Chirdeep Malhotra . Updated: 1/5/2022 11:54:07 AM Books and Authors

Author Interview: Dr. Jas Kohli

Dr Jas Kohli is a cosmetic surgeon. Apart from reshaping faces and bodies, he is often found aiming his camera at birds and butterflies. His emotions can run riot while he sings old Hindi songs and he often gazes at the night sky with a child-like sense of wonder. Through his writings, Dr Jas tries to provide food for thought to the reader in the guise of humour. He has recently come out with the fiction book “Lights! Wedding! Ludhiana!”. In a candid chat with Chirdeep Malhotra, he talks about his latest book, his writing journey, his favourite books and authors, and much more. Read on!

Please tell us more about Jas Kohli as a person.

Though I am an unabashed environmentalist, I am in a profession which runs counter to nature – as a cosmetic surgeon and cosmetologist, I try to retard natural ageing in my clients. Right from my early childhood, my life has been a potpourri of usual and unusual experiences and that has helped me develop a satirical outlook. I am not afraid to admit that I am unconventional, maybe many more writers are like that.

Has writing always been a part of your life? Or did you chance upon it later on and then instantly fell in love with it?

Reading has been a part of my life since I was in school. But writing developed much later, as a vaccine against mid-life crisis. So, it was a conscious decision. But once I got on to it, I got hooked and the love affair with the words has been continuing non-stop. My life has been enriched in so many ways because of being an author – the perks can’t be quantified.

Please tell us more about your book “Lights! Wedding! Ludhiana!”

This humour fiction book is fast paced and I have taken advantage of being an insider to allow everyone a peep into the peculiarities of the well-heeled in Ludhiana. The book has been published by a leading publisher, Rupa Publications and has been represented by a renowned literary agency, The Book Bakers. The feedbacks from the readers have been very encouraging. While plenty of smiles and laughs are guaranteed, the book has many take-home messages too.

Tell us more about your novel’s protagonists, the Raheja family. What are the inspirations for the characters of Reeti and Kushal Raheja, and their son Lakshya Raheja?

The character of Kushal Raheja is actually a metaphor for the weak but emerging force of environmentalists. Their point of view needs to be incorporated in our way of thinking. The characteristics of Reeti Raheja are commonly seen in individuals of affluent families, she is a symbol of materialism. But like every real person, these characters have multiple layers. I must confess that the character of Lakshya was inspired by a real-life incident – a naughty child, who is from a family known to me, actually created a misunderstanding between family members with a prank.

Can you tell us more about your writing process? How did you go about creating three-dimensional characters and mapping out an engaging plot for this novel?

After writing my first two fiction books as a pantser (wherein you start writing and the story forms by itself), I decided to turn a plotter for this one. So before even starting to write, I made an outline of the beginning, the inciting incident, the twists and turns, and the ending. However, some bright ideas came to me after I had finished the rough draft and I altered the plot to incorporate them. So, I feel that one can’t be strictly a pantser or plotter and fiction writing is actually a mix of both, though one may lean more heavily towards one method.

What, according to you, is the perfect recipe for an engrossing book in the genre of quirky humour and satirical novels?

Plotting and characterization are the key. If there are quirky characters and interesting situations, lot of humour will be generated automatically. Of course, one needs to know the various humour techniques especially wordplay, irony and satire to create a laugh a minute book. Often one even needs to interview people to unearth funny incidents and conversations.

What were some of the challenges while writing this book?

The toughest part was the plot – I needed to brainstorm for more than a month for it. Writing humour is a challenge by itself. Sometimes, it took me up to an hour to create a punch line. I had to make an extra effort to liven up the part of the book which comes before the inciting incident. Then there were the usual challenges – balancing family, profession, other hobbies and writing.

Can you recommend five books from any genre, for our readers to add to their reading lists, that you particularly cherish?

Though I am a fiction writer and go through many novels, I read lot of non-fiction books too because of my varied interests. Some of the books which have had a lasting influence on me are – “Across Many Mountains: Three Daughters of Tibet” by Yangzom Brauen (a biography with the backdrop of Tibet), “Psmith In the City” by P G Wodehouse (timeless humour), “Rain in the Mountains” by Ruskin Bond (experiencing nature), “Choked: The Age of Air Pollution and the Fight for a Cleaner Future” by Beth Gardiner (makes one aware of the menace of air pollution with evidence-based assertions), and “Ice Boys in Bell Bottoms” by Krishna Shastri Devulapalli (humour with an Indian tadka).

What are your other interests apart from writing?

I consider myself fortunate to be living a balanced life – though some of my friends think it is imbalanced and tilted towards my hobbies! Apart from reading and writing, nature watching and singing provide me a temporary reprieve from the rat race. Some interests like astronomy and chess are in cold storage because of the paucity of time.

There are many new writers and poets who are aspiring to get their work published. What would you say to them?

Write on a topic which is close to your heart rather than going with the flavour of the season. Many writers have tasted success with genres which were thought to be out of favour with the publishers. My advice would be to get the writing right before submitting the manuscript. For that, read well known authors of your genre, go through books on how to write better and take feedback on the manuscript by author friends. Like in the West, more and more authors prefer to utilize literary agencies because it is a more efficient way of getting published.

What are you working on next? Any new literary projects that our readers should look out for?

I am writing a humour fiction book which deals with relationships in the present era. But I write at a sedate pace, without any deadlines. So, it should be a while before I come out with my next book.

Can you share with our readers a motivational quote that keeps you going?

My favourite one is – “Each day has its own rewards”.

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