There are romance novels and then there are romance novels by Durjoy Datta. The best-selling author who has delivered one successful novel after another – with titles such as Till the Last Breath, Someone Like You, Our Impossible Love and The Boy Who Loved, among others – says that he does not write keeping the demands of commerce in mind, but only what he wants to write. No wonder, his name is always on some bestselling author list or another. With his latest – When I Am With You – Datta has delivered yet another timeless tale of urban love that goes beyond the clichés.
1. Tell us a bit about your latest book When I Am with You and some of the themes it explores.
When I Am With You is a story of Dhiren and Aishwarya, two characters who have had a dysfunctional childhood and are trying to recreate a part of their childhood. Aishwarya wants to open a nursery, and Dhiren is in the business of video games. The book centres around the theme of raising children, the pressure on young parents, and cryptocurrency.
2. How do you manage to retain a sense of purity when you write about love in your books?
Love doesn’t need to be pure per se; it needs to be honest and authentic. That’s what I aim for in the books. I never sought to write perfect love stories because it’s in the imperfections that beauty lies.
3. You are one of India's most prolific writers. How do you manage to come up with so many books in a year?
I think I used to be more prolific than I’m now. Until a few years ago, I was writing two books a year. I have slowed down now because a) I’m a father now, b) there’s crippling self-doubt and c) the internet. I write a book a year now which is still not bad, I guess. I can write a lot because I really like writing and there’s nothing else I would rather do. My best days are when I write a lot. Or when I read.
4. From engineering and business management to writing books. How did the switch happen and what compelled you to do it?
It was supposed to be a stop-gap arrangement. I would write for a couple of years and if it doesn’t take off, I would go back. It was a calculated but slightly foolish decision at the time, but hindsight is always 20/20. I was lucky it panned out well.
3. Growing up, what were the kind of books you read? Were you a big fan of romance novels?
I never read romance. My parents were buying me books; so, romance was out of the question. I read everything apart from romance — thrillers, horror, suspense, literary fiction, fantasy. Anything that I was allowed.
4. What does your process of writing involve? Do you have a fixed schedule or discipline you follow?
I have realised it’s better not to have one. I should have a laptop and that’s it. If I get too dependent on a schedule, and I slip, then everything goes for a toss.
5. Do you feel the pressure of living up to your readers' expectations and force-fitting stories and themes to adhere to the demands of commerce?
I have tried doing that in the past and failed miserably. I have tried to construct bestsellers and studied my own books that have worked better but it hasn’t worked for me. So now I write books that I want to write.
6. What's the biggest challenge of writing books on romance?
My books are hardly about romance. Romance is what happens to the characters about whom the story is. That’s the approach I take and keep the writing fresh for me.
7. Lastly, what do you feel about love? Are you a hopeless romantic in real life?
I would say I am. But what I feel about love keeps evolving.