& occasionally about other things, too...

Thursday, March 28, 2019

Authors don't retire - 2

Sharad Bailur remembers his exciting journey to authorhood
Continued from the post above

And then Mayank Chhaya happened to me. He had been a journalist working in Bombay at the time I was heading Public Relations for the State Bank of India and we were vaguely familiar with each other's names. We rediscovered each other on Facebook after almost three decades. He apparently liked what I wrote on Facebook and asked if I had done any serious writing. I sent him the manuscripts of both my novels. He liked them both. And then he suggested that I self-publish them on Amazon.

Since I knew nothing about self-publishing, he offered to help. He then designed the cover for "TheTelomere Problem", my attempt at science fiction, and we gingerly launched it sometime in the middle of 2018, expecting some highly involved scientific criticism refuting the idea. None came. That was a first step. I did not expect it to do too well. It did not. It continues to tick along because it is specially written for a niche market that understands science more than fiction. And that market is microscopic, even by world standards.

So, I decided on a new novel. It was titled "The House on Pali Hill". This time it would be a straight murder mystery. It began with a conventional story of a murder being committed and then the perpetrator found out. I was dissatisfied. The murderer should not commit the murder. He should only conspire.  He should subcontract it to someone who know how to do such "jobs". Still not good enough. The murderer should be murdered!

After all even Hitchcock had tried that in "Dial M For Murder". And it had worked. Then again, there is an undercurrent of incest in Indian social life. I call it the Bhai-Behen phenomenon. I decided to add a soup├žon of that to spice up the story. Like the earlier novel this one took on a life of its own and went into territory I knew little about. I had to invent as I wrote. This was new to me. But I have noticed this happening to most of whatever fiction I have written. It turned out to be too short - just about 17,000 words. So, I decided to add a second story to the first. That came a cropper because it was on an altogether different theme. And yet it was closely related to "The House on Pali Hill". So, I decided to break them up into two separate novels and to call the second, "Darkness at Midnight".

But I have made it clear that "Darkness at Midnight" takes off where "The House on Pali Hill" left off. In fact, that house features prominently in "Darkness at Midnight", as well. I have also ensured that a large number of my invented characters are a common feature in the entire series of six. This should encourage the reading of the other novels in the series. "Darkness at Midnight" has just been launched. In it, I venture, with trepidation, into the issue of National Security.

In essence, I have, sort of, blundered into the writing of novels, because my articles did not get much purchase, and I love to write. Also writing novels does not restrict the writing when you are in full flow and the inspiration comes out in a gush. There is no upper limit to the size of novels.

To this day I insist that the money my novel writing makes is not of much importance. It is a mere added bonus, if that. What is of importance is that it keeps my mind active searching, always searching, for new avenues for writing and subjects on which to write my novels. And for the first time I have never been happier with my life.

For all of this, I must place on record my gratitude to Mayank Chhaya who takes care of the publishing end. I have been insisting that he deserves at least fifty percent of the earnings. He is adamant that he wants not a penny. There are very few friends like Mayank Chhaya. And, incidentally, I am not trained is Science, or Security or any of the other subjects I deal with. I read them up before I write.

My next offering involves the poisoning of the entire populations of Delhi and Agra including the top political and Armed Forces leadership of the country. It will be titled, "Not a Drop To Drink". I then turn my attention to the "Swami-Baba-Sant" phenomenon that bedevils the minds of the people. I have titled that "Agehananda". After that comes an attempt to sabotage our uranium mines and the smuggling of arms using the Lakshadweep as base. It is titled, "My Name is Kutty, Baby Kutty." And then will come the last one titled, "Irongate- Athena" based on a fictional attempt to sabotage our nuclear centrifuges. If it is possible, I will finish off this long effort by getting my first novel, "Safe Custody" published last.

What is my next subject or field? I find Space Travel boring. Most of it is limited to Newtonian Physics and involves humans. It is difficult to write on Time-travel because it involves concepts like Entropy which flummoxes even highly intelligent and trained minds. Aviation, perhaps. Or Shipping and the Navy. And there is always that old staple – science fiction in a non-space setting.

Do I have a "writing style"? I don't really know what writing style all is about. Some write contrived stuff based on the styles of older well-known writers. My father wrote in the style of HG Wells. I write as I think and have come to regard "style" merely as a sort of mental shortcut to words, and sentence construction, that one resorts to most often. Style as I understand it, is a form of mental laziness. I try to avoid it. Unsuccessfully, so I am told.

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