29 September, 2015

#SpecialFeature :: #Interview with Laxmi Hariharan, #Author of Ruby Iyer Series

*** Special Feature - September 2015 ***

Quick Recap:

Interview with the Author:

When did you first realize that you wanted to be a writer/ a storyteller?
I've been writing since I was five. Then when I lived alone in Hong Kong ten years ago, I started writing what was to become The Destiny of Shaitan there, publishing that in 2012. Once this book came out there was no looking back. I've pursued the novelist's career since with intent.

What inspires you to write?
I write mainly to understand myself. I am not open with my feelings to the world or even to myself. The only way I find out what I am thinking and really feeling about something is through my writing. I grow with each book find a part of me, which I never knew, existed. I also write because I am fascinated by the human condition. What makes people do the things they do, I want to understand human motivation and why not everyone has the same journey in life. 

What kind of research goes into your book?
I draw from experiences a lot. Mainly it's chance meetings with people, a chance comment from someone, or I am reading something and something pops inside. I am learning to recognize this 'feeling' because then I know I am onto something. Then once I am in the book, I research as needed. For example, the Youthenasia trip of Ruby Iyer – in The Many Lives of Ruby Iyer. It's very inspired by Ayahuasca – a brew used as a traditional spiritual medicine in ceremonies among the Indigenous peoples of Amazonian Peru, many of whom say that they received the instructions in its use directly from the plants and plant spirits themselves. Native communities use it for divinatory and healing purposes. It's a way to let down the barriers in your mind, lose the ego and face your deepest emotions. Something I've heard about first hand and wanted to use it.

How did you come up with the idea for your current story? 
Ruby Iyer was inspired by a couple of things. The rape of the journalist in Bombay, which really made me angry and reminded me of all the experiences of being felt up on almost every train/ bus ride in Bombay. I wanted a strong female character; one who would not take things lying down anymore; basically hit back and follow her emotions without worrying about the consequences. It grew from there. Because the setting is Bombay, in this series I touch upon on the rich-poor divide in the city, the geographical divide between South Bombay and the rest of the city and I also draw from the history of Bombay; that it was originally seven islands gifted in dowry to Charles II when he married Catherine of Braganza. And then I followed that thread to what a utopian Bombay would look like. If it went back to becoming those seven islands – with no pollution or corruption or people.  And as I am writing Second Lives, the theme I want to touch upon is again the low ratio of women to men in India, due to female infanticide and how this impacts a future where there are very few people left to carry on the human race.

Please share three interesting facts each about the Ruby & Vikram.
- Ruby hates being told what to do, loves chai, and especially feels like she has to stand up for the underdog; those weaker than her. She is a firm believer in giving as good as she gets, and can't bear to see those who she loves in pain. 
- Vikram is attracted to feisty girls though he'll never admit it. He hates wearing an uniform (go figure!), and believes in justice, in the triumph of good over evil. He prefers to follow the rules' he is an idealis. Secretly Ruby admires that though on the face of it she thinks it just makes him boring. 

Do you think that it is easy for your readers to connect with your characters? Why so?
Teenaged girls love Ruby's diaries. I think they do see themselves in her – that phase where emotions and hormones war with each other. Her experiences in being ignored by her mother, hating her brother, idealizing her father, yes they see that in themselves. And then when she turns out to be quite kickass – in general readers, girls and boys like that strong action figure status of hers. Also all my readers love Vikram and many find Panky endearing. 
They are all 3 very strong characters, very different and I particularly enjoy writing their coming of age stories; they have had very different childhoods in the same city and bring out different facets of what it means to grow up in a society where you have to balance tradition with modernism and fight to carve out your individuality. Especially a city/ country where there is no concept of personal space; well how do you find yourself here? It's a challenge and you have to really want it I think. To be your own person.

I hear that there may be a book telling us Panky’s story. Is that true? What can we expect from it?
Yes, I have an outline for Pankaj Mehta's story already. Tentatively titled Secret Lives. I need to complete Second Lives – the finale to Many Lives first though.

What do you have planned for Ruby in the long run? Only one more full length novel to go or could we expect some more?
I want to finish these five books in the RUBY IYER series first: three coming of age stories and two action-thrillers. I already will have a story set in the Ruby universe out in the UnCommon bodies anthology coming out in November. Titled UnTamed – it features Ruby's granddaughter Leana Iyeroy. The series after Ruby Iyer, the Girl, caution series is basically Ruby's daughter Ariana Iyeroy's story. Yeah, so Ruby and her descendants will keep me busy for a while. 

Whatever happened to Destiny of Shaitan? I thought that was going to be a part of a series too?
I did complete the next book in the series, Return to Seven Islands. But I am not sure I will publish it as Ruby Iyer took over. Though if you read UnTamed, you'll see, it begins to tap into the future I outlined in Shaitan. It seems there is a theme to my writing, I keep going back to it and picking it up. "We all unconsciously seek out people events and situations that duplicate our core trauma(s) in the hope of eventually triumphing over the situation that so wounded us" Alexandra Sokoloff, pulls out this quote by Freud, in her novel Screenwriting Tricks for Authors. That's the human condition, the "repetition compulsion", Freud called it. Something which rings true for me.

If you could pick any famous author to review your book who would you pick and why?
You know, as I was writing this I realize, it's not so much other authors but I want readers real readers to pick it up and read it and then tell me what worked for them or didn't. I find this most satisfying

Name three things that you believe are important to character development?
I am realizing I need to understand the formative years of the character, where they grew up, their family situation, their economic circumstances as this has a big impact on their character development.
Also, I really am more and more trying to figure out what is it that they really want? What's missing inside (or they think is missing) that they are going in search of. What are they hiding from themselves? That secret they cannot face up to.
And then how they appear to the world. Their 'public persona' the face they like to wear so the world cannot see who they are. What is it they'd like to project, which is the opposite of what they really are?

Do you ever experience writer’s block? If so what helps you to get over it?
I am of the school that does not believe in writer's block. It normally means I haven't plotted something well so I need to go back and check the framework of what I am writing. What I do worry about is that if I don’t start travelling and meeting new people and finding myself in new situations again, then I may begin to feel a bit like I am in a loop. So even if I can't just travel as such, I do try to more and more meet people I personally find interesting and fascinating so it sparks off new conversations and thoughts.

What part of the writing process do you enjoy the most?
All of it – but mostly when I am writing furiously and something pings inside and I realize I have discovered something about myself. I get goose bumps then, and then I know I am on the right track for the character and the book, too. It means I am being brutally honest, putting my own fears and hopes out there. It's very personal.

Do you know the ending of your books before you finish writing them?
I always have a general idea about where it's headed but always my characters surprise me. They may just add on that something extra I hadn't anticipated myself

Anything else that you would like to share with your readers?
Hope you enjoy The RUBY IYER series. Do tweet and tell me if you do. And do subscribe to my newsletter to get a free copy of the first novelette in the RUBY IYER DIARIES.

Her Books:
See My Review of The Ruby Iyer Diaries ( Ruby Iyer #0.5) 

This novelette is a companion book to The Many Lives of Ruby Iyer. A peek into the soul of an angry, young girl, who will come of age in a city on the verge of total annihilation. Ruby kept a diary from the age of ten till she ran away from home at sixteen. It is from here that I picked out a few diary entries for The Ruby Iyer Diaries. This short series of vignettes from Ruby's life, tells you more a little more about the origins of Ruby Iyer. 


It is Free on Amazon, Get your copy now!

See my Review of The Many Lives of Ruby Iyer (Ruby Iyer #1)

When her best friend is kidnapped, Ruby will stop at nothing to rescue him. 

Criminals run the streets of Bombay. Jam-packed with the worst degenerates. The city is a shell of the pride and joy it used to be. 
Ruby knows something must be done, but it isn’t until her best friend is kidnapped by the despotic Dr. Braganza that she knows that she and she alone must save city, save her best friend, save the world from total destruction. 

Armed only with with Vikram, a cop-turned-rogue they are about to embark on a road they may never return from. 

Goodreads I Amazon

See My Review of  The First Life of Vikram Roy (Ruby Iyer #1.5)

His family is being held to ransom by a deadly mastermind. 

Vikram never should have left his family, but when Vikram's father bring his half-brother Vishal home, life will never be the same. 
Vikram thinks things will be better now that he's gone. He's met the love of his life, his future looks bright and then everything is shattered. 
Now, his family's life is hanging in the balance, and only Vikram can do what needs to be done to save them. 
From the bestselling dystopian fiction author with over 200 reviews and ratings of her dystopia books across Goodreads, Amazon and other retailers. 

About the Author:
She almost died. But when dystopia romance author Laxmi Hariharan had a near death experience, she was told to write. Laxmi is the creator of dystopian romance series, RUBY IYER SERIES (The MANY LIVES OF VIKRAM ROY - FINALIST Indie Excellence Awards, the bestselling The RUBY IYER DIARIES , The FIRST LIFE OF VIKRAM ROY, The SECOND LIFE OF RUBY IYER & VIKRAM ROY, PANKY's FIRST LIFE), and the Amazon bestselling, eLit Gold winner, The Destiny of Shaitan (Bombay Chronicles, 1). If you're looking for books like Divergent and Angelfall, you'll love the RUBY IYER SERIES.

Laxmi writes books similar to Hunger Games while listening to electronica & progressive rock, and downing innumerable cups of extra sweet ginger-chai. She is also an avid photographer of street art and believes she was a tree -- a redwood -- in her past life. London is where she creates. Bombay is what fires her imagination. 

Receive a free copy of THE RUBY IYER DIARIES when you sign up to her Newsletter 

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