My book didn't influence the 26/11 attacks: Ashwin Sanghi
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My book didn't influence the 26/11 attacks: Ashwin Sanghi

Best-selling author Ashwin Sanghi finds it stupid to even consider that his first book, The Rozabal Line, influenced the Mumbai terror attacks. The author talks to Sonakshi Babbar about writing under a pseudonym, his latest book Chanakya's Chant and more.

books Updated: Dec 03, 2011 14:49 IST
Sonakshi Babbar, Hindustan Times

After slogging off at work for five days, most of us either head to the watering holes or curl up in bed with a book or watch TV. But author Ashwin Sanghi, who heads a family business enterprise, rushes home to relax by feverishly writing books.

"Unlike a typical professional, I can't quit my job to become a full-time author, I don't have that luxury. For me writing is therapy, if I choose to write full-time it might start feeling like work," he says sipping his coffee pensively at the Taj Mansingh in the capital.

He is known as the best-selling author of The Rozabal Line and Chanakya's Chant and the winner of Vodafone-Crossword Popular Choice Award 2010, but way back in 2007, Sanghi didn't find any publisher who wanted to consider his work.

"I self-published my first book, The Rozabal Line on The site allows you to upload your manuscript, format it, design the cover and it goes to sale online on Amazon and Barnes and Nobles," he says.

The situation was so depressing that he published the book under a pseudonym Shawn Haigins, which is an anagram of his name, Ashwin Sanghi.

He says, "It was my first venture, I consider myself lucky to sell even a hundred copies. Self-publishing was easy, but the problem was will people buy my books? An average self-published title sells 57 units, out of that most are brought by the author's friends and family, he reveals.

But he learnt a lot from this experience, and it was at this time when the management degree from Yale came in handy.

"There are 150, 000 self-published titles out there every month, it was a tough market out there. Mainstream media didn't want to review my book. I started blogging, wrote to websites, tweeted, and ended up selling 1600 books. I became the bestseller author on for that month!" he laughs.

A revised edition of The Rozabal Line was published by Westland Ltd. & Tranquebar Press much later. The book garnered controversy with readers pointing out similarities between its plot and the 26/11 terrorist attacks.

"People's emotions were running high at that time and they exaggerated the whole sequence. The Rozabal Line had some parts about a group of terrorists, a ship and Taj Mahal, so the moment there was an attack on Mumbai, some people just found seven random strands together to come up with nonsense like, 'The book influenced the Mumbai attack'. Any book based on research could have real life commonalities. After all, fiction is an elaborate way of telling lie," he explains.

Sanghi shrugs off comparisons to Dan Brown, "It is easy to club people together but there are bound to be influences of authors you've read. I grew up reading fast paced authors such as Sidney Sheldon and Jeffrey Archer but to say I'm one of them isn't true, my style is intrinsically my own."

After winning awards and basking in the success of two best-selling novels, the author doesn't crave for literary recognition.

"While growing up, I always had to depend on foreign authors for page-turners. I think of myself as a commercial writer, and my job is simple to entertain you. I want to be remembered as a storyteller more than someone who had something meaningful to say," he says with content.

First Published: Dec 03, 2011 14:49 IST