A Review of The Tonic – Not For Faint Hearts!
A naive friendship budding between two lads with psychological deficiencies, witnesses the religious riots in 1992. This is fictional story that is set against a historical backdrop. Parallelly we see a narration about an atheist business tycoon in 2017. The story goes from 1992 to 2017 back and forth. At first the book seemed quite confusing, but soon I found myself gripped and lost in a book that to me seemed like a tonic! With chair-clinching plots to lustful desires and vengeful actions, The Tonic is consuming! The author says It took him six years to write the novel. Here’s an exclusive interview with the author Mayur S Sarfare with The Millennial Hub.
1. What inspired you to write The Tonic?
The core idea of the novel came to me primarily through a feeling of unfettered mental ecstasy that I experienced after having consumed certain food items, the subsequent realization of how it could be a force that could transform us and help us shed our greatest inhibitions. I was fascinated by the conception that certain external stimulants could alter our consciousness to a point where it could embolden us in ways we could not imagine
2. Which character in The Tonic do you personally relate to the most and why?
The character of Maher is the one I am closest to; my childhood experiences have lead to his inception. I can always feel his pain, his mental battles, his despair. I share many of his inhibitions to date. As an adolescent, the protracted journey I made from being a hardcore theist to an agnostic and then to an atheist is something that could be compared to the journey of Masher’s character.
3. Which character gave you a tough time to shape out?
Raem’s character was the most challenging one to give life to; he was this imaginary alien I had to conjure, who was living in a society that perhaps nurtured contradictory feelings for him, that of awe and silent ostracism. Raem was also the character I could least relate to.
4. Did you face writer’s block? If yes, how did you tackle it?
With the multiple timelines to deal with and research required for the historical aspect of the narrative, it was challenging to acquire any degree of speed in writing. There were times I could barely write a word; I would stare at an empty screen for hours. The key was to be patient and question oneself about the motives of every character, this would automatically drive the narrative, once you find the answers. Diversion of mind also helps with tackling the writer’s block. The subconscious mind is always cooking, you just need to dump the raw thoughts and move on. It will automatically deliver the dish when you are least expecting it.
5. What was the most difficult part of writing?
The not so easy part was balancing the multiple timelines and the multitude of characters, and to do justice to each one of them. The greatest challenge was to make the readers sense the pain and despair that the primary characters experienced.
6. Describe these characters in a small brief – Masher, Raem, Reymerg, and Avantika.
- Masher: A fatherless childhood and life of near destitution characterized Masher’s life. He had an ever so evolving iconoclastic attitude and a questioning eye towards religion. With little to dream and a stammer that robbed away his confidence, Masher led an invisible life of self-detestation.
- Raem: A life of invisibility and friendlessness defined Raem’s life, courtesy was his foreign complexion and non-Caucasian eyes. His awkward gait only made things worse for him.
- Reymerg: Reymerg D’Souza is a renowned media tycoon and a foremost exponent of atheism in the eyes of the public. A popular public speaker and deemed by many as the protector of the left and a threat to the right-winged organizations in the country. Very few know about his mysterious connection to an unground militant outfit called ‘The Legion’ and the grand sinister plans he has been scheming lately for the religious lot.
- Avantika: She is an investigative journalist, and far too daring and impudent for her own good. During several junctures of her career, she has quested to expose Reymerg’s darker agendas, only to fail every time.
7. What advice would you like to give to aspiring authors?
My advice is to look beyond yourself while building the characters and the narrative world.