Thursday, January 24, 2013

Q&A with Kunal Sen: Author of Left From Dhakeshwari

When I read the first page of the boo“Left from Dhakeshwari”  I was completely drawn into it by the way it was written, as I read each story it left me thinking, by the time I reached the end I was sure, I had in my hands the work of an author who certainly will make great contribution to Indian writing. So I thank the author with an original writing style, who leaves a lot of open ends in his writings, who keeps you thinking....Kunal Sen for an insight into his life and work, which is here:

Q. When did you begin writing?
A: I only began writing at the age of twenty: rhyme poems on tablecloths and a half-finished mystery-adventure in the spirit of ‘The Hardy Boys’. I look back on those days with unmitigated embarrassment. I grew out of that phase though, things changed.

Q. What is your motivation behind the same?
A: Now I write not to find myself but to keep whatever I know and have and that’s enough.

Q. Tell us a little bit about your journey into writing, especially roadblocks if any?
A: I discovered my voice relatively early and I don’t know if it is any good but I know that I have one. So that part was simpler. What was difficult was finding time since I had, and inexplicably still have, a daytime job.

Q. Tell us something about your recent book “Left from Dhakeshwari”?
A: ‘Left from Dhakeshwari’ is a book of short stories about some sad, mad, sadomasochistic people who talk in ciphers and search for a place like home.

Q. Your book “Left from Dhakeshwari” had all sad stories. Why so?
A: Tragedy moves and inspires me. It rescues me and feels like home. Hence.

Q. What was the idea behind writing a collection of short sad stories? Also each story had a lot of scope to be an entire novel; still you chose a short story collection?
A: I think a novel calls for filling of gaps and using language, in great lengths, as just a functional tool. The short story form fascinates me more for its inherent potential for showcasing the unsaid. My stories aren’t abridged versions of an all-encompassing novel anyway, but a momentary, keyhole view of something odder. If I were to write a novel one day, it would be a fragmented, episodic one with a multitude of voices and demons. At the moment though, I’m happy writing short stories. They are getting longer and darker.

Q. Your characters though real life are intense and stories unusual, are these real life or work of fiction?
A: The book takes roots from close, closed things. Having said that, there were often moments when characters transcended their brief with utter insubordination. ‘Salt Lake’, for example, was meant to be Farinoush’s story throughout. I didn’t have a male lead in mind until Farzaan came to me. It happened a few other times as well. At those moments, I felt like a conduit and a medium, a magician’s assistant and an innkeeper of lost souls. I felt fulfilled. But most of the times, I beat them into doing what I wanted them to do and then they were the marionettes and the malady was mine and that was also pretty great.

Q. Your writing style in this book has been peculiar: A snapshot of a moment & then a zoom into the story and characters. Is this because you are a film maker too and you visualize the story like that?
A: I’m a failed filmmaker who happened to direct two disasters a long time ago. Yes, a part of the first feature picked up a nomination in one of those pretentious film festivals the same thousand people keep going to. That does not absolve. In fact, I started writing fiction, seriously, when I was editing my second film and it looked like hell and wasn’t going anywhere. I was angry and disillusioned and writing came as a great healer. Even back then, I never enjoyed shooting and post-production as much as I loved screenwriting. It is impossible for my writing today to not be influenced by and germinate from my stint in films. And yes, that’s why the stories have the five act structures and that’s why the passages are written out like scenes and that’s where the characters get their poetic hyperrealism from.

Q. How has your book been received by the readers in India and abroad?
A: So far, the reviews have been largely favourable, both here and there. I had expected more divisive reactions, so the early praise has been a little unsettling. It can never be a bestseller and that does not matter to me. I look forward to strangers picking it up in libraries or thrift stores years from now and getting rooted and uprooted by it.

Q. Is there anything you find particularly challenging in your writing?
A: Fundamentally, I’m a writer and not a storyteller. So when I get an idea that screams for a lot of plot narration, I find it difficult to deal with and often start out by writing a lot of sentences, but end up using only their shadows because the implied interests me more. I take away the causative hinges of a story until I’m left with an amorphous core and rambling asides. I suppose this must make my work exacting and cryptic for many readers. The fact that most of them are set in esoteric milieus doesn’t help matters.

Q. What is the best and worst part about being an author in your opinion?
A: The best part is that it helps you orchestrate all the things that threaten to drive you insane. The worst part is that it is often too painful and feels like rehab.

Q. Did you ever get “The Writers Block”? How did you overcome it?
A: Yes, I do spend interludes writing precious nothing. I work on multiple stories at any one time so when I’m stuck on something, I try switching stories, to wade through the apocalypse.  

Q. Who are your favorite authors and what is it that really strikes you about their work?
A: Salinger was the master at combining obsession with compassion. His works were distant, yet munificent. My favourite poet is Richard Siken. I love quite a bit of Murakami and his fantastic calmness, and Jhumpa Lahiri remains one of the greatest interpreters of maladies.

Q. What books have most influenced your life most?
A: ‘Nine Stories’ (J.D. Salinger)

Q. What are you reading currently?
A: I’m in the last third of Indrajit Hazra’s interesting first novel, ‘The Burnt Forehead of Max Saul’.

Q. Broadly what are your next projects?
A: My next book is a collection of long short stories that border on the carnal and the sinister. It opens with a map and ends with a locked room murder. There are adulteresses and kidnappers, prostitutes and runaways, who are so much more than those stereotypes. Debjani, Farzaan and the ‘Zugzwang’ quartet from my first book feature again in the next one and we get to learn and unlearn things about them.

Q. What is your opinion about writing as a career?
A: It doesn’t exist.

Q. What do you think about the current trend of writing in India? Is the current lineage of Indian authors ready for an international audience/market?
A: I write from an inoculated cocoon so I don’t know much about trends. But I’ve heard that frothy, twenty-something romances are doing well and everyone is grudging them their success. To be fair to those writers, there is also a whole lot of underwhelming work that’s going around as literary fiction nowadays. The clutter of mediocrity cuts across categories. As bigger labels react to smaller successful assembly lines, the original voices are getting lost somewhere but maybe that is also an opportunity.

Q. How do you manage your profession and writing together?
A: I work during days and write at nights.

Q. Any advice for budding writers?
A: Believe.

Q. Any message for your readers?
A: I’m indebted that you gave my book a home, that you allowed it to live with you, as you, in you for as long as you did.




Wednesday, January 23, 2013

A Love Life So Painful by Saransh Kumar


Title: A Love Life So Painful
Author:  Saransh Kumar
Date:  2012
Publisher: Leadstart Publishing Pvt. Ltd.
 Number of Pages: 252
Price: Rs. 195

SNAPSHOT: It is the story of a celebrity chef Shitiz, who is in one-sided love with a girl Shadia since his school days. His need and quest for love till he finally immerses himself into alcohol and develops cancer. It is his journey narrated into how he ends up into what became of him. A touching story with some good message, some illogical emotions and some unbelievable twists.

The Story: The story begins with introduction of Shitiz, a loved celebrity chef hosting a cookery show, faints. He is diagnosed with cancer and told earlier to quit smoking and alcohol. He being a loner and depressed with his life and lack of love continues to consume them, finally is left with a month in hand. He requests his doctor to meet the only person he wants to see, meet before he dies Shadia. He claims she is "the love" of his life (though he had many affairs after the failure of his one-sided love in school).

The day she meets Shadia she is all sorry for everything that happened to him and his current state (here the sympathy can be understood by the reader) and decides to keep him in her house and look after him. The amazing thing is she falls in love with him immediately as she brings him home (really, is that not pity? how can you just fall in love with someone within seconds???)

However, after this both are eager to know what happened to each other during the years that had gone by. So they each tell the story. Here is where the masala of the story begins wherein there are naxalites, man eaters, ragging, women in Shitizi's life and the love story of the unusual man in Shadia's life. All I can say is its a story with a combination of spices.

Shitiz of course now doesn't want to die at the appearance of Shadia and her love in his life. After all this was the prize after all struggle during all the crisis in his life. So will he die? To know more read the story.

The Verdict:
Positives:  Every masala was added in small proportion and therefore it was the right mix without an overdose of anything. The best part was when the lead character tries to analyse his own situation and sends a message of giving due importance to career/studies and love at appropriate times in life. A mix masala story. 

Negatives: Shadia's sudden love for Shitiz seems out of the blue. The language is casual and the way of writing too. There was a lot of scope for better narration of the same story.

The Readers Cosmos Cut:  Read it for a light read. 

Rating: 2.5 stars.

About the Author: 
Born on October 31, 1990 in Patna, Bihar and currently working in a leading five star hotel in Kolkata as a budding chef, Saransh scripted this story based on the life of a person who is a celebrity chef in his professional life. The author developed a zeal for writing in the eighth grade when the basics of writing were taught in his school. When he was in college, he had read many fiction books that actually inspired him to start something of his own. He used his eye for detail and then finally converted it into a real book. Being a very good student throughout his student life and his awareness of his surroundings helped him pen his book. Apart from writing stories, he is fond of sharing motivational stories, reading books and playing. Love stories have always been his passion and these have motivated him to create a world of his own. He can be contacted at: saransh4u@gmail.com



Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Q&A With Prateek Shukla - Author of The Unrevealed Secrets of Hacking and Cracking: Hack Before You Get Cracked!!!

Prateek Shukla is an 18-year-old currently preparing for boards, and also young computer professional and Network security expert and has a unique experience in the field of Cyber Security. He has helped multi-national companies to secure their network and is a Gold Medalist in National Informatics Olympiad. He also runs an Ethical Hacking blog www.hackingwithprateek.in After penning this book, he has become the world's second youngest author in this field. www.facebook.com/officialprateekshukla. Realising the dream at such a young age, we want to know more about his work and journey so far....so here is our Q&A session:
Q. Your profile seems to be a complete tech geek so how did writing prop up on the screen?
A-   Yeah !! Nice Punch !! Well, I was always curious to pen down what I actually did in this field. Even I wanted to be an author but was not sure of my area of writing. But when I spent a few years in the field of Ethical Hacking, I realized that I can write and can give the society whatever I have done in this field.

Q. Tell us a little bit about your book “The Unrevealed Secrets of Hacking and Cracking: Hack Before You Get Cracked”?
A- The book serves as a beginners guide to Ethical hacking. I wrote this book keeping a beginner in my mind.  India is not so advanced in this field, so I thought that it would be better to bring in fresh talents who are aspiring for knowledge rather than providing advanced knowledge to those who have already entered this field and are researching.

Q. How was the experience overall? Was it as exciting as cracking the code?
A- The experience was fantastic. When I first stepped into this field, I had no one to help me or to guide me. I guided myself and faced lot of problems at the very initial stage, especially with the technical terms used online and hacking books. But I still did not give up because I was very passionate about it and I thought that giving up now will haunt me for the rest of my life. And I kept on practicing and troubleshooting the errors on my own which ultimately cleared my concept and helped me move to the next level. 

Q. What was the best and worst part about writing this book?
A- The best part about writing this book was that I got a lot of support from my close friends, my parents and the excitement of getting it published. And the worst part was that I had to sit for a minimum of 6hrs daily which was very tiring, because after that I had to finish my school tasks as well as had to do self-study.

Q. How was the journey into publishing it? Any road blocks?
A- The journey of getting my book published was very interesting and I got to learn many things too. To be very honest, I didn’t face any kind of difficulty because of my idol cum Co-Author Navneet Sir who was always there for me whenever I needed him. He just played the role of an elder brother. I just can’t believe that a person like him also exists on this planet. If I am something, it’s just because of him.

Q. How has the book been received in India and Internationally?
A-  The book has been received pretty well in India. I don’t have any idea about Abroad but according to the present stats its going good and it has also created a name on Online Book stores and got listed on the 3rd number if searched hacking on flipkart.

Q. Do you also plan to write academic books on similar subject?
A- No, I don’t think so….. Actually, never gave a thought to it . (Laughs)

Q. What are the main concerns of writing on such a critical thing as hacking?
A-To make people aware of the online threats and help them secure their own systems is the main concern of writing on such a critical thing.

Q.What is ethical and unethical hacking? Does your book cover both?
A-  No !! No !! No !!! Its  all about Ethics, nothing Unethical is described or taught in this book.

Q. Who are your favorite authors and what is it that really strikes you about their work?
A- My favourite  authors are Chetan Bhagat and Ravinder Singh. Easy language and maintaing grip through the book is the success key to their work. 

Q. What books have most influenced your life most?
A- “The Secret” by Rhonda Byrne has influenced my life the most and this book was gifted to me by my friend and I heartily thank her for this .

Q. What are you reading currently?
A- Currently  I’m not reading any book  because I’m busy preparing for my CBSE Board Examination.

Q. Any more writing on the menu right now?
A- Yes, I’m co-authoring a book on Wi-Fi Hacking and Security , which is again a book on Hacking and also a fiction with my dearest friend Aditya.

Q. What is your opinion about writing as a career? Are you thinking of one?
A- Writing is something through which one expresses his/her feelings in a better way. If an individual takes up writing as his/her career, he can influence a million of hearts and what else can be better for a writer that he is successful in influencing people.

Q. Any advice for budding writers(your genre or otherwise)? 
A- I would just like to advice that be focused, never lose hope, have faith in your writing and never compare yourself with other writers because if you compare yourself with others, you already loose 50% of  your skills. It’s very difficult to get published, especially in India, but constant effort to get published will ultimately help you become an Author.

Q.Any message for your readers?                                                                                                             A- I would just  conclude by saying that Never ever lose hope, because most of time, people in this particular field give up because they find it too difficult for them to understand everything. It’s the quality that matters, not quantity. There are several divisions in this field. I’d suggest you to choose the one which you find interesting. Always visit different ethical hacking blogs so that you remain updated.
And yes, never misuse your knowledge to harm someone. Always use your knowledge in the right direction.
Last but not the least… HAPPY & SAFE HACKING!!! Love and regards

Thursday, January 10, 2013

Those Enchanted Four & Half Years of My Life By Dr. Ketaki Patwardhan Nirkhi

Title: Those Enchanted Four & Half Years of My Life 
Author:  Dr. Ketaki Patwardhan Nirkhi
Date:  2012
Publisher:   Rainbow Publishers 
 Number of Pages: 182
Price: Rs. 100

I would like to began by thanking the author Dr. Ketaki Patwardhan Nirkhi for sending a copy of this book for a review. It was a delight reading it, away from too much of mushy romance, something realistic and positive.



Snapshot: This is a story of the author’s life when in medical school. Its filled with the fun, the pressures and the issues students face trying to pursue the dream of most responsible profession of our society “medicine, and the best part a love story with an important message.

The Story: The story begins with Ruta, the lead character clearing the CET and getting an admission into medical school. The college life begins with most students excited over the fact that they secured an admission into M.B.B.S and the were successful in achieving the first step towards their dreams of becoming a doctor. The first year marks the beginning of new friendships, ragging and a hectic medical school life. Ruta becomes close friends with Sufee, Nayana and Arun. Arun a guy who is simple, intelligent and a good natured guy, not a hunk ofcourse develops a short corner for Ruta. However the leading lady falls for a guy who appears right from her dreams Amey, the dude. Amey too likes her, and they start going out, with Ruta hoping through all the four years that he would propose her. The story revolves around life of medical school students. Hostel life full of gossip and fun, while lectures some boring and some interesting, some hot professors, some crushes and some accidents.
As years pass by Amey remains the guy Ruta dates and Arun her best friend, someone who would cheer her up and make sure she is well. Will she realize and accept Aruns love or will infatuation over Amey conquer. Read it for it has a good balance of emotions and a very good message in the end.

The Readers Cosmos Cut:  The characters are real and portrayed very well by describing a little incidents about them. The best part was it truly justified the title, as the author doesn’t just revolve around the love story, but the overall life of medical students. Also the dreams that Ruta has which motivates her and helps her understand her dreams are a perfect analogy.

The Verdict!!!
Positives: Well written, good story.

Negatives: There are certain parts of the story which are repeated for eg. On page 56, that shows a poor job on the editors part.  A little less detailing of the medical school subjects would make it more appealing to the masses.

Final Statement: Read it for a good story with a right mixture of everything and most importantly, the message it carries.

About The Author: Dr.Ketaki Patwardhan Nirkhi, born and brought up in Miraj, is a bright new addition to the galaxy of writers in the Indian literature scene. She is an anaesthetist by profession with an MBBS degree from the Government Medical College, Miraj and an MD in Anaesthesia from Grant Medical College, Mumbai. Her first novel ‘Those enchanted four and a half years’ has just hit the stores.

Grab A Copy Today!!! http://www.flipkart.com/those-enchanted-four-half-years/p/itmd8qh9hwxavnhp?pid=9789380789064


Q&A with Ishaan Lalit- Author of Hexagon

In the second series of getting to know an author we have Ishaan Lalit. He is an outlier and dares to write what he loves to rather than following the trend. The Readers Cosmos loves this quality of his and therefore decided to get to know how did he finally realize his dream of being an author and a little sneak into his current science fiction book "The Hexagon". 


Q.       When did you begin writing?
A: I can’t tell you when I actually began writing because I don’t remember a particular age. My earliest memory of writing was when I was sitting on a chair when even my feet didn’t touch the floor typing on one of my grandmother’s Remington typewriter.

Q.      What is your motivation behind the same?
A: For a long while I didn’t get any motivation hence I didn’t look at it as a viable stream for me. I remember showing one of my works to my mom and she wasn’t really impressed (laughs). I guess I really did suck back then, but 4 years back I sent a concept called Horsemen to my brother from Philippines and he called me and asked me why don’t you write a book or something? Then when I started writing my wife saw the happiness it brought to me and she insisted that I take it very seriously.

Q.       Tell us a little bit about your recent book?
A: My recent book is called Hexagon. It is a Sci-Fi in which Rahul and Ria, the main protagonist are art thieves who somehow get involved in a trans dimensional war brewing between humans and mysterious mad superhuman creatures called Moths.

Q.       Why did you think of writing a science fiction story?
A: I love Science Fiction. I know it is not a commercially viable medium but something about this genre revs me up. I want to continuously push myself and imagine more. It is fun and I really enjoy writing it.

Q.     Tell us a little bit about your book Hexagon?
A: Hexagon, as the name suggest is a six sided device which can transport you six dimensions of Earth. One of them is the world we live in. But as soon as we even come to activating it we realize that there is a very dangerous war brewing on the other side which the human’s are losing and we are next. There is only one man who could save us which is Rahul. The only problem is that he is an art thief who not only has a problem with authority but also is a adrenaline junkie who has a hard time taking anything seriously.

Q.   What triggered your imagination to write this story? How did you imagine the concept, the characters, etc?
A: To be completely honest I was reading about our Hindu mythology and the idea of lokas and I thought why we Indians don’t use it somewhere. To completely imagine the concept didn’t happen like in a fortnight, it was more like adding layer after layer. It took a long time to do that and then when I was finished I started thinking about characters and I knew I had to put an unpredictable character in the middle of this unpredictable situation (Rahul) and then his calm base (Ria). Then the other guys who you can call the sidekicks and then the bad guys. And then the allies and after 4 months I was ready to write the first 6 chapters.

Q.   Science Fiction by an Indian Author is not much heard about before. What was the journey/struggle like to publish one?
A: How I cannot stress how hard it was to get this book published. I would call send it to publishers and they would completely disregard it.  I called up an agent who asked me point blank “Are you crazy?” In the end, after 4 months Mahaveer Publishers wrote a mail with one line saying ‘Yeah Ishaan we will publish your book.’

Q.     Is there anything you find particularly challenging in your writing?
A: What is extremely challenging for me is to explain what the scene feels like. Like a fight sequence where everybody is chanting and banging their feet on the floor. I feel the reader should smell the sweat of the fighters along with the odor of the arena but to put it in words is hard when you are trying to tell a story without getting sidetracked.

Q.     How has it been received by the readers in India and abroad?
A: Hexagon has been received pretty well. It has recently won an award for the Best Science Fiction 2012 at Indian Literary Awards in Delhi and has got great reviews from a lot of places. I don’t think Mahaveer Publishers promotes its books abroad but I have a few fans from Europe who have bought the book online and have loved it. They were the first ones to urge me to write the second part.  

Q.    What is the best part about being an author in your opinion?
A: Your life revolves around telling stories and imagining stuff. How cool is that?

Q.     Did you ever get “The Writers Block” ? How did you overcome it?
A: I did and there was a time I was disgusted by it. You just have to give yourself time and try to write. I know there are times when you going through a writer’s block and you read what you written, which is two lines and you know instantly that this is shit but you have to keep writing. That is the only way you can get out of it.

Q.     Who are your favorite authors and what is it that really strikes you about their work?
Arthur C. Clarke, Isaac Asimov, Stephen King, John Mann and Richard Bach are just a few of my favorites. I love Isaac Asimov’s and Arthur C. Clarke’s imagination, I love Stephen King’s intensity, I am in awe with Richard Bach’s writing because it is full of hope and positivity even at the darkest times and John Mann, the man is a genius. He can take your most mundane nonfiction history and tell a story which just encapsulates you and take you to the time when Genghis Khan was alive or when our written words were being first written.  

Q.           What books have most influenced your life most?
A: Jonathan Livingston Seagull by Richard Bach and Blood Brothers by Dean R. Koontz. They both taught me a lot about myself.

Q.            What are you reading currently?
A: I am just beginning to read Assassin’s Creed - Forsaken by Oliver Bowden.

Q.            Broadly what are your next projects?
A: My next book is called Dinner Date, it is comedy and as already been picked up by Author’s Empire Publications. It is all set to release in March if nothing goes wrong. I am also working on a spy thriller next and then there will be a sequel to Hexagon called Icarus.
Q.            What is your opinion about writing as a career?
A: I take my writing seriously but I can tell you that although the industry is growing but it is very hard to make a living out of it right now. You need to be patient and let things take a turn for the good. It will but you just have to wait.

Q.      What do you think about the current trend of writing in India? Is the current lineage of Indian authors ready for an international audience/market?
A: I don’t want to sound brutal but Indian authors need to change their stories if they want to be globally accepted. 13 out of 15 books are semi fiction campus romances full of masala. Internationally you can’t expect them to work. And there are some authors who do get read internationally and win awards, who are just writing about India as a poverty ridden state with patriarchal system but are there aren’t many takers for that either. We need to change our ideology and write books like Dan Brown or J. K. Rowling if we want to have a global impact.

Q.            Any advice for budding writers?
A: Yeah don’t stick to just one concept and write what your publisher wants you to write. Write what you want to and you’ll see the response you get when you write from the heart.

 Q.   Any message for your readers?
A: Read my next book, Dinner Date. A lot of people said that I can’t do a story in the real world with real life characters. I did it and I made it funny(winks). I am sure you guys will enjoy it. It is a laugh a minute kind of a book with a pretty good story and for those who are waiting for the sequel of Hexagon, please be patient. It is very hard to write such a story with so many angles. I promise you that it will be darker and deeper.