Sunday, July 13, 2014

Author Interview: Upendra Namburi: 31: 60 Minutes: 8 Hours: 3 Thrillers in Numbers Triumvirate

An engineer by accident and an MBA by coincidence, Upendra finds himself in the dynamic world of banking and finance. In an attempt to break the monotony of classrooms and lectures during his college years, he developed a strong inclination towards writing. Over time the love affair blossomed. He now maintains several blogs and has also contributed articles to Indian and International publications.

Upendra has written on a wide array of subjects including payments, marketing, loyalty and social media. He has also been invited by several management schools across India to speak and interact with students.

Having experienced the constant rush of timelines and deadlines in the turbulent waters of several leading corporates in India, Upendra is currently on a voyage of writing the ‘Numbers triumvirate’. The three books titled 31 (days), 60 (minutes) and 8 (hours) are contemporary Indian thrillers.

Welcome Upendra!

Your real name and pen name?
I don’t have a pen name but have always been fascinated by reversing my name as Ardnepu, for a pen name. Have a quaint notion that it almost sounds Nordic!

About your education
An engineer (Production engineering) and Masters in Business Administration

What career did you plan during your education days?
A rather and eclectic variety of professional choices in my student days. Had always been enamored by writing and journalism, and took up my first freelance writing assignment at the age of 18. Had pondered becoming an architect during the intense Ayn Rand period of my life. Advertising had been a passion for several years and had almost joined an advertising agency. However realized that marketing was my calling and have been a marketing professional ever since.

What languages you can speak and write?
Can speak English, Hindi and Telugu and can write English & Telugu

What is your biggest source of inspiration in life?
I am fascinated by people from all walks of life and find tremendous inspiration in their stories, experiences and outlooks. Plurality in all facets and dimensions of life has always intrigued me,  and the same is extended in my writing as well.

What hurts you most in this world?
Hypocrisy! It’s one of the biggest banes in our lives.

What is the biggest challenge you have faced? How did you overcome it?
Writer’s block! far. One needs to  be true to one’s work and yet understand that it is being written for an audience. It is an ongoing journey…

If you had to live a day of your life as one of the living or dead personality, who would it be and why?
Mahatma Gandhi.  I’ve been an ardent admirer of his philosophies and work. The concept of non violence is perhaps one of the greatest challenges  for us all, both in our actions and thoughts.

What is your favorite genre and why?
I don’t believe in favorites. I believe it restricts the development of one’s perspective. I relish all formats and media spanning fiction and non fiction. I ensure in reading a wide variety of literary works and particularly piqued  by concepts and writing styles which push the envelope.

When did you start writing? What is the purpose of your writing?
My journey with writing commence in my early schooling years. Would receive assignments to write one story and I would write three! I picked it up again in my college days as a magazine editor and a freelance journalist as well. And then commenced the journey of writing columns for newspapers and blogging.
Writing is a powerful and intense method for organizing and analyzing situations, and hence all formats of writing, both fiction and non fiction. It is a perennially humbling experience.

Which of your work has been published so far? Would you like to share a synopsis of your work?
I am currently in the process of writing three books in the ‘Numbers Triumvirate’. My first novel titled ‘31’ was published in 2012 and the second book titled 60 minutes released in June 2014. The third book – ‘8 hours’ will release in 2015.
‘31’ is a story about Ravi Shastry, a multinational banker who realizes he has 31 days to save his job, with a firing list to be announced on 31st March. The book has one chapter per day and traverses the journey of the working couple and their two children in this arduous period of their lives with the wife too finding her job on the line. The book was on the longlist for the Tata First Book award
’60 minutes’ is written in a format that hasn’t been attempted very often, wherein the entire story is set in sixty minutes. It is a fast paced thriller tracing corporate rivalries, passionate and violent relationships, insanely ambitious and competitive professionals and addictions with stock trading.

What are your future plans?
I plan to complete the numbers series. I do have four other areas that I am currently working on. The first is a play, the second is potentially a screenplay for one of my books, the third is a form of office satire and the fourth is a dark thriller.

What four top most things you take care of while writing a book?
Ø  The characters should be true. They need to have soul…
Ø  Have no preconceived notions of right and wrong. It tends to influence your writing, hence maintaining objectivity is of paramount importance
Ø  Take the book to it’s end…don’t look back till you complete your first draft.  That’s the only way to capture the raw and virgin energy of the manuscript
Ø  Edit…The book is being written for the reader. Don’t ever overlook that reality.

How much real life goes into fiction writing?
We are all influenced by everything that we experience in our lives. One needs to examine all the sensory stimuli and take it all in.  I ensure that I just distill and take away the essence and trigger points from my interactions and experiences and from then on…the story and characters pursue their own journeys.

Is high level of imagination important to have for an Author?
One needs to be aware and open minded. Innovation and imagination are perhaps over rated in the writing process. It’s important for an author to be true….with oneself and the story. The rest follows.

Your origin of birth and other countries you have visited/ stayed. What best things you liked in these countries around the globe?
Was born in a quaint place – Tadepalligudam in Andhra Pradesh. I spent my first four years in Kolkata, followed by a stint in Mumbai. The family moved to London for four years and then back to Mumbai. I’ve been in Gurgaon for over nine years now.
I’ve travelled around the world. We had done world tour as a family when I was eleven, and was extremely influenced by the wide variety of cultures across Europe, North America and the Far East.
Paris remains close to my heart. It is a truly magical city. It can enamour and captivate  all your senses like no other…

Your favorite time of the day?
Early mornings

Your zodiac/ sunsign?
I’m a true Piscean…

Your favorite color and why?
I’ve always been a man with the blues.

What is the last book you finished reading? What is the current book you are reading?
I read (once again) English August by Upamanyu Chatterjee recently. In fact the protagonist in my new book 60 minutes was christened Agastya, as my tribute to Mr. Chatterjee. I am reading several books, but mostly non fiction currently.

Your favorite book and why?
English August inspired me to take up writing again. It’s brutal and unassuming honesty was refreshing.
Freedom at Midnight by Collins & Lapierre, took me into the true journey of understanding and celebrating the idea of India.

Your favorite movie and why?
Dead Poet’s Society….life changing

Your favorite food?
Thai food….hot and spicy

Some quickies:
Sun or Moon - Sun
Laughter or Smile - Smile
Morning or Evening - Morning
Coffee or Tea - Coffee
Mountain or Sea - Mountain
Long Drive or Short Drive – Very Long Drive!
Silence or Conversation – Silent conversations!...can be intense
Water or Fire - Fire
Air or Earth – Air…(though I’ve got the greatest fear of heights imaginable!)
Mars or Jupiter -Jupiter
Tulip or Rose - Tulip
Red or Blue - Blue
Left or Right – Left
Glance or Stare – Glances…

What three words come to your mind for each –
Technology, : Humbling, intrusive, imperative
Life – Emotions, experience  & love
God – In our hearts
Humanity – Simplicity, kindness, rare
Terrorism – From whose perspective?
Racism – Myopic, meaningless bigotry
Childhood – Pristine, magical, sublime
Love – The only truth
Parenting – Challenging & Fulfilling
Old age - Sublime

State your signature line/ tagline/ best quote : The future is uncertain and the end is always near…The Doors
The last line of your autobiography would be : What a party?!

Twitter : @upendranamburi

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