"I don't look at myself as a writer, I am a storyteller," says Vikas Swarup, diplomat and novelist. He is most famous for writing Q&A, which was adapted as the Oscar-winning film, Slumdog Millionaire. "I am very interested in human-interest stories emerging from modern India. I get my inspiration and daily dose by reading the Hindustan Times."
Swarup for the last three-and-half years has been working as the consul-general of India at Osaka-Kobe, Japan. He says, it's hard for him to find the time to write given his diplomatic duties, but he's become a 'weekend writer'. "I like to have clear horizons when I write. A good stretch of 5 to 6 hours of undisturbed work is enough. My family has come to terms with it."
Q&A, his first novel, tells the story of how a penniless boy in Mumbai becomes the biggest quiz show winner. Swarup feels it would not have been much different had the film been made by Bollywood. "I see Indian films to have a hunger for stories today. Bollywood needs it like never before. People don't just want a mindless flick with a superstar, they want to connect more deeply."
The only thing that makes him shudder about seeing his book as a Bollywood film is the thought that it wouldn't have gone on to win the best film, but the best foreign film. "There's a huge difference."
Swarup is in Jaipur to launch the release of his third novel, The Accidental Apprentice. "I write fast. But it takes me a while to get going," he says. "It's very important for me to see my whole plot. I have to see the end first because I like a surprise in the end. Which is why I let characters and plot gestate in my mind."
Writing on India and current affairs is important for Swarup. "In my previous book, Six Suspects, I had a portion of the Anna Hazare movement as well," he says proudly. "Being in Japan, it helps to follow events in India without getting swayed by the passion of the moment. I get a detached view of life and I like to reflect it in my books."