13 June, 2016

#Interview with Ishwar Vedam, #Author of A Leap in a Blue Moon

About the Author:
Ishwar hails from Agra and cherishes fond memories of often jogging to the Taj on summer mornings. He was a normal kid till the age of five when during a train journey a movable window shutter fell bang in the centre of his head while he was enjoying the scenery. He holds the incident responsible for the imbalance between his left and right brains, which eventually turned him into a writer. However, it was two decades after the big bang that he first wrote a story. In the interim, he had finished schooling, graduated in chemical engineering from NITW, worked as a buyer for a petrochemical company, and jumped on to the software bandwagon by joining an Indian IT giant where he continues to the present day. 
Ishwar resides in Bangalore with his wife and daughter. When not writing or daydreaming, he loves curling up with a good book or watching television programmes on astronomy and wildlife. He also likes peering at the heavens through his 90 mm refractor telescope on moonless nights.

Interview with the Author:

When did you first realize that you wanted to be a writer/ a storyteller?
Though I had a love for words and a fertile imagination even during childhood, the first time I seriously thought I could write was just after joining the software industry. Having come from a non-software background, we were trained and awaiting suitable projects (which could absorb trainee software engineers). During this “bench period” I decided to sharpen my typing skills using the computer keyboard and lo and behold a Sci-Fi story stared back at me. Encouraged by the feedback that I got from my friends, I continued penning tales and eventually this novel. 

What inspires you to write?
To quote Stephen King, fiction is the truth inside the lie. I always think that writing is discovering, for there are no limits to where you can go and what you can see when you tell stories, especially the fantasy ones.  So I would say it is the thrill of truthfully discovering an alternate reality – what we do not see in our day to day world – that inspires me. 

How did you come up with the idea for your current story?
About a decade back, I was browsing through the Oxford Dictionary of Idioms (collecting dictionaries has been a hobby), when the idiom “hit the roof” caught my attention – specifically the accompanying illustration which showed an angry guy colliding with the roof. The image gave rise to the question:
“What if a little girl is trapped in an idiomatic world, where the literal meanings of idioms become real?”
However, expanding the idea to novel size would depend on two things. First, there should be a good number of idioms with literal meanings that could represent events and characters. Second and more important, it should be possible to link and weave these idiomatic elements into the fabric of a story. I was lucky on both counts. There was indeed a novel tucked away in the world of idioms, waiting to be discovered!

Are there some stories tucked away in some drawer that was written before and never saw the light of the day?
Yes of course! I had written about a dozen short stories, mostly sci fi, before writing this novel. Some of them did get published on different websites. In the future, I do hope to rewrite those early tales. 

Tell us about your writing process.
Well, I am one novel old but would think that my macro process is as below:
Generate a one line idea -> pour out first draft -> rewrite actual story in second draft-> refine in third draft -> further refine in fourth draft, and so on.

What is your favorite scene in the book? Why?
If I have to pick one, it would be when Nidhi first enters the hall of justice and is face to face with the Lady-in-White.  A little girl standing in front of a 50-ft statue. The Lady’s voice booming in the hall while her face betrays no emotion. Nidhi wanting to scamper away in fear after discovering that the voice belongs to the statue in front. The scene gives me goose bumps when I close my eyes and imagine.

Did any of your characters inherit some of your own quirks?
The protagonist is a strict vegetarian!

What is your most interesting writing quirk?
I write the first draft of a story using a full-screen editor like jdarkroom as I get completely distracted by the bells and whistles of regular word processors like Microsoft Word. However, from the second draft onwards, I switch to Word. 

Do you read? Who are your favourite authors and how have they influenced your writing style?
I am a moderate reader and that’s not by choice; my day job as a software professional does not leave me a lot of time to pursue reading. I love reading fiction, especially the fantasy and horror genres. My top favourite is Stephen King for his character driven stories and the way he turns one line ideas into entire novels – something that I too intend to follow in my writing. I take a lot of inspiration from King’s personal story and the hardships that he faced earlier on in life, before making it big.
Am also a big fan of LOTR and the Harry Potter series. Would rate “The Lord of the Rings” as the best fantasy ever. 

What is the best piece of advice you have received, as a writer, till date?
Throw your internal censor out of your window when writing the first draft. 
Think that you are free to write the worst junk in the world, so the first thoughts can flow freely like a river down the mountain.

What is the best piece of advice you would give to someone that wants to get into writing?
Read a lot and write a lot.

What would be the Dream Cast for you book if it was to be turned into a movie?
I truly believe that the book can be turned into an interesting movie given its fast paced nature and the way events are “shown” rather than told. Some of my readers have also echoed that thought. My dream cast would be Cate Blanchett as the Lady-in-White (who else but Lady Galadriel from LOTR!), Irfan Khan as Joe Bloggs(can portray the pain of an ordinary man so well), Anupam Kher as Waldi (get-up similar to his character in Dil Hai Ki Manta Nahin), Jim Carrey as the villain [who else can make disgusting faces so well :)]
If you were to be stranded on the famous deserted island, what three things would you carry?
Food, water, lighter.

How do you spend your free time? Do you have a favorite place to go and unwind?
I do a variety of things including but not limited to spending time with family, reading books, listening to music, working out or running, peering at the night sky through my telescope, simply lazing around and daydreaming and last but not the least, whatsapping! My home is the best place for me to unwind. 

Can you share with us something off your bucket list?
Visit New Zealand – the home of Middle-Earth.

Tell us three fun facts about yourself.
There are many but to limit to three:
a) Extremely finicky about routine sometimes, to the extent that I set alarms on my cellphone for even things like soaking almonds in water, much to the amusement of friends and family.
b) An “accomplished” baraat dancer and love the random, free flow of dance energy in baraats.
c) Uncompromising vegetarian who eats only eggless cakes. Have been a veg activist and have formed a counter group called “NECCC” (National Eggless Cake Coordination Committee) just for fun :)

What do you have in store next for your readers?
Yet to figure out what my next book will be about. Could be a sequel to LIBM or could be something totally different, like a satire on office life in the IT industry or a collection of my short stories.  

Is there anything else you’d like to share with your readers?
I would like to thank everyone who has read or would be reading my book. Would love to have your feedback – both brickbats and bouquets are welcome!

About the Book:
Eleven year old Nidhi hates idioms, for the words never add up to the meaning. However, she is proved wrong when she falls through the ground while playfully mocking ‘a leap in the dark’ on the night of a blue moon and lands in her ‘castle in the air’. After a brief stint as the queen of the castle, which crumbles and vanishes
following her proclamation against idioms, she finds herself in a place called Graria where happenings violate common sense. Nidhi realizes she is trapped in a place where people and events have tumbled out of a dictionary of idioms. Freedom depends on understanding the rules of the game and figuring out the escape route. And that’s no piece of cake because someone out there doesn’t want her to go back.
An intricately woven plot set in a fantasy world, the book keeps you guessing and wanting to turn the pages. “A Leap in a Blue Moon” crisscrosses multiple genres – it is at once a fairy tale, a thriller and a parody of sorts and has something to offer to
readers of all age groups

Goodreads I Amazon

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