Hello Bookish people, happy to see you all once again with yet another amazing author interview session. So, today I have a brilliant author, Santhosh Komaraju with me for this wonderful author interview session. Santhosh Komaraju is the author of “Walk through Life” which is his debut book. It is collection of well thought and honest short stories overflowing with moral values.
I really loved the way the author had penned down these stories because it was very different and nostalgic at the same time. As we are all getting deviated from goodness and righteousness in life because of our overtly self-centered mindset, this book pops up to give us a reality check and acts as a conscience keeper.
It’s such a great book, after learning so many things from this book how can I not have a conversation with this fabulous author ? So, here we have Mr. Santhosh Komaraju with us!!
Welcome to Nerdy Bookarazzi, Santhosh Komaraju. I’m really happy to have you here in for an author interview session. I’m sure this session is going to be very enlightening to all of us. And above all, thank you so much for doing this interview with me. I hope you will enjoy this session as much as I do. So let’s get into it
How did you become a writer ? And tell us bit about yourself and your writing journey ?
There was no plan as such for me to become a writer. If somebody made a prophecy five years ago that I will publish a book, I would not have believed that. Yet, I am here with my debut book. I am glad that I was allowed to write. I just have to follow my destiny to see where it will take me further.
To tell a bit about myself, I am a husband and father of two boys living in USA. Besides parenting and a full-time job as an IT professional in a financial organization, writing fills me up the rest. I have several ideas that are in the inception phase at this time as a part of my future writing projects. I will have to realize them as I go forward.
This is your first book. Where did you get the idea to do a collection of Short stories instead of a full length novel ?
Several years ago, I started writing some stories for myself. They were mostly one to two-page stories. In this process I enjoyed bringing characters out of it and stitching them together. All through that practice, I was steadily encouraged to formulate them as full-length stories. Idea was to write one truth that I firmly believed on and coat interesting details around it to resonate that message effectively through characters and events. That was how the idea about the book of short stories began. I did not had enough confidence to write a lengthy novel at that time. But I do now. So, hope is that there will be full length novels in future. Short stories will still be my favorite. I will try to write them as many as I can, though they may or may not land in my future books.
Is writing your full-time career or would you like it to be ?
I am not a full-time writer at this time. But, I am up for sailing that boat as soon as I am ready. It all depends on how soon I can develop in my current part-time writing career.
How long did you take to finish “Walks Through life” ?
If you ask me when I wrote my first story, it was about 5 years ago. But that does not mean the book has begun at that time. Several stories followed whenever I got time but all of them are small versions. It was only about two years ago (before I self-published the book in Feb’19) I started believing that I can publish a book with my stories. I decided to lengthen them by adding more engaging details. I enjoyed that process. After I was educated with self-publishing options, I got encouragement to publish the book.
Each story in this collection had a message to convey, how did you plot down these wonderful stories which talks about truth, honesty, righteousness and stuffs like that ?
“All you have to do is write one true sentence. Write the truest sentence that you know.” I encountered this statement from a reputable American author Ernest Hemingway. That is how I started for each of the story. I centered the truth that I strongly believed and tagged rest of the details to project that out. I wanted to bring minimal characters so as not to deviate too much away from the subject, maintaining the focus on the core message of the story.
While writing these stories, what was your intention ? How did you want your book to impact your readers ?
As I started writing these to myself, I have to say that I did not think about how readers would accept them. As mentioned in my previously, I want to write about what I believed is the truth that my consciousness accepts wholeheartedly and share it. That is how I began and that is how it ended.
I’m someone who cannot be easily satisfied with Short Stories because however good it might be, I always feel like the story has ended abruptly and that’s because I crave for stories and I cannot accept it when it ends quickly. But with your stories there was a sense of completeness to it. I had closure, I felt happy, satisfied and also learnt a lot of things. How did you manage to achieve it ? Because it was absolutely brilliant of you.
I would like to thank you for your kind words. I believe that a story may or may not end at where exactly we wanted to be. But, ultimately it reaches the reality of life. Sometimes, I feel that a story can be a never ending saga with unlimited turnarounds. It’s like someone picks up where it was left off. In that way, a story can be considered as a great medium to ponder upon innumerable possibilities. I ended each story what I felt the best possible way it can be and when I wrote incidents, I felt them vividly. For example, when I wrote – “she walked back into the house, as her anklets jingled a happy song.”, I heard the jingle. I saw darkness when I wrote – “After several moments of such gazing, they were completely shut.” There were several such occasions where I experienced characters in me. That is when I realized I am heading in right direction.
Where did you gain inspiration for this collection ?
Hindu mythological texts such as Puranas, Vedic teachings like Upanishads, and discourses from spiritual scholars are my inspiration behind every writing I do. May it be an article or a full-length novel, I bring all my thoughts from these texts. Every time I come across any point from above sources, I will be astonished. I have not read a whole lot at this time but would want to assimilate the knowledge given in those texts as much as I can in this lifetime.
I noticed “Walks through Life” had gained a lot of appreciation and accolades, so how was the whole experience ? And what was the best appreciation that you have gained so far ?
As a debut writer, they encouraged me to the highest. Basically, they said, “You have potential to do good. Now, go ahead and do better until you give your best!” As far as best appreciation is concerned, I do not have any in particular so far. But, whenever I read a feedback that specifically raises a point about the story or character, it brings me a cheer.
What kind of authors do you like to read ? What book(s) or author(s) have a strong
influence on you and your writing ?
The answer that I am about to give might surprise you. I do not read any fiction books, so I do not have any favorite authors. I occasionally read nonfiction books. I mostly run my writing engine from any statement(s) or intrinsic thoughts that inspires me to move forward. As I am more inclined towards Hindu mythology, I would regard that as strong influencing factor behind my writings.
Among the nine stories in the collection which is your favorite and which story took a long time and energy to pen down ?
Haah, tricky question! It’s like asking me to choose one particular gulp that tasted better after consuming the whole ice cream. But If I had to pick one, I will pick – Rise of motherhood. I experienced characters so vividly in that story as I wrote about them. Then I thought, yes, this one certainly touched my core. I read the story several times to experience those emotions again and again, and never it felt old. My wife declared that this is the best story I have written thus far. There are several such instances where I felt a sense of relief that I was allowed to write like that. I sometimes randomly pick a story and read just to bring back those memories. They rejuvenate me every time I read.
As I answered in one of the previous questions, the span of the book from start to end was about five years. Now if you divide arithmetically between nine stories, anyone would be surprised with the length of time and effort that I took for each story. But that was now how each story was built. There was lot of thinking (along with some hurdles) in between that might not directly involve the content of the book, instead, keeping up my spirit to write more. I would say it was a healthy process that I practiced as I wrote this book. There were revisions all through the time until I satisfied myself with the final content. I feel every writer would go through such an exercise, but I guess how long the effort would depend upon one’s individual preference. Every story had an
element that gave me something to learn as I wrote them. That is all the energy I needed to move on to the next.
As kids we have always given weightage to moral values, righteousness and being helpful to others and things like that. But as we grew up, we tend to forget all those moral values and fell into the trap of life and become more self-oriented and selfish. Why do you think it is so ? And what’s your take on it ?
Great question! This one never gets old. I think everyone is very much aware of this situation. I want to give a bit elaborate answer for that.
Every human being on this planet is thoroughly equipped with knowledge of what is good and bad right from the start. I call it as ‘Supreme knowledge’ or ‘Ultimate truth’. Its beginning every day within us. Going forward in this conversation, I would refer to myself as the subject as that would be a fair comparison with my perspective. Day after day as the brain starts to bring in additional memories from all actions I performed in my daily life activities, the resulting repercussions starts to mask the truth residing in me in the form of layers. Every action good or bad that further translates into a bondage form an additional layer. You can ask how can a good become bondage? It will not, only if there is no expectation whatsoever during the course of my action. Even if there is a subtle feeling of expectation or arrogance, its going into the bondage bucket. Now, you can imagine how many innumerable layers will be formed as the years grow. The result is that the inherent traits are forgotten. False glitters appear to be much pleasurable. I soak in that pleasure day by day and finally succumb to it. Ignorance prevail as it completely blocks my true self. Now comes the conundrum of reviving myself from this pathetic situation. Who can help me out after going this deep?
Then comes the light from the other side of the tunnel. A minuscule speck to begin with. There is a hope now, a sense of relief that someone is looking straight at me. I will start my journey towards that light steadily. It feels that the light is so far away that I may never reach it with my limited pace and concentration. The light is very well aware of my limitations. It is a symbol of pure compassion. So, it takes thousands of steps towards me as I take just one step. All it is asking is to look straight at it and take that one step. That was a big relief. Hope rejuvenates. Journey resumes. The more I walk towards it, layers are being uncoiled. Ignorance is being burned down. Yet, sometimes, I falter. But that light is always there to bring me up. And one day with patience and trust, I will come so close to the light, that there will be no turning back. That divine light is referred to as Supreme knowledge a.k.a God. This is my probable solution for the problem you raised. As now the solution is in front of us, will it be easy to find that light? Way hard than one can imagine! The irony is that the speckle cannot reveal itself unless it wanted to. So, how can we know if we are deserved or not? Only one’s own destiny can answer that! And, let me be clear on the journey I was talking about earlier, its inward, not outward.
Whoa! That’s was a very interesting way to approach the problem. So my next question is, how was the whole experience in writing “Walks through life” ?
Fantastic, and lots of learning! For any author, no matter how famous he/she become and have several books under their name, the debut book would always be special. After all, that was the start. The whole process of writing this book had changed me from who I was in the past, in a good way. I would like to carry forward those learnings for my future books.
What is the most difficult part of your writing process ?
I did not face any major difficulties that concerned me during my writing. Probably, because I did not have much expectations. There were no deadlines as such, just was going with the flow. Although, I have to admit that there were occasions where certain doubts were raised on my writings in the beginning, but they were washed away as I wrote my next versions.
What is your favorite and least favorite part of publishing ?
As a self published author, I did learn a lot in past one-and-half year on ins and outs of this kind of publishing. I am yet to explore traditional publishing as I had not gotten that opportunity. But I am favoring traditional over self-publishing based on what I know because I am not too socially active to promote the book myself. I can deal book marketing with third party services, but its cost and time consuming. That would take some effort and time out of my bucket which I could have spent on writing. But, without self-publishing I would have never gotten the chance to share my work as soon as it was ready. So, it was a win in that regard. If possible, I would aim my next book for traditional publishing so that I can divert some of my time towards my next writing projects.
I suppose you are working on your next book. Can you please tell us what is the central theme of that book ?
Yes, I am. It would be a novella. Theme would be historical fiction based on life lessons. There is a proposal for another short story collection that will be in line with the debut book.
What characters in your book are more similar to you or to the people you know ?
I would think all these characters were sitting in my subconscious brain waiting to come out. The reason I say that because, I haven’t put too much thought in creating them. There may be fair chances that I might have come across these personalities either directly or indirectly (through conversations or stories) since my childhood, and those impressions got rested with me. Probably, if I did not write, they would not have come out. Now, I will see what else remain.
What was the most surprising thing you learnt while writing “Walks through Life” ?
That I can write more than one page and persistent enough to continue to write more than 100 pages, and finally somehow they make sense!
What is your schedule like when you are writing a book ?
It was on and off most of the times. Some days the flow was continuous and sometimes things stalled for weeks. It was primarily because I am not a full-time writer. When I become one, I would like to be on schedule.
What risk have you taken with your writing journey that have paid off ?
I would think I do not have a long tenure as a writer to understand risks in my writing at this point. However, as a family man I do have certain responsibilities towards my family that will always come as high priority. I certainly do not want to jeopardize them on the pretext of advancing in my writing career. The right balance between them and my writing is critical for my advancement.
What advice would you give to help others to create a plot-line ?
Use your heart to write the initial draft and mind on subsequent revisions. Because first words should always come from heart, and that would be the core of the plot-line. The core is the one that becomes the truth behind every story. The wrapping around it can be done as required per individual writer’s preference but should never be masked so dense by the other factors of the story that the purpose is lost. I would say, a two-page constructive plot easily outweighs ten-page melodrama.
Who do you trust for objective and constructive criticism of your work ?
I would certainly weigh in on feedback from bookish communities. As a debut author I need feedback as much as possible to understand different perspectives. I prefer to welcome criticism with open mind and will certainly encourage external views on my work. I would expect this to happen more as I publish my future books.
In your opinion, what are the most important elements of good writing ?
Honestly, I could not judge what can be considered as a good writing. A 5-year old kid would not need a literary masterpiece for his bedtime story, instead, a simple and funny episode would cheer him up. While the same will not be appropriate who crave for exquisite literature. So, I would come to the point that when someone writes something, it can be received differently by different genre of population. At one shop it can be considered marvelous, and at other not so much. But one thing that finally matters is that if there is honesty in one’s writing, it would surely come out as masterpiece. External readers may or may not declare that, but oneself would know it.
What does literary success looks like to you ?
If I am not stopping my writing, I would consider that as a pathway to literary success.
Finally, how do you feel about this interview session ?
I will sum up in two words – Engaging and Exhilarating! I would strongly encourage you to do more of these interviews with authors who are out there sharing their marvelous work with readers. Literary works show only one side of the author. This kind of interview is a good platform to expose the other side. I wish you all the best!
Thank You Santhosh!!!!!! This means a lot to me. I hope we get to do more such interviews. And all the very best for all your upcoming projects.
Thank you Meenu for arranging this interview. I feel privileged! I hope to see you again in my next book.
Sure you will!!!
Get in touch with the author :
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Check out my Book Review of Walks through life
Hope you liked this session and also learnt a couple things like me!!
Until next time,