We caught up with Conan Karchang Doley , the author of I Don’t Think Straight.
Conan Karchang Doley was born on November 14, 1992. He completed his graduation and post graduation from Delhi University. He lives in Majuli Island, Assam, where he was born. He spends his time reading, writing, and taking and bringing his seven-year-old younger brother to and from school.
Pothi.com: Tell us about what inspired you to write the book I Don’t Think Straight. You could tell us if you were inspired by campus life or if any book/movie set your pen rolling.
Conan Karchang Doley : The Catcher in the Rye by J. D. Salinger inspired me to write I Don’t Think Straight. I read it when I was sixteen and the experience was mind-blowing. I instantly wanted to write a book like that. The character Omo is somewhat like Holden Caulfield—I was very happy that I could include a chapter where Omo visits her favorite teacher in her apartment, just like Holden Caulfield does in The Catcher in the Rye. I love Holden Caulfield and I think I can understand him, just like the millions of individuals who have read The Catcher in the Rye—and as an adult I am still sad, in a way, that he never looked forward to growing up—and that’s one of the reasons I love him so much—so I changed that in I Don’t Think Straight. Towards the end of Omo’s narrative, she is not afraid to grow up. Her final words are: “I have no clue where my life is headed, what lies ahead is a vast unknown. All I know is that there is going to be some love and compassion in it.”
Pothi.com: Do you plan the story in advance or do you plot it out beforehand?
Conan Karchang Doley: So far I haven’t plotted it out beforehand. There is a theme, an idea to begin with, and then the rest happens as it happens. I Don’t Think Straight is my second novel so I consider myself pretty new to writing novels. I am not good at it, in my opinion.
Pothi.com: How much has the city Delhi influenced your story? Are there any passages in the book that talk about life in Delhi?
Conan Karchang Doley: Delhi has influenced the book a lot. One of the titles I had considered for I Don’t Think Straight was ‘A Pilgrim in the City’ and another was ‘Love and Loathing in New Delhi’. (I thank you for asking this question, it’s like a load has been released from my shoulders.) Yes, there are passages that talk about life in Delhi; one reader beautifully put it in her Amazon review, “The book isn’t just about the journey of two people, it’s a heartwarming read that will take you on the roads of Delhi, the metro and the protagonist’s world.”
Pothi.com: Tell us a little more about Omo and Domo.
Conan Karchang Doley: Omo and Domo are the two protagonists of I Don’t Think Straight. They are similar in that they are both attracted to people of the same sex. And different in that Omo comes out of her loneliness and frustrations at the end of her narrative, while Domo is pretty much stuck in a rut till the very end. His final words are: “I thought that I was happy but I had a keen sense that I was stuck in a rut.” This self-knowledge that “he is stuck in a rut” although hints that there is something taking place inside him. We all know the old adage ‘Know Thyself’ and Domo suddenly arrives there at the end of the novel.
Pothi.com: Your favorite books.
Conan Karchang Doley: I love everything written by—someone, who probaby does not want to be named. (I think he does not want to gain any kind of authority or become famous in any way so I would rather not name him. But his books are my favorite.) Apart from his books, there are the Harry Potter Series by J.K. Rowling, Aunt Julia and the Scriptwriter by Mario Vargas Llosa, Pow! by Mo Yan and recently I chanced upon a novel, In Custody by Anita Desai, at a friend’s place—some writings can make you breathe like a dragon, Mo Yan for example and Anita Desai’s writing can make you fall in love, be in love, become love itself.
Pothi.com: Your favorite beverage.
Conan Karchang Doley: Tea and Coffee both.
Pothi.com: What has your experience with Pothi.com been like?
Conan Karchang Doley: I came to Pothi.com because their website said, ‘Writing is Hard. Publishing Should be Easy.’ Something about it attracted me when I saw it the first time. Then I read about their service. I agreed with what they were doing and I especially loved that they were not providing any ISBN but were telling us how to obtain an ISBN for free. And flashforward to one year later: I self-published a novel with Pothi.com.
Self-publishing I Don’t Think Straight with Pothi.com was not so easy for me- the process was not a smooth ride for me, I was trying to get things done quickly and got too anxious when the process got stuck. But every problem was sorted out step-by-step by the Pothi.com Team, which I found very satisfying. I am happy about the way things worked out and I am currently self-publishing my new book with Pothi.com again. The Cover Designing is being done as I speak.
Pothi.com: Your advice to aspiring writers when it comes to writing, publishing and marketing the book.
Conan Karchang Doley: If you know that you have something important to discuss then discuss it through your writing. It could be anything.
If you have self-published a book and want it to sell a lot then you have got to market the book, because no one is doing the marketing for you. But if you are happy with five readers enjoying your book then don’t bother about marketing, and begin writing your next book because those five readers of yours are waiting for your next book.
Pothi.com: Your next project?
Conan Karchang Doley: My next project, (not the one whose cover is currently being designed—it is almost ready) is about an island where people know how to disappear. I began writing it as a homage to the The Invisible Man and the Harry Potter books.
Pothi.com: Thank you so much for talking to us, Conan 🙂 We wish you lots of luck for your future writing journey!