I am in conversation with S.V.Divvaakar, who recently came out with his latest novel, Beaten By Bhagath. The book has been receiving wonderful reviews and positive responses ever since it hit the stores.
Congratulations on your novel Sir. It was indeed a pleasure reading it, and I hope to read more from you in the near future. Do provide us with the opportunity to know more about you and your book.
1) Let’s start with the most basic question first. How did you come up with the idea of Beaten By Bhagath?
Writing my first book, I realized there are many easy- to- believe misconceptions about books and writers. I realized through the journey of the book that many of us do not even pause to think about all that goes into making that small object we notice or ignore, spurn or acquire, and eventually cast out of our lives, moving on to others. But a book also has the soul of the writer trapped inside, a soul that seeks expression and at times acknowledgement of its existence, if not its acceptance.
As for the story, I wanted to portray the crowning glory on the one hand, and the unfulfilled aspiration on the other, through the journey of two people who start with similar backgrounds, even pursue the same goal but produce completely different outcomes. And that is the reality of life.
2) The story revolves around the struggle of a debutante author, BB. Do you identify yourself with BB?
I identify with BB of course. My guess is that most writers would identify with BB until they become a KB. However, the BB in me is also a friendly bloke being carried away on a stretcher, who instead of just groaning in pain, actually sublimates by warning all other passersby to watch out for the big potholes ahead on the road.
There is a big world of loners out there who are not interconnected. BBB is an attempt also to string the unsung BBs of this world, and give them the warmth of camaraderie. A reinforcement that we are not alone!
3) When and how did you start writing? What was the inspiration that motivated you to write?
I used to write since childhood, mostly poems, later on short pieces, I have kept a diary journal for eighteen years now. I am a prolific writer in my profession: I write tons of reports for clients and governments (that part of BBB is true) But I never ventured to write a novel until I turned fifty. It happened when I resolved at fifty to give expression to my creative interests and re balance my workaholic life. I then made a fledgling attempt with The Winner’s Price. The real inspiration was: I don’t know how long I am going to be around. Let me fulfill all my inner yearnings when I have the energy!
4) Your book also deals with the competition between the traditional publishing industry that produces books using papers in hard-copy format, and the modern e-book mechanisms which promise to be environment friendly. What do you personally prefer?
I am a great believer in putting back power where it should be: with readers and writers. Everyone else is a middle man in the ultimate sense. I believe that gateways should not end up becoming gate keepers.
I am all for the e-experience, and am also following up on technology. We will soon have solar-powered e-book readers which will be fold-able thin plastic LCD films which feel and fold like paper, and can download direct. The price will eventually be around two thousand rupees. I plan to buy and demonstrate prototypes with BBB sometime.
5) Tell us about your background, education and family. What are your hobbies?
Born in a south Indian family, living in
well at studies, went to do Engg at IIT Delhi, worked in the corporate sector,
spent few years as quasi entrepreneur in Dubai,
returned and set up an advisory service aimed at bringing foreign companies
into India. I
also do a lot of international monitoring and evaluations for UN organizations.
Hobbies: passionate about food, travel, music and books. Also, some occult stuff: feng shui and numerology. More on my website www.svdivvaakar.in
6) How has your journey as an author been till now? What are the pros and cons of being an author?
A see-saw, no, a roller-coaster of emotions. But thereafter, a sea of calm. The journey has been therapeutic and of late, hopeful.
7) How do you deal with negative criticism?
Grin and bear it. And resolve to do better next time. But it is never easy to forget it. When it feels really bad, I draw comfort from Clint Eastwood’s dialogue in Dirty Harry: ‘Opinions are like a$%holes, everyone has one.’
8) Should an author write stories for his readers or for his own satisfaction?
I might consider that a tautology. No author can be satisfied if his readers are not satisfied. An author’s barometer is the readers’ satisfaction; I don’t mean the numbers, but imply the spontaneous reactions that a reader provides. An author should strive for the satisfaction that he has done his best to do justice to his reader’s faith, time and money put in the reading of his book.
9) Which book are you currently reading? Who are your all time favorite writers? Which authors do you think have made the maximum impact in recent times?
I read quite a lot but I am not a ‘heavy stuff’ reader. My all-time fiction favorites chronologically: Enid Blyton, Nancy Drew, Harold Robbins, Alistair Maclean, Arthur Hailey, Sidney Sheldon, Robert Ludlum, Ken Follet, Frederic Forsyth, Jeffery Archer, Dan Brown. Unfortunately, I can only pick favorites among books, not authors. Each of them is unique and I love that uniqueness and diversity. Unlike marriage, it is not an exclusive relationship between reader and author, and promiscuity is not necessarily a bad thing in reading. The more the merrier!
I am currently reading many books simultaneously. A rather diverse list: The Indian books I am reading: The Anza Deception by P R Ganapathy (debut writer), Patriots and Partisans by Ramchandra Guha; and The Subtle Art of Dharma by Gurcharan Das.
I do not wish to judge any one by their impact, as it is counter to my very approach in BBB. I love the garden of flowers, not an individual rose.
10) If you are given the power to change anything in your book, what would you like to modify?
I believe I do have the power to change things in my book. In fact, I have been getting inputs from independent people who have cared to read and review the book. If there is a second edition, I would like to flesh the e-book part a bit more, and dive deeper into BB’s tryst with it. But I was constrained by size as well as conscious not to make it too esoteric for the general book lover as opposed to aspirant writers.
11) How different is Beaten By Bhagath from your first book The Winner’s Price?
They are about as different as chalk and cheese. The Winner’s Price is a tech-rooted business-political thriller based on the lives of IITians who meet at a reunion event twenty years after passing out. It is a serious book that presents a case that ‘For Justice to be served, Truth must bear its own witness.’
As my first book, The Winner’s Price is very dear to my heart. The second, revamped edition is under preparation, and a Portuguese translation is almost complete, done by an award winning author in
due for publication in 2013.
BBB is more my attempt to share the story of the journey of the writer beyond the writing. It is a deliberately simple, down to earth, ‘Charlie Chaplin’ type story. Good guy, but .. Life moves on…
12) What are your views on marketing via social media like Facebook and Twitter?
I think that FB, Twitter and Google are all wonderful tools and have the potential to be great equalizers between large and small entities. Today’s author has the best of technology on his side. However, tools can be put to good or bad use again by human greed and ego. So, the eventual results of social media campaigns- whether genuine or faked, are in the hands of humans that operate them. A great vacuum exists in our understanding of how these tools work. That needs to change. And even social media makes its money from ads.. so it will become a money bags game like all others.
13) Are you currently working on any new plot?
I have willed myself one book per year. My third manuscript is in its first draft, and going through major changes following good advice from my editor/mentor. I hope to have it ready by end 2013. It is, again, a first-of-its-kind story. I am also already plotting my fourth book, which is a political thriller based on our Constitution.
14) Did you learn anything from writing your book? What is it?
Never never never give up. Eternal quest, Eternal faith.
15) Finally, what would be your message for all aspiring authors?
Honestly, without actually self-promoting my wares, my sincere advice: read BBB. At least the first page and the last page. My message is all in there. However, as for the writer’s quest, I would say that our love for writing for self-expression should be far more than our desire for recognition. Every one of us has at least one story to tell, in our own way! So, we must be honest about our purpose: Why are we writing? What are we seeking? If that is sorted out, the rest is not a problem. And the options are only increasing to put your wares out there in the universal cloud!
I hope you had a pleasant time answering these. All the best for your present and future goals!!!
Thanks Amrit. I really appreciate your taking the time to read and even review BBB and I am gratified that you empathized with it. BB will always take up the cause of other writers, in times to come. Consider BB your friend for life.