Today’s exclusive interview is definitely my most long-distance author dialogue! Armaan Singh Dhillon lives in New Delhi, India and his most recent novel, A Nazi War Criminal in India is a Mystery/Thriller that’s available in both Kindle and paperback editions.
Here’s the blurb:
Just after the end of World War II, Adolf Eichmann’s best man, Alois Brunner, fled to West Germany, then Egypt, and finally lived in Syria with the help of the government in return for his sharing of the torture techniques the Nazis used during their Reich.
But did he actually die there? Simon Wiesenthal claims that yes, he died there when the civil war started, but the location of his grave was unknown. But there is no substantial proof of his death! What if, to avoid the Civil War and any threats to his life, Alois Brunner never died and in fact fled to India with the help of his contacts in the Syrian Government?
Alois Brunner comes to India with a new identity and settles down in New Delhi in a locality where he meets a college student (Rohan) and befriends him. Does Rohan discover his real identity? What manipulations and betrayals occur?
Tell us something(s) about the book that the blurb doesn’t reveal:
There is Rohan’s girlfriend who is not directly a part of the story but plays in the background of it. She is ‘used’ by Rohan during stressful times.
What was your favorite or most surprising comment/review about the book? Why?
Someone told me, “Man, I can’t believe that you connected a Nazi guy to an Indian college student.” I believe that it was the most difficult part and something that has never been done before.
If given a chance, which author (living or dead) would you like to meet/have met?
No one in particular. Though I would love to meet all those who have passed away many years back. I’m sure they must have had something in mind that would have taught me many things that I otherwise would never be able to know.
If your book was made into a movie, who would you cast as which characters?
Rohan - Vivaan Shah
Alois Brunner - Naseeruddin Shah
Dhruv - A New Actor (Unknown)
Girlfriend - Alia Bhatt
Army Officer - Jimmy Shergill
Professor - Anupam Kher
Mom - Dimple Kapadia
What gave you the idea to write this book?
Nazis have always fascinated me. Although I strongly believe that whatever they did during their regime was wrong and I condemn it, the way they controlled everyone and everything--their uniforms, banners, salute and their way of acting towards an issue--was just unique and different which mesmerized me. The movies that I have watched related to Nazis have always made me want to write something of my own. So relating Nazis to India was a big task but I worked on it for a very long time and came up with this story. And I do believe that I have done justice to the whole concept of my story.
What is your favorite quote from the book and why?
“I believe that some birds are not meant to be imprisoned. And you just cannot see them when they fly away as their feathers are just too bright. I hope for a peaceful life for that old man.”
Because this is when Rohan realizes that not everything will go according to him and shows a sign of recovery.
What are your favorite and least favorite aspects of publishing today?
In today’s world it is very easy to get published. As far as you have a well-written novel, no barrier should come your way. Also, self-publishing has made it even easier. Though, due to high number of published works, it is harder to get your book out there. In fact, the main work starts after your book is published, with marketing, promotion etc.
What advice do you have for other writers based on your experience?
This is my first book and I’ve yet to learn a lot from experienced writers but I can tell one thing for sure--there will always be people who will tell you to write what people love to read. DON’T LISTEN TO THEM. Do not kill your creativity. Write what you want to. And do not think twice before writing on a specific topic. After all, it’s your point of view, your story! If your work is good, people will read it! Have confidence in yourself, the rest will follow. Never Stop. Keep Writing. All the best.
Where Can My Readers Find You?
For all the promotions/giveaways/events, updates will be made on my Facebook, Goodreads and Amazon author page
Amazon Author Page: http://www.www.amazon.com/author/armaandhillon
Here is an excerpt from A Nazi War Criminal in India that Armaan was kind enough to share:
The Remnant Me
21st July 2011
I was tired, exhausted and my mind didn’t seem to work at all. I stared down at the cigarette grasped effortlessly by my fingers. I debated with myself whether or not to smoke it, but eventually gave in to my craving for that nicotine hit and decided to light it in just a bit. I didn’t even realise that I had reached my college after walking for 15 kilometres on an extremely sunny day. I looked up consciously for the first time since I started walking from “that” house. I was sweaty and thirsty. There were a few acquaintances who said “Hi” and “Kaisa hai Rohan Ahluwalia” to me, to which all I could respond was, with mere expressionless stares.
I saw a board which said that the renowned film director ‘Ayush Mehra’ is visiting our college to present a motivational speech. I looked at it for a few seconds and later walked towards the college auditorium where the event was to take place. Suddenly someone patted my back with a little force. I looked back and saw that it was Mehak Kapoor, my girlfriend? My senses seemed too occupied to figure out my exact bonds around. It was a muddled day for me, especially after what I saw and read in “that” house.
Mehak said “You bastard, I knew you will never call me after I visited your place”. I looked at her cautiously and silently.
“Are you going to say something or not?” she sounded quite noticeably exasperated.
“No”, was the only word I uttered. I couldn’t get my own mind together, and was far capable of dealing with anyone else.
Mehak left, her eyes filled with rage.
I looked down at my right hand and saw the cigarette still sitting between my fingers. I had forgotten to light it. I went outside the auditorium and walked to a secluded corner which was used as a smoking area for people out there. I frisked into my pocket and realized I had a lighter, lit up my cigarette and took an exceptionally long drag. A guy next to me, who was smoking a joint, got taken aback while looking at the way I took the drag.
“Bhai, are you alright?” he asked with an inquisitive voice.
“Yes”, I whispered in doubt, “I guess”.
“Hmm” he started to enjoy his joint again.
I took a couple of drags more and threw the cigarette bud into a bin. I started walking towards the auditorium and reached there, noticing that there was a long queue to get inside. I stepped behind a nerdy girl who was holding a book in her hand and was impatient to get inside. After waiting for twenty minutes behind her I saw my friend Dhruv Kashyap standing near the entrance door and luckily he saw me too and waived his hand at me.
He asked me to come in front and made me enter just along with him since he knew one of the event managers. He asked me to sit in the first few rows of the auditorium along with him where the stage was unobstructed and I could clearly see it. One podium was kept at a distance of a few steps from the table and chairs where the guests were supposed to be seated within half-an-hour.
There was quite a commotion among students to watch and listen to such a big name of the Indian film industry speak live before them. It was going to be all about different aspects of life through his personal experiences.
“I thought you would skip this event and will be doing some shit with that bastard, who got my best friend, my brother killed” Dhruv said to me with the most hateful expression that I had ever seen on his face.
I knew that he was not wrong. I kept quiet for a while and then replied “Whatever happened was tragic and I hate that guy for all that he did to us”. After a few minutes, the Dean arrived inside the auditorium with the guest of honour, the man himself, Ayush Mehra. He came along with two of the more familiar faces of the industry who are not known much for their work but instead just familiar because they were friends to Ayush.
Everybody in the audience welcomed them warmly with a standing applause. Within no time the Dean of our college started speaking about the event and introduced Ayush to the students. He greeted him with a bouquet and requested him to speak a few words for the student of our prestigious college. Ayush got up from his chair and walked towards the podium, one could clearly make out that he was a humble gentleman by his body language and walking gesture. “Good Afternoon friends”, Ayush said.
Everybody in the audience responded positively. Ayush started speaking about himself when he was in a similar phase of life as we were and within no time he got into serious topics like career management, professional growth, financial stability, etc. I was very impressed by his views on these topics. A statement he gave just before ending his forty eight minute speech duly caught my attention. It clearly depicted him to be a typical business man while he spoke, but trustable one.
“I’m an explorer and by that I mean about exploring new stories everywhere I travel. I am sure, you people at such age have a variety of experiences to share with me here as well. I would be highly obliged if some of you will show up to me for telling your experiences which you believe could end up in a film. My office gates are always open for such people.” Ayush said.
I got stuck to this statement of his and I was not sure but something inside me kept on telling me that Rohan you have to visit this person soon. “But visit?” I asked myself in doubt. I’ll end up revealing everything about what happened with me in the last couple of days. I have to make a plan of some sort where I deliver the story to him without revealing my identity.
2016 Armaan Dhillon. Reprinted with permission.