Guest Interview with Author Varun Sayal
I'm pleased to welcome author Varun Sayal to my blog today:
Please tell us about your latest book
My latest book is a sci-fi fantasy short stories book Time Crawlers. The journey of this book from conception to publishing is an interesting tale in itself. I have been writing short stories on various blogs, websites such as Medium and other such writer forums for a few years now and readers have been loving my work. But sometime around the beginning of 2018, I decided that a more concentrated organized effort on publishing was required if I wanted to reach and ‘wow’ a mass audience. Around February of 2018, I started to pen down stories with a very specific theme in mind, Science Fiction. And that’s how “Time Crawlers” was born.
Specifically speaking about the stories. I had written the story “Genie” very long back, perhaps around two years back, but rest of the stories “Time Crawlers” and “Death By Crowd” etc. were written only a few months back. All these stories were just scattered pieces of fiction and were yet to be woven into a storybook. How I came about an idea of choosing these six stories for my book, among many others I have written, was an interesting thought process. If you look at the underlying tones for these stories, they are very different. Death by Crowd has a very dark theme with a near future kind of storyline, whereas "Nark-Astra, the hell weapon" is an ancient mythology tale from a parallel universe. While Genie, is very light alternative take on Djinn folklore, "The Cave" narrates a story of a powerful planet consuming entity in crosshairs with a legendary telekinetic protector. But the underlying theme which connects all these stories is Science Fiction and the concept that they all take place in different parallel universes, which are not much different from ours.
What is your preferred writing routine?
I prefer to write in the mornings between 08:00 to 10:00 AM because that’s the time when awesome ideas flow in quickly with a fresh perspective. I can portray the picture of my writing space for you. I usually sit on a comfy chair with a proper backrest, with my legs on the table, a fresh cup of piping hot tea on my side, a pillow on my lap and a laptop comfortably resting on it while my fingers clack on the keyboard bringing universes to life.
What advice do you have for aspiring writers?
Two thoughts I would like to share with writers who haven’t started writing as yet:
a) Just Write, but don’t stop until perfection: This is going to be a long one so please bear with me, because this is a major factor which prevents writers from writing. I would like to use the Nike Slogan here “Just Do it”. Don’t wait for a perfect idea or a eureka thought, at times a mere inkling of a situation or a gesture by someone can spark a story within you.
Mr. K.V. Vijyendra Prasad, an eminent Indian fiction writer, and father of famous South Indian movie-director Mr. S.S. Rajamouli once said in an interview that we writers are thieves, who steal inspiration from our daily lives, from real incidents. Seek those inspirations and let your ink flow. Somewhere within us, there is a writing muscle, more you write, more you exercise it and stronger and sharper it becomes. Similarly, famous psychology writer Malcolm Gladwell gave some kind of a ten thousand hours rule, which means in order to attain significant expertise in any field of prominence an expert needs around then thousand hours of practice; well that applies to writing too, so you get the hint.
While I understand that there are cases where many writers don’t write for long spans of their lives and one day they just pen down their magnum opus. But for some others such as me, the fifteenth version of my story is very different from the first one. Eminent writer Mr. Stephen King has also emphasized on revising the stories again and again. Lessons from product management, especially from celebrities such as Guy Kawasaki, also tell us that the first product made by a company can be a minimum viable product, it’s allowed a certain level of crappiness. All these examples point in just one direction: “Just Write”. Don’t worry about the crappiness of your initial story, your first draft, you can improve it later. But you know what you can never improve? A story which has not yet been written.
b) Build strong connections in the writing world: While you may be an introvert in your life, do understand that your story or your novel is like your baby. In this highly competitive world where half a million books are published every year around the world, it’s your responsibility to make sure your baby gains recognition. Slowly build a connection with readers, reviewers, folks in your friend circle and extended acquaintance-circle who are avid readers.
Quoting examples from my limited but recent experience, when I politely reached out to hundreds of reviewers, I did get back polite rejections as well as not-so-polite straight NOs. But what was very surprising and beyond my expectations was that many reviewers from India and outside responded with warm congratulations and told me that they would definitely review my book and post it on multiple locations. There is a huge reader-writer ecosystem out there of which you can become a small part of, by building these relations. Don’t just upload a book online and wait for people to organically find it. Go sell, because your hard-work deserves to be read.
What have you found to be the best way to raise awareness of your books?
Goodreads is a very good platform for raising awareness about your book, but I believe a debut writer such as me has got a lot of honest reviews and ratings from Book Bloggers. I have reached out to hundreds of book bloggers interested in reviewing science fiction and most of them were very courteous and receptive.
What was the hardest scene you remember writing?
The hardest scene to write was for my story “The Cave” where I talk about a planet ridden with a dark entity which is then challenged by a powerful protecting force. I have written it mostly in a conversational format, where I challenged myself to bring out the information only via a conversation. Another challenge was to keep the technical details to a minimum and focus more on the story because I believe at times readers are put off by too much background stories focused on deep technical nuances.
What are you planning to write next?
My next book would be Science Fiction Technology Novel based on Hindu Mythology with elements from the near future and the deep past combined to pack a solid punch.
Facebook and Twitter @vsa2