"Non-fiction feeds the mind, but fiction feeds the soul": Vineet Bajpai on his latest novel, 1857 - The Sword of Mastaan

In a conversation with Mumbai Live, Vineet Bajpai takes us through his vision, journey and inspiration of becoming an author. Here are the excerpts from the interview:

"Non-fiction feeds the mind, but fiction feeds the soul": Vineet Bajpai on his latest novel, 1857 - The Sword of Mastaan

Author of the spectacularly successful Harappa Trilogy, Vineet Bajpai, recently released his latest book 1857 – The Sword of Mastaan, which is his fifth fiction novel and eighth book overall. 1857 is the second part of the Mastaan Trilogy.

The first part of the trilogy, Mastaan – The Fallen Patriot of Delhi, was released in October 2019.

Bajpai is a first-generation entrepreneur who started his company aged 22 years from a small shed. Today, his company is among the largest marketing and advertising groups in the subcontinent. Vineet has firmly established himself among the top fiction writers of India.

His widely acclaimed Harappa Trilogy, comprising Harappa – Curse of the Blood River, Pralay – The Great Deluge and Kashi – Secret of the Black Temple, was a national bestseller.

Counted among the country’s most admired authors, and an HT Nielsen chart-topping author, Vineet is a regular speaker at JLF and other literary events.

In a conversation with Mumbai Live, Vineet Bajpai takes us through his vision, journey and inspiration of becoming an author. Here are the excerpts from the interview:

What was your thought process behind writing 1857 - The Sword of Mastaan?

The book finds its inspiration from my desire to bring alive, not just 19th century Delhi, but to also offer an Indian perspective to the Great War of 1857. My love for the poetry of Mirza Ghalib, for the crumbling Havelis of old Delhi, for the cuisine of this historical city and for its breathtaking history... all contributed to the writing of the Mastaan Trilogy

Besides, the epic popularity of the Harappa Trilogy has been the most gratifying phase of my life. Today, it has sold over 2.5 lac copies, making it a milestone in the history of Indian fiction.

What do you enjoy writing more fiction or non-fiction?

For me, non-fiction feeds the mind, but fiction feeds the soul.

After writing three successful business books, I felt a strong urge to express the creative storyteller in me. I wanted to write about India’s ancient mysteries, our rich heritage, our way of life, our profound myths, epics and more.

Writing a business, management or inspirational book is a completely different ballgame than writing a fiction novel. Being a management ‘guru’ so to speak, is a very different role from that of being a storyteller. And it was during the writing of Harappa that I discovered the intensity with which the storyteller in me was waiting to emerge.

It was only when I spent nights and days penning down the manuscript of Harappa that I understood the emotional connection needed between a fiction writer and his work. We can’t say that writing a business or management book takes no emotional energy, of course, it does. But after having written three of them and then writing Harappa and Mastaan, I can assure you that a storyteller has nearly an umbilical cord connected with his work. I know this might sound silly, but every time I read some of the more intense parts of Harappa, especially the last four or five chapters, my eyes well up. I could not believe that I was crying every time I was reading what I had myself created and written! But believe me, that is the intensity of a fiction writer’s relationship with his work.

When did you decide that you want to try your hand at being an author and how has the journey been?

As the Founder and CEO of Magnon, one of the largest advertising and digital agency groups in India, I have enjoyed building a world-class company from the ground up. I am also blessed with a parallel avatar of being a tech entrepreneur, as the Founder of Talentrack, which is the country’s leading mobile platform for talent-casting in the entertainment sector. With these richly fulfilling organization-building expeditions keeping me inspired through the days, I needed something that would not only bring out my personal creative best but also help me connect with millions of people directly. What better medium to achieve that goal than writing books? I have now been writing for the past 18 years, and it has been a deeply satisfying voyage!

What did you envision while writing your first book ever?

I wrote my first book, Build From Scratch, at the age of 24 when my first enterprise flourished. I wanted to share a guide for aspiring entrepreneurs that can handhold them and other readers through the various steps and tactics of building an organization from an idea.

I chose to write business books because over my entrepreneurial and corporate journey, I truly felt I had learnt things I must share with readers, entrepreneurs, start-ups and the corporate community around the world. And I am glad I did. My business books have been deeply loved.

Which genre or topic attracts you the most?

As mentioned previously, fiction is really close to my heart. Apart from my obvious interest in India’s ancient mysteries and heritage, Romance/Relationships and Science Fiction are also very dear to me. You will hopefully see books from me in these genres soon.

What’s next in the platter for your readers?

We have just released 1857 - The Sword of Mastaan, which is part two of the Mastaan Trilogy. Part three of the Trilogy is in the works and should get released in 2022. Thereafter, on popular demand from my beloved readers, you will see the unveiling of Dhoomketu, part four of the Harappa Series.

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