My friend, blogger and fellow author Sukanya Basu Malik interviewed me. Here is the extract…
One fictional character that resembles you the most?
They’re all my children, the good and the bad. I take pride in each of them. I guess if I really introspect there is a lot more of Raghuram Surya in me than Govind Kiromal if you take my second book, ‘Agniputr’. There is a lot more of Ajathashatru in me than his apprentice, Kris, in my first book ‘Shatru’. But the villain of ‘Shatru’, the demon known as ‘The Disparate’, is also three dimensional. There is a bit of ‘the Disparate’ in me too.
2. What is your writing motivation?
I write to entertain. If there are life-lessons to be learnt on the way, good luck in learning them. I don’t believe it is my place in the world to preach to others. I like to entertain by engaging with my reader. To get my audience to take me seriously, I do deep-dive research to get my facts right.
The motivation? Let’s see now…it’s an impulse. The impulse builds into a tempest. The tempest must be unleashed. It must be. And that’s my motivation to write. My writing is not structured. I don’t know what’s going to happen next in my story. I am as surprised by it as my readers would be. I have a vague idea of how I want it to end so the events unfolding will unequivocally lead to some form of that ending. Funny part is, each time, I draw a structure in the very beginning about characters (names, behavioural patterns), the story, etc. Once done, I completely ignore the structure and simply write. Most times the book has nothing in common with the structure.
3. How and why did you get started with Agniputr? Any special reason behind your genre choice?
The book is actually multi-genre. After Shatru, a friend asked me to consider a book where mythology dovetails into futuristic science. The concept really excited me. My challenge was to make it simple. No one wants to read complicated scientific theories and mythological facts. I think I succeeded to a fair degree in culling out a tight action thriller.
Agniputr has human caprice as its foundation. The characters make choices on which side of the line they want to be. It has paranormal/ supernatural undertones that is always present at all times throughout the book. Like a dull ache in the pit of the stomach. Constant. I have layered politics, law, philosophy, mythology, fantasy and action onto the basic premise as the situation demanded to keep the pace up and to engage with my readers.
4. Few quickies :
Money or fame?
Is, ‘both’, a valid answer? It better be because that’s what I want.
Commercial fiction or literary fiction?
Entertainment fiction. The rest is just labelling.
Blogging or vlogging?
I am a man of words.
Interviews or book reviews?
One gets the author out into the open, the other gets his work out into the open. Equally important.
Audiobooks or ebooks?
My gran used to tell me stories.
Paperbacks or hardbacks?
Prefer either of them to ebooks!
Plotter or panster?
Panster or maybe, Planster. Explained why in the question about motivation.
5. How long does it take to write the first draft? You’ve written multiple books now. Did you slow down or speed up your writing process?
I’ll break this question into two.
A. Out of the six or seven manuscripts I have (two published), the fastest so far is a book that’s going to hit the stands soon. It took me one and a half months to complete the first draft. But it was a feverish rush. I loved what’s come out. Can’t reveal more about the book right now, though.
B. I did slow down a little in the writing process because professional commitments keeps me away from writing. What I realised though was that the longer I am away, the better I get qualitatively. Just like in any other artistic inclination, monotony brings in a certain lethargy into the manuscript. Frequent breaks ensure a free flow of ideas and imagination.
6. How was your experience? Did it differ from your expectations?
My experience as an author is the single most exhilarating thing in my life. I am in nirvana when I write. Time flies. The world of my senses disappears to accommodate a world building in my mind.
7. What do you think is the most exciting thing about a book release?
It’s the moment of truth. When you’re a nobody in the book scene, a release introduces you to your audience. As you gain prominence, it is a measure to understand how much you’ve engaged your audience.
8. What are the pros and cons of traditional publishing?
The pros: A. Someone believes enough in you to take a chance publishing your work. B. The publisher is an equal partner in your work, putting their reputation and money on the line to make a success out of your book. C. It is a validation of your own conviction in yourself. D. A big publishing house tagged to you will help in selling your book.
The Cons: A. Except for trade selling (distribution to booksellers) traditional publishers hardly do book marketing in India. (This is applicable to self-publishing as well.) B. It is left to the author to publicise himself and his book. C. In a world where there are at least 100 new authors coming in every month, marketing is a tough ask even if your book is exceptionally good unless you have deep pockets to fund your book marketing.
9. Who’s your favourite author so far and why?
I’ll talk about the authors I read rather than the authors I personally know. Amongst Indian authors, I have read Ashwin Sanghi, Amish, Devdutt Patnaik, Shashi Tharoor and others. I have enjoyed them.
Amongst the international writers, the list is never ending. Robert Ludlum, Lee Child, Stephen King, J.R.R.Tolkien, R.R. Martin, Dean Koontz, Agatha Christie, Arthur Conan Doyle and that greatest of all writers who writes the most difficult form of writing, a comedy, P.G. Wodehouse. There are a myriad others including Earl Stanley Gardner, Leslie Charteris, Jim Butcher, and many more.
10. Could you kindly introduce us to your latest book in brief?
My latest published book is Agniputr: When Agni First Spoke.
A tantric unleashes a cataclysmic evil into the world through practice of a forbidden ritual. The only way to stop the destruction of the world is through interpreting an incantation from the Black Yajurveda which will help bring in a counter-force.
By a twist of circumstances, Raghuram, a lawyer and Sheila, a scientist, come together to interpret the incantation. The only way to interpret it is through using quantum theories. Every step of their path is fraught with danger from Kiromal, an all-powerful politician who intends to control the evil in order to gain control over unimaginable power.
As the time for reckoning draws near, will the duo be able to face an evil too powerful for them to handle? Will they be able to ward-off the politician and his deadly cohorts long enough to save the world? Or are they pawns in a game that they haven’t even begun to understand?
11. A lesson that you’ve learnt throughout the process of publishing your book babies?
Go for a good publisher with a strong background. It helps in selling your book.
12. Your advice to aspiring authors?
Your book is your dream, your life’s work and an author’s life is all about struggle until you get your big break. Once you self-publish and it bombs, it take a lot of time to salvage your work and your confidence. Every rejection is an opportunity to fine tune your work until it is cutting edge. If you are sincere and willing to better yourself as a wordsmith, you will succeed. You will.
I can be reached at email@example.com or on the @authorvadhan handles on Instagram, facebook and twitter.