Anurag Anand is a columnist, bestselling author and corporate professional based in Gurugram, India. Presently employed with CocaCola India and South West Asia, heading the Franchise Capability Services vertical. Has worked across FMCG, Banking and Pharmaceutical sectors in Marketing and L&D roles covering several geographies including India, Nepal, Bangladesh, Bhutan, Myanmar, Maldives, Philippines and Indonesia.
Two of his works the Legend of Amrapali and the The Quest for Nothing have made it to the final shortlist in the past editions of the Crossword Book Awards. His other books are Love on 3 Wheels, Where the Rainbow Ends, Birth of the Bastard Prince, of Tattoos and Taboos. and Reality Bites.
He is a contributing author to several renowned publications, including the Times of India and his column, ‘Corporate Whispers’, is a monthly feature in the Suburb Life magazine. The biggest reward for his writing, he believes, is hearing from his readers and interacting with them.
About the Book: To Hell and Back: Not all Tragedies are Orchestrated by Fate
A mindless road-rage incident leaves a young and promising entrepreneur dead. Is it an accident, or a cold-blooded murder, planned to absolute perfection? Namrata, a young professional, is enveloped by all the quintessential elements of life in the fast lane—a staling marriage, an extramarital affair and eyes full of dreams, until a fun evening turns into a chilling nightmare for her. Renu, a girl living in a world marred by regressive customs and dated practices, has resigned to the patriarchal ways of her world, until they begin to cast their malicious shadows on her unborn child. Their worlds, although separate, intersect each other in a single strike of tragedy that none could have imagined. It is then that this story begins and sends everyone’s life on a dizzy tailspin… Will they be able to get back to their safe and secure lives? To Hell and Back is a fast-paced thriller that will not only keep you on tenterhooks till the very end, but it shall also rattle your beliefs on how ‘crime-proof’ the world that you live in truly is.
We will talk with Anurag about his latest book ‘To Hell and Back’
What is the story behind your book. Where did you get your idea for the book?
A story often emerges from the happenings around us that one feels strongly about. To Hell and Back is inspired by the horrors and gut-wrenching incidents that the newspapers bring to us every morning. Most of us read these reports with a sense of detachment, as though these developments were from a world different from the one that we live in. We create a false sense of security around us and believe that we can never be at the receiving end of such atrocities – rapes, murders and road rage violence. However, it is often a single tragedy, one error of judgement that can erase the divide between the two worlds and propel our lives into a dizzy tailspin.
Challenges you faced while writing this book and in your life as an author?
The biggest challenge I faced while working on the manuscript of To Hell and Back was to ensure that the twists in the story and the characters remained relatable for my readers. There was a message I wanted to drive through the story: that our loved ones and we are far more vulnerable than we might want to believe. And this could be done only if the settings and characters resonated with my readers. The initial reviews of the book suggest that I have succeeded in achieving this, and I am glad for that.
In my life, I am a family man, a corporate professional and an author, and the one big struggle I face is to allocate my time judiciously between all three. And in today’s day and age, an author’s role is not limited to writing a book. He is expected to don a marketing hat and promote his work for several months following the book’s release. This can become gruelling and taxing for a simple word-peddler at times.
What is your life mantra?
I believe in living life by the day. Each day of life is a blessing, and it is only by understanding this that we can achieve true happiness. Often, we get dragged in the rut of chasing material aspirations and forget to enjoy the journey of life itself. And by the time we realize what we have been missing out on, it might just be a little too late.
What is your writing process like?
I begin by charting out the framework of the story, which helps me connect the broad twists and turns. The next step is to prepare the chapter plan, which flushes out the narrative flow and the principal characters. This is when the actual writing begins.
I would ideally like to follow some sort of a routine for my writing, but my work commitments prohibit me from doing so on a sustained basis. However, I try and ensure that I don’t allow a gap of more than a couple of days in my writing once I have started working on the story. This, I believe, can be counterproductive to the flow of the story.
Anything special about your book that you want to share?
To Hell and Back has been garnering rave reviews from its readers already. Singer Shibani Kashyap, who was one of the guests at the book’s launch, said that the story is replete with characters that we are surrounded with in our real lives. Actor turned marketer, Mayoori Kango, termed the book as unputdownable. “The suspense was such that I couldn’t put it down until I had unravelled it,” she said. To Hell and Back recently made its debut on the Indian Writing Bestsellers list at WH Smith stores on number – 3.
According to you, what are the three qualities an author must have to achieve success?
Keen observation and perseverance! While observation is essential for an author to script a compelling story, perseverance is needed for him to endure the tedious and lonely process of writing the story. The third essential quality, in today’s times, is an author’s ability to connect with his readers. Your work might be exemplary, but if you don’t have what it takes to draw readers’ interest towards it, it all ends up in vain.
What are your plans for next book?
I am working on a couple of story ideas for now, and I will be happy to share further details once I start working on any one of them.
What advice do you have for young writers?
Write from your heart and don’t worry about potential of publication and commercial success for your work. If you end up with a quality manuscript, the rest shall follow.
Share a quote or line that has been your inspiration.
“Time can be created. You can create time through your intent and determination.” – Anurag Anand