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Sidin Vadukut is a blogger, columnist and the Managing Editor for Livemint.com.

His debut novel Dork hit the stands in January 2010 and was an instant success. We got in touch with the young author and got chatting about his book, his views on office culture and much more. This is what he had to say.

Q1. Is there any particular incident that made you create the story line of "Dork"? What inspired you to develop the story line? - Dork was inspired by several things. First of all it was inspired by my experiences with office culture. I've been writing about office culture since around 2005. So when the time came to write a novel then office seemed to be a great place to situate it in.

Also Dork is based an on old blogpost I wrote sometime in 2004 I think. About a similarly naive protagonist who writes diary entries every day after work. When we were scouting for concepts that could make good books, my wife thought that post really stood out. And so I fleshed and pulled the concept out into book form.

Q2: How long did it take you to write "Dork"? - Around 40 weeks. The first half took 6 months and the second half, once I had the contract with Penguin, took only six weeks. Having a deadline really helped.

Q3. How did you feel the day your book "Dork" was finally published? - I can't really express it in words. I've been reading and writing since school. And seeing your name on a book in a bookstore has been a lifelong ambition. A childhood dream. It was a dream come true. There was also the sense of validation you get as a writer and the sense of closure you get as anyone who has worked on a long project and waits it to come to life.

Q4. The "Letter Opening Thing" in the book is a key to the entire story. What made you decide to focus on it? - Interesting question. I think the book really rides on the narrative vehicle here: the diary entry format. I think the format is as important to Dork as the plot and characters. It allows me to present someone's aspirations and emotions in a uniquely intimate way. As if there is no writer or novel coming in the way. At the time I didn't think it was that important. But over time I am beginning to realize how lucky I was choosing this medium.

Books sometimes make sense to you much after you expect them to.

Q5. Do you think that your character, Robin Einstein Varghese, matches any common prototype in Indian society? Have you ever met such a person? - More than Indian society at large, I think it reflects many stereotypes within the Indian workplace. (Which of course is heavily influenced by society as a whole, but expresses these influences in uniquely office-y ways.) Now 'streotype' is a bad word for many people as it reflects intellectual laziness. But in a farcical comedy like Dork, stereotypes work. People think in stereotypes, many people act in stereotypes. Whether we like it or not.

I have met all kinds of people in the office and outside. Dork is not as fictional as you think.

Q6. We would like your personal take on depression at workspace and its impact in real life. - Most people, at least in India, don't think of themselves as having choice in their professional lives. We are lucky to have jobs in India and therefore we must do nothing to jeopardize it. This mentality means that we seldom complain effectively. Merely cope and grumble. It is not a healthy mindset. But our offices, bosses and organizations have learnt how to function in this environment. There is a certain amount of inevitability to this. Depressing if you think about it.

Q7: How do you balance your corporate career with writing? - Largely by not sleeping. Which is why Dork Two is taking so long to write. My office workload has increased since Dork One. But now that the World Cup is over, I should have more time.

Q8: Were you inspired by any other writer, or his/her life, to become one yourself? - So many other writers have inspired me in so many ways. William Dalrymple, Martin Cruz Smith, Scandinavian crime writers have all touched me very deeply. Bill Bryson and Dave Barry set high bars for long form humour. And Sue Townsend obviously for helping make this format of the diary entry popular and feasible.

I am indebted to so many people. All the books I have read and many I haven't.

Q9. We would like to learn the names of a few novels by other writers that are your favorites.

- Everything by Dalrymple, all the Arkady Renko novels by Cruz Smith, Netherlands, Dave Barry Slept Here, all of Michael Palin's travel books...

Q10: Do you feel that "Write about what you know" is the mantra for good writing? - Indeed. It makes for tremendous writing fictionally or otherwise. I don't understand why there is problem with reaching into our experiences when you write fiction. Or at least this dismissal of modern Indian experiential fiction. Our lives here are not cliched, boring or unsurprising. There is so much to pick and choose from. Give time to our young writers to get better. India is begging to have its many personal stories told.

Q11: Indian writing in English has gone through a great transformation. What do you think about Indian publishing today and its future? - Not something I am an expert on. But my feeling is that we are setting the foundation for some great writing and reading maybe 10 years from now. When all these new readers who are picking up cheap fiction and campus novels grow up and begin to experiment. I think it will be very exciting. Good for publishers and writers. Also electronic publishing is a huge challenge and opportunity.

Q12. What are your views on Infibeam.com promoting your books in both India and the global online market? - Please go ahead. I would be most glad to see you guys do that. Which author dislikes new markets and more sales?

Q13. What message would you like to give for your fans? - Read my books, read other books. Send me email or tweets or whatever you feel like. I love to interact with readers. And I hope you'll be around to pick up copies of the Dork sequels and my other books. Most indebted to the support and encouragement I have received from them.

That was Sidin Vadukut, signing off on a positive note. Here is wishing him the very best in all his future endeavors.


Sequels are tricky business be it movies or books. Most of the movie sequels fade in comparison to the original. Very few sequels do justice to the original. Similarly with a book, the sequels first of all need to live up to the readers expectations (the readers are definitely going to have high expectations, as the first book would be invariably good to warrant a sequel) and the author would need to build on the existing concept to keep the reader engaged. Thankfully these days the sequels Ive been reading all of them are engaging enough. Maybe it is easier to write a sequel to a book since the author remains the same; with a movie the director can change, the editor may change, and many other external factors impact the end-result. But then I am a layman to sequels, except reading/watching them.

On Saturday morning I lay my hand on the sequel to Dork, Sidin Vadukuts second book God Save The Dork, and I spent the weekend reading the book and I can say with assurance that my weekend was good. The protagonist Robin Einstein Varghese is now in London and a new company is at the mercy of his consulting antics. Following a storyline similar to the first book, here too Robin strives to be a star-performer and how he manages that among his innumerable goof-ups is what makes the story.

Ive always maintained it is difficult to write humour, and very few people have a knack for it. Thankfully Sidin seems to have a few funny bones in his body and comes up trumps in handling the humour. Although there were a few old jokes which I had read on internet earlier, but then those were just 2-3 instances. The story is mostly easy to follow, but since this book is in the form of diary entries there are a few gaps and keeps going off on tangents but then that is what makes the book different from any other book.

If you enjoyed Dork definitely pick up God Save The Dork, you would not be disappointed. Now hoping that Dork-3 is equally hilarious and continues the fabulous topsy-turvy journey of Robin Varghese.