He is unique, he is creative, he is literate, he is adept with his language. Simon Storywala doesn’t only bring awe in his readers but shows his in depth knowledge about the gender biased laws in India. Recently with his debut thriller ‘The Bitter Half’ Simon has brought Indian men’s plight to the fore. With an impeccable style of storytelling he brings new hope for men.
Today, we bring his first ever interview for a men’s site – TMF.
Q. I understand that ‘Simon’ may be your pseudonym. Why did you have to take one?
I belong to the old school of thought when it comes to literature and am fascinated with pseudonyms. It adds appeal. Moreover, as a debut novelist you never know when your work might tank, and in that case pseudonym becomes handy, as no one would care who had written the piece – jokes apart, even JK Rowling is a pen-name.
Q. What made you choose an unconventional topic like Men’s Rights for your debit novel that no one wants to talk about?
Indian literature space is currently overcrowded with either YA love stories or Mythologies. Infact these are the two clichéd genres that get highly published these days. Somewhere, mirroring of our societal good/bad aren’t happening through literature. I chose this topic (which I don’t feel clichéd) because this is a highly offbeat one in Indian literary space. Atleast, I’ve not come across any such in the past. Moreover, even though this phenomenon has now become very common, nobody actually knows what goes behind the scene. Hence, the need to unravel the puzzle. If not me, then probably someone else would have done it.
Q. It seems that you have closely experienced 498a and other divorce related cases. How was your personal experience in these matters?
The novel is a result of tremendous amount of research based on 2-3 real life cases. A conversation with my co-passenger once, triggered me to write on this societal issue that’s largely ignored or misread.
Q. Have you written any other literary pieces before? If yes, please let us know the titles of those books.
This is my debut novel.
Q. Even though you have explained the legal matters very well in your book, I found that many reviewers (mostly women) found that complicated and rated your book much lower. Do you think you needed to write those areas differently?
Well, readers come from varied background with diverse demographics. Their gender, age, socio-economical setup are all different. Now, the reviewers whom you are referring to, are within the age group of 19-22 yrs, and for obvious reasons this particular subject would sound heavy for those college goers. It takes a certain level of maturity to understand the premise of my novel’s theme. Whereas, readers (from both gender) aged 25+ has rightly resonated with the subject. So, I don’t think there’s anything wrong in crafting this socio-legal crime thriller. Infact, this is the most simplistic manner with which the IPCs and various procedurals are explained. My earlier version (of the manuscript) was far more complicated.
Q. Do you think people (mostly women) would have rated your book low while finding it an excellent read is because they didn’t want to promote anti-feminism work?
I disagree. Readers (except few) hardly have such inclination. They would just love to read a good literary piece and would enjoy the theme. Now, about rating (given by few female readers) the book low inspite of finding it excellent is a function of their personal choices. Someone might be overwhelmed yet they are stingy to allot marks, whereas others are simply generous. I did check with those readers’ profile, and the max they rated for a book (irrespective genre) they loved is 4 out of 5. And that’s exactly how they rated my book. Infact they never rated a book 5/5. Hence, I am not reading much into those ratings.
Q. Do you have any plans to translate this book in any other language? I personally recommend you to translate it in Bengali and Oriya, but what are your thoughts?
Oh yes!! I would love to get it translated. But then that depends on the commercial success of the original version. Bengali translation will eventually cater to Bangladesh market too. I even thought of a Chinese version, as their societal issues matches with that of ours. But then without impressive sales figure, I cannot propose the same to my publisher.
Q. I see this book more as a thriller than a boring legal piece. If you get any offer to make this a movie or web series, will you accept that offer?
Yes, it is a ‘thriller’. Infact that’s what it has been classified and tagged as, at the back cover (near ISBN section). It’s a realistic fiction and a fusion genre of socio-legal, crime thriller.
Yes, why not!! I am eager to see this novel being adapted to screen (either in form of movie / web-series). If you know any production house, who would be interested in this story, please feel free to get me connected.
Q. What is your opinion about feminism? Do you call yourself an anti-feminist?
Feminism has a deep meaning. To me it is about guiding the females for their upliftment. But sadly feminism these days are being decoded mostly as “men-bashing”. It is also fashionable to be tagged as feminist, without knowing how to contribute for the cause. And that’s hilarious.
To be honest, I am a ‘humanist’.
Q. Please tell us about your experience of writing this literary marvel for men. What kind of help or hindrance you had experienced?
Since, this is a research heavy topic. It took me 3 yrs to complete the novel. In between, at times, I lost hope thinking that nobody would read this, as it has now become so common. And then the very next moment I would pinch myself and say, there’s no work done yet on literary space and thus there’s an opportunity.
Buy Simon’s debut thriller from amazon –
Q. I understand you will write a sequel of this book. Will that contain anti-feminist theme or will be only crime-based thriller?
The first instalment leaves the reader with a lot of unanswered questions which will get addressed in the sequel. It’s the continuation of the current theme that’s socio-legal crime thriller with much more excitement and renewed level of twists & turns.
Q. Will you be interested in taking up any other topics related to men’s rights?
Not thought of it yet. But will surely take up social issues as a central theme.