Author Naveen Kundra doesn’t believe in the desk and laptop variety of writing. For him, writing occurs in ideas and imagination, it happens through thoughts and dreams. For someone with a demanding professional life, frequent work-related travels, and blissful family life, Naveen sure knows how to make writing happen in the unlikeliest of places. And thus, he creates characters and scenes in his mind, visualizing them way before putting them on paper.
Naveen is a veteran of the Indian Navy, where he had worked for more than twenty years. It was in the Navy that he first started writing but his writing was restricted to the technical and professional sphere only. Navy gave him both the experience and exposure, as well as many fond memories.
In his life post-Navy, Naveen travels extensively, implementing technological projects all over the country. He sees new places and meets new people daily, and that provides him with enough raw material for his writing. Despite a hectic work schedule, Naveen makes sure that the writer in him always finds a way to express himself.
His debut work, Nightwatchman Pvt Ltd narrates the tale of an ambitious maverick entrepreneur who brings entire state machinery to a standstill. It is a tale of ambition, power, deceit, and corporate greed. Written as a satire, the book is a political revenge thriller. Despite its length, it is a racy and effortless read and would make for an excellent book-to-screen adaptation.
Naveen describes himself as a strategist. He has a keen interest in following politics and loves to play golf in his leisure time.
We at bookGeeks got a lucky chance to have a tete-e-tete with author Naveen Kundra. Here is what he has to say about his professional life, his writing, his love for books, and his debut work, Nightwatchman Pvt Ltd.
|Tell us something about yourself. Who is Naveen as a person? What are his likes and dislikes?|
|I think of myself as an easy-going person who loves to learn new things, who sometimes treads uncharted territories (writing this novel was one such path), and one who likes to experiment. I generally don’t fret about circumstances, and as they say in golf, I prefer to – “Play the ball as it lies”.
My family, friends, and colleagues are an important part of my life and I enjoy making social connects. I like to travel, read and play sports. Music keeps me going.
I have a bias for action, so I like that quality in others.
I dislike someone who lacks integrity.
|We’ve learned that you’ve worked on warships. What did your work involve and how many years did you spend there? Perhaps, you can also reward us with an interesting anecdote.|
|I served in the Indian Navy for more than twenty years so that was an interesting journey, the one which transformed a boy, who had joined the Navy after graduating from school. My service took me to many places and gave me the exposure one wishes for. Sailing on ships was the most fascinating part and I have many fond memories.|
|In your current field of work, you oversee technology projects all over the country. That must involve a lot of traveling. Which are some of your favorite Indian cities to work in?|
|Yes, I do travel a lot. Analyzing cities is one of my favorite pastimes. I like the energy of Mumbai, the cool culture of Bangalore, and the Lutyens zone of Delhi. I also travel to smaller cities and enjoy the unique cultural and culinary experience each one of them has to offer.|
|Between working in the corporate world, traveling extensively, and being a family man, how did you find the time to write?|
|I have always enjoyed putting my thoughts on paper. I believe that writing leads to the clearest and most concise thoughts, observations, and views. So, I made time. Late evenings, Sundays, and whenever I could find the time.
The day I decided to write a novel, I googled ‘How to write a novel’. The search threw up many guidelines, suggestions, and tips. However, for me, one of them was a deal-breaker, and that was that the novel should have around 60,000 words. I had a vague idea of the story that I wanted to write but was unsure how much I could build on that idea. Nevertheless, I started writing with resolve, and the first few pages were highly challenging. But then, at some point (I still don’t know when and how), I moved from writing the story on the computer to imagining it in my mind. I would imagine characters and incidents while working, while traveling, at parties, in dreams. After a while, I felt so close and connected to my characters- Sanjay, Ruhi, Chandra, and many others that thoughts flowed, and words followed. The word count didn’t matter because I had so much to show to my readers. I ended up making a 400 + page novel.
So actually, I didn’t write this book tied to desk and computer. Most of the stuff was made up in my mind while I was working and traveling.
|When were you first bitten by the writer’s bug?|
|I used to enjoy writing articles while I was in the Navy but those were more professional and technical in nature. Nightwatchman Pvt Ltd is my very first fiction piece. I guess that since I enjoyed reading, writing my own stuff seemed like a doable thing and I was into it.|
|How many months/years did it take for you to write Nightwatchman Pvt Ltd?|
|Around a year which includes 2 months of inactivity when I hit a roadblock. The story was not going anywhere and I would have given up, but somehow one day there was an epiphany and I continued.|
|Which part or aspect of the book was the most difficult to pen?|
|Sanjay Dhingra’s character had many shades which were difficult to pen down. His relationship with his wife was complex and one I struggled with till the end. The novel's ending was the most difficult part. I had many options with me but in the end, I went with my instincts. The jury is still out. Some have liked it and some wanted a different end.|
|Your favorite book by an Indian author?|
|Delhi by Khuswant Singh|
|If you were given a chance to cast actors for a screen adaptation, who would you choose to play the roles of Sanjay Dhingra, Khsirsagar, and Ruhi?|
|I think Emraan Hashmi would be an excellent choice to play Sanjay Dhingra. The character has many shades, a certain charisma, and physical attributes for which he would be a great choice. Shraddha Kapoor as Ruhi and Boman Irani as Khsirsagar.|
|What is your most important learning experience as an author after publishing Nightwatchman Pvt Ltd?|
|The value of perseverance. I think writing a lengthy novel requires that. One is bound to face many obstacles and self-doubts and it is only the power of perseverance that can make one chug along.|
|Any new projects that you are currently working on?|
|I am writing my next novel. It is at a very initial stage and am hoping for a divine intervention to come up with something exciting.|
|Tea or coffee?|
|One guilty pleasure?|
|Drinking whisky and listening to Hindi songs on weekends.|
|Your dream destination?|
|An author you would love to collab with (as a co-author)?|
|I am not sure about that.|