Penning running thoughts!

All of 26 debut author Aditya Shroff is better known as a blogger 'The 5 AM Guy' on social media circles. His first book 'The Best Life Ever', published by TreeShade Books is inspired by his running experiences. The book captures the journey of the protagonist, a simple village lad, as he runs through the countryside. The book is an anthology of short stories in which every chapter imparts a vital life lesson with each adventure that the lad undertakes.

The stories are written in first person narrative, and that makes it an experience more than just a book.

The foreword of the book has been written by acclaimed model, actor and fitness enthusiast Milind Soman, who claims with seemingly immense happiness that 'the good old Malgudi days have returned!'

Aditya, an engineer who graduated from the University of Mumbai, is passionate about writing and running and loves to explore the finer things in life, for which he gave up the prospective luxury of the corporate world.

Excerpts from an interview: Tell us about your book.

The book is inspired by real-life experiences, by the magical landscapes of India, by beautiful people with hearts of gold, and by miles and miles of running. The stories in the book are a sum of the beautiful ideas about life as perceived by the village lad—an incredible journey through a multitude of emotions and enchanting childhood reminiscences. Running across countryside farmlands bordering the Arabian Sea, through bustling Indian cities, over the high mountains of the Himalayas, and deep into the untouched crevices of the heart, it is a journey that makes you rethink your take on life. The magical musings in each story are bound to convince you that this life we are fortunate enough to live is indeed 'The Best Life Ever!'

How did running happen to you?

I don't earn a living out of running, so in that sense, I'm not a professional runner. But I do train as if my life depended on it! That is how much running means to me. It is akin to breathing, thriving and living. As a young boy growing up on a farm, all you do is run! You run to chase stray cows, or to get the best fruits before they are taken. So, it was a part of my childhood all the time. When I grew older, I began to understand the deeper beauty of the sport and it drew me to it even more.

How did you pen your running experiences into an anthology of short stories?

Running makes me feel alive. Somehow the sky seems bluer, the trees seem greener, and life seems to be a lot lighter after a run! Running is extremely meditative. It makes you truly look inward to introspect and seek answers to questions that you didn't even know existed within your heart. That is the beauty of running. All I had to do was articulate those emotions into words, and let the feelings flow by themselves. It was as natural as that!

When did you first realise you wanted to write a book?

It was in the sixth grade back in school. I tried writing a novel inspired by Roald Dahl's 'James and the Giant Peach'. It obviously didn't work out—it was too amateur. Over the next 16 years, I tried my hand at writing a couple of times. However, I failed every single time, never managing to finish the book. After some success with short stories and winning international recognition for a few of them, I decided to try my hand in the shorter format. And it worked.

What do you enjoy/hate about the writing process?

I love how the inspiration sometimes naturally flows through you, as if a higher power, a supreme force is compelling you to pen down the words. You feel like you are merely a medium, working on the script without putting in any effort whatsoever. And when you're done, the outcome amazes you beyond words! "I can't have written this!" you exclaim to yourself. It is one of the most profound feelings I have felt in life!

Tell us about 'The 5 AM Guy'.

'The 5AM Guy' is essentially the identity of a person who believes in the power of passion and positivity. It started off as a blog, but in principle, is a call out to the spirit of humanity to take a shot at life once again—this time with fire in the heart and laughter on the lips. The 5AM Guy, the protagonist, is a young lad who grew up on a farm, far out in the countryside. The book is a collection of experiences, stories depicting beautifully intense emotions and priceless relationships that we all live through in this journey of life.

How did you approach Milind Soman to write the foreword?

It was a tough task, even with the help of a few contacts, especially because of how busy he keeps. But eventually he got around to reading the manuscript and loved the writing and he agreed to write the foreword.

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