His latest book Johnny Gone Down is about a protagonist who chooses to stay in Cambodia — even if it means years of torture in prisons! And, author Karan Bajaj attributes this character to his personal fondness for traumatised characters. In an attempt to understand what makes a mind like his tick, HT City asked Bajaj some quick fire questions.
First book ever read:
3 Investigators by Enid Blyton.
I have lived in 10 cities
—Delhi, Shimla, Ladakh, Jodhpur, Tezpur and Ranchi to name some.
Number of schools:
10. Including, Army Public School, Delhi.
Is Johnny... autobiographical?
I have always been attracted to tormented, soul searching characters. I feel a deep emotion for them and see a portion of myself in them. In fact, I’ve ended up writing whatever dominated my life in the past years.
Have you experienced everything Johnny does?
Not everything. I went backpacking to all the places I have mentioned in the book—Thailand, Cambodia and Favelas in Brazil. I stayed in all the shady places because I didn’t have enough money.
So, you’re saying it was all real?
So I had real, hard, touching experiences. I saw the interconnectedness of the world and the generosity of people. In some form or the other, the emotion is autobiographical.
What about Lara (Johnny’s love interest in the book)?
Yes, that is part of my life. I have also experienced unconditional love.
Which book do you like more — Keep off the Grass or Johnny?
I did a better job with my first book in terms of emotions.
You’ve been called the Rakhi Sawant of literature...
Oh god! Not that again! It was a comment used by a scribe so I mentioned it. I didn’t mean anything by it at all.