In conversation with the witty and brilliant author Ravi Subramanian, author of best-selling Indian Fiction : “Bankerupt”, “The Bankster”, “The Incredible Banker,” and “If God was a Banker”…
How does a typical book get written in your world – what do you start with?
All my books start with an idea and a blank laptop screen. A few years back, I had read about how Wikileaks used Bitcoins to circumvent a massive financial blockade of Wikileaks by the US Government. That day, I had made up my mind – Bitcoins had to be the backdrop of one of my books. I started reading up about Bitcoins and related stories. When I sat down to write down, I had no clue about the direction in which the story would move. So I started writing about the manner in which Wikileaks dealt with the US governments arm-twisting wherein they blocked donors from making donations to Wikileaks using MasterCard and Visa as payment gateways. A fictionalized version of that brought up the first chapter. From thereon I wrote page-by-page, incident-by-incident and strung all of them into a nice little story.
This approach works very well for me. While writing a chapter, I have no clue what the next chapter will contain. This makes my stories unpredictable. If I don’t have a clue of what’s in the next chapter, there is some hope in hell that the reader will have a clue. This makes the thrillers that I write a bit more exciting, I guess.
How would you compare the protagonists of some of your books with yourself?
Oh, Very different. I am hardly anywhere close to any of the protagonists. Maybe I live a part of my life through the protagonist’s life. Many authors do that. They build the character of the protagonist’s basis what they want to become. That said, some of the characters in my books are inspired by real life people that I have met, dealt with or have heard stories about. My books are inspired by reality – real life people, real life incidents. This is what makes my book more relatable. I don’t have superheroes in my books. Normal human beings, inspired by some incident in their lives do super heroic deeds in my book.
What classic piece of work do you wish you had written?
I don’t know whether you would call it a classic… but I wish at some point in time, I am able to develop a character like P G Wodehouse. I struggle with incorporating humour in my writing.
How do you deal with reviews?
Writing is a very humbling experience. In this field, an author starts off as a nobody. No background, no stature, no reputation, no clout, no friends, no enemies. Under such a circumstance, feedback is rarely motivated. It is always honest. If someone who is a complete stranger to an author writes a review about his book, its got to be more valuable than what his friends say. The latter will always give carefully worded feedback, which sounds good to hear. In my six-year journey as an author, I am yet to come across a friend who has rubbished my books. I have come to realize that the best feedback invariably comes from readers, bloggers and people who don’t know you and hence don’t have a reason to be particularly nice (or hostile) to you. The only exclusion to this generalization, is ones family.
If I get negative feedback, it doesn’t perturb me. If I get positive feedback, I don’t necessarily fly high up in the sky. This helps me keep my balance. However, If I notice a trend in the negative feedback coming my way, it obviously means that something is wrong and I need to seriously consider that aspect. If the feedback is convincing enough, I do take it seriously and try to change myself. Feedback for me, is a means to improve and it is with this mindset that I look at reviews.
In fact I had done a full blog post on this a few months back. The link to the same is http://authorravi.com/2013/07/04/screw-your-view-wrong-approach-to-uncomplimentary-book-reviews/
This blog post captures my thought process on book reviews and the way to deal with it.
If you could cast your characters in the Hollywood adaptation of your book, who would play your characters?
Leonardo Di Caprio, Tom Cruise and Pierce Brosnan would be my choice to play the key roles – that of the banker protagonists from my books. For the senior banker, I would go with Michael Douglas and/or Richard Gere. All of them have class, style and substance.
What does it take to be a best-selling author? 🙂
I have a problem with the term “bestselling author”. I would rather say, “widely read author”. Somehow the former puts the author ahead of his book and the reader. To be successful in writing, connecting with the reader with utmost humility and respect is paramount. I am assuming that all authors put in a fair bit of effort when they write a book. While writing, no one writes an ‘unsuccessful book”. It is the readers who make the book a success. So as an author, if you connect with the readers, engage with them, respect their viewpoint, and are willing to learn and constantly improve, the readers will like you and like your work. They will be willing to give you another chance. The day an author becomes bigger than his books; it is the “beginning of the end” for his journey as a successful author.
Is there any genre that you would never ever want to write in?
Oh no. In fact I would like to try my hand at various other genres. Today I write thrillers. I want to try my hand at romance too. I am petrified of writing erotica. Humour too. Maybe one day I will get over this fear and write in this space as well. One genre, which I would definitely work on, is Children’s books. The day I am able to write successfully in this genre would mark my arrival as an author of substance. Writing for children and engage them fruitfully are probably the most difficult tasks an author can ever do.
What awesome books and projects are you working on at the moment?
As of now I am busy promoting my latest book, God is a Gamer, which releases on 12th September. All other projects will have to wait till that is done.