Dear Readers, Meet Vadhan, Author of the book Shatru, Kronikles Book 1. It was a pleasure to get a conversation going . I am currently reading his book Shatru and it’s a great book. I will post the review soon.
What inspired you to write your very first book?
Well, there are two first books! The first-first book (Jeez!) was something I started when I was twelve. The other first book is Shatru, Kronikles Book I. The Kronikles series is inspired by my children. It began as night time stories for my little girl and little boy. Now they are all grown up but I still needed to tell my stories. Thus it sprang out into the open.
I finished my first-first book only now, after Shatru. It is also inspired by Indian mythology and later on by Quantum Physics.
Do you have a specific writing style?
I want to write the kind of books I like to read. I believe in crisply descriptive language and taking my reader through the action rather than telling them about it. I like my readers to ‘listen’ to a deep, resonant voice telling them a story when they read my book.
Reading books is like going to the movies. Unless the movie runs in your mind as you read, as a reader, you will not buy into the book.I like my readers to visualize my characters, their emotions, even their dress sense or the car they drive, what ticks them off, etc. That’s how they’ll connect, ache with the character; laugh with them or at them. I don’t like to dwell too much on excessive descriptions, explanations and theories. I believe information is subservient to the story and not the other way around. I mean, I don’t see the point of a story lost in a sea of information that I, as an author, want to stuff down my hapless reader’s throat.
Take the way I’ve shaped Shatru.If you notice, he has a way of talking, dressing, reacting to people, etc. He is not a people’s man. He is intelligent, yes, but he doesn’t like to explain himself. He doesn’t like crowds. He does not understand the concept of doubt or failure. He always has a plan.Kris on the other hand is a naïve, trusting young man who learns about life the hard way. My readers should be able to feel that. The characters must touch them.The collective image of the three Guardians of Balance is something I worked on for a long time. There is a reason why Lajdev looks the way he does. There’s a reason why Shatru does not know if Shamlack is a man, woman or a piece of rock!
How did you come up with the title ‘Shatru’?
He is larger than life. That’s how I visualised the character, the know-it-all-wise-guy, so much so that even his bosses are in awe of him. His name should therefore showcase his larger than life image.
His full name is Ajathashatru, the man without enemies or no enemies. But, to the people he fights, he is Shatru, the enemy. He is cynical, caustic, angry and at the same time he has a sense of justice and he is intelligent.
Is there a message in your novel that you want readers to grasp?
I have unfolded a story. That’s my prime motive. There are several messages in it…or not. For instance, I feel very deeply about felling trees, so there is a quip or two about it in the book. I visualise a scenario in which the trees want to blow away cars with a shotgun. I feel insurance advertising is about traumatising people into buying policies. There’s a joke on that. Except for very few, I am not much into politicians, so there is a little something about that tucked somewhere in the book. These are my opinions only. In all, stripped to the bone, it’s a story about good v/s evil. It’s also about the perversity of the universe and about how the universe, by its very nature gravitates towards chaos no matter how hard we work to retain order.
Are experiences based on someone you know, or events in your own life?
Firstly, I was inducted into mythology when I was a kid by both my grandmothers. I started living the fantasy from then on.
The perversity of the universe, the basic theme of the Kronikles, is based on daily mundane affairs, like how your favorite shirt is always the first to tear and the shirt you hate is always around!
Everything decays, from a mango to a human being. Thus, chaos is at the end of any road you take. Our cells start decaying from the day we are born, hence, growth and lack of it are equally the result of chaos. Yet, we live life like we are immortal. We buildspace shuttles and trains and airplanes.We fight against chaos with every breath we take. We don’t give in to the inevitability of not being alive. These are some of the thoughts that triggered Kronikles. Let me also set the record straight-the books are not as half as dark as my thoughts are. They are a fun read!
What books have influenced your life most?
The Practice of Management by Peter Drucker. The Matarese Circle by Robert Ludlum. The Dark Tower Series by Stephen King. The Elephant Catchers by Subroto Bagchi, The Lord of the Rings by Tolkien. Then there are Lee Child, Dean Koontz…hell, my house is full of books, tons and tons of them. You’ll find them on the staircase landings, on the dining table, in the book rack, in bathrooms, the garden…my family and I really enjoy reading.
Did you have a mentor when you started writing the book?If you had to choose, which writer would you consider a mentor?
I did not have a mentor when I started to write. I just wrote. It’s been a long journey. Kronikles in its first avatar started in 2007, almost 8 years ago. I exhausted all the publishing houses in India, the big and small. I also wrote to publishing houses abroad. They all rejected my book, some with kind comments and others by not bothering to reply at all. The manuscript went through a lot of changes until I decided to break the story into four books. Shatru is Book I.
If I had a choice it would be a difficult one to make. In the end, I would choose Lee Child and Robert Ludlum as my mentors.
Are there any new authors that have grasped your interest?
I liked the Emperor’s Riddle by Satyarth Nayak amongst the Indian authors. I liked the presentation of his book. There are a couple of others I tried to read but could not quite get into them. I don’t want to mention the names of the authors.
What are your current projects?
I’ve finished the draft of Kronikles Book II and have started with Book III. Book III requires some amount of traveling and I really must set apart time for that. Thankfully I have time. I still have a lot of work to do in giving the finishing touches to Book II.
I finished a novel that I started when I was twelve. It’s a fantasy novel based on Quantum physics. I hope it proves as interesting to read as it was to write.
I am also working on a legal thriller based on domestic violence. It’s got a slightly different take from the run-of-the-mill theories but there’s a long way to go there.
Currently, these are the tangible projects in hand. Ideas abound!
If you had to do it all over again, would you change anything in your latest book?
No. Not one single thing. I love Shatru the way it is. I’ve received several great reviews of the book that I am very happy about. The biggest thrill to me as an author is when my readers say they loved Shatru and they look forward to the next book. That’s living the dream.
Do you recall how your interest in writing originated?
Wordsworth described poetry as ‘a spontaneous overflow of powerful emotions recollected during tranquillity.’ That sums it up for me. Writing is like nectar to me. It’s the one place in the world I like to get lost in and not come back. It flows. The story writes itself, I am just the guy holding the pen or in my case, the keyboard. Like I said, my first attempt at a book was when I was twelve. I used to draw, write poetry, short stories and what not. It is spontaneous and it flows.
Is there anything you find particularly challenging in your writing?
I enjoy my writing. The challenge is to set things in order. I am like one of those kids trying target practice with a machine gun. I shoot, the gun recoils, the bullets spray all over the place; the target is leaning casually against the post making funny faces at me. I then have to put things in order. I cannot, for the life of me, write in order.
All these author advisories about planning how to write a book is way over my head. Also, my editing is very cruel. I cut down my story by almost 60% of what I originally write. Chop…chop…chop. I may be wrong but I think I once saw an interview of Lee Child in which he says that he likes to do it right the first time. Me, I am a kid with a machine gun, really!
Who is your favourite author and what is it that really strikes you about their work?
Robert Ludlum-the sheer pace of his books. He was one of the greatest authors of our times.
Stephen King-He can scare the living daylights out of me by sheer play of words.
Dean Koontz-his horror comedies are to die for.
Lee Child-writing style is brutal, the tone is brusque and the humour is acidic. There are many more…I don’t have one favourite author. I don’t think anyone can have one favourite author. I adore Amitabh movies, I love Rajnikant movies, I love Kamal Hassan movies (I am a south Indian living in Gurgaon), I love Hugh Jackman movies, I adore Clint Eastwood movies. Can’t really tell you who amongst these stalwarts my favourite is.
Do you have to travel much concerning your book(s)?
I have to travel for Kronikles Book III. The places I have to go to are not in my usual travel plans so it’s going to be exciting. I am really looking forward to it.
As of now, Shatru has been to a lot of places I travel to on business. Gurgaon and Chennai of course are jointly hometowns. Kronikles Book II has places I cannot possibly travel to…yet.
You have a beautiful cover for your novel ‘Shatru’. Who designed the covers?
I visualised it. I must say the design team in Leadstart publishing were very quick to grasp the image I had in mind.Its like the picture jumped out of my mind and onto the book cover. My wife and kids had very good inputs on the cover.
What was the hardest part of writing your book?
The ending. That is usually the hardest part. It can’t be abrupt or too long. Since this is a series, it should reveal just enough for the reader to look forward to the next part and not reveal too much. The story of Book I must conclude, can’t leave the reader high and dry, feeling let down. I think I struck a balance. I am happy with the end result.
Did you learn anything from writing your book and what was it?
I learned a lot of things from writing my book. The first and foremost amongst them is that there is nothing like success. It’s the coolest drug. Secondly, if you love what you do, it’s not work anymore. My outlook of life changed dramatically. I started to enjoy all the little things life had to offer. The third thing is, never give up. Never let go of the dream. Keep pushing…and pushing…and pushing.
Do you have any advice for other writers?
I don’t know if I can run around advising people but I can say this. I believed. I never doubted my ability to write. I did not for a moment think that my book will not make it. I stand vindicated.To all those detractors who used to advise me to focus on my business and forget about writing, “Thanks guys but I was never wasting my time”!
Do you have anything specific that you want to say to your readers?
Thank you. You are my writer’s conscience, the God of my prayers. My Parabrahman. I await your appreciation and I am deeply motivated by your criticism. I will do my best to entertain you with my books.
What were the challenges (research, literary, psychological, and logistical) in bringing it to life?
Research-I had to do a lot of it. From choosing the right verse in the Rig Veda to the various Puranas I researched, the sub-sects of Hinduism to choose from, the writings of one of the greatest scientists of our times. It was tiring but satisfying.
Literary-Well, choosing the literature to base the book on. The tone for the books. Choosing the right blend of language.
Psychological-Peer pressure, criticism, sometimes people want to supplement my writing with theirs and my ideas with theirs all in the name of editing, suggesting changes, etc. These actions,though well intentioned,can shake an author and makes him commit to things he would not commit left to his best judgment. On the other hand, the suggestions can prove to be invaluable because they give that outside perspectives to ideas stewing in the author’s mind for ages. Finally, it’s up to the author. I believed in my writing and in my book and that made a whole lot of difference. One day there was I was reciting a line that Shatru had to say and in walked my assistant. He must have thought I finally tipped over. I tried explaining myself and then I thought, ‘Shatru wouldn’t bother!’
Logistical-Not much. I really can’t think of anything except that I wrote in every possible place except when I was with my clients who are as precious to me as my readers. I think I even missed my plane once because I was so immersed in writing.
I am still reading your book and enjoying the book. It looks like we have more of these kronikles. How many more?
Three more as much I can visualise now.
Why is this book called as Kronikles and Not Chronicles.
There is a good reason for that. I don’t want to bring in a spoiler, which I surely will, if I reveal why it’s called Kronikles. Be sure that it relates directly to the texts of a sect called Ayyavazhi in southern India.
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