An ardent reader, an enthusiastic writer and a passionate cook all rolled into one

 An ardent reader, an enthusiastic writer and a passionate cook all rolled into one

Rajkumari Sharma Tankha

By his own admission, Atul Koul Randev, who recently released his debut book, a financial thriller The Hundred Million Bet (Srishti Publishers), is a writer during the weekends and the occasional weekday evenings – in the opposite of times (i.e. during the weekdays and the occasional weekends), he leads the Strategy, and Mergers & Acquisitions team for Signicat, a tech firm in Oslo, Norway.
Born and brought up in Meerut (India), he inherited his love for writing from his mother, Neeraj, a writer of short stories. “It was mom who introduced me to books. She worked as a librarian, and got for me all sorts of amazing books,” says Atul, who began writing at 10, first the poems and then the stories, some of which also got published in school magazines. Till date his mother is the biggest fan of his writing. “You know how mothers are,” he smiles. Excerpts from an interview:

What was your motivation for writing a financial thriller, not many attempt it…
Funnily enough, I didn’t start out trying to write a financial thriller. I wanted to achieve two things with the book, 1) recount a few influential philosophical essays that I loved and make them more accessible through a story and 2) I had built a simple framework that guided my day-to-day living, and I wanted to communicate this framework through the story. The thriller was the means to build a story that helped me reach these targets.

Who inspires you to write?
I love reading, and writing is my form of expressing and sorting through some of the chaos. I don’t need an inspiration to write, it is a necessary part of my daily life.

Do you have a writing schedule?
Occasionally an hour at any point of time in the evenings. Usually, a couple of hours early afternoon on Sat and Sunday after the first cup of coffee.

Describe your favourite writing space…
It is a small café with three or four tables. A big glass case with a bunch of cinnamon buns in it, and a coffee machine behind the counter. I usually sit on the corner table, writing a bit, looking at the other patrons a bit.
At home, I have a tiny office, it’s not much to speak about. I have a desk and a comfy chair, with a couple of additional screens with a window or two of research material pulled up. I have a couch behind me where I occasionally take the opportunity to sneak in a nap in the middle of the afternoon.

Ever struggled with writer’s block?
Not really. Not so far. I struggle more with the discipline of showing up to write, and sometimes a week or two might pass when I haven’t picked up the book. Fortunately for me, so far, every time I do manage to sit down to write I’m able to write something. It doesn’t necessarily mean that I always manage to push the stories forward. It can be two steps forward, one step back sometimes. But whenever I’ve show up, I’ve manage to write a thing or two. So far.

Do you have a secret trick, or a book/author that helps?
The secret trick I have is to have the discipline to show up frequently to the writing desk. If I show up for 100 days, I’’ll get 2-3 days of free flowing brilliance (in my opinion of course), and 97 days of passable prose that can be improved.

Which books are you reading at present?
I’m on Book 3 of Joe Abercrombie’s The First Law Trilogy, Book 3 of Ann Leckie’s trilogy (The Imperial Radch Boxed Trilogy: Ancillary Justice) and A Time for Everything by Karl Ove Knausgaard.

Which book do you wish you had written?
It’s still early days, I’ll write the books that I’m meant to write. In some ways, I’d love to see up close some of processes for a few other authors, just to see how they go about constructing these mammoth epics. For example, I’d love to spend a day or a week sitting in Brandon Sanderson’s or Julian Barnes’s study seeing them work.

Working on any new book…
I have a couple of projects ongoing, that includes a short non-fiction project with my wife. I’m in the very early stages of writing my next book, which would not be a crime thriller but would hopefully be a thrilling book anyway.

Which is your favourite genre?
My guilty pleasure is Fantasy. There is something about being able to build a new world with nothing more than words that never ceases to amaze me.

Who are your favourite authors?
Phew, that is hard to answer. If you’ll allow me, I’ll answer in terms of who I’ve liked the most that I’ve read in the last couple of years. As a writer, I loved reading Ann Leckie’s Ancillary Justice, it definitely pushed the boundaries of writing (and how I could write) for me. As a reader, I really enjoyed all the books so far in Brandon Sanderson’s Stormlight archive. Julian Barnes is an all-time great.

What are your other interests/hobbies?
I love cricket, travelling, and going out to nice restaurants for a nice meal every now and then. I also love to cook. My happy place would be in my kitchen, with some cricket on the screen, drinking a glass of wine and making some nice food.



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