Please introduce yourself and your book(s)!
A. I am Gaurav Sharma, an Indian author. I write to satiate my soul and teach Mathematics to sustain. Life has challenged me now and then as it does to everyone. I would not brag that I emerged winner every time but, yes, I didn’t give up.
I have published four books until now. ‘LOVE @ AIR FORCE’, my debut book, came out in 2013. I started writing this story in 2007 as a tribute to my father after his sudden demise. He served in the Air Force and played a phenomenal role in making me a writer. The book did better than I expected.
Encouraged, I published my second novel ‘RAPESCARS…They Never Heal’ in 2014. It is a story of a rape survivor who seeks unusual revenge on her rapist.
‘DAWN AT DUSK’, my third book came out two years after. It is a May-December love story of an older woman and a younger man. It reiterates that true love always helps you to evolve whether requited or not.
Born in 2017, my fourth book ‘UNBUDGETED INNOCENCE’ is an anthology of stories for children.
What is/are the real-life story(ies) behind your book(s)?
A. There are no real-life stories behind my three novels. But, small incidents and happenings in the society sow a seed in the mind of a writer. Once that seed germinates, it depends on the writer’s pen and his thoughts what tree the seed grows into.
‘Love @ Air Force’ is about rank discrimination and rank obsession in the armed force. It is a derivative of my schooling and dwelling at different Air Force bases.
‘RAPESCARS…’ is the result of thorough research. The frequent rape cases around the world ignited contempt and rage in me which came out in the form a story.
‘Dawn at Dusk’ is the expansion of an idea that sparked one of the sleepless nights. Only ‘Unbudgeted Innocence’ is a collection of true stories from my childhood.
What inspires/inspired your creativity?
A. I was an inquisitive child. I had to give a shot to everything new and rare I saw someone else doing. It all started when I read a poem in a newspaper written by a six-year-old. I was eight then and it was enough inspiration for me to wield my pen. The next day, I had written a poem. It was not so good but my father was happy and went overboard in praising me. He encouraged me to write more. Sometimes, he would give me a couplet and ask me to expand it. A few months after, my poem published in the same newspaper. Since then, neither writing divorced me nor did I leave ‘her’. But, the idea of publishing my work came only after my father passed away. I feel his soul motivated me.
How do you deal with creative block?
A. To me, reading is the best remedy for a creative block. A Creative block is a positive conspiracy against a writer. It makes him realise how important reading is and it also helps him to relax. Reading is the training every writer needs. When you read, even a phrase or a sentence or a paragraph can inspire you and restock your mind with new ideas. You can meet people your characters relate to. Observing people helps in grooming the characters and cultivating sub-plots.
What are the biggest mistakes you can make in a book?
A. The story the book has must be close to life. Yet, I always keep up that every story must have a touch of idealism. The element of euphuism is permissible only to the extent that it doesn’t sound unrealistic. The existence of a book is meaningless if half the readers do not connect with it. It must stir their souls or show the reflection of their lives in the book or inspire them. If a book cannot do any good to the society, it shouldn’t do any wrong either.
Do you have tips on choosing titles and covers?
A. Both, the title and the cover should seem like stating the book and the story. Title and cover should not be saying ‘Sky’ when the story is about ‘Earth’. They should be in tune with the genre of the story. An intriguing title and a trenchant cover are prerequisites to attract readers’ attention.
How do bad reviews and negative feedback affect you and how do you deal with them?
A. They did affect me in the beginning but lately I learnt to deal with them. Reviews are opinions. You should not discard them without impartial assessment. If reviews and feedbacks have some sane advice that can help you, then you must accept them. If not, you should pass it as another point of view. Whatever you become and whatever you achieve, there is always a scope of improvement. Reviews help us with that scope and help to promote our work.
How has your creation process improved over time?
A. Creativity is inherent but it has many other parameters. Those parameters improve over time given that you practice your creativity with devotion. Language, vocabulary, storytelling and control on the story are the parameters of writing. If you write every day and read a lot, they are bound to improve. People have told me that my writing has improved with every book.
What were the best, worst and most surprising things you encountered during the entire process of completing your book(s)?
A. The journey of writing a book is no less fascinating than the moment when you hold your book in your hand. It is a wonderful learning process. Researching about the professional and social spheres you have never explored educates you.
I have made many lovable friends since I started writing my debut book. In many ways, my life has changed. I have become more confident about my dreams and the way I carry myself.
Even your characters can inspire you sometimes. You make your character face a certain situation and let the story decides its response. And, you wonder how you would have responded if you were in the same situation despite being the creator. Your response might have been puerile, when you were in a similar circumstance in your life. The marvellousness of writing is the reason writers never quit writing.
Do you tend towards personal satisfaction or aim to serve your readers? Do you balance the two and how?
A. I write for self-satisfaction as I believe writing is saying the unsaid buried inside you. A writer is a person who has a lot to say but no one to lend ears to. Your writings tend to become artificial and lose its charm when you write to serve the readers. Ink adorns a paper to make it a piece of literature. Writing turns into a film script. It shouldn’t be the other way round. The goal of saleability is the biggest handicap of writing.
What role do emotions play in creativity?
A. inspiration is the fuel for creativity. Being emotional makes you more susceptible to inspiration. Emotions help us to understand life. Emotion is the soul of writing. Writing is translating observations, experiences, and perceptions into lively words. All forms of writing are living entities. You cannot produce a living being without emotions. Writing can’t be mechanical. It has to come from the heart.
Do you have any creativity tricks?
A. I talk to myself a lot. At that time, I hear two voices conversing within me. They appreciate each other, contradict each other, and sometimes condemn each other while discussing my writing endeavours.
Also, I love to walk. It allows my mind the freedom of uninterrupted thinking. Other than these habits, I try to see positives in the people I meet. Every person a writer meets lends him material for writing. I am too emotional and weep often. The psychologists say it is good for creativity.
What are your plans for future books?
A. My next book ‘It All Happened in a School’ is with my literary agent. We hope it would start breathing by the end of the year. It is a hard-hitting story of a sui generis school ‘God & Guru Convent’ and a rebellious teacher who challenges the corrupt practices. The story is about classroom-drama, teacher-student dynamics, murder, rape and how power rules.
The book I am working on is the story of a man who is aware that he is about to die and has no fears and qualms about it. I hope to finish it by the end of this year.
Tell us some quirky facts about yourself.
A. With non-existing upper lip, huge ears and a big nose I look like a devil. (I have heard people whispering about my features). So, I aspire to play a villain in a Bollywood film.
People say I am intolerable. I make castles in the air; I over-think, over-analyse and take every idea too seriously. My superlative optimism backfires so often that lately I have started considering it my biggest vice. Also, being a mathematics teacher I am not so popular among my friends and family.