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Interview with Sidharth Vardhan



Q.1 Tell us a little about yourself? Perhaps something not many people know?
A. I'm a very introverted person, but there is nothing about me that at least someone doesn't know. I am a loner, got easily nervous while meeting new people. One of my favorite meals comprises entirely of chips, coke, and chocolate. I love playing chess and listen to music when not reading or writing. Though most of my time goes to reading. I live a very bohemian life and often do not have the good qualities people attribute to me.

Q.2 How many unpublished and half-finished book do you have?
A. Several. The number would depend on the amount of completion. There are many I have barely started, and there are a few finished which I would rather not count because they do not fit my own aesthetic standards anymore.

Q.3 Where do you get your ideas?
A. I can't say I get the ideas, it is the stories that seduce me into writing themselves. Think of stories like those strip dancers. The stories, like strip dancers, strip and show themselves in parts, and I look at them half absentmindedly, living my own life, and the stories grow hotter and hotter until finally I can't control myself and get them.

Q.4 What advice do you have for writers?
A. I don't think I have achieved enough to be able to advise other writers. But yeah, I myself read a lot, and I think without trying the mere company of great writers improves my works. Apart from that, I think a writer needs to trust himself or herself. The first draft of everyone is terrible - the idea is to constantly improve it. For me, at least, the first draft is like puking the story out - which is the hardest part and can only be done while you are still stuck with inspiration. After that, it is easy to change this puke. I know, I need to work on metaphors, into some satisfactory work.

Q.5 Do you try more to be original or to deliver to readers what they want?
A. Neither. I try to be myself. I don't have any standing audience for my work, but I do have some imaginary reader in my mind and it is not so much impressing as trying to give my message to them. That is why Bulbul has a narrator talking directly to the reader, something that many readers have pointed out as a limitation but it would be dishonest to myself to cut such parts. I do hope to be original as well as satisfying readers but neither is a priority. The priority is always to write a book that I can recognize as a part of my soul.

Q.6 If you could tell your younger writing self-anything, what would it be?
A. I would give him some lists of the books to read and tell him to have more faith in himself, and his readers and people in general.

Q.7 What are the most important magazines or websites for writers to subscribe to?
A. I don't read magazines. As for websites, there is Goodreads.

Q.8 What is the most difficult thing about writing characters from the opposite sex?
A. I have grown in a family of women. So, there is no problem in writing about opposite sex. The problem came when I was about to show Bulbul to my first reader, a lady. I was afraid of many things. I have imagined regarding her psychology were too strong to be realistic. My first reader though loved it and remarked that I could do my female characters so well without asking any questions in this regard.

Q.9 How do you select the names of your characters?
A. Sometimes it is random, sometimes not. As for Bulbul and Gulab, Bulbul the bird sings at sight of Gulab, the rose which stays indifferent. The metaphor is old and often used by Sufi poets who say they are singing to Gulab of God. I named her Bulbul because I knew, in the beginning, her love will remain unrequited for much of story. Afterward, the very name became central force of much of her characterization. She was tiny, had the beautiful voice like the bird, even her innocence was mirrored in the bird.

Q.10 Do you read your book reviews? How do you deal with bad or good ones?
A. Yes. The positive ones fill me with happiness. The negative ones leave me indifferent because I never expected to satisfy all in the first place. The ones with critical remarks sometimes help me improve. It is a win-win all around.

Q.11 Does your family support your career as a writer?
A. I don't have a family. The closest family to never read anything I write. I can't say they support my writing but, in all honesty, I don't talk about my writing a lot with them. I am not comfortable talking about my book or work in general with people who haven't read it, and they are no readers.

Q.12 What do your fans mean to you?
A. I can't call then fans. Most of those who really, really loved the book and talked to me about it end up becoming my friends. In fact, though this book never got me a penny, it has got me quite a few good friends.

Moreover, the very idea of having a fan troubles me. A fan always has his or her eyes on you and wants you to deliver each and every time. I want to keep my right to make mistakes and write something entirely opposite to what got me those fans in first place.

Q.13 How many books have you written? Which is your favorite?
A. There are four full-scale novels. Only Bulbul I'd worth time of readers in my eyes. The second favorite would be one of the stories I have published on my website, named 'Silences'. It is of the size of a novella.

Q.14 Do you have any unique and quirky writing habits?
A. None too quirky. I think I can't stick to routines, and this helps writing. If having no proper time to sleep or eating is quirky then, that could be one.

Q.15 What do you consider to be your best accomplishment?

Q.16 What is the most unethical practice in the publishing industry?
A. In my opinion, it is selecting works on basis of the profit motive. Capitalism might one day manage to kill art. Good art asks an effort from reader's part, and thus can never promise popularity. The publishers whose first motive is money will publish according to established tastes leading to the only generic art such as college romances, and crime fictions. That is why generic fiction first got popularity in the USA, the biggest believer of capitalism.

Most of the generic fiction is trash, though there are some exceptions. I call a working trash if it's the only intention is to entertain without challenging readers. Such writers who only write clich├ęs belong more to circles of clowns rather than intellectuals or artists. And such publishers whose primary motivation are not so much book publishers as booksellers. It applies to readers too, only reading for entertainment means taking in no food for the mind. The publishers dumb down their readers because it is easier to satisfy a reader looking for entertainment when compared to one asking for something original.

Q.17 Who edited your book and how did you select him/her?
A. There are two people who did the editing, both reviewers on Goodreads. I requested them to read it, and they offered to edit it.

Q.18 Which famous person, living or dead would you like to meet and why?
A. Dostovesky. It could be amazing to talk about books, philosophy, and ideas with him. He is my favorite author of all time.

Q.19 What is your favorite book and why?
A. It is difficult to name one. Of the top of my mind, 'The Book of disquiet' by Fernando Passoa.

Q.20 How can readers discover more about you and your work?
A. I am not very active on social media except Goodreads
My website www.sidharthvardhan.com. They can also email me at rds.sidharth@gmail.com


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