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From Ashwin Sanghi to Amish: Non-fiction’s the next stop for best-selling novelists

Best-selling writers, like Amish Tripathi, Ashwin Sanghi and Durjoy Dutta, are switching genres and moving from writing fiction to nonfiction with ease, and – in some cases – just as much success.

books Updated: Sep 10, 2017 16:45 IST
Press Trust of India
Ashwin Sanghi,Amish,Durjoy Datta
Like Ashwin Sanghi (centre), Amish Tripathi and Durjoy Dutta (right) are also trying their hand at writing non-fiction after successful stints at fiction.

Moving from the world of imagined reality to the prosaic realm of facts may be tricky, but a host of writers, including bestselling ones like Amish Tripathi, Ashwin Sanghi and Durjoy Dutta, are switching genres with ease.

For someone like Tripathi, author of The Shiva Trilogy, different and unusual takes on old ideas make him the bestselling writer that he is. And now that he has turned to non-fiction, such outlook comes in handy, helping him make the transition.

When penning a fictional plotline, curating philosophies and views in order is “step 1” and couching it within stories is “step 2” before the final product is delivered to publishers, said Tripathi. With his debut non-fiction book Immortal India, Tripathi said he is “publishing step 1”.

Taking off from his interest in mythology, Immortal India traces a civilisational journey from being Ajanaabhavarsh, Bharat, Hindustan to finally becoming India. “If there are subjects that one feels passionately about, the book practically writes itself,” Tripathi said.

In writing non-fiction, Tripathi said he uses a more direct approach while exploring social issues like women’s rights, freedom of expression and LGBT rights in mythology.

“I make the points far more directly in non-fiction. And, of course, I also convey far more directly my pride in our ancient culture and how teaching our ancient culture can truly aid the cause of liberalism,” he said. Tripathi added he consciously refrained from making the book read like a “textbook”.

“There has to be a difference between a textbook, which you have to read compulsorily, and a non-fiction book which you choose to read,” argued Tripathi. Passion for what you are writing about, he said, was imperative, for smooth literary delivery.

Like Tripathi, Dutta and Sanghi are also trying their hand at writing non-fiction after successful stints at fiction.

Datta’s choice of subjects, like Tripathi, are in his comfort zone and don’t stray too far from his fiction. The author of World’s Best Boyfriend decided to stick to romance even though the genre changed. It is the treatment of the subject that makes the drill different.

Datta, who has co-written Is He the World’s (Worst) Best Boyfriend? with Harnidh Kaur, has structured his new book as a freewheeling conversation to draw in readers and make them a part of the narrative.

Most stories in the book are conversations with a definite start, middle and end, but Datta said he consciously steered clear of the drama that was the focus in his previous works.

“In fiction, I tend to stay away from the mundane and focus on the drama. Here, I have tried to delve more in the mundane because that’s where you have to look to find out how relationships tick,” he said.

Sanghi ventured into non-fiction with his 13 Steps series, a far cry from thrillers like The Krishna Key and The Rozabal Line that had made him famous. Sanghi co-authored 13 Steps to Bloody Good Marks with educator Ashok Rajani, and teamed up with entrepreneur Sunil Dalal for 13 Steps to Bloody Good Wealth.

More books by the writer on sales, health, communication, parenting and several other subjects are in the pipeline.

“The non-fiction genre has been kind to me. My publisher and I had not expected to go into multiple print runs but it did. The success of that first book led to a co-authored book on wealth, and recently to a co-authored book on marks,” Sanghi said. Success did not come easily to Sanghi, known primarily as a writer of mytho-historical mysteries and crime thrillers. “My readers weren’t sure what to make of my non-fiction debut,” he said.

The doubts were laid to rest when the first non-fiction book, 13 Steps to Bloody Good Luck, became an instant bestseller.

Another challenge the writer faced was that subjects he was dealing with – wealth and marks – were not essentially his domain of expertise, and writing a self-help book on these topics needed some specialisation.

“We overcame that challenge by bringing in co-authors who were experts in their respective domains,” he said.

First Published: Sep 10, 2017 16:40 IST