I am honored that Saket Suryesh agreed to let me interview him. He has a rare talent to paint a picture with words that will leave you breathless and haunted. His short stories are amazing and his poetry will touch your soul. If you haven't met him, let me introduce you to my friend Saket.
A gentleman and writer who I hope will remain a friend throughout our lives.
Can you tell us a little bit about yourself and the first time someone complimented you on something you had written.
I believe, it takes a great deal of courage for someone who is not full-time writer to go ahead and declare him or herself a writer. It is a difficult proclamation and I have been quite troubled by the same. It commits you to that being your only truth. Sometimes, one is worried not only about the commitment it means, but also if one is setting himself for a very public humiliation, by opting for a batman-esque double life without the perks of a billionaire which are available to Mr. Bruce Wayne. It is easier to work as a different man at night when you do not have to get up and go to the office next morning. However, writing is inescapable if you have things to tell, things which you cannot contain in your head.
I wrote a poem in Hindi when I was in school, more with the sense of pleasing my father, who wrote poetry. It was liked by my teacher, who did not initially believe it to be the work of a ten year old. I remember, it was about the democracy and that sacrosanct sense of freedom inherent in it which ought to be guarded. Well, my father wrote poetry and I loved the sense of letting myself go through the words. Writing is an avenue to be brutally honest. So I wrote. However, He was not much pleased with my seriousness with the trade, which he could only detect by the time I completed. Nudged by parents, I pursued the usual middle class path; I graduated as an Electrical engineer, fell in love, did my masters and wrote on empty cigarette packets through the college. Once I had a daughter, six years back, I felt a surge to write down what I would largely consider constituted me. I felt, any human being is a force of ideas. I wanted my thoughts to carry on to my child someday, so she could read them.
And then I wrote essays, which were more like my own struggle to understand the world around and self-published them as “If Truth Were To be Told”. It did not sell much, but it helped me gain entrance into a different world of literature where fellow writers, much better than me like you, embraced me as one of their own. That book was followed by a collection of my poems, picked from loose sheets and doodles on the books I had read during my student years. I could sail through my initial embarrassments and fear of being called a fake, and began writing a Fiction which is still under-works. In between, pushed by Julie Larson of StoryStar, I discovered the magic of Short-stories which I tried hand at off and on. The days went in selling Cloud Computing and through nights I wonder among the clouds, stitching my stories.
What can a reader expect when they pick up books or stories written by Saket Suryesh?
Most of my stories and books are written around the idea of individualism. I have great love for the non-conformist thoughts as long as they do not demand a surrender of reason. Most of my stories runs around love and death, which are two absolutes in life. They happen to everyone. Most of my stories are about what happens to everyone. That is what I believe, makes my writing honest. But than a good writer has to agree to expose himself to public humiliation and shame, and still continue to be honest. Each of my writing carries a little bit of me. There could be some playful games which I sometimes play for instance, my story “Love in Yale” was a conscious attempt to write a story in the background which I know nothing about. It was to see the universality of love. The environs were foreign, but the man in love there was me, so was the soldier, who died in “The Death of a Soldier.
What have you found to be a successful way to market your books?
No, I haven’t. I haven’t sold many of the books and when I sold initially close to thirty copies of my collection of essays, and found solace in what I read somewhere about Schopenhauer having sold twenty-eight copies of his first book initially. Anyways, I believe, reviews are good way to sell, but in India, it is pretty difficult to find reviewers on Amazon. I was talking to a new writer few days back, and he was equally confounded on the way into brick and mortar, which seems to be a very difficult art. To sell on Amazon, reviews are important. Goodreads Giveaway have not given results. I can believe, not all the ten applicants liked the book, but they could’ve at least given negative reviews. I trying to figure out best way to get reviews.
You’ve written a book of poetry and several short stories. Do you think poetry as an art is being under-valued and what can we do to inspire a new generation to read and write poetry?
I believe, all good writing finds poetry running through them, whether they are journalistic prose, blogs or stories. Most great stories aren’t made of very complex and convoluted plot. They are made up of sincere feelings transformed into magical structures by correct words, which is what poetry is. To my mind, all great prose is nothing but poetry without pretence. It is that great poetry flowing silently through The Great Gatsby which makes it a brilliant book. It is very important to get children exposed to poetry. It is a job too serious to be left to school teachers, many have scant love for literature. I still remember a teacher we had in my school in class XII, who read to us “Tonight I can Write Saddest Lines” by Pablo Neruda and how sadness simmered among the students. You need to be exposed to poetry by people who do not consider poetry as being frivolous with words. I trust, we are writers can do much about it, by doing reading sessions with schools. I still lament why I did not have teacher like her in other classes.
What inspires your poetry?
Love and love only. Being a father, I bask in love of my six year old and am aware of the fleeting flow of time. Stretched between a state of love and un-love, I write poetry.
Is there a major theme in your stories?
My stories are woven around individual thoughts and feelings. Even things like war which are much too grand to be considerate of human feelings need to be looked at from the eyes of human beings which are a part of it. Human beings cannot be reduced to mere numbers. There are real thinking, breathing and feeling human beings are hidden in each discomforting headline.
What were some of your favourite books as a child?
When I was very young, I read Ramayana and Mahabharata. As a teenager, I remember reading “Of Human Bondage” and “The Razor’s Edge.” During college, read all of Ayn Rand and Nietsche which impacted me a lot.
What three things should writers avoid when writing dialogue?
They should align with the person speaking them. Dialogues should be there for the purpose of communication between the characters, not to carry the story forward. Burdening them with the task of carrying the story forward makes them heavy. They are supposed to lift the story up and shine through the story.
Don’t use dialogues to express the thoughts. Thoughts should be expressed as thoughts only and not be carried over the crutches of dialogues. Something the way Dostoevsky (Notes from The Underground, Crime and Punishment) does where characters speak in their minds and we read them. That is the advantage of being a writer; you can always tell what a character is thinking without them having to speak about it.
Dialogues ought to be simple, unless the person speaking them is a writer or a poet or a speaker. They should not overpower the character. They can be used to add colour to the character, like “Old Sport” of Jay Gatsby.
I also believe that Dialogues must use less of profanity. This is a bit of challenge for realism, but then that is the challenge, can we make the story youthful, true enough without being resorting to outright profanity.
What book or film has the best dialogue that inspires you to be a better writer and why?
There are many books like Atlas Shrugged, The Fountainhead, The Great Gatsby. Then, Television shows like “Boston Legal and The West Wing are immensely witty. On Movies, three movies which I can never have enough of in terms of dialogue are “A Few Good Men”, “My Fair Lady” and “The Cat On A Hot Tin Roof.”
What three things should a first time visitor to India do?
Delhi is anyways constant. Then, depending on weather, it can be Rishikesh or Rajasthan. There are so many beautiful places, but the best attraction of any place is people.
What can we expect from Saket Suryesh in the next 12 months?
I hope to complete by novel in 12 months. I have been contemplating a book addressed to my daughter. And I am intending to collect all poems from my Facebook posts and get them out as a collection. I am also looking to re-launch my poetry collection, if someone can help edit it.
I would be happy to help you with the layout and editing of your poetry collection and get it ready for publishing in both eBook and paperback Saket.
Any advice for authors out there who are either just starting out or getting frustrated with the industry?
Be aware that you will not immediately sell. Seek happiness in your ability to write. We do not write because the world is dying to read us. We write because we will die unwritten if we do not write. It is not about stories waiting to be heard, it is more about stories waiting to be told.
Is there a particular theme to your stories?
What is your novel about?
It is about the story of a daughter who explores the life of her parents to understand them as individuals and in process, understand the true glory of love.
Do you have a favourite movie or author that inspires your writing?
Julie and Julia, I love Scott Fitzgerald. I also loved “The Moveable Feast” and “On Writing” by Stephen King as especially motivating.
Where can readers and fans connect with you?
Facebook, twitter and my blog- Love, Life and Happiness.
I have a page on FB- https://www.facebook.com/saket.suryesh
A Draft Novel and on Google+, A Difficult Love where I post select work on my upcoming novel.
Saket I am honored to have you as a friend. I truly believe that you have a rare talent that whether it takes you far in this life I don't know, for my crystal ball isn't working. But I do believe your work will be remembered and looked for through the years.
Author & Poet
Marta Moran Bishop, is an author and poet. Ms. Bishop writes many books for children as well as for more mature audiences.