16 September, 2017

#Interview with Radhika Nathan, #Author of A Time To Burnish

About the Author:
Radhika Nathan is a juggler, a meanderer and a rolling stone. She believes in the miracle of words and the rain. Her favourite pastimes include reading, listening to podcasts and gazing at monsoon clouds. Her taste in books is eclectic ranging from anthropology to old fashioned murder mysteries, and if pushed she would name Jane Austen as her favourite author for her believable, eternal characters. Travel is something she enjoys and has been to more than a dozen countries- for the love of meeting new people and discovering new cultures. 
Radhika writes for her fascination of human beings, intrigued by their archetypal & atypical behaviour and the differences & similarities in all of us. Writing is a means that forces her to think and re-examine a point of view or a preconceived notion. ‘I grow as a person as I write’, she says and quotes ‘A well written sentence [a rare occurrence] is like soul chocolate.’
Radhika, believes in a spiritual approach to life that welcomes science. She believes in liberty, equality, personal responsibility and fair play.

An Interview:

Are there some stories tucked away in some drawer that was written before and never saw the light of the day?
Oh absolutely! Many stories in various states of completion remain in almost forgotten folders in my computer.  Some written in now faded notebooks and diaries, sit inside a box up on a shelf.  From time to time, I think of salvaging them, but new ideas are more seductive. 

Tell us about your writing process.
I am not very disciplined about my writing. But I have realized I do follow a process of sorts mentally when I work on a story. I rarely begin without a semblance of a plot in my head. Then I do a lot of research; that’s the part I enjoy the most so sometimes I don’t proceed to the next stage at all. If something clicks, then I start working on my first draft. The first and the final drafts are the hardest for me. I work in short bursts and can never predict if and when I would finish the book. I am trying to school myself better with each finished work. 

What is your favorite scene in the book? Why?
It’s hard to tell since I am my own worst critic and can come up with flaws in every scene. I did have the most fun writing this one scene in ‘A Time To Burnish’ that I could call it my most favorite scene. Josh, the protagonist, having just discovered a critical unwelcome piece of information about the Chola bronze he is trying to track, is deeply disturbed. He goes to a bar and starts drinking, and his mood progresses from contemplation to belligerence to alcohol induced sadness. The scene is one of a group of scenes in the book that is used to bring about the different perspectives on art.  It was challenging to write the scene from Josh’s perspective but at the same time also show the reader he was quite drunk by the end of it. Most readers though seem to have liked a pivotal scene near the end of the book.

Did any of your characters inherit some of your own quirks?
Until I read the question, I wasn’t conscious of it. I drum my fingers on the table a lot, like when I am in deep thought or when I am impatient about something. Turns out I have my characters doing that too. I just noticed Josh and Tom drum their fingers in irritation!
Ashton, the protagonist of ‘The Mute Anklet,’ whistles from time to time. I could never whistle, and so it’s a quirk that I wish I had that my character inherited. It felt cool to have him whistle under his breath when he was concentrating on something else. 

What is your most interesting writing quirk?
I have a compulsive need to check if my characters are behaving ‘in-character.’ And if they aren’t then there has to be a rationale behind it. In my head, I need to make up an elaborate back story for them. I only use half of what I ultimately come up with, but unless I feel sure of the character I find myself uncomfortable to proceed writing. I am not sure if it is an interesting quirk, it sure is a pain.

What is the best piece of advice you have received, as a writer, till date?
From the movie ‘Midnight in Paris’, Ernest Hemingway’s character says, ‘Don’t be so self-effacing, it’s not manly. If you are a writer declare yourself to be the best.’

What would be the Dream Cast for you book if it was to be turned into a movie?
As far as I am concerned only Matt Bomer can bring justice to Tom. 

If you were to be stranded on the famous deserted island, what three things would you carry?
A solar charger, tablet loaded with books and music and pictures, and a swiss army knife [I’d check if it comes with a magnifier or a fire-starter.]  The tablet would be a great way for me to record my, what would no doubt be profound thoughts, as I wander about pondering over the meaning of life. 

How do you spend your free time? Do you have a favorite place to go and unwind?
I wish I could say that I go for a run in Lal Bagh. But in reality, my idea of unwinding is sitting on my couch in front of the TV watching some vague documentary, gorging on chocolates. I read almost every day, but I don’t think of it as something that I do when I have free time. I make time to read.

Can you share with us something off your bucket list?
1. Visit all the continents [Okay Antartica maybe a stretch, but with global warming who knows.]
2. Plant my feet on all critical latitudes and longitudes [Yes, I do know they are not real lines.]
3. Finish a marathon.

About the Book:
"Not too long before we can get as many of them 3-D printed."

That pretty much sums up Josh Winslow's feelings about classic artifacts. As a man of science and technology, he couldn't care less about old bronze idols. Unfortunately, his brother Tom has just made one such idol his problem.

Vidya Thyagarajan, a young banker from Chennai, didn't expect to chase the origins of old idols either. But her friend Tom has just entangled her in one such chase.

Along with Vidya, Josh reluctantly embarks on a journey to India to track the origins of a Chola bronze idol. Through the urban maze of Chennai, dusty roads of small towns in deep Chola territory, they discover clues that confounds them every step of the way.

During a short span of a week, the quest quickly becomes personal as the shadow of the past challenges their outlook toward life and love.

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