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Friday, January 18, 2019

Author Interview : VT Rakesh

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We recently did a review of Vadassery Thaiparambil Rakesh's latest book Satyameva Jayate( The plot was like living the Rafale deal. This got me interested in knowing more about the man behind the plot. Here is the conversation that took place:

Q. Describe your relationship with writing and how has it evolved over the years?

A: Like many others I also started as a reader. Surprisingly I started with Gabriel Garcia Marquez’s Autumn of the patriarch, a tough book to digest, but the lines were captivating. Subsequent reading of lesser writers and easy to read books triggered a thought in me that some of these books could have been written in a better manner. Eventually it happened that I thought of writing a book myself, the way I think a book needs to be.

Initially I fell in the web of writing to get published, but after my first book got published through after herculean efforts, I thought self-publishing is the best option, since the book remains to have your flavour in entirely. Hence my last three books were all self-published, and happily so.

Q. Are you a methodical writer?
A: I believe a fiction writer can never be methodical. As somebody said earlier, it is like driving a car in the night, you drive as you see with the headlights on. Taking the twists and turns as the road appears in front of you. You cannot plan the complete drive, you just start driving.

Q. Tell us a little about your current book “Satyameva Jayate”?
A: Defence and Space are two areas in which the west doesn’t want others to succeed, as it is their main cash cow. I have been observing numerous instances which pointed towards foul play, be it the infamous ISRO spy case, many accidents with the submarines, falling fighter aircrafts, artificial scams or planted public agitations. General public never gets to know about these games played out by vested interests, sometimes business and otherwise political. Ultimately the nation suffers and therefore the people.

This book is a humble effort towards bringing attention towards such forces who scuttle India’s progress. Unfortunately, such forces get lot of support from inside the country.

Q. How did this story, its characters take shape? Was it influenced by real life events?
A: It goes without saying that the story and the characters are imaginative. But to make it look realistic bits from our immediate surroundings are always taken. As a matter of fact, it is impossible to write a purely imaginative story. As I mentioned earlier, real life events prompted me to pen this story.

Q. How long was the writing, editing phase?
A: This book took unusually longer time when compared to my previous books. The reason being the technical subjects in the book. It needed a lot of study of the relevant subjects, visit to the sites to understand the nuances. Some experts were also contacted to take seminal views. The writing took 18 months and editing 4-5 months. All together it took more than 2 years’ time for the book to fructify.

 Q.  Did you ever encounter a writer’s block and how did you get over it?

A: Yes, in this book to be more specific. I was stuck mid-way until I made a site visit as part of my work and suddenly an idea struck. Maybe one has to take a detour sometimes to break the writer’s block.

Q.  The readers like us felt deprived of a longer book where you put in a lot of character building, why did you write the story in a very concise format?

A: For a comparatively new writer like me, to get audience for a longer book is very difficult. I can create interest in people only if it’s a quick read. Nobody would want to invest time and money in a thick book from a new writer.

Q.  Apart from writing what do you do professionally and how do you manage both?

A: I do work as a marketing professional for one of India’s topmost companies. And I do travel a lot as part of my work. Travelling time is best utilized for writing.

Q.  Who are your favourite writers and book?

A: As I told earlier Marquez was the one I began with reading, but eventually went through all the genres be it by Orwell, Archer, Forsyth, Murakami, Stephen Hawkings, Dan Simmons, Alistair Maclean and a couple of excellent Indian authors like Shashi Tharoor, Jhumpa Lahiri and M. Mukundan.

Favourite books would be 1984, A Brief History of Time, Love in the Time of Cholera and Guns of Navarone, though not necessarily in that order.

Q.  Your favourite lines from a book?

A: “All animals are equal, but some animals are more than equal”, from George Orwell’s Animal Farm.

Q.  When met with despair how do you gear yourself up?

A: I do take up studies. Recently I had completed a course in Industrial law from NLSIU, Bengaluru. One I complete a course; it creates enough active grey cells to take up writing a new book. Right now I have taken up a research so that it keeps me busy for a couple of years, if not more.

Q.  A message for your readers…
A: Life is too short, hence don’t waste time. Take up a creative hobby, contribute to society and find happiness in smaller and mundane things.

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