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Tuesday, November 22, 2016

Author Interview: Vikram Balagopal

Once upon a time I read somewhere "too many talents can be a curse". But human race has placed people with multiple talents at the epitome, with each century we aim to be jack of all trades and masters of many. Today we bring to you one such upcoming artist, Vikram Balagopal. I wouldn't call him a writer alone as he uses various mediums to express his thought. Its films, graphic novels and currently a verbose book is how he finds satiety in his creations. His first graphic novel "Simian" published by Harper Colllins India won the best graphic novel award in the category at comic con Bangalore last year. Vikram is out now with a new novel "Savage Blue" published again by Harper. I was intrigued as to how a person of multiple talents selects a particular medium of expression from the many. To know more about him we conducted a chat session and we are grateful the author could take out time for the same. Here is all you are curious to know about the art-maker...

 Q. You sketch, write and make films, so what is your favorite medium of expression ?
A: I love these different mediums because they allow me to express myself in different ways. I enjoy film the most because it brings together everything I love doing, with so many possibilities. But it’s also the toughest to do, and do well. And even then, it doesn’t mean people will watch it, or enjoy it, because they have certain strong expectations from that medium. You’ll find that with every medium of course, in varying degrees, but it seems to be more so in film. It has its difficulties, but it’s still my favorite.

Q.     How did writing occur to you?
A: I don’t remember what motivated me to start writing, but I began writing poetry and stories when I was nine.I didn’t call them poems at the time because I thought I was writing song lyrics. Then I quickly realized that I can’t sing a tune to save my life, so they stayed on the page, and after a while a few people began referring to them as poems. They were very raw but I was thrilled when some of them got published.  When I turned 12 I got interested in film-making and steered my efforts in that direction (pun intended). I have been focused on it ever since.

Q. Are you a disciplined/ moody writer?
A: I can be moody, and I am very messy. I’ve been doing it for so long and every once in a while I get a rude reminder that telling stories is the only thing I know how to do.  Since I was 12, I didn’t bother learning any other real-world skills so I know I have to try to do a good job at it.

Q.     What is your most favorite story?
A: I read The Catcher in the Rye when I was in school and I fell in love with it.

Q.     Your favorite writers/books?
A: There are too many to list without me leaving out a few, and I can’t have that. So I’ll name just a handful from the top of the pile. Catch-22, Tolkien, Salinger, Alan Moore, Philip K Dick. Discussing books and movies over tea/coffee/drinks is my idea of a perfect date.  

Q.     Do you find any shortcomings in your writing? If yes how do you try to evolve in your art each day?
A: Definitely, I keep a lookout for short comings in my writing, and I am very sensitive to them. I’m always changing and trying to fix them, though I haven’t found any one way to do that yet. This is only my second book after all.

Q.     How did your current book happen to you?
A: In a lot of ways it began the way the story starts in the book for Shyam. From a dream I had when I was very young. But the meaning of that dream has changed over the years as I matured. In Savage Blue, Shyam meets Akila, the little girl from his dream, after twenty years and now they are both very different people. Their lives have changed them. Their first date doesn’t go very well, but they are still drawn together, because of that strange dream. And soon Shyam learns that he has to peel past the layers to discover more about this person he is falling in love with. Akila is an enigma at the start of the book and as the story unfolds we learn of the crazy experiences and adventures she has had. But these tragedies and the dangers she has faced have all been on other worlds, and to get closer to her he has to experience these worlds himself.I wanted to write a contemporary fantasy that we could all relate to as adults who have had these experiencesin our lives, and in our relationships, and through it take the reader on a wild trip. The best part of a relationship is learning about the other person, but you can be certain that there is still a lot you don’t know about them. What is in Akila’s past? I want the reader to have dreams about the book.

Q.     What was the best and not so good experience at writing it?
A: I remember the writing stage of it going very smoothly. The most nerve-racking part of it was sending it in to my editor at Harper
Collins the beginning of 2015, and waiting to hear what she thought of it. I wasn’t yet sure whether my non-linear narrative structure would work but luckily she got it right away and was very enthusiastic about the book from the start.

Q.     Is there a message you are trying to convey with “Savage Blue"?
A: I try not to make the book about a single message and it is a story meant to be read as a fantasy adventure. I am very concerned about many issues in our world like gender inequality, human effects on our environment, and conflict, to name just three, and I try to address these and others in new ways for the reader.

Q. The subject of your first and second book are widely diverse, is it an experiment to venture into different genre?
A: It wasn’t a conscious effort to make it different. The story just happens to be different,and I felt it suited a novel better than a graphic novel (Simian, Harper Collins Publishers 2014) in the way I wanted to tell it.

Q.     Are you writing your next book? What is it about?
A: I’m developing some projects but I’m taking a much needed break at the moment.

Q.     If you were to describe yourself in one line it would be…
A: I am a storyteller.

Q.     Apart from writing, what are your other interests
A: Film-making, illustration and photography.

Q.     In dark times how do you motivate yourself?
A: I spend time with people I love.

Q.     A few words for The Readers Cosmos…
A: Thank you for reading! Check out my new novel, Savage Blue.

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