Thursday, October 24, 2013


In a candid article exclusively for LITEREADS, Manish Mahajan speaks about his motivation and some interesting facts about his debut book, which has carved its place in readers' hearts. He is a promising young talent to have emerged in the Indian writing industry in recent times. The Disappearance of Tejas Sharma…and other hauntings is a collection of 12 paranormal stories and has some impressive reviews to its credit. Do read the 'stories behind the stories' by the captivating Manish himself. Here's what he has to say:

My debut book “The Disappearance of Tejas Sharma…and other hauntings” which was released earlier this year, for those of you who have read it would know, has a foreword, and an introduction. It never struck me then that an epilogue or an afterword could also have been added. When Durgesh invited me to write something interesting about my book, by the way I thank him for the invitation, I decided why not share some behind the scenes stories which actually transpired while writing these dozen tales. Hence the title of this article – Stories behind the stories.

Let me take you back to 2004 when it all began. The first story I ever wrote was “The Peepal Tree of Lachhmangarh” and no surprise I have placed it as the opening story in the book. During 2004, I used to work in Tata Motors, posted in Pune as a Dealer Accounts Manager. A friend and I shared a typical bachelor pad which resembled an abandoned warehouse. There was just an untidy smelly mattress in each room, and we lived out of our suitcases. Work was extremely hectic, almost intolerable. It was during the nights that I wrote down this story, bit by bit. The year earlier, I was a fresh Graduate Engineer Trainee posted in the wilderness of Alwar in Rajasthan; consequently the inspirations of names and settings in this story have drawn heavily from my unforgettable time spent roaming from village to village in Alwar district. Just to let the cat out of the bag, here are the real people behind the characters and places in the story:

Devendra Singh Rathore: A rajput from Alwar who was in my team.
Anil Tiwari: The general manager of Matsya Automobiles Tata Motors authorized commercial vehicles dealer at Alwar.
Aravali: The name of the hotel where I stayed for two months at Alwar.
Vijay: A nice lad in my team, both he and Devendra were my best friends though I was their boss.
Lachhmangarh: A nondescript village some 70 kms north of Alwar.
Naruka: The sales executive of Matsya Autombiles posted at Hindon branch. A close aide of Anil Tiwari.

I sometimes wonder how these individuals would react if they ever come across the “The Peepal Tree of Lachhmangarh”, hopefully they would be pleasantly amused!

Let’s move on to another story behind story. I will tell you something about the story “Raag Bhimpalasi”. I actually research a lot before writing anything, and this one was a tough nut from a research perspective. In its final state, the reader may not appreciate the amount of background information I had to collect in order to get the settings accurate. To start with, I had/ and still have no clue about Indian classical music, gharanas etc. The story began with a simple idea in my mind – music played by a dead teacher from a locked room in order to teach his pupil. Expanding on that thought, I first fixed upon the flute as the source of music, given its spiritual and to some extent ghostly feel its notes bring. Then the need for finding ragas from Indian classical music, which led me to the Maihar gharana, which led me to set the story in Maihar, which led me to research about Maihar town. Once I had managed to place all these things correctly, I needed to verify one crucial detail – whether Raag Bhimpalasi can be performed on a flute. This turned out to be the most harrowing task. I searched and searched, saw many YouTube videos, and then finally found one video in which Raag Bhimpalasi was being performed on the flute. To my delight, I also found an article which said it was one of the difficult ragas to be performed on the flute. Voila! And the rest you know…

It is not new knowledge that inspiration or lack of it plays a very important role in the writer’s output and productivity. I have had my share of writers block, like every other author. In fact inspiration and mood can be really important. I wrote “Valley of the Dead” in less than an hour; “Lost” in a single day whereas “Her Unkept Promise” believe it or not, took me one year to write!!!

I would wrap up with perhaps the most iconic story of all, one which has lent its name to the book title “The Disappearance of Tejas Sharma”. This one happens to be in my top 3 picks from the dozen stories. It would be interesting trivia for my few fans that the original story was called “The Disappearance of Tejas Joshi” and a last minute change was the switch of the surnames. Actually, I owe this story and a lot in general to a dear old friend of mine Tejas Joshi who has supported and prodded me to write, incidentally whose name also occurs in the introduction. I changed the surname but still retained his name. The date of the diary entry 29th April, happens to be the real Tejas’ birthday, rest all stuff in the story is fiction and my imagination.

And talking of dates, I chose to sign off the introduction to the book with an extremely significant date in my life – 3rd Jan 2013, the day my son was born. This book shall be a father’s legacy to his son.

1 comment:

  1. Interesting background informaton, Inspires a budding author to carry on.....


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