Interview With Akhil Manuel, The Author of Articleship Diaries
Akhil Manuel juggles a full-time career in auditing with a passion for travel, writing fiction, and photography. As a Chartered Accountant, he has worked extensively amongst the best, including E&Y, Deloitte, and Goldman Sachs. Akhil always moves forward to provide value within the Chartered Accountant community and has taken his talent to Muscat, where he currently works in Al Aram Financial Services and management consultancy as a Principal Business Analyst. He is a NET awardee in Commerce and management studies and plans to pursue his Ph.D. in the said field.
Ravi: What’s your favorite short story?
Ravi: The Best piece of writing advice?
Akhil: Write what you love and write daily
Ravi: Where do you write?
Akhil: I usually write it down in my notebook. And after a week I transfer everything to my laptop. So in the initial stage itself, I would be able to go twice into the minds of the character and in-depth story analysis.
Ravi: Where do you get your ideas?
Akhil: After selecting a theme, I spend time researching by reading books and on the internet. During weekends I meet people and discuss things about my story to get clarity
Ravi: Does writing energize or exhaust you?
Akhil: It exhausts me a lot. Writing is difficult. It drains all your energy, but once the final product is made, the kind of happiness you feel is ineffable
Ravi: How long on average does it take you to write a book?
Akhil: Around 8- 10 months
Ravi: If you had to do something differently as a child or teenager to become a better writer as an adult, what would you do?
Akhil: I started writing my first book after turning 25. Initial days I was not confident in my writing style. The thought of who will read my book always troubled me, preventing me from writing during the initial times. I should have started writing much earlier, and this thought haunts me every time.
Ravi: What is your favorite childhood book?
Akhil: The jungle book
Ravi: What are your favorite literary journals?
Akhil: Readers Digest
Ravi: What one thing would you give up to become a better writer?
Akhil: Social media and Netflix
Ravi: What was your hardest scene to write?
Akhil: The climax scene. I spend like three weeks just to finalize it and even then some of my friends told it was not that great.
Ravi: Do you Google yourself?
Akhil: Yes, obviously
Ravi: Do you hide any secrets in your books that only a few people will find?
Ravi: Do you read your book reviews? How do you deal with bad or good ones?
Akhil: Yes, who doesn’t? Reviews give us an idea about your book from a third-party perspective. Reviews act as an eyeopener. You will realize the pulse of the readers, and you can learn from them for your next book.
Ravi: Have you read anything that made you think differently about fiction?
Akhil: I am a big fan of Sydney Sheldon and Dan Brown. I have never read anything differently about fiction
Ravi: What did you edit out of this book?
Akhil: Initially, I got my book edited by my best friend Boney and by my cousin Allen. After that, I entered into a contract with my publisher for proofreading and editing. Before publishing, you must ensure editing is done in a proper manner. It matters a lot
Ravi: How many hours a day do you write?
Akhil: It depends. There are days when I wrote more than 6 hours a day, and there are weeks where I didn't even touch my pen.
Ravi: How long were you a part-time writer before you became a full-time one?
Akhil: Almost 4- 5 years
Ravi: What kind of research do you do, and how long do you spend researching before beginning a book?
Akhil: Once the theme is finalized, I spent almost a month for research
Ravi: What’s the best way to market your books?
Akhil: Try to get your book published through traditional publishers. Half of the marketing would be done by them only. I used Facebook ad and Instagram advertisements options twice a month and gave my book to famous book reviews for their review. And every week I posted pictures and articles about my book on social media and asked others to follow the same.
Ravi: How many unpublished and half-finished books do you have?
Akhil: Currently working on the second book: Memoir to college days
Ravi: How did publishing your first book change your process of writing?
Akhil: I became more confident after seeing my first book gets published. The happiness I felt was incredible. It motivated me to seriously consider writing as my career.
Ravi: What other authors are you friends with, and how do they help you become a better writer?
Akhil: Some of my author friends showed me how to market my book. They spend time analyzing various social media and told me when and where to post my ads. Some friends edited a few portions of my novel even without asking. When I showed my manuscript to a friend, he pointed out that most of the character's names start with and female characters are very few. You will get a lot of ideas and suggestions from your fellow writers, which makes you think more and update accordingly.
Ravi: Do you try more to be original or to deliver to readers what they want?
Akhil: Yes, I love to portray real life in front of me without a filter and get into the minds of characters around me. I always build dialogues with my audience and frame events on the basis of them. So people can easily relate it to their life.
Ravi: What advice do you have for writers?
Akhil: Whatever comes to your mind, WRITE
Ravi: What are the most important magazines for writers to subscribe to?
Akhil: Readers digest, The Bombay review, etc.
Ravi: Tell me about your recent book to our Ravi Reads Blog Readers?
Akhil: The book is on the life of a Chartered Accountant (CA) student. That doesn't mean this book can be enjoyable only for CA people. No, it has a universal theme; the story starts when the protagonist decides to pursue CA and ends when he gets qualified as a CA. The protagonist describes his pains and pleasures while pursuing the CA course - a journey
of more than three years
So, in this three-year-long journey, Joe – the main character finds himself tangled with romance, corporate trauma, true friendship, and drama while traveling around the world. In a breathless race, he realizes what it means to become an impactful chartered accountant and, above all, the true meaning of finding one's purpose.
Ravi: What inspired you to write this novel?
Akhil: I have noticed that countless movies and books have been written about
engineering and medical college lives. It seems like they are the only category of people who enjoy their youthful days CA students experience a lot of dramatic events in his life. I think his life is a rollercoaster of emotions. It is way more eventful than a regular college. It starts from the day when you join an office, work pressure attached with audits, the stress of filing an income tax return on the due date, instances where client dealings can go wrong, exam tension, etc. When I randomly checked online to find out such similar experiences, I found out that no one has ever written anything based on CA life. The quantum of enjoyment that you encounter in CA life is not mentioned anywhere. Another thing is that most of the students take this course without knowing what to expect from it. So, through this book, I just
want to convey to them what really happens in a CA's life and realize that if articleship is appropriately used, you can create your own happy world.
Thanks to Akhil for agreeing to this interview! If you know of an author who’d like to be featured in an interview (or you are an author who would like to be featured), feel free to email me at the address on my contact page.