Slumdog Millionaire author Vikas Swarup’s latest, Six Suspects, is out in paperback this month. Don’t be surprised to see this one on the big screen, too (John Hodge of Trainspotting is writing the screenplay). Swarup confesses to PopMatters 20 Questions that he’s sometimes stopped on the streets of the various countries he works in (first in the Indian Foreign Service, currently as a Consul General of India, and working in Japan), because people tend to mistake him for James Bond. Which James Bond? Well, you decide.
1. The latest book or movie that made you cry?
Inception, just because it was so complicated. Luckily no one saw me cry because that only happened on the third level of the dream-within-the-dream-within-the-dream.
2. The fictional character most like you?
Don’t I look just like James Bond? Unfortunately no one recognizes me without the accessories.
3. The greatest album, ever?
Pink Floyd’s The Wall. It really became the anthem for a new generation.
4. Star Trek or Star Wars?
Star Wars, for the simple reason that it had a better story line and much better special effects. Every time I see those corny visuals in the original Star Trek series I feel like saying, ‘Beam me up, Scotty!’
5. Your ideal brain food?
Anything brimming with ideas, be it a book, a film or even a comic.
6. You’re proud of this accomplishment, but why?
For giving birth to Q&A, which became Slumdog Millionaire. As Danny Boyle wrote in my book “Without you, there would have been nothing!”
7. You want to be remembered for ...?
Being a storyteller who told great stories.
8. Of those who’ve come before, the most inspirational are?
Gautama Buddha and Mahatma Gandhi.
9. The creative masterpiece you wish bore your signature?
There are so many. 1984, The Truman Show, American Beauty, Of Mice and Men,Disgrace…
10. Your hidden talents . . .?
I can also act. Honestly, I once played the villain in a college play and all the girls stayed miles away from me after that.
11. The best piece of advice you actually followed?
My grandfather telling me to read, read, read. It’s only by reading that I could graduate to writing.
12. The best thing you ever bought, stole, or borrowed?
My PC. With an ethernet cable plugged into the Web. I cannot imagine life without it. And yes, I bought it.
13. You feel best in Armani or Levis or . . .?
My non-branded baggy shorts.
14. Your dinner guest at the Ritz would be?
James Cameron. I think he has created some of the most entertaining films of the last two decades.
15. Time travel: where, when and why?
Somewhere in the 22nd century, just to reassure myself we actually made it ‘til then.
16. Stress management: hit man, spa vacation or Prozac?
Spa vacation. Preferably five star. Preferably somewhere in the Mediterranean. Preferably free.
17. Essential to life: coffee, vodka, cigarettes, chocolate, or…?
18. Environ of choice: city or country, and where on the map?
Somewhere deep in the Himalayas, with running water, electricity and internet.
19. What do you want to say to the leader of your country?
I’d be more worried about what he might say to me (I have a day job as a civil servant).
20. Last but certainly not least, what are you working on, now?
An international thriller set in Central America.