Jamal Merchant – Author Interview


Hello, folks,

Recently, I had the opportunity to interview the author of One Enduring Love – Jamal Merchant. I will be reviewing the book soon. Without further ado, here’s the interview.

What inspired you to become a writer?

In 2009 I came up with the idea of writing a novel. It was a sudden inspiration.

The title of the novel is inspired from the last paragraph of “The Memoirs of Aga

Khan” wherein the late Aga Khan III wrote :-

“Life in the ultimate analysis has taught me one enduring lesson. The subject should always disappear in the object”.

Based on this theme, I developed a tale of the undying human spirit of survival

against all odds in which my protagonist totally immerses himself in everything he does.

Who is your favourite Indian author and why?

Salman Rushdie. He was born in India but is now an NRI. His writing is magical and highly imaginative.

What made you write a novel based in India?

I am settled in London, but was born in India and have been to India more than 10 times in my life. I know quite a fair bit about India and so found it easy to develop a story based in India.

What are the major struggles do you think a debut author faces?

I would like to answer this question by sharing with you my journey in writing my debut novel “One Enduring Lesson”.

In 2009 I came up with the idea of writing a novel. It was a sudden inspiration.

In my school days in Zanzibar, Tanzania I used to write scores of essays. So writing was a habit for me from my young days.

Writing is one thing, but writing a novel is quite a different thing. I had an original story in mind, but had no idea of how to write a novel. I had to self-tuition myself in the art of storytelling, scene construction, dialogue development and creative writing. To do this I started reading novels written by famous novelists and also started watching films. In all I read 75 novels and saw 260 films. I also attended a few short courses in London in creative writing. I made extensive study notes from all these resources which immensely helped in the writing and editing of my debut novel and take it forward.

I genuinely believed that I had a good story to tell and wanted the world to read it. This motivated me to write my debut novel.

My motivation led me to work very hard on my project and encouraged me to make a substantial investment of my time, efforts and resources in taking it forward.

My story is based in India. I did extensive research on many aspects of life in India and issues covered in my novel. In all I had 235 print-outs on various subjects to read and draw knowledge from.

In January 2011, I made a special trip to India and visited Mumbai and Amritsar and visited all the places in these two cities where the action takes place involving the protagonist Rahul Saxena. It was a fact-find visit which greatly assisted me in describing some of the places and events in my novel.

My motivation led me to get up at 4.00 in the morning to write. As a debut novelist, it was a slow and painful process. But I persevered and completed my first draft in September 2011 which I later enriched with dozens of improvements and new ideas, culminating in a draft which was finally accepted by Rupa Publications of India.

What is your favourite genre? To read? To write?

Romance. Both to read and to write.

What is your writing regime – do you write a certain number of words each day or are you an unconventional writer who has no daily word/chapter limit?

I have written only one novel. My writing regime is/was as narrated earlier in this interview.

What is your elixir? J.K. Rowling loves Gin and Tonic while Balzac was obsessed with coffee. What’s yours?

Chicken samosas!

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