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Interview with Ajay Bhootra

Q.1 Tell us a little about yourself?
A. I’m an Optometrist and Novelist based in Kolkata. After giving my matriculation, at the age of 15, I joined Himalaya Optical and continued my studies alongside. Today, I’m close to completing four decades in the company, and during this time, I’ve garnered lots of learnings and a wealth of experience. 

I wanted to share my knowledge and experiences that I’d had as an Optometrist and this prompted me to write my first book titled Optician’s Guide, which was published in 2006. The book quickly got appreciation with Optometry institutes accepting it, and using it in their curriculum, and with students who benefitted from it. The success of the debut book encouraged me to take up writing on a more serious note. 

Thereafter, I’ve written and published 7 more books on Optometry. Recently in 2019, one of my books titled Basics of Computer Vision Syndrome has been translated into the Arabic language by King Saud University, in Saudi Arabia. I’ve also authored non-fiction on Retail Selling, titled The Race for Space – The Art & Science of Retail Selling, and two fictions thus far, Yet We Marry and most recently, The Knot.

Q.2 Are we going to read more from you in the near future? Any new project you’re working on?
A. Yes, I am currently working on 3 books simultaneously. Two of them are non-fiction, and the third one is again related to Optometry.

Q.3 What made you write this book?
A. Writing is a passion of mine. I feel immense freedom in expressing something through words, and have the vision to become of the known writers of this country someday. My Optometry books are quite popular, and they are used by almost all students across the country, as well as overseas. Now, I want to take my writing to a wider platform.

Q.4 What advice do you have for writers?
A. As of now, no advice as I’m still learning in this field.

Q.5 How do you come up with the name of this book?
A. I had shortlisted 3 to 4 names when I had started writing, and finally decided to go with The Knot, considering the plot of the book.

Q.6 If you could tell your younger writing self-anything, what would it be?
A. The only thing I would say to him is to learn how to write and then take up writing. Writing is an art as well as science. One must at least learn the basics.

Q.7 What are the most important magazines or websites for writers to subscribe to?
A. No idea of that. If you can suggest something, it would be great.

Q.8 What is the most difficult thing about writing characters from the opposite sex?
A. As such, no difficulties, because you’re ultimately writing from a human perspective. Yes, sometimes you can observe the behavioral and characteristic instincts and responses to situations from those around you, and apply it in your character’s emotions and responses.

Q.9 How do you select the names of your characters?
A. Name selections for The Knot were done based upon the character profile, age, lifestyle, and my own preferences. My elder son Rahul played a helpful role in this.

Q.10 As a writer, what would you choose as your mascot/avatar/spirit animal?
A. Not yet thought about that.

Q.11 Does your family support your career as a writer?
A. Good question! Everyone is neutral actually. However, both my sons are always excited and encouraging. They like it when I write with absolutely no bounds, and with complete freedom. Since they appreciate it, it means the world to me and more.

Q.12 Do you believe in writer’s block?
A. Since I’m still learning in this field, I haven’t experienced it yet. So difficult to comment.

Q.13 Does writing energize you or exhaust you?
A. I spend most of my free time writing. If you ask me to choose between going for a movie and sitting at home and writing, I’d choose the latter. That’s my first choice always.

Q.14 Do you have any unique and quirky writing habits?
A. Nothing in particular. Although, when I ask someone to read what I’ve written, most of the time I have seen that there is a connection between my words and the reader. I’m happy that I’m able to express in a way that touches the right chords.

Q.15 What do you consider to be your best accomplishment?
A. My younger son’s achievement; when he went to study abroad is my biggest achievement.

Q.16 What is the most unethical practice in the publishing industry?
A. Lack of transparency, and lack of opportunity for new writers. I think this is prevalent in any creative field.

Q.17 Who edited your book and how did you select him/her?
A. One of my publisher’s team members has edited, and she was assigned by them.

Q.18 Which famous person, living or dead would you like to meet and why?
A. Actually, not so crazy about meeting any famous personality.

Q.19 What is your favorite book and why?
A. I read lots of books. In the non-fiction category, I like Shiv Khera’s work and in fiction, E. L. James.

Q.20 Share the experience of your journey so far?
A. It all started in 1997, the first book published in 2006, and since then a total of 8 Optometry books. To broaden my horizon, I ventured into non-fiction and fiction writing. And I’m currently working on 3 books simultaneously. So, to cut a long story short, writing and writing consistently has helped me evolve as a writer and better my skills at expressing something.

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Instagram - @ajaykrbhootra

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