This blog used to be views on various things. But in all these years, I find it going a whole new direction.
Something which I have loved all the time. It's BOOKS!! So, presenting a whole new saga, of books and a little about them, whatever I can find, write, visualise and imagine...
Satisfied your curiosity? If you haven't... here's more to the Interview with R Sreeram... If you want to catch up, then the First Part is here and you could also buy the book Right Here.
What was the most challenging part about writing ‘Kalyug’?
Choosing the right
level of complexity, detail, pace. The subject is so full of possibilities; I
could have written a manuscript that was five times as long – going into detail
about what happens at each level of government, of deeper conspiracies and
unholy political alliances gearing up to defeat the plot, of other national forces trying to wedge their way into our decision-making...
What I had in mind
when I started ‘Kalyug’ is not the book you see now, but I don’t regret the
direction it has taken.
How did the political background of India affect your writing?
Kalyug is heavily
influenced by the political background (as it existed in 2012-13). As I said
earlier, UPA 2 was running low on credibility; there was the threat of regional
satraps asserting their dominance (as happened in 1996-98), setting us back
even further; people were frustrated with their representatives and the lack of
Could you tell the
readers about your experiences and how it was related to what you wrote?
My own sense of the
time was that it was a very frustrating period. There was this feeling of a
Damocles sword hanging over India.
Domestic output was
low, but we were also moving away from a traditionally conservative spending
culture to one where credit cards run rampant. Even on the professional front,
as a Regional Manager for Kidzee (a preschool chain run by Zee Learn Ltd), I
witnessed first-hand, the kind of policy paralysis and confusion that happens
when the left hand of the government does not know what the right is doing.
There was a distinct lack of leadership… a vacuum of hope. ‘Kalyug’ was my
outlet in such a time: hope, frustration… :)
What is the most fulfilling part, now that you have written your
The team at Westland
gave it a fantastic cover. I love looking at the book, smelling it, feeling it
And then I pick a page at random and read it and marvel at my own
talent. And somewhere in the back of my mind, there’s a nasty voice saying,
“Ah! Fluke! Let’s see you do that again!” :)
Any advice to writers
that would like to be published today? How tough is it to be published?
It is both easy and
tough to get published today. I am fortunate to have an agent like Kanishka Gupta (Writer’s Side) who made it a rather painless process: all I had to do
was write, and he’d take care of reaching out to publishers, negotiating, etc.
If you ask me, it’s always better if the first book is snapped up by a
well-known publisher. It establishes your street cred as an author, as someone
who doesn’t need to go in for vanity publishing.
That said, ‘vanity’
publishing is giving way to self-publication, which makes things easier for a
writer these days. You don’t have to send your submissions to God-knows-where,
crossing your fingers and hoping that the next ching of your inbox is an
acceptance. Self-made authors like Amish Tripathi are really the posterboys for
how easy it is to get a book out if you believe in it (and yourself) badly
Who was it that told you that you could become the author, you are
My parents have always
encouraged me to write. My mother is a prolific writer herself, and so is my
wife. I owe a lot to the encouragement from teachers like Meera Ma’am, Anand
Victor Sir, Rev Fr Mathew Thengumpally and others at my high school, Christ
Nagar English High School.
More than telling me, I
should become an author, they never said I shouldn’t try to be one.
What is the next book
that you have planned?
Three in the pipeline,
actually. A pseudo-sequel to Kalyug: I am calling it Chakravyuh. And a couple
of murder mysteries, I have challenged myself to write.
Which book are you currently reading?
James Rollins - From Wikipedia
I read James Rollins’
‘Amazonia’ which, despite certain faults, is an amazing book. So right after I
finish Christopher Reich, I am going to see if there are any more gems from the
Who are your favourite authors and why?
Jim Butcher – his
Dresden series is, pardon the pun, magical.
Frederick Forsyth – the
only writer IMO to give Ludlum a run for his money. Amazing detail and
What else do you do on a daily basis?
I am building a start
up with a friend of mine. So, coding and other work on that take up a good part
of the day. Plus, we have an adorable tyke who doesn’t know that he’s a dog
(and we aren’t going to tell him) – playing with him, as well as keeping
chewable household items (curtain, sofa, pillows, etc.) away from his mouth.
Pretty much a full-time occupation!
What advice do you have for
people who are trying to debut, as well?
Don’t try to follow a
trend. Like, for instance, retelling of Indian classical works is in vogue
today – but now there are a dozen books coming out on this subject, every week.
It takes a long time for a book to hit the market, so be prepared to have it flooded
by competitors by the time you get out.
Stay true to your
voice. Avoid imitations and clichés, and your readers will appreciate it.
And the final piece of
advice? No author ever made enough money writing to put food on the table for
his family. :)So, don’t think of it as an easier career option. You will work harder, putting
more of yourself into it, all for a beautifully-tuned phrase… and that’s
probably the only reward that you can count on at the end of the day!
I must say that this book was a surprising one. To expect a thriller
such as this, in times when authors are all about mythology and all on a philosophical
tune, it took quite a bit of ‘Balamurali Selvam’ to figure this out.
So, ‘Kalyug’ is quite the book. Not only does it have a lot
of twists and turns, but it required all the patience to put it together. It
was a well thought out book and to bring it out, quite so deftly was what makes
this author, R Sreeram different from the rest. So, Read up this Interview (Part 1), Folks...
How did ‘Kalyug’ happen? Could you describe the journey?
happened over the course of a week! That’s how long it took me to cook up the
prologue. :)I sat down one Saturday, told my wife I was writing ‘something’ and when the
chapter was done, I showed it to her. And when she exclaimed that she liked it…
that was when I knew I had started something special.
The rest of it took
about a year, in two phases. The first phase was the first ten chapters, with
me writing one every Saturday continuously. Then I didn’t write for a week, and
that break just became longer and longer. The next phase started after it had
been acquired by Westland and was completed in about 2 months or so.
It has been – if you’ll
pardon the cliché – a roller-coaster ride so far. You get to thinking a book is
all it takes to make you successful, especially if it’s as well-received as ‘Kalyug’
has been, and then you realize that’s only a small part. You have to promote
the book, sell it, get it talked about… sometimes, you wonder if it’s all worth
it. And sometimes, you catch sight of it at the bookstore and the thrill is
How did the main character, Balamurali Selvam come about? How much
of you, was in there?
I wanted a character,
who was relatable to the readers, and I also wanted to have an argumentative
voice – a conscience, if you will – without making that character into a
The result was Selvam.
And when I was thinking of a suitable background for him, it struck me. A
disgraced author isn’t usually a protagonist in novels. Why not have one?
What according to you is different about your book?
The book takes a
seemingly outrageous premise – an overthrow of the democratic system – and
tries to make it sound plausible. There aren’t many political thrillers and the
few there are often formulaic (not all, but most).
I aimed for a style that’s
subtly satirical without losing the seriousness of the times we are (or were,
at the time of writing) living in. And I wanted to bring in both sides of the
argument, instead of merely using this book to spread, what I feel is right.
Which particular character did you feel most close to? Why?
Selvam, of course! :)
He’s not a superstar. He’s had failures, he’s uncertain about how committed he
wants to be to a certain cause and he’s an armchair critic – fits me to a T!
How did you come up
with the core idea and develop it?
I have heard a lot of
people speak of the Emergency of ‘76 as a blessing in disguise. You had
excesses on one side – forced sterilization, arbitrary arrest, surrender of
freedoms we take for granted these days – but you also had discipline. Trains
ran on time. Government offices worked as they are supposed to.
And it’s been a common
refrain that India needs a bout of benevolent dictatorship to knock off the
complacency of the bureaucracy and get things in shape.
So I thought, how could
this happen? The average Indian citizen isn’t going to participate in a
movement like we’ve seen in Egypt; we speak and we get outraged, but it’s all
short-lived. Besides, there are many levels of government. How do you replace
each and every one of them?
That’s when I thought
of an Emergency-like coup. And a situation like that needs a trigger. Granted,
India in 2012 (when I started writing Kalyug) as a tinderbox, with so many
scams, a disconnected government, a discontented populace, an unhappy military,
etc. And thus, ‘Kalyug’ was born.
It starts off with
a story of 21 year old Frances, who comes from an almost broken family. Her father
and mother want to go their separate ways, and her younger sister who is
looking to get married to her non-Jewish fiancé, also looks at moving away.
Frances, who is back
after breaking up with her boyfriend, due to the fact that she had a pregnancy
scare, and also, because he does not care for what she does. He believes that
her job has no purpose and will not help anyone whereas he is looking at a future
in politics. She is back in New York from where she grabs a painting apprenticeship
and moves to Norway.
The second part of
this story is 17 year old, Yasha. In his final year at high school in Brooklyn
after moving there from Russia almost 10 years ago, Yasha and his father run
the local bakery. This they do, while they wait for his mother, Olyana to join
them.But she never does
all this time, but instead finally comes to his school, to find Yasha.
Yasha that she has been in New York for three months and is looking for a
divorce from her husband, so she can marry her boyfriend. She gives the divorce
papers to Yasha, but he tries to delay it, telling her of his father’s weak
In the meanwhile,
Yasha’s father, Vassily buys tickets to Russia to look for Olyana. When they do
arrive, Vassily is in for a rude shock, as the divorce papers are handed to him
by his brother. His father then dies of a broken heart, and it falls upon Yasha
to bury his father on top of the world. This was Vassily’s last wish.
The place where
the two, Frances and Yasha are to meet and carry the story forward is Norway.
This was where the beauty of the story begins. Frances is at the place of the stand-alone
art installation, 'The Yellow Room', where she would begin the art work.
The beauty of 'The Sunlit Night' by author, Rebecca Dinerstein lie here. In the yellow room and the place where she begins to discover, true exquisiteness,
thanks to its isolation from the rest of the world are two things, which are
wonderfully described and would touch your heart. In this place, is where she
The love story
begins to unfold here, and it is here where you notice what the parents of both
sides realty want. Even the four-year gap between them, seems significant when it
funnily is at 17 and 21.
One, in the swarming
New York city and the other in the vast, almost empty spaces of Norway. One is
struck by the contrast, which the author draws for us. Of the midnight sun and
of the tastes of all that is baked in Yasha’s bakery are two points, which
stayed on in my memory. Her descriptions of the Arctic are almost psychedelic
and one wishes to travel far north too. Dream of the colour yellow too…
Read up, Aditi Bose's Author of 'Hama-Guri goes to School' Interview. In here you would find, the story behind the story, what the name 'Hama-Guri' means and her personal stories behind the story. How she came up with the stories and how they could turn out to be wonderful reads are all in here Folks...
How did ‘Hama-Guri goes to
school’ happen? Could you describe the journey?
It began with me
telling a story to my child every night. Soon, she didn't want fairytales,
anymore. Instead, I was given any word or object and I had to weave a story
Since she was picking up Bengali words at that time, she heard the
word 'hamaguri' from her uncle and wanted a story around it. Hamaguri, in
Bengali means to crawl.
That's when I decided that I would create a character
called Hama-Guri. And stories around him started. While I have written a few
others on my blog www.kiddiestory365.com, these 5 are special.
They all deal with an aspect that most kids in the age group 5-10+ face, nowadays.
How did the story,
especially Hama and his mother’s come about? Did you have a lot of personal/
school experiences to go with it?
Being a mother, I have
always had to come up with ways to deal with situations. And to do this, it has
always been a mixture of fun, logic, harsh truths and also constant support.
That's the same kind of relationship that Hama shares with his mother. She's a
mum and his best friend.
What according to you is
different about your book?
There are innumerable
stories that come with a moral. Where Hama-Guri's stories differ is that the
moral is depicted in an entertaining manner.
It also brings out the
relationship that a child shares with the
mother. When the kids read the book,
they will like the light and breezy tone of stories and when the mothers read
it they will get ideas of how one can solve tricky situations in a pleasurable
How would you relate the
lives of characters to the lives today? Any similarities ?
I think that all the
stories are very relevant in today's age. But the tales are not just about issues that children face. It is about how they can easily come and share it
with their parent and about how the parent and how she deals with the
While a father figure is very important in a child's life, somewhere
I feel that the first seed of trust and faith is sown by the mother. So, if the
mother can handle various delicate situations effectively and yet kindly, the
child grows up to be a trusting and self-confident human being.
What was the most
challenging part about writing this book?
I knew I wanted to
depict the morals / learning in a way that was different. So, thinking of
innovative ideas was the most challenging part of writing this book.
example, when it came to time management, I had to do a lot of reading to get an
idea that would be new and yet something, that a child would understand. I even
spoke to a teacher of mine with regard to this.
Who was it that told you
that you could become the author, you are today?
No one did. This is
one of those things that you just know is correct. You don't need to be hand
held for it.
But yes, if you say who told me that I was a good story teller
then I would say that it was my entire family - parents, brother, husband and
the little one.
When will you next book be
Should be around
August - September of 2015.
Which book are you
I am currently reading 'The Last Wave' by Pankaj
Who are your favourite
authors and why?
If it's children genre
then Enid Blyton hands down any day. No one sees the world through the eyes of
a child better than her.
Otherwise I'm a great fan of Danielle Steel. The
poignancy in her stories is incredible - she can make you laugh and cry at the
What else do you do on a
I am a mother.
(laughs). To de-stress, I swim and paint handmade cards.