Interview to The Bookish Elf
TBE: Tell us about your book, can you share with us something about the book that isn’t in the blurb?
Sudham Ravinutala: Twenty Somethings–For Love or Ambition is as much about maturing and coming of age as it is about a love requited. The plot is mounted on a wide canvas that depicts various relationships and the conflicts therein. The story told from the perspective of the protagonist Rishi, delves into the moral and ethical dilemmas that the life – both personal and professional, of a twenty something poses.
TBE: How did you come up with the idea for ‘Twenty Somethings’?
Sudham Ravinutala: Much as we want to, life and actions cannot be painted in the black and white binary – it actually thrives in the greys. The challenges that confront us vary with different phases of life. As a story-teller my firm belief is that the life we make is the outcome of the decisions we take. The stories I have told and those I want to tell stem out of these very choices that become the turning points of life!
TBE: When you develop characters for your book, do you already know who they are before you begin writing or do you let them develop as you go?
Sudham Ravinutala: The key characters in the stories that I tell are in some manner or form an amalgamation of people who I have known and observed! We all have a long list of acquaintances. Given a wide menu of options the broad strokes are drawn when the story is conceived. The detailing and the inner landscape of the characters however, evolves as the plot develops.
TBE: Who’s your favorite character from the book and why?
Sudham Ravinutala: From the sole perspective of the depth, journey and development of the character in the story – I would pick Rishi.
TBE: Could you describe the road from teenage Sudham Ravinutala to published author Sudham Ravinutala? In other words, how did you become a writer?
Sudham Ravinutala: The written word has held charm for as long as I can remember. My teenage years – as with most of us, have had a tremendous impact on the writer and person I am today. Writing has been a passion since my days in middle school when I started contributing poetry, essays and short-stories for the school magazine. With the advent of internet the old notebook gave way to blogging and soon enough there was audience feedback.
Every creative pursuit craves a response. It is this response that motivates and spurs one to get better. Publishing my stories in the form of a novel was the logical next step for me.
TBE: You have some uncanny ability to evoke emotion to describe in brilliant, excruciating, exhilarating detail what it’s like to be a teenager and adult in 90’s. How do you do it? Is it simply a matter of drawing on your own memories or do you use techniques to help take you back to that mindset?
Sudham Ravinutala: Each one of us is blessed with the ability to view the present from the prism of the past and the future. A part of my preparation when I set out to conceive my plots is to research the period in which they are set. I make an effort to read about the events and happenings that defined the time and try to use them as a backdrop. Being a Gen Xer myself, it does help in capturing the mood and vibes of the 90’s – the period in which Eighteen: The End of Innocence and Twenty Somethings—For Love or Ambition are set.
TBE: People love to read productivity tips from writers. Are there any you’d like to share?
Sudham Ravinutala: Writing is a very personal endeavor therefore there cannot be a one-size-fits-all approach to it. Nonetheless, here a few things that I follow:
Read widely– From comic books to management books, I invariably have a couple of books that I am thumbing through. It always helps to understand how their respective authors/creators are using the written word to communicate to their readers what their minds comprehended or imagined.
Jog your imagination frequently – I often find myself having fun with this exercise of giving backstories to random strangers I come across in malls, in transit or at social gatherings. From names to occupations, tastes to quirks, I imagine an entire life for them. It’s even more fun if you have a partner!
Spin a yarn – I seize every opportunity to tell a story with the same level of enthusiasm. Be it a presentation at work or an anecdote at a party the art of story-telling needs to be honed.
TBE: According to you what is the most challenging thing for budding writer?
Sudham Ravinutala: The most difficult thing for a writer is to stay true to the kind of stories one wants to tell. The inherent desire for success, appreciation and fame has the potential to lure one into writing what “works” or “has worked”. This is true for writers of any vintage.
TBE: How was your publishing experience with Leadstart?
Sudham Ravinutala: Extremely pleasant. The entire team understands the value of nurturing an author – giving space for developing an individual style for writing books while providing guidance to navigate through the business of selling books.
TBE: Is there anything you are currently working on that may intrigue the interest of your readers?
Sudham Ravinutala: Poetry is my first love. I regularly write poems in English and in Hindi that I publish on my website. I also publish satirical rhymes that are based on events and happenings that are in the news on my social media handles (@sudhaam).
On the novels/books front – I have two concepts that I am exploring and researching at the moment. My objective as a story-teller is to expand the scope and boundaries of my own stories while staying under the umbrella of my chosen theme of “Choices That Define Us”.
Interview to Book Geek
This passionate marketer bid adieu to a very glorious and promising career to follow his dreams of becoming an author. Meet Sudham, the ex National Marketing Head of India’s largest FM Radio Network and find out what he has to say about his love for books and writing.
bookGeeks: Tell us something about yourself
Sudham: I am your regular guy next door! For the most part of life I followed and did what is or rather was considered “normal” for folks belonging to my generation. Completed school, managed an Engineering Degree and went on to do a PG in Business Administration. Continued on the “normal” path with a regular job, marriage and kids till one fine day in 2013 when I decided that “normal” was getting boring. I left my job and decided to write a book! I had no idea at that time how long it would take for me to write or how I would get a foothold in a space that was a total unknown. Cut to 2015, I am wiser just by virtue of learning to swim at the deep end!
bookGeeks: Who or what was the biggest inspiration behind Eighteen The End of Innocence?
Sudham: Different people and events have been inspiration at this different junctures. From the perspective of the story or the plot of the book “life” has been an inspiration – I am a strong believer in the adage “Choices define us”. How we journey through life making choices and the varying dilemmas we face as we mature is what forms the basis of what I am writing. As far as people are concerned, my father getting his articles published in a magazine at the age of seventy eight was a motivating factor. Only thing, I didn’t want to wait that long!
bookGeeks: Tell us something about your experience as a marketing professional. Has it helped you anyway in your writing?
Sudham: Being a practising marketer is an irreplaceable part of my being. I believe that marketing is about observing, understanding, analysing and implementing. Whether it’s a product to be consumed or a service to be experienced the moment of truth is when the consumer interacts with your product or service. A brand is created when a consumer need is met in a memorable way. I keep that as the guiding principle for my writing.
bookGeeks: Any new projects you are currently working on?
Sudham: As mentioned “life” is where I find my stories. I am working a series that shall romance the various phases of life bringing to fore the different dilemmas in life, the choices and the consequences of our actions, the good, the bad and celebrate the vast expanse of greys that lie in between.
bookGeeks: We learn that your bookshelf is a mix bag of many famous authors. Who is your favourite among them?
Sudham: Indeed. The books on my shelf are all there because I believe that each one of them tells a great story – one that I would want to go back to, a chapter at times or even a page; just to be in the same place as those characters. Though there are authors whose works I have read more than some others; the real answer to your question would be “none” or better still “all”!
bookGeeks: You have lived in four metros. Which has been the city closest to your heart?
Sudham: This one is simple. It’s Delhi. It’s where I grew up. The sights and smells have an air of familiarity and there’s a memory waiting to come alive on every street I walk upon. It is changing though, I feel it’s loosing it’s laid back charm. The growing number of cars and pollution aren’t helping either. I love the seaside and that is one thing that would place Mumbai and Chennai at a distant but intensely fought second place!
bookGeeks: You run two blogs – www.keyedinthoughts.blogspot.com and www.abrandviewstory.com. Which one are you more passionate about?
Sudham: I am passionate about writing- period. I don’t see them as two different blogs. For me, they are just broad buckets under which I choose to put my writing. Keyed In Thoughts is about poetry, stories and anecdotes whilst A Brand View Story is an attempt to look at the world from a marketer’s lens.
bookGeeks: A few words for your fans
Sudham: I guess there is some while to go before I can really talk of a fan following; maybe the day when people start waiting for my next book to come out! My message to my readers is to keep reading and buy all kinds of books, try different authors and genres- you never know in which one of those books lies a great story!
bookGeeks: A few words for bookGeeks.in
Sudham: As an author and as a marketer I believe a good product always gets recommended and it counts! So I would like to congratulate BookGeeks.in for spending time and energy in creating this repository of reviews and helping readers find their next read!
Review in Metro News
Interview to Writer Story
Sudham Ravinutala completed Bachelor of Engineering with specialisation in Electrical & Electronics Engineering from Siddaganga Institute of Technology, Tumkur in 1997. He also completed Post Graduate Diploma in Business Administration with specialisation in Marketing from K.J. Somaiya Institute of Management Studies and Research, Mumbai in 2001. He is currently Partner in Bright Ideas & Ventures. Let us know more about his writing:
What inspired you to start writing?
My parents tell me that I started spinning yarns at an early age. I would wreck things and then narrate tales in my defence without batting an eyelid. Only later would they realise that they had been conned. I would often use people, places and objects that comprised my surroundings and I guess, that, made the stories I told believable. While in middle school, I entered one such yarn in a story writing contest and I haven’t looked back since.
What did you like to read when you were a boy?
Growing up there always were shelves full of books in a neat array. Books collected over a lifetime ranging from fairy tales to comics and from classics to novels. My father is a Library Science professional and himself an avid reader. The habit got passed on to us. My early memories are reading the fairy tales. As I grew older I moved on to the Enid Blyton books Five Find-outers, Famous Five & Secret Sevens. While in school reading and collecting The Hardy Boys series became a passion. By the time I finished school I was devouring Sidney Sheldon and Jeffrey Archer. Even attempting Ayn Rand profound as it was for my age.
What is the greatest challenge in writing a book?
The greatest challenge in my opinion is to back yourself to write one and getting down to it. I wrote the first few chapters of my book way back in 2010 and somehow lost steam. However, the plot continued to play on my mind and kept evolving till one fine morning in 2013, I decided it was time!
How much research do you do before writing the book?
Eighteen The End of Innocence is set in the 1990s. A lot of my research for the book was about ascertaining the facts around incidents and places that form a part of the plot backdrop were accurate and congruent.
What motivated you to write the book “Eighteen The End of Innocence”?
I started blogging in 2005. In the beginning I wrote mostly poems and musings. Over time, I moved to writing and sharing anecdotes. Some from my life, some that I had heard from others. I allowed myself little flights of fancy in my narration. I found that my readers, who were mostly friends and family, enjoyed reading these posts. Moreover, they started identifying with them. It is then that I realised that all of us go through life with similar ingredients to work with. We all love a little bit of nostalgia, value time spent with friends, get infatuated, find love and then lose it. The recipe of course is unique to each one of us. The stories that I would tell worked with people because the ingredients I used were familiar. Eighteen The End of Innocence was born out of these very ingredients.
Can you tell us more about your latest book “Eighteen The End of Innocence”?
Eighteen The End of Innocence is the first of a series that I plan. The idea is to romance the various phases of life. There are certain milestones as far as age is concerned 13: when you enter the teens, 18: you are considered an adult, 25: you are supposed to be ‘settled’, 40: mid-life, 60: twilight. Clichéd as it may be, each of these milestones present a unique set of dilemmas which are integral, perhaps even universal.
It’s a story that highlights the challenges of being young, revels in the mistakes one makes instead of being preachy. Eighteen The End of Innocence is a journey from turning an adult to maturing into one.
How did you come up with the idea of writing fiction genre book?
All of us lead interesting lives. I believe inspiration lies in the lives we and the people around us live. I am a keen observer of people and their surroundings. Even strangers who I see or meet in passing arouse my interest. I often find myself giving them a name and a backstory to how and why they were wherever I saw them. My way of capturing my observations is words. Sometimes they take the form of a poem and at times prose.
With my book I have attempted to bring these disparate characters, places, events and incidents together and weave them into a tale that celebrates being young greys included.
Who are your favourite authors?
That’s a tough one to answer. I have read multiple works of many authors. Ayn Rand meets David Davidar meets Franz Kafka meets Chetan Bhagat on my bookshelf. I have read a Kane and Abel as many times that I have read Fountainhead. John Grisham and Robin Cook would probably be the most recurring authors in my collection.
An interesting story, narrated well are sufficient conditions to make it to my favourites list.
How much time do you dedicate for writing on a daily basis?
I am a spurts guy. I do not physically get down to writing (typing) on a daily basis. However, I do dedicate 40-45 minutes each day to thinking about or developing the plot. Once I have conviction about the thought I get down to putting it in actual words, taking time till I feel satisfied that I have done justice to it.
What words of wisdom would you like to give to aspiring writers?
I claim no expertise in this field. Definitely a long way before words I utter count as words of wisdom. What I can do is share my experience. My big learning is that writing is about believing in yourself. Believing that you have a tale worth telling. Believing that you will be able to overcome any and all challenges (and there shall be several) that get thrown at you in order to tell your tale. It is this belief that drives you and motivates you to chase and eventually live your dream. I am chasing it today and I believe that one day soon I shall be living it!
Guest Blog: Privy Trifles
Five Things That Made My Writing Journey Simpler – Guest Post by Sudhām
Don’t all of us have a friend or a friend of a friend who at every party you meet has a “What I really want to do…..” tale to tell. Well yours truly used to be that guy. The good part; I always said I wanted to be a novelist. Trouble was getting started! Now that I have, I can only tell you what has worked for me. You can call that a disclaimer of sorts but here are my writing mantras.
1. THE FACE IN THE MIRRORThe first thing is to take a look at the face in the mirror and have a conversation with yourself. They say that you invariably end up with the honest truth if you ask why five times. So ask yourself if you really want to be a writer, then ask yourself why you want to be one followed by a few more whys. If you find yourself answering them convincingly (to yourself) then you can be assured it’s not a fleeting urge and it really is something that you are passionate about. It also will bring to fore any doubts you may have with regard to your intent, ability or both. Remember the point is to be honest. I found myself delaying that conversation for a long time. I wish I hadn’t though since it was this hard look inside that really made me understand how important writing was to my being. It was (and still is) my outlet, my warm blanket. Writing makes me happy. When somebody reads what I have written it makes me happier. If my writing manages to evoke a reaction it makes it special and makes it memorable when someone talks about it to a third person. I guess any journey that starts at happy is bound to get better!
2. PRACTICE MAKES IMPROVEMENT I heard somewhere that all of us have a book inside us, hardly anyone though has a second one! The crux of the matter is not just having a story to tell, it is having the ability to tell it! That’s where practice comes in. If one wants to be a storyteller one needs to practice the art of storytelling. I remember this sequence in the movie The Patriot where the protagonist played by Mel Gibson tells his sons “Aim Small, Miss Small”. A concept I found very useful. Start small. An anecdote shared with a group of friends or a blog post or an article in an in-house magazine pick your place to start. If you have already then do more of it! You shall find yourself adding a new twist even to the same tale if you narrate it more than once. If you have already got down to writing stuff then write more in the same space/genre. Challenge yourself by setting some targets you want to achieve and when you get there be more demanding of yourself. Malcolm Gladwell in his book Outliers talks about the 10000 hour rule. In terms of 8 hour man-days that’s 3 1/2 years of practice! Natural talent or being born with it are “Nice to Have” but not “Sufficient” conditions for success. Practice and more importantly falling in love with practice itself is what separates good from average and over time the best from the good. So if you really do love the written word, especially yours then there is only one person who can do the writing – You!Yes, writing this piece is my practice.
3. BEGIN WITH THE END IN MIND Whether you are writing a short story or a novel or a scholarly article or a blog post or a poem beginning with the end in mind helps. Creativity is imagining something in a certain form when no raw material exists! As nebulous as that definition maybe it has made my journey simpler. Let me now attempt an explanation. When I say begin with the end in mind it can be taken both literally and figuratively (choose your ratio). The vision of the finished product (I use that term for anything that you may want to write about) is important to have. The point we want to make, the stance we want to take, the emotion we want to evoke all of them and this is merely an indicative list; are buckets we can look at for our vision of the finished work. In a manner of speaking it is the destination pin on the map when we set out on a journey. We have the option of several different routes but knowing where we want to reach is surely a load off the drivers mind! Contrary to the popular saying it is about the destination! Indeed going with the flow is important and so is taking unexpected turns. That said it cannot be open ended.
4. A ROUTINE VERSUS A REGIME Whilst having a vision of what you want to create is important one should not allow oneself to be pressured by it. Milestones are important and so is pacing oneself especially when you are wanting to write longer pieces. Lots of people throughout my journey kept telling me to adopt what I feel is a very regimental approach to writing. Suggesting I sit down to write every day at a certain time or for a certain amount of time every day. Works for some but not for all. Did not work for me. I tried, but I found the quality of what I wrote wasn’t up to the standards that I expected from myself. What I did do as a routine was make and take time to think about what I wanted to write. I made my “thinking time” all activities I did alone. On my drive to work, the days when I did go for a walk, even the time on the pot! I virtually forced myself to think about my writing. Today it happens at a sub-conscious level. What it achieves for me is both a way forward on what I am already writing or contemplating writing about and thoughts on what I could potentially write about. When these thoughts coagulate I get down to writing.
5. LIFE IS A MUSE So…you have already had that chat with yourself and practiced religiously and have a vision of what you want to create and a routine set up. Still the words refuse to flow, then what do you do?? It is tough to find inspiration on a daily basis. Happens to the best of us and given that the person writing this piece is nowhere close to being the best (at least the best he can be!) it happens a few times too often. Where do you go finding your muse? What I am about to tell you next might be the simplest yet the sanest advice you possibly could get. Perhaps even the most interesting one! I believe the lives we and those around us live are extremely rich in stories one can tell. When I am unable to proceed with my story, I take a break. I instead start with people I see around me, total strangers that I randomly pick. Anyone who catches my eye or fancy. On a metro ride or on a visit to the mall. I give them a name and basis what I observe, build personality traits eventually building up to a back story that led them to be there at that exact place and time. Silly? Maybe. Works for me though. Think of it as a mental jog that warms up your creative muscles. Well, I have shared with you my journey. I hope that what you have just read in some small way makes yours better. Like every journey there’s a first step that needs to be taken. When are you having a chat with the face in the mirror?