Hi Vikash Sharma,
Hope this finds you in good spirits!
It’s a pleasure to take your interview today. So let’s start:
Vikash Sharma was born in Haryana in 1987. He has travelled various states of India, to explore about the lives of people, places, languages, cultural differences, festivals, religions, and the rest. He currently lives in Mumbai. He is a freelance writer, photographer, traveller, producer and a filmmaker. He believes in wandering, seeking happiness in small things, and sharing it with people. 'Les just not be only Friendz (I)' is his first novel. He is currently working on the second part of the trilogy of 'Les just not be only Friendz'.
Here, he lets his readers know a little more about himself and his journey so far. Ladies and Gentlemen, I bring to you Vikash Sharma:
1. Tell us something about you that only people close to you know.
Vikash: First, hello to all the readers out there, I really appreciate your dedication and undying passion for reading. You have been a strong inspiration for so many writers out there. Thank you for keeping this beautiful tradition of reading alive, in this fast and digitally transforming world. Now, talking about me, well, I’m a simple although sarcastic, athletic but too lazy at times and happy go lucky person, who believes in the philosophy of doing good for the people and living happily and letting others live happily. After finishing post graduation (PGD in Cinema and MBA), I shifted to Mumbai in 2011, worked there for 6 years in VFX industry and now I’ve come up with my debut romantic novel series. My life is an open book to people close to me, and for the readers, I’ve already shared a lot of interesting tales in my debut novel, so I would request everybody, to read it and I positively hope that everyone enjoys it.
2. How does it feel to be a published writer? Has it changed you in anyway? How do you handle fame?
Vikash: It feels great of course. More than anything, there is a very pleasing and satisfying feeling which comes after realising that the goal that was being chased for long has been achieved. So, overall it’s a very gratifying experience. It has not changed me in any way. I am a very simple and grounded guy, and I don’t consider it as fame; I consider it as fulfilment of a goal which has long been due. Since I don’t consider it fame, I don’t get affected by it, and I always have something to get busy with, like the second part of the series on which I’ve been working on from past 2-3 years.
3. Have you always wanted to be a writer?
Vikash: No, I don’t think so. But I always wanted to do something which will mean something and is worthy to do and what other great medium to begin with, other than writing. Although, I would like to state that, I have been influenced by some great writers from a young age, which must have influenced me to take this field at some stage of my life. I guess, this is that stage, the current time.
4. Tell us something about your book, Les Just Not Be Only Friendz 1. How did the idea for this book shaped up in your mind?
Vikash: This book is centered around love and friendship. The protagonist Aakash is an average performer, from an average class family and who has everything at stake on his performance in next 2 years in Noida. The trouble ensues once he falls in love with Neha. It’s the story of his and Neha’s love, friends, trials and tribulations and how they cope up with the mess around them. It’s a troublesome love story, wrapped with friendship on the edges. Through this trilogy, I have tried to capture the various stages of life of a student.
Regarding this first novel, the idea comes up while I was pursuing post graduation from Delhi in 2009. Coincidentally, during the same time period there was a boom in publishing of Romantic books and novels. And during the same time period, while reading a few good novels, which touched and moved me, I fell in love with an amazing person. Everything started changing afterwards and finally, it is turned into a novel where most of the incidents portrayed in the novel are picked from real life events.
5. How do you envision your book will impact your readers?
Vikash: Since all the incidents portrayed in the story are quite realistic and natural, I am quite sure that the readers will find the story relatable and will enjoy reading it. I am not after bringing any change in the world as I don’t feel that I need to. Although, I hope the biggest impact that I wish to see in the readers were to start reading again, the way the old generation used to. Reading should never become un-cool. It never was. And so, it should never be. I want the readers to enjoy reading it and remember the good old times, in either their solitary disposition or with their better halves.
6. Briefly tell us about your earlier writings.
Vikash: Not professionally, of course, but I have been writing from a very long time. Since I was born in 1987, there wasn't much to dwell on, technology wise. School books and T.V. (with very limited channels) is all that we had at our disposal. While during childhood, I used to scribble and make something out of a line or two that I created. It didn't make much sense then. But I was really fascinated by the work of various renowned writers like Mahashweta devi, Munshi Premchand, Vikram Seth, Ruskin bond and others. Those all numerous poems and short stories that I had read since childhood must have acted as inspiration for me in some way. Poems always fascinated me. I still continue my interest of penning down poems whenever I get some free time.
7. Share some of your interesting memories you lived while writing your latest book, Les Just Not Be Only Friendz 1.
Vikash: There were many. One among them is, I was staying with 3 flatmates in thane in 2013, and during that time, I had developed this weird habit of writing post 2 am till 7 am in the morning. This practice continued for more than a month. My flatmates knew that I was working on something, but they were not aware that I have been writing a novel series. At night I used to make coffee and the small meagre noises from the kitchen used to disrupt them off their sleep. In the morning, they used to talk about me behind my back. I once heard them in my half-sleep state that they were worried if I was under the influence of some black magic. I had a hearty laugh that day and I continued my practice in the same fashion.
8. What or who was your biggest inspiration behind this book?
Vikash: There are many again. Some of them, which I have already mentioned in my novel as well, are - My Parents, Teachers, Friends, Chandra Shekhar Azad, APJ Abdul Kalam, World Cinema, Various writers, Steve Jobs, Lee Iacocca, Atal Bihari Vajpayee, Satyajeet Ray, Guru Dutt, Jagjit Singh, Marlon Brando, Robert de niro, Greenday band, various books and Raj comics character Doga. Collectively, all of them have inspired me in some way or the other.
9. How do you make sure the information used in your books is accurate and up-to-date?
Vikash: The authenticity of the information is not at all compromised in my novel. I have done a thorough check of the entire content and since this novel is based on my friends’ and some of my real life experiences, mostly I am providing the first hand information, which leaves very less scope for inaccuracy.
10. What’s the biggest mistake new writers make according to you?
Vikash: To provide a clear perspective, I’ll divide the mistakes in two parts. Firstly, regarding the art of storytelling, one must understand all the technicalities, the rules, the procedure one should follow, the plots, storyline, characterization, graph, grammar, vocabulary, pace, pattern, genre, etc., so if the writer wants to tweak the story, in any unconventional way, he should know the rules before breaking them as per his convenience, which affects the rest of the execution of the story. Various authors’ falters in the above mentioned mistake category and bear the brunt of honest reviewers. Secondly, the writers should understand the business model of the publications industry and how it works. It’s essential to gain some practical insight about how the whole marketing, promotion and events help in overall success of the novel. Those writers, who do not passionately contribute in marketing and promotional activities with their publishers, may find it tough in the long run. One should not think that the job is over after writing; actually, the most challenging work begins after the writing work is over. I am still learning, will keep learning, and I’ll keep helping others the same way someone has helped me.
11. How do you feel when someone disagrees with something you say or have written?
Vikash: I feel bad when someone disagrees with me and I take these people straight to my torture chamber and punish them. Haha... Just kidding! Well, what can you do about the difference in opinion? Everybody is entitled to their own opinion and that’s perfectly healthy as long as there is no harmful intent behind such disagreement. So far, I have really enjoyed people discussing about what I have written. I respect everybody’s opinion, and I personally like the critics more but only when they have a better alternative then what I have written. It’s still subjective as who will decide which content is better and which content are not.
12. What is your least favourite part of the writing process?
Vikash: I don’t know. I guess I enjoy all the parts of writing process, the pain and gain, everything. Yes, though there is one, looking for grammatical mistakes and punctuation errors, every now and then, is one of the least favourite parts of my writing process. Sometimes, it breaks my flow and tempo.
13. What is your biggest strength when it comes to writing?
Vikash: I have patience equivalent of a monk. While writing silently, people around me often perceive that I am a big steady rock. Well, I think my biggest strength is my patience and honesty in what I do. If I don’t think I can be patient and honest in performing a task, I would not take it.
14. What are some things you like to do when you’re not writing?
Vikash: I'm a huge movie buff. I like watching movies, whenever I can. Through travelling, I seek inner peace and joy. Photography, writing, and learning other languages are my other interests.
My hobbies include - plantation, regular exercise and creating something interesting every day.
15. Tell us something about your future projects. Are you writing anything at the moment? What about the sequel of this book?
Vikash: After the first part gets published, the second and third will follow and will get published in the near future. That’s the whole plan at the moment. About the teaser, the first part is centered on love and friendship. The second part or the sequel, on which I am currently working, will take the story forward and will have some very interesting insights from the life of graduates. If everything falls in the right place, we will be able to get the second part in the market, in next 4 months.
16. What do you think about the writing industry these days? Do you think becoming a full-time writer is an advisable option?
Vikash: My view is that, the publishing industry is going through a transitional and simultaneously a rough phase, where the biggest challenge for the industry is to face and adapt with the shifting of customer’s reading habits and preferences. The time is changing rapidly and with that it’s imperative to understand and adapt with the changing times. People don’t read the way they used to once, and somewhere the Publishing industry and we, the authors are also to be blamed equally for that and that’s one of the reasons of this sudden increase of author’s taking the indie route. Independent authors provide variety through their works and I feel there is market for all kind of works. It’s all good for a healthy competition. There is nothing wrong with becoming a full time writer, unless you are really good at what you do, else to have a plan B as back up, will surely not be a bad idea.
17. Any tips for budding writers?
Vikash: It’s a long tedious process. Keep polishing your skills. Keep working at it. And one day you will automatically realize that you get it. You will be surprised that day. Enjoy that day. And then again, keep working on your next work. And about the process, well, with the advent of technology and other mediums at our disposal, it’s not difficult to find all "what's and how's" about writing these days. I wish you all the best. Hope to read and enjoy your work some day. For young authors, if you want to get in touch with me regarding any help or assistance, please feel free to connect.
18. What are the roles of an editor and a reviewer in the success of book according to you?
Vikash: Very important. It’s one of the most essential roles for a novel to make or break. If editor blunders, the novel will never be able to make its mark. If the reviewer gives it poor rating, then people won’t buy it. So, both have very distinct but important roles to play in the success of a book.
19. How does it feel to be interviewed by me? *basically the interviewer wishes to hear praises* *haha*
Vikash: It feels great to be honest. First you have a charming smile, along with a very pleasing voice and the way you have made me feel comfortable throughout the session, I can say, it has been one of the best interview I have given so far.
20. Will I get a signed copy please? :P *puppy face*
Vikash: I will definitely make sure that you’ll get your signed copy. Thanks for this fantastic interview. Hope to see you soon, so that we can talk about the second part of the novel series. Cheers and all the very best. Good reading, happy reading!