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There is nothing like a ‘second novel syndrome': Waheed


The notion that authors, whose debut books have turned out to be bestsellers, find themselves under pressure while writing successive books is nothing more than a mere myth, says writer Mirza Waheed.

“There is nothing like a ‘second novel syndrome’. There is no such pressure if your debut has been well received and an
expectation the second one should be the same. Atleast not for me,” Mirza told in an interview.

Mirza’s debut book “The Collaborators” about his experiences of growing up in Kashmir was shortlisted for the Guardian First Book Award and the Shakti Bhatt Prize.

“Award or bestseller list do motivate authors but that definitely doesn’t lead to a pressure when they write further,” he says.

Mriza’s new fiction work, “The Book of Gold Leaves” published by Penguin is another tale with Kashmir as a canvass.

“I was very clear of the location and setting it where the entire sequence of events is going to happen. I did not want to settle it at any other place…somehow it makes me feel in a comfort zone,” says Mirza who was born and brought up in Srinagar before he moved to Delhi and then to London.

“If I had to set it in Cambodia, I would have to read a lot about it or probably live there for few years for getting the details right,” he adds.

The new fiction is an age-old love story of a Sunni boy and Shia girl, set in the Valley during the 90s.

“I have been thinking about this story for years, not in full blown form but images, sketches, a loose story of this girl and boy and the area have been in my mind for long,” he says.

“I work in a different manner. I set a plot and I then visit those places to verify them and rework on the draft to see how can I add details to make the story more realistic,” he adds.

Mirza shares, “Despite having the story in my mind for years, once I was done with the draft I went to Kashmir and explored the areas I have mentioned in the book.”

“I even hired a boat to row through the river I have written about in the book to see if I described the details in a apt way, and I was glad I did not have to make much changes when I got back,” he says.

Asked whether he has dipped into real life to etch out characters of his new book in which he has kept the locations real, Mirza says, “The book is totally a piece of fiction. But as all fiction writers say, ‘you draw from life and the characters do belong to the real world’, same applies to my novel too.”

The author says he is working on his next book, a memoir of his childhood.

“It will be another book with an Kashmir angle to it but not set in Kashmir. It will be a memoir of growing up in picture postcard perfect beautiful place for years,” he says.

Mirza says non-fiction is just not his type.

“It is just not my type, my taste or may be something I would do justice too. My next would be another fiction but not set in Kashmir. I will choose England this time,” he says.

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