ME: When did you first discover your knack for writing?
RAKESH: I had to give a write up on an event to the company magazine 5-6 years back, which had to be done with some creativity in it. I received a lot of good feedback which was encouraging.
ME: "Deliverance Of Sarpa Meru": How would you describe your book to someone who hasn't read it yet?
RAKESH: The book starts with the mythological origins of an imaginary island. It progresses to portray the evolution of different communities in the island and the subsequent change in demographics, which leads to schism. It ends up with what generally happens to a divided society. To know what saved the island from disgrace, please read the book.
ME: What led you to spin mythological and fantastical fiction? How much of your book, would you say, is inspired from real life?
RAKESH: In India, anything and everything has a mythological connection. We consider mythology as part of reality. Hence, when we talk about a particular geographical area in the near vicinity of our country, it necessarily, has to be linked with mythology.
ME: How did the plot originate? Was it an iterative process? Was it inspired by any particular thought?
RAKESH: The thought originated with the disturbing news of flash points across South China Sea, Crimea, Syria and the emerging new global power equations causing new tensions across the planet. I wanted to bring attention to how the emerging changes in international arena would disturb peace even in our neighbourhood.
ME: Give us three "Good to Know" facts about you. Tell us about your first job, the inspiration for your writing, any interesting detail worth telling us.
RAKESH: I started off as a project engineer after doing mechanical engineering way back in 1993, but later on became a thorough marketing professional after my MBA. Being in marketing has enhanced my creativity and also changed me into a frequent traveller. Most of my stories get their fill from the incidents I witness during the extensive travels. For example, the abandoned ship I refer to in the book is actually inspired by a similarly abandoned ship which you can see in the Magdalla port in Surat.
ME: What were your 1-2 biggest learning experience(s) or surprise(s) throughout the writing-publishing process?
RAKESH: A learning experience has been that the publishing industry or the world of books, is like any other industry, always led by a coterie of established publishers and authors. It is difficult to break through that proverbial glass ceiling for a new comer, which is the case in any other industry as well. But other industries like films or music always try new faces and voices respectively as part of their experimentation to present something new to the audience. But that is surprisingly missing among the publishing houses who stick with their set of established authors, thereby denying the audience fresh thoughts and new writing style.
Another learning, and what surprised me is that the marketing of the book is very much the forte of the author and the role of publisher is ephemeral in the form of an initial hype. The readers are mature enough to separate wheat from the chaff.
ME: Tell us about your reading habit. Do you read a lot? What are your favorite books?
RAKESH: I have off late become a voracious reader, never missing a chance to read thrillers and historical fictions. I am also fond of autobiographies and management books. “Love in the time of cholera” and “Guns of Navarone” have been my favourite books
ME: Are there any authors (living or dead) or books that you would name as influences?
RAKESH: Marquez and Alistair Maclean have been my favourite authors. I also liked the melancholy in Maxim Gorky’s books. An author is a product of what he thinks, and his thoughts are definitely influenced by what he reads.
ME: Have you ever faced writer's block? How do you deal with it?
RAKESH: Writer’s block is a fashion statement to justify somebody’s lethargy. Have anyone heard about a singer or an actor having a similar block? A writer never goes out of stock of ideas if he is serious about writing and loves what he does.
ME: What is the greatest challenge you have had to overcome in your passion for writing?
RAKESH: Time is obviously the challenge for somebody like me who has a full time job. Other than that, I sincerely hope there can be book clubs or other options, who can give a helping hand to budding writers, thereby encouraging fresh thoughts. As I mentioned earlier, many a promising writer dies a premature death unable to cope with the constraints he has to face in getting his book published.
You can order your copy of 'Deliverance Of Sarpa Meru' here- http://www.amazon.in/gp/aw/d/148284527X/ref=mp_s_a_1_sc_1?qid=1434563785&sr=8-1-spell&pi=SL75&keywords=deliverance+of+sarpaneru