Sunday, June 11, 2017

In Conversation with Sagar Kamath :)


Hi Sagar Kamath,

Hope this finds you in good spirits!

It’s a pleasure to take your interview today. So let’s start:

Sagar Kamath teaches History and International Affairs at Symbiosis International University. With a Masters in History and Philosophy and over 9 years of experience in the teaching sector, he has lectured extensively on subjects ranging from global history to modern day geopolitics and specializes in issues of religion and politics. An avid storyteller, he has spent years researching humanity’s intricate interplay with the natural world, and believes that events like World War II serve to highlight the best and the worst. We as a species are capable of something is amply reflected in his book, Chronux. In his free time, he loves to explore ‘off-the-beaten-track’ locales that have a sense of mystique about them.

Here, he lets his readers know a little more about himself and his journey so far. Ladies and Gentlemen, I bring to you Sagar Kamath:

1. Tell us something about you that only people close to you know. 

I love a sense of regularity in my life… so for instance, I feel very comfortable meeting the same person more than once at the same place. You might call it ritualising life or an idiosyncratic way of living, but it gives me a sense of balance. Curiously, I am also very, very fond of darkness!

2. How does it feel to be a published writer? Has it changed you in anyway? How do you handle fame?

Ha ha ha… I wish I could say that things have changed, but seriously no… not really. I am just the same as before. Of course, the feeling of having published my dream project is just about starting to sink in. Right now I could not be happier.

3. Have you always wanted to be a writer? How has being in the teaching industry influenced in this decision?

I have always been an avid reader and have been thinking of writing a novel for close to a decade now. Undoubtedly, being in the education sector has helped me in seeing this through. Since Chronux deals with History and International affairs, apart from the Sci-Fi elements, my background and years of research into these subjects proved immensely helpful. Moreover, my students over the years have been one of my biggest sources of motivation, as it was they who inspired me to see this journey to fruition.

4. Tell us something about your book, Chronux. How did the idea of letting ‘time’ play the role of the protagonist shaped up in your mind?

I have always been fascinated with human history and particularly the way it seems to morph, depending on who is narrating it. To me, one of the most fascinating aspects of our collective story is how dating back to the earliest civilizations, we as a species have been obsessed with the idea of is perhaps because we realized very early on that without conceptualizing ‘time’ in some shape or form, we would find it impossible to really plot the march of our civilization. Whether we define time as simply a ‘mathematical constant’ or ‘the rate of change’ or personify it as a deity, we seem inextricably bound by it. To me, this was a powerful motivation to write a story not from our perspective but from time’s... the question: What if Time were tracking us just like we were tracking it... seemed both terrifying and exciting at the same time!

5. How do you envision your book will impact your readers?

I would hope that anyone who reads Chronux finds the thought process that has gone behind writing it, fascinating and enthralling. At the heart of it, the book is a historical thriller with elements of Sci-fi in it, a genre that has largely been untouched by writers of Indian origin. I feel that the themes discussed in the book could lead to a lot of intellectual speculations about the nature of time and the impact it has on us. This is not just another “Time Travel” story!

6. Briefly tell us about your earlier writings and the subjects that interest you.

I have always been interested in subjects related to history and religion, and have written a series of essays (not formally published yet) on the same. What fascinates me most about history is the fact that here we have a subject that could potentially be the ultimate teacher to all of us and yet we repeatedly choose to ignore it.

7. Share some of your interesting memories you lived while writing Chronux.

Unlike most writers, I took on a slightly different approach while writing Chronux. The plot was so complex and ambitious that till I had it completely figured out in my head, I did not commit any of it to paper… or in my case… the laptop! For me, this journey began through a stray though which then took on epic proportions in my head…a thought that I would debate and discuss with my close friend Chinmay Deo, during many, many unforgettable long walks and treks. Almost anywhere I visited during this process, seemed to reach out to me and egg me on. I remember one instance when I was out jogging late evening, with my mind immersed in the story… and I suddenly realized as my legs stared to give way that I had ended up some 13 or 14 kilometres from my place!

8. What or who was your biggest inspiration behind this book? Have your lectures and students inspired you in some way to write this book?

As I mentioned before, my students have been one of my biggest motivation for this book. I remember, I had spoken about this to some of my students at Symbiosis way back in 2012, and from then on, every single batch would periodically remind me of my inability to see it through… ha ha ha. I must say this had probably more of an impact on me than I realized. On a serious note however, I realized that my passion for my subjects was such that I simply had to do more with it.

9. How did you make sure the information used in the book is accurate and up-to-date?

Writing Chronux was a unique challenge since it involved combining fact and fiction in two different ways. First — there is the historical backdrop to the book. So, for instance a substantial chunk of the book deals with the period of the 1920s and 30s with the Nazis coming to power in Germany. This closely matched my own research that I had done through my years in academia. I used all the sources that I would normally use, were I taking a course on the same. But then, the plot contains certain fictional elements that needed to be incorporated into this historical setting, namely an audacious expedition into Tibet to locate the source of God’s power on Earth. Here I had to make sure that while I described the geographical landmarks on the journey through Western Tibet as accurately as possible, a certain creative liberty would have to be taken, since I was at the end of the day writing fiction. Second — The book also has elements of Science Fiction in it. Here in I faced the second challenge. How do you create an altogether new theory of Time and at the same time keep it logically consistent so that it appears plausible to a reader. Keep in mind, some of the technologies I have described in the book at “futuristic”, since one part of the book plays out in 3067 A.D.

10. What’s the biggest mistake new writers make according to you?

I think a lot of new writers start off with the presumption that readers would want to read a particular kind of a book and then try and tailor their writing to match that. One needs to be confident in what he/she is capable of and write according to your own style, rather than mimic someone else’

11. How do you feel when someone disagrees with something you say or have written?

I would have no problem in dealing with opposition of any kind, so long as the opposition has a logical basis to it. If my thoughts and ideas are being challenged, at least make sure that the counter is logically better than mine. Of course, this does not apply to a creative process, since here the agreements and disagreements would be more subjective in nature and here I believe, to each his/her own.

12. What is your least favourite part of the writing process? What is your biggest strength when it comes to writing?

I have thoroughly and completely enjoyed the writing process, so it’s hard for me to pick my least favourite. But if I had to, I would say the editing part of it. Speaking of my biggest strength, I would say that my style of writing is basically simple and easy to follow, making it easy for me to connect the reader to extremely complex ideas. Here again I would say that my foray into teaching has helped.

13. How did you decide to write the book episodically? Do you think it has benefitted the plot in some way?

This is an interesting question. To be honest, even before I began to write, I had decided to write the book in a series of Episodes. Chronux is one huge plot that spans a total of 6 episodes. However, as you go through the book, it becomes clear that these are NOT short stories. This style of a narrative simply allows me to use a slightly no-linear style of writing… which is important since the protagonist of the story is “TIME”! So for instance: Episode One centres around the happenings in the distant past in a remote Himalayan Village named ‘Aruhu’, while Episode Two then takes the reader into the far future and follows the journey of Chronux, through an extra-terrestrial invasion in the year 3067 AD. Episodes Three, Four, Five and Six then take the story through the early half of the 20th century, with the Nazis engaging in a near suicidal expedition into remote Tibet in search of Paradise.

14. What are some things you like to do when you’re not writing?

My hobbies are quite varied and most of them are to do with the outdoors. I love exploring new locales on foot and am a very avid trekking enthusiast. Although I am not a religious person, trying to understand different cultures, I find very fascinating. Late night conversations with friends and loved ones also have a special place.

15. Tell us something about your future projects. Are you writing anything at the moment?

Yes I am. In fact this was something I was working on, before Chronux happened and consumed all of my time and energy. But my second novel will deal with the concept of re-incarnation and the after-life and will have a martial arts basis to it. For obvious reasons, I cannot share more at this point!

16. What do you think about the writing industry these days? Do you think becoming a full-time writer is an advisable option?

Having made my first foray into the sector, I have come to understand just how competitive and tough it really is, and I would definitely not advise anyone else into considering a full time career as a writer… at least not to begin with. Let this be your passion rather than a way of earning your living and I believe then and only then will you be able to write your best stories.

17. Any tips for budding writers?

Write a story that you would love to read yourself, rather than try and worry about what the common trends are in the market. It is impossible to write a book that would fascinate everyone, but if you write the best that you can, in a manner that you would enjoy, you will have an audience. Also make sure that you are passionate about the subject matter you plan on dealing with. If the topic doesn’t excite you, it definitely will not excite your reader! Lastly... and I don’t mean to ascribe this as a standard practice, but merely one that helped me... don’t start writing the book until you have the entire story mapped out. This will ensure that you don’t run into what is often described as a ‘Writer’s Block’.

18. What are the roles of an editor and a reviewer in the success of book according to you?

I think both play a very significant part in the success of any book. The editor is in a sense the ‘first reader’ and as such is able to provide unique insight into what can and cannot work…something with the writer would never be able to get, since he/she is so much a part of the story. Reviewers are extremely important as I believe every writer needs regular and constant feedback to better understand not just the audience but also onself.

19. How does it feel to be interviewed by me? *basically the interviewer wishes to hear praises* *haha*

No comments… ha ha ha! No but seriously, I have had an amazing time and you were most wonderful as an interviewer!

20. Anything that you would like to tell us? Your favourite writers? Your hobbies? Or just some sneaky peaky details?

Ha ha ha… well as far as sneaky peaky tit bits are concerned, how would it sound to know that one of my clandestine inspirations for writing a book on ‘Time’ is that I once wasted a lot of it, waiting for a ‘Date’, who never showed up!

Wow! So we have come to an end of this awesome session. 


During our more 'Philosophical' moments... we have all wondered about 'Time'... its true nature... and its impact on us! But what if?... 'Time'... had similar concerns... about us? For the people of Aruhu, a tiny Himalayan village, deep in India's ancient past, what begins as a visitation by a mysterious entity, quickly morphs into an inescapable trap... one that has left its imprint on all of human history...and the future! This is a trap that has seduced hundreds through its lure of absolute power, including the Nazis... who mount an epic expedition to unearth the source of God's power on Earth... only to discover that the cost of absolute power... is also absolute! This is the story 'Time' wants to tell us... this is the story of Chronux!

Buying Link: Amazon

Readers, let’s be kind to the writer and buy the book soon. Do share your feedback with me once you read Chronux.

Happy Reading!

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