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Interview with Vaishnav Shravan

Q.1 Tell us a little about yourself? Perhaps something not many people know?
A. I’m from Chennai, still a student at SRM University. Like the majority of writers, I’m an introvert too. I enjoy being in silence and darkness, probably that’s my most comfortable state of thinking. I enjoy art, all forms of it. Films, books, and fine arts are my favorite. I spend most of my time involving myself into these forms of art, not just because it helps develop my vision, as I believe art makes me a better person.

Q.2 How many unpublished and half-finished book do you have?
A. To be honest, I write notes about my ideas. Whenever I come across something interesting I would note it down and keep adding more details to it so that it would be helpful like a database when my actual writing starts. So I have a lot of unfinished ideas, around 10, for now, which are all soon gonna be my upcoming novels. But unpublished ones, none of that sort.

Q.3 Where do you get your ideas?
A. As I said, I spend most of my time in many forms of art. From admiring them to practicing them myself. I see art as an expression of people over the timespan of life. So, my understanding of the world and life increases every time when I watch, read, and listen to someone's work. I develop organic opinions and thoughts from other’s work. These, which consider my ideas, I note down to be developed later. So, I get most of my ideas from observation.

Q.4 What advice do you have for writers?
A. On a personal level, I enjoy writing. I believe you are at your prime when you truly enjoy what you do. Sometimes it’s hard. But we have no choice but to persevere. I just remind myself of why I started doing it in the first place and that purpose would make me excited again. So all I’d like to say is to love your vision. Because if we get tangled in the technicalities of our art so much, we’ll forget to love it. Believe in your vision, love it and work towards it. 

Q.5 Do you try more to be original or to deliver to readers what they want?
A. I try to write what I think is enjoyable. Now “enjoyable” doesn’t mean comedy all the time. I enjoy thrillers like Sherlock, I enjoy dramas like Game of Thrones. So when I say enjoyable, I mean something with the potential of engulfing the readers into the story and keep them intact with the story. I do obviously think about my readers. But I don’t desperately try to please them. I write what I enjoy best because I’m a reader first. Reading and admiring the art of writing made me a writer. So I believe if I find my work enjoyable, the readers will too.

Q.6 If you could tell your younger writing self-anything, what would it be?
A. 1.  Be patient, but curious, about your vision.
2.  Spend more time observing life and people.
3.  Learn to say yes and no.
4.  Don’t try so much to please people, also don’t worry much about success/failure.
That’s all I could gather at this moment.

Q.7 What are the most important magazines or websites for writers to subscribe to?
A. I’m really sorry I don’t particularly follow writing youtube channels or websites to learn writing. I learn the best from reading various types of books. I just randomly pick books from across the spectrum and see if the plot behind the book interests me. I’m just used to learning by observing from the writing. Will start to read about writing and listen to podcasts soon enough hope it helps my writing.

Q.8 What is the most difficult thing about writing characters from the opposite sex?
A. Let alone writing characters from the other sexes, even writing about another character is difficult if you try to be accurate about the facts and write very realistically. The lack of knowledge in others’ behavior may give us problems in creating depth to the character, which could be solved by observing others.
But I guess the good thing about this is you get to create the character. They don’t have to be similar to the stereotypes or a normal person. They just have to be them, and that is where creating characters becomes fun. You have absolute control over them, and you can write them as you would enjoy them.

Q.9 How do you select the names of your characters?
A. There are various ways. In my short story Kaveri, I used metaphorical names for each character’s nature. For instance, my protagonist's mother is an innocent woman who is manipulated by other people and the family lives in Karnataka. So I searched online for Kannada names which meant “innocent” and “naive”.
I also used metaphorical names for each character’s role in the story. If a person is strong and commanding, I would just go online and search for names meaning “warrior” and “commanding”.
I also consciously try to build new names. Sometimes the names just occur to you. Maybe the mind picks them from the books you read or the films you watch and somehow it brings it out. I would just note the ones I like and use them.

Q.10 Do you read your book reviews? How do you deal with bad or good ones?
A. I do. I even go to people, send them copies or e-book links, so they could read and review them.
When I read the reviews I try to stay open-minded and interpret them. I do feel good when I read a good one and I do feel bad when I read a bad one, that’s normal. But the important thing is I try to identify the valid and invalid points in the review. Only a writer truly knows the motive and the purpose of the story, so from that point of view I don’t take invalid points, but if there is a valid point, something helpful or even constructive, I take them and let it affect my writing.

Q.11 Does your family support your career as a writer?
A. Yes. My parent's words were: “It doesn’t matter what work you do until you do it honestly and are financially independent. You shouldn’t go to others for money. We don’t want you to financially struggle in life.”

Q.12 What do your fans mean to you?
A. I really didn’t think people would be so receptive. They were sharing my book’s link in social media, in their stories etc. I got hundreds of messages and reviews from them, praising me and my work. I consider them my active audience and they are really important to me as they take my work to my passive audience.

Q.13 How many books have you written? Which is your favorite?
A. I’m still working on my first novel. I have published two short stories on Amazon and Google Play: Evolution of Privacy and Kaveri. Which brought me a huge reception from the audience, and now I have an active audience waiting for my first novel. I’m proud of both of them, but my favorite one is Kaveri.

Q.14 Do you have any unique and quirky writing habits?
A. Unfortunately, no.

Q.15 What do you consider to be your best accomplishment?
A. I think I’m at a very early stage in my career to talk about accomplishments. But I would say sticking to my vision even when I felt there is no potential for success is my biggest accomplishment till now.
People these days prefer films, tv series, and games over books. That makes it very hard for a writer to sell copies. This was a major problem for me when I started to market my book. But, I loved it too much to give up on it, so I thought about it and decided to keep enjoying what I do without worrying about success or failure, at least to satisfy my hunger to do what I love.

Q.16 What is the most unethical practice in the publishing industry?
A. I personally believe every manuscript deserves to be published because no one really knows what works and what doesn’t. The readers are so unpredictable, so we never know. Thus, rejecting a manuscript without a sensible, valid reason is unethical to me. But once I understood the business part of publishing, I understood the constraints. That is when I realized, a business makes publishers turn down manuscripts which seems unimpressive to them, that is also the time I decided I’d do my best to support others writer as much as I can.

Q.17 Who edited your book and how did you select him/her?
A. I’m still a student. I don’t earn yet. I couldn’t ask my parents to spend on editing services. So I went ahead and took the risk of self-editing and self-publishing it.

Q.18 Which famous person, living or dead would you like to meet and why?
A. Mr. Kamal Haasan is my mentor, well he doesn’t know me. He was the one who leads me into cinema, that is when I started involving myself in art. I admire him as an artist and as a person. I would like to publish my upcoming novels, my most favorite stories first, and present it to him as a collection. I’d introduce myself to him and also mention he is my mentor.

Q.19 What is your favorite book and why?
A. Not fair to mention just one. I love The Kite Runner by Khaled Hosseini and the Harry Potter series by J.K. Rowling. Each book affects me in different ways, but these two will last in my mind forever. A Preface to Man by Subhash Chandran is a special mention.
All these books made me a better human. They have healed me during difficult times and have improved my understanding of life and the world.

Q.20 How can readers discover more about you and your work?
A. I’m active on social media. They can connect with me on Facebook, Twitter, GoodReads, Instagram - @ivaishnavshravan

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