The Author, Civil Servant and a proud ISM graduate Yateen K Suman talks to AnuReviews about his debut novel Love in a Wooden Box.
Author Yateen K Suman Interview
1. How much of your book Love in a wooden box is autobiographical?
Yateen K Suman: This is a very common question that most people ask me. And I reply by saying that even though my book is inspired by my 4 years at ISM and Gautam bears my surname, the book is not autobiographical. However, I could classify by saying that nearly 30-35% of the events in the book would be a reflection in some way of my experiences at ISM.
2. I felt your book could have been crisper if you had not gone into too many details of everything at ISM. Your comments.
Y: Most non-ISMites, who have read my book had a similar kind of feedback to offer. I would tend to agree with you on above. However, this book, being my first, is dedicated to ISM. I thought it would be unfair if I did not do justice by ensuring that a non-ISMite gets a panoramic view of the things that went in the campus on during those years.
Y: This is evident from a number of surveys done by major national magazines on engineering colleges across the country every year. Apart from the name, there is nothing that sets them apart. In fact, ISM would rank higher than most IITs today! I am sure you are aware that admission to both these institutes is done on the basis of the prestigious IIT-JEE every year.
4. The protagonist seems an image of you, shares the surname with you and is maybe a dream image of you in your mind. Your comments.
Yateen K Suman: I cannot disagree with you on this. But every author has someone or something that is the central theme or idea of his/her writings. Since it was easy to relate to the dream image, it helped me write in a more organized and concentrated manner. It was my comfort zone if you will!
5. To me, your story was as much a college romance as it was a crime thriller, though I thought the suspense element was bit weak. What do you see the story as?
Y: I think the story is a romantic, suspense thriller. And there has been much interesting feedback on the suspense element from readers all across.
6. Your language has a flow that not many authors have and it keeps the reader engaged. have you been writing for some time or is it your first effort?
Y: I take this question as a compliment – so thank you for this! Writing has been my passion since I was very young, but this is my first book. Writing comes very naturally to me. I think it’s the gift of nature that I am able to express my thoughts, ideas, and feelings with ease. But most importantly, I adopted this method of writing my first book as it was more intellectually stimulating. And appeared to present an animated picture of the flow in my mind.
7. What made you leave the corporate world and join state civil services?
Y: The technical answer to that question is that since I qualified the exams, I joined the services. But from a larger perspective, there was a latent dream to be working in bureaucracy for quite some time within me. It is important that we strive to be a part of the system we intend to improve upon. And add that positive incremental value to it. I think I was lucky to get an opportunity of being in a position to do so. And hopefully, I should be a satisfied man towards the end of it all.
8. How do you find the government office different from the corporate desk? What were the major changes that you had to make to adjust to your new environment?
Yateen K Suman: Needless to say, a government office cannot have the same kind of paraphernalia that a corporate office would have. I was mentally prepared to be working in such a set up before I joined. But ground realities can sometimes be more challenging than we think. However, challenges of working in a public office are immense and way too high than in a corporate environment. So from that perspective, I have to put in more effort in my new role, as it involves very specific kind of work that affects people at large. It is of course very satisfying when a job is well done here. Because motivation in working for the State is very different as compared to working for self.
9. If you leave the students of ISM, past, and present, how is your book being received?
Y: The first edition has been sold out. And the second edition is in stands now. I don’t have exact data to answer your this question with precision. But from the feedback that I keep getting from non-ISMites, I am confident that readers are connecting with the story, style of writing and the characters very well.
10. Do you see yourself taking up writing full time?
Y: Writing is my passion, and the prospect of taking this up as my career has not come to my mind yet. But in this world, everything is in a state of flux. So we cannot be sure of anything. I think the moot point is first whether I am capable of connecting with readers in a more positive way. And secondly, whether there can be a sustainable reader base of my work.
11. Do we expect another book from you?
Y: A definite Yes! In fact, I have already started working on it within the limited time available at my disposal at the moment. It is a motivational suspense story. That, in my view, should have the potential of igniting minds and hearts to ponder very important issues of our lives. It is a story of 3 characters, a rich businessman who has everything in life, a Sage who is the ocean of knowledge and a prostitute who defines new ways of looking at life. I hope it comes out the way I intend to!