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Interview with Kochery C Shibu



Kochery C Shibu (born 30 May 1961) is an Indian novelist and entrepreneur. He is best known as the bestselling and award-winning author of Men and Dreams in the Dhauladhar which has won critical acclaim. 
Born in Kerala in the year 1961, at Kangarappady. He completed his schooling from Loyola School Trivandrum and Daly College, Indore. 
He is a graduate of the National Defence Academy has served in the Indian Navy and commanded two warships. After his retirement, he has executed hydroelectric projects in the Cauvery river basin in Karnataka, Beas river basin in Himachal, and the Teesta river basin in Sikkim.

Q.1 Do you have any upcoming books?
A. There are many ideas in the pipeline, which will start the next year.

Q.2 Where do you get your ideas?
A. From the people and events around us and from readings. 

Q.3 What advice do you have for aspiring writers?
A. Write about things and events around you to start. The rest will follow.

Q.4 When and why did you begin writing?
A. The writing bug has been there from the school days.  It was with this in mind that I did an MA in English literature from Pune University in 1989. Being a career soldier, time was at a premium whilst in uniform. Many novels have died their death in infancy during my service tenure. Though I have written many professional articles on warfare and tactics most of which are classified. It was only after taking VRS that I was able to devote time to writing a fiction novel. The first one Men and Dreams in the Dhauladhar was written whilst working on a hydroelectric project in the Himalayas.
Q.5 How do you develop your plots and characters? Do you use any set formula?
A. The development of characters is like preparing the ingredients of curry. Initially, the effort is to have a wide array of characters in the preparation and research for the novel. The plots keep churning in the mind. It is after a substantial amount of research and a wide array of characters already sketched that the writing process with the plot starts. Invariably only about 5% of the characters sketched are finally used in the novel. There is an iterative process of developing the plot and the characters further as the writing goes on. Till one fine day the whole thing kind of blooms in the mind, and then it flows effortlessly.

Q.6 Are your books inspired by a certain event/person/memory, etc.?
A. The books are research-based and therefore inspired by many historical events, people, and memories. There is always a certain adaptation that takes place and a conscious effort to keep the writer as an individual out of it. In any case, the challenge is always in trying to get into the skin of each character convincingly. As they say in the Hindi movies, the difference from the hero and the villain is that Hero has a past which justifies his present. For the same reason, the past of each character also forms an important role.

Q.7 Outside of your family members, name one entity that supported your commitment to become a published author? 
A. The writing of a novel is an extremely personal kind of thing and as such, the motivation has to come from within. What helps is always an inspirational company. We were in the hostel of Loyola school Trivandrum in the 1970s and the school and the hostel had a creative environment that supported and nurtured creative talent and especially writing. So, the scholarly company in the early years at the school and hostel was one major inspiration and motivation. This trend continued in the Daly College Indore hostel days. It was honed further in the three years stint at the National Defence Academy (NDA) Khadakwasla. The bonding that we formed in the Echo Squadron of the NDA and the experience of going through extreme hardships in training have been instrumental in further developing the mental skills for writing. 

Q.8 Do you try more to be original or to deliver to readers what they want?
A. The first book was a combination of three genres i.e. Classic, Thriller, and Technical fiction. The style of writing reflects on the struggles and challenges that one faces during intense projects and commands. The second book has stuck to the thriller genre, but with a signature style of the author.

Q.9 If you could tell your younger writing self anything, what would it be?
A. You should have written more.

Q.10 Among all the protagonists of your titles, who’s your favorite, and why?
A. I do not have any such favorites. I would leave it to the readers.

Q.11 How do you select the names of your characters?
A. Mostly research-based, on-time place, people community, etc.

Q.12 Do you read your book reviews? How do you deal with bad or good ones?
A. Yes, I do read the book reviews. There is nothing more endearing than a discerning review. Both good and bad ones are taken as the reader's views. The reader is the king and the queen.

Q.13 What is the most difficult thing about writing characters from the opposite sex?
A. Irrespective of gender, the challenge is always to get in the skin of the character. The degree of difficulty is in many ways equal to etch a good character. 

Q.14 Where do you hope to take your writing in the future?
A. Will tries a different genre in the third book. Though I have not decided which one.

Q.15 How many books have you written? Which is your favorite?
A. I have written two books, Men and Dreams in the Dhauladhar and Faith and the Beloved. But I do not have any favorites.

Q.16 Do you have any unique and quirky writing habits?
A. I do follow my own way of writing, starting with character sketching initially. Then write a story skeleton based on one of the characters and choosing the characters as the story develops. It is an iterative process before the story shapes up. Research and more research are at the heart of it all.

Q.17 What do you consider to be your best accomplishment?
A. The publishing of the first novel.

Q.18 Who edited your book and how did you select him/her?
A. Keerti Ramachandra. She came through a reference.

Q.19 Which famous person, living or dead would you like to meet and why?
A. Gandhiji. For his sheer genius in outwitting the British empire.

Q.20 Share the experience of your journey so far?
A. In 2015, my first novel Men and Dreams in the Dhauladhar was print published by an Okhla-based publication house. It was in the year 2009 when I was working on a hydroelectric project in the remote corner of the Himalayas when I decide that I could dedicate time to write this novel. It took four years and 3600 man-hours to write and another year in editing. 
The book has had good critical acclaim. The book was also awarded the best author of the year in 2019 by Salismania.com
I have been working on the second Novel Faith and the Beloved for two years. The book is a marked shift to the thriller genre. 

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