Published: 24th February 2017
Here's how Manoj Pandey got Salman Rushdie and Shashi Tharoor to tweet him his debut book
It all started with just one tweet under #talesontweet to a celebrity and then it started a steady stream that led to a whole book, explains author Manoj Pandey
Currently, debutante writer Manoj Pandey is reading Grief is the Thing with Feathers — “It is about a writer trying to cope with the loss of his wife. Then a crow comes visiting, refusing to leave till they get over their grief...,” he caught himself just in time from explaining the whole plot and sheepishly said “....that’s the basic plot.” It’s easy to make out his fascination with stories and his first novel Tales on Tweet published by HarperCollins is just about that — stories. These stories written by Salman Rushdie, Margaret Atwood, Shashi Tharoor and other such eminent writers are about a wide range of topics.
Twitter king: Author Manoj Pandey's book cover
Confused? So were we. Let’s start from the start. 2011, while working on the final draft of his (then) first novel, the Darjeeling-born writer sought expert advice and what better place than the great leveller — social media. “I tweeted sentences from my book which stood on their own despite being a part of it with the hashtag #talesontweet,” says Pandey, who is influenced by the epigrammatic style employed by Oscar Wilde. He explains how these sentences, which lacked details and character in terms of writing, were tweeted to celebrity writers, “and when literary masters started tweeting their own stories using the same hashtag it brought a lot of clarity to me. These stories had an introduction, a body and a conclusion and still were just 140 characters!” he exclaims, still sounding surprised that the hashtag caught on.
Without trying anything strategic and believing in the principle advertising agencies go by — ‘Content is King’ — this former ad man started receiving more and more responses from prolific writers. From the pool, he carefully curated 50 tweets based on “craft, plot and language alone” and compiled the book Tales on Tweet. Though he is a fan of classics, adopting this new style of story telling did not come easy.
The #talesontweet hashtag grew and became, in his own words, "a global literary trend". He does see a sequel of this book in his mind because he still receives several responses via the hashtag
After going through works by Oliver Jeffers this idea of the book began to form. The former illustrator, who is rated among the 200 Best Illustrators in the world by Lurzer’s Archive (magazine), is also a perfectionist, “I did try illustrating for my own book but I was too caught up with the project,” he admits. Even when he started searching for an illustrator for his book, he settled for no one but the best — Yuko Shimizu who was selected as one of “100 Japanese People The World Respects” by Newsweek Japan. After that what happened, as they say, is history.
She died. He followed her into the underworld. She refused to return, preferring Hades. It was a long way to go to be dumped.
Salman Rushdie, Author
Red footprint, white footprint. An axe in the snow. But no body. Was a large bird involved? He scratched his head and made notes.
Margaret E Atwood, Author
Gandhi saw the misery of partition and broke his vow of silence. He wept.
Dr Shashi Tharoor, Politician