose romance touched me at the deepest level as far as I can remember is Stephenie Meyer.|
|One word that never fails to inspire you?|
In a way that is my mantra. I have never been able to limit myself to a particular function or discipline.
|What are your future writing endeavours?|
|I have two stories in the works, and I am torn as to which one I should work on finishing first. One is a spin-off from the story of The Fourth Kiss where we explore the future of Harsh and Kajal. The second one is a romantic tragedy revolving around a doctor who got into an arranged marriage and ended up with a woman, who is indifferent to him despite his best efforts of being a good life partner.
As you know Harsh is about to finish his MBBS and will become a doctor too, so, in a way both these unfinished stories will have a doctor protagonist. And as a follow-up to one of your previous questions: this story will be heavily influenced by my profession!
The problem is – after the pandemic, life has changed. My perspective has changed and hence I am unsure of how to proceed with these two stories. Whether to bring the pandemic into the storyline at all or not.
I am still waiting for a new spark – I’m sure you will be one of the first people to know about it when the story is ready to be published!
Buy your copy of The Fourth Kiss using the link below.