Interviewing Author S.V.Divvaakar of BEATEN BY BHAGATH fame!
First of all, let me thank you for your review. I felt a chord of empathy as I read through, and most vindicated about writing BBB when I saw that you had picked the very lines that I had the most pain writing.
Happy to answer your questions.
- Starting from the cover, (the picture of batting books) to your name with the double v and a, everything is different! How did the idea for this book commence?
The school of hard knocks!BBB started somewhat like a memoir. However, somewhere down the line, I intuitively felt I should do a humorous account of things rather than lament. I thought of Charlie Chaplin’s movies- we laugh as much as we see the tramp’s sorrow, until in the end, we can’t make up whether we laughed more or cried more. It was a leap of faith beyond that. I had to write BBB.
As for the cover cartoon, it symbolizes an unprepared novice, walking into the arena with the wrong gear and the wrong game.
About my special spelling, yes, it is unique- I never failed to get an email account.
- Your novel, Beaten By Bhagath belongs to the genre of Reality Fiction. Do you think that it could also figure in the Self Help category? Why?
I suppose it could be categorized in the Self-help genre. Only, if I did that, there would be two issues: a) it would have led to a non-fiction tag, giving little room for the dramatized anecdotes; and more important, b) I am only a kindergartener in the world of writing. What possible guidance could I offer the world? I didn’t want to sermonize or pontificate, ‘Hey guys, this is what you must know about writing!’ I only wanted to portray an honest account of the experience that many feel but do not speak aloud of(as you pointed in your review).If people find BBB to be of some help, that is indeed a blessing. Otherwise, it’s better a piece of fiction that may never come to pass in anyone’s life.
- How is the first novel of yours doing today?
My first novel did well for the first few months last year and slowed down thereafter. I am happy with the result; and there are many lessons learnt that will now be applied in its second edition that is coming out this year.
- How important do you think is family and friend support for an author?
Vital. No creative pursuit can be truly fulfilling if it creates discord and dissent in the creator’s home. Yet, that is a struggle most authors face, especially if the moolah hasn’t begun to flow in. So, if writing isn’t bringing in money, at least it should not take money out of other things. You owe that much to those who depend on you and fully trust in you. Fortunately, at 52, I had that issue resolved, one could say, amicably,almost!
- How intense has your marketing strategy been with this second book of yours?
I have a principle struggle with that. I want to succeed for sure but have also become wise enough not to be deluded by the numbers game. I know that we all need to shout to be heard above the din. But beyond that, the reader’s feeling and the word of mouth have to drive sales, not author-sponsored digital or offline marketing. If BBB has merit, readers and bloggers will also do their bit to push it.
I am doing the essentials, but will not go overboard just to popularize my book. I will not rig reviews, not over report sales, and not succumb to excessive paid coverage. I am focusing on campus and corporate talks, and a sustained slow burn approach.And we are going to announce an author mentorship contest on the web. That’s it. When it is all over, if I am inspired to write my next book, BBB will have done its job.
- What do you look for in a book as a reader?
Every book I enjoy becomes a template to weave my own fantasy as I read through it. I am eclectic, and like lots of authors. However, I lean more to thriller plots with lots of drama, twists and turns. My all-time fiction favourites, chronologically: Enid Blyton, Nancy Drew, Harold Robbins, Alistair Maclean, Arthur Hailey, Sidney Sheldon, Robert Ludlum, Ken Follet, Frederic Forsyth, Jeffery Archer, Dan Brown.
7. Any plans for a new book?
I have willed myself one book per year. My third book is under editorial review presently. It is a very different subject again. It is about a lonely widow’s struggle for honour, wealth and her only son.Same genre: reality fiction.
- Your theme for Beaten by Bhagath was different. Was it intentional considering the fact that we have too many stereotype love stories already in the market?
Honestly, it was not influenced by market studies. As for love stories, at 52, it now seems like a nostalgic voyage through an old album. I must say Eric Segal’s Love Story was my last read in that genre, so I can’t cast judgment on our present crop. I am better off writing of things that carry the benefit of my experience and wisdom, if there is any, to share and pass on. I like to write about the struggle, the triumph and eventually the liberation of the human spirit that we all face in our lives. The key challenge for me is to weave my thoughts in the language of a generation that is twenty years younger, but that is the one which I must connect with.
- What has Chetan Bhagath to say about your book (because of your take on him in the book)?
Well, the book is a work of fiction, and therefore is not about Chetan Bhagat.I haven’t been fortunate enough to have his views on the book, and do hope for the same sometime.However, in real life, I have enormous admiration for Chetan’s genius: in reading the pulse of the market, for building an enormous fan following of young Indians and becoming an icon for young India, but even more, for showing the way and unleashing a whole new generation of writers who are no longer inhibited by the wrath spewing from the high priests of literature. It is perhaps time to acknowledge and celebrate the EnglisVinglis that is popular with one sixth of humanity.
- Your advice to wanna-be writers.
- Fundamental and foremost: figure out why you want to write. Do you want it for self-expression or for fame and recognition? Sort this out honestly.
- Decide what you are or are not willing to trade in or give up for your quest. Stick to it, either way.
- As a writer you have an unstated pact with the reader who picks up your book. Do your best to give him her hours’ worth that she invests in you, even if you aren’t the celebrity’s bestseller.
- Cherish those few people who support you in the days of struggle. They are your most loyal fans, and will be with you in the dungeons of anonymity as much as on the walkways of stardom.
Thanks for the honour.