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Writing A Record

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Author: Shirin Mann

At one month short of 50 years of age, Joygopal Podder began to write his first novel; at 51 he has 8 published novels with 5 publishers – and is working on his 11th and 12th manuscripts. With this accomplishment, he now holds the prestigious title of “the fastest published Indian author”, in the Limca Book of Records – 2012 edition. He has set bigger goals for himself. “I want to continue to hold the title in the Limca Book of Records; to enter the Guinness World Records, by churning out 25 to 30 books; to have a book or books made into film(s), so I can reach out to a larger audience; to have at least one book become a bestseller; and eventually write full time, to sustain my family,” says Podder, sitting in his house in DLF Phase 1. His wall is covered with several articles and pictures, recounting his success.

Born in England, and having lived the first eight years of his life there, Podder recalls his childhood filled with books, reading material and visits to libraries. His father – a surgeon, and mother – a homemaker, were always encouraging him to read, and write short stories. The flair for writing came naturally to him. Soon after they moved to India, Joygopal Podder had his first story published in Children’s World magazine at the age of 12. At 14, the Junior Statesman published his letter as a best letter. Being a student of Hindu College, he wrote for Target Magazine, several other youth magazines, HT children’s page, Times of India, Children’s World magazine – and was quite keen to take up story-writing as a profession. “But 30 years back, writing was not a lucrative profession. So I had to choose a profession that was more practical. Having studied Political Science in college, and having read many Erle Stanley Gardner books in those days, a character inspired me to become a lawyer. I ended up as a gold medallist. However, with good corporate opportunities, I entered Brooke Bond (then shifted to Godrej), and also discovered a love for marketing. That became my life for the next 30 years. Writing took a backseat; but always stayed at the back of my mind.”
Podder accidentally discovered that the articles written by him in his earlier days were being published in books. “Somewhere in my middle 30s, a group of Delhi Public School children landed at my doorstep, and wanted to meet the author of the story that was printed in their Class 5 English reader. Then a friend told me that at a book shop he had discovered the best of Target Stories, and the first story in the book collection was mine. It is then I realised that I had the capacity to take on writing; and it wasn’t just a childhood fad.” Later, in his 40s, he discovered blogs – and started six blogs – on unique stories, believe it or not, stories for children, mysteries etc. The site registered 900 visits per week, with mystery being the most popular – and he soon plans on writing a book on it.
Today, apart from being a successful author, Joygopal Podder is also the fund-raising director of a leading NGO working against poverty. “In my late forties, with kids grown up, I faced some family problems – my wife lost her kidneys, and my mother fell sick. I realised that life is unpredictable, and if I have to do something, I had better do it now. In April 2010, I was visiting Austria on a conference, and one of the speakers narrated a few stories about his visits to Africa and the suffering there. Listening to him, I realised that my own experience with the NGO was rich with stories of suffering, struggling – but also achieving. And so came about the idea for my first book.” Ever since, Podder writes 500 to 1000 words every day – sometimes up to 3000 words – after work and other chores. Whether it’s in a coffee shop or a hospital, the pen and paper are his all-time companions. His ambition is to write four books a month!
How does he take out time between a full time job at the NGO, family, and daily chores? Podder obliges, “I love writing, and I will write not to publish several books, but write what people will love to read. I socialize less.”
Mrs. Priti Podder, wife of Joygopal Podder adds, “We are quite used to it now. I just feel absolutely great about his success, and how well he has done is pursuing his passion.”
Being a resident of Gurgaon, Joygopal Podder’s several book plots are based on Gurgaon, and life in the city. His experience of working in Gurgaon in the corporate sector, and also his experiences in working with the NGOs, has influenced the story line and the scene-setting in several of his books. “My books are fictional, but draw inspiration from real life experiences too. For example, I get several ideas for my books, or the plots, by reading the newspaper. But now I am also moving out of my known territory of corporates and NGO story line, to unknown areas – so that I can write on every genre. Like my book Superstar is based on Bollywood.” Those eagerly waiting for his next book don’t have to wait long. By the end of this month Podder will be releasing ‘Mumbai Dreams’, followed by ‘A million seconds too late’ – and his 10th book ‘Beware of the night’. By the end of February 2012, Podder will have had 10 books published.
On the success of their father, his elder daughter Panvi, employee with Google says, “My dad is an inspiration to us. I used to sing in college, and then stopped. But I tell my friends that if at 50 my dad could pursue his passion, I can do the same thing too.”
Piya his younger daughter, studying in Class 10 adds, “I am so proud of my dad. Whenever a book is out on the shelves, I tell all my friends to go read it; and also put it up on Facebook for people to know. We as a family are so proud of his success.”
Varying in genres of writing, Podder’s books encompass crime, mystery, thriller – and now he is moving to love affairs, romance, politics, struggle and Bollywood. Joygopal Podder concludes, “I am not satisfied yet. I feel there is so much more that has to be done. For example, the Guinness world record for highest number of books published is 904 books. That is held by a lady. So no, I’m not satisfied. Also, everyone’s perspective is different; some are satisfied by the millions they make, I would feel accomplished when I have a wider audience – a million readers. I did not start writing to break records – the urge was to write, to leave a legacy, and put the talent to good use.”

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