A chance meeting and a brief chat with Apurv Nagpal at Pune International Literary Festival intrigued me enough to want to interview him.
Author, former corporate head honcho, die hard soccer fan, travel freak and an avid blogger, Apurv seemed to have done it all at just 40. What’s more intriguing is the fact that he is retired! Someone who voluntarily retires as CEO of a leading music brand and becomes an author sounds like the stuff dreams are made of. Here’s an excerpt from the interview.
Tell us a little about yourself and your decision to quit a successful career to turn into a writer. How did you do it?
I’m a very optimistic individual. I love travelling, reviewing Hindi movies on my blog and interacting with youngsters. After passing out from IIM-A, I’ve worked for over 20 years in the corporate sector. I’ve always been clear about wanting to retire early, so my evolution as a person and my career developed along those lines. I kept my interests of reading and writing alive even when I was working. So I had that to come back to after I retired. Having said that, I admit that tomorrow if I get an offer I can’t refuse, I might just take it. Never say Never!
Your first novel, Eighteen Plus, was about adult stories for the Indian public. Why did you choose this genre? For your 2nd novel, what questions occupy you?
I’ve always been intrigued by sex, the power play involved and the hypocrisy of Indians when it comes to sex. Moreover, something like this has not been done before. The book is a collection of short stories inspired by everyday people put into scenarios concerning sex. The stories are light, funny and intriguing. For my 2nd novel, the genre remains the same but there is a twist. Also, I plan to self publish it this time.
Why self publish? How was your experience with Rupa Publication for your first novel?
For my first novel it was fantastic to associate with a brand like Rupa. But for newer authors, I see little value addition in terms of marketing, editorial and distribution with well known publications. I’m a marketing person; most of the marketing for Eighteen Plus was done by me. Moreover, whether you self publish or associate with a known publication, nobody has control over the distribution of your books. It’s entirely the retailer’s call. So, very little value addition for me.
What is your greatest fear when you are writing a book?
Actually, none. Like I said, I am a very optimistic person. My first actual novel (that is still unpublished) was about something else entirely. When I sent out the first draft to my friends for a review, I thought I’d done the greatest job. In the interim, I was travelling from Bombay to Pune by a bus, and something that I saw gave me an idea for Eighteen Plus. I came back home and wrote the first story in a few hours and sent it for feedback to the same set of friends. It came back with rave reviews. Whereas the first one came back with so-so reviews. So no, when I am writing, there is no fear. I put myself out there completely and think I’ve done a great job, until someone comes back with constructive feedback. Post that I review and try to change it.
Great! Looks like you have your hands full with your 2nd novel and blogging as of now.
I do! In fact I am also involved in developing an innovation program for IIM-A, giving talks on innovation at colleges, helping a friend with scriptwriting and starting a social media company with a slight twist. It’s all in the pipeline. The idea is to stay involved, be creative and trust that life will turn a full circle. Like Steve Jobs famously said, “You cant connect the dots looking forward; you can only connect them looking backwards. So you have to trust that those dots will somehow connect in your future. You have to trust in something – your gut, life, karma, destiny, whatever. This approach has never let me down, and has made all the difference in my life”.