Sarang Kawade completed his BE in Computer Engineering. He is currently working as a Software Engineer at Amdocs. Let us know more about his writing.
What inspired you to start writing?
Well, it was an accident. No epiphany as such. First year of engineering, I was sitting in a communication class and there was nothing to do. So I took a paper and jotted down few rhyming sentences (not exactly a poem). The paper was eventually passed from each student to the teacher and everyone appreciated the effort.
Since then, it’s been nearly seven years and I can’t recall a single day when I wasn’t thinking what to write next. I stumbled onto my love. A happy accident, that is.
What did you like to read when you were a boy?
I read anything and everything under the sun.
Childhood – Right from my favorite Raj Comics (Parmanu, Nagraj, Dhruv, Doga), Diamond Comics (Chacha Chaudhary, Billu, Pinki) to shampoo, soap, Eno ingredients, jokes on match-boxes and quotes on walls, roads, hoardings, etc.
Puberty – It was in my first year of Engineering though that I held a novel for the first time. Inevitably, like a huge chunk of Indian population, I began with Chetan Bhagat. Five Point Someone, to be precise. And I just fell in love with the book and the magic words could create. I experimented with commercial Indian fiction before moving on to Mario Puzo, Ayn Rand, Mitch Albom, Bukowski, Kafka, Nietzsche, et al.
What is the greatest challenge in writing a book?
It would be unfair to point out a single aspect as the greatest challenge. Before starting the book, the greatest challenge is to find an idea, develop the plot and judge its potential. While writing the book, it is discipline and commitment to finish what you plan. Cover design after completing the manuscript, because no matter what we are told, people do judge a book by its cover. And after publishing, marketing the book, which is still my Achilles’ heel.
How much research do you do before writing the book?
Since my first two books have been anthologies, not much, I’d say. First one, Pendulum, was purely based on observation of the world around me and then interpreting it through my lens. Void, however, is pure fiction – made up and relying on imagination.
Honestly, I like to keep my literature abstract, unless the idea demands to be treated with reality. They’re happening usually in a nameless town and the primary focus stays on the philosophy and emotions of protagonists. An author has two options – either do research on places that exist and describe them vividly or create places that don’t and describe the setting at your own convenience. I’ve been sticking to the latter one, for my first two books at least. But then again, as I said, it depends on the idea you’ve chosen for your plot.
Perhaps it’s a feature my work is missing – to describe the real life setting: what color the sky was, how chilly the wind was, which vegetation dominated the area, the architecture, et al. But I’m working on it (read reading).
What motivated you to write the book “Void”?
It was Jan 2014 and I knew I wanted to write traditional-length short stories this time, as opposed to micro-fiction and poetry in Pendulum. So I started working on ideas i.e. kept going on a walk until the plot hit me. And I just wrote them.
After a couple of stories and future ideas still bouncing around, I realized there was a common thread – all my characters were yearning for something. And I was tracking down their journey as they fought for it, but still couldn’t get it. Going with the tradition of single-word titles, I arrived on ‘Void’. The word was powerful and intriguing and dark, just what I wanted the book to be.
Perhaps the motivation to write Void stemmed from the fact that I miss my late father and can’t talk to him again, no matter how badly I want to. It was this yearning I guess.
Can you tell us more about your latest book “Void”?
Void is a collection of ten thought-provoking short stories, mostly dealing with topical societal issues.
Issues that concern our day-to-day lives and yet weren’t brought to our notice. The reason I started writing was for the love of it, but I also wanted to voice an opinion and make people ponder. Because once you get your reader thinking, they become a catalyst for the change you wish to see in society.
Void has dealt with myriad topics like: IPC Section 377 (Homosexuals are unnatural), Fake Godmen, Rapes, Miserable state of mainstream media and journalism, Female infanticide, Child abuse, Fact that it’s next to impossible for a single man in India to adopt a kid, let alone a daughter. (Exceptions, of course, are celebrities), Stereotypes (Like a rich teenage girl has no right to be upset. Over anything.), Refusing to marry because of caste, Colorism (Skin color based discrimination).
All this within 100 pages. Also, I’ve tried to deploy a unique narration technique for each story of the book. It’s a unique brand of literature, I’ve been told. And that was precisely my goal when I had started writing.
How did you come up with the idea of writing anthology fiction genre book?
I prefer fiction because it gives me the freedom to experiment. I can choose the ratio of reality and imagination as per my liking.
Well, I plan to challenge my writing abilities with each new book by trying something new that I haven’t written before. Since I had gotten the hang of flash fiction, I wanted to move on to traditional short stories in Void. So from forty-eight ideas of Pendulum, I brought it down to ten in Void.
And this was how I wanted to arrive at the single-story novel that I’ll be writing next.
I wasn’t ready for a novel when I started Void. Thus an anthology.
Who are your favourite authors?
Ayn Rand, Charles Bukowski, Arundhati Roy, Mitch Albom, Bill Watterson, George Orwell, Nietzsche, Franz Kafka (for his ideas), John Green (latest addition).
And though not authors, but Steve Jobs, John Lennon, Buddha, Michael Jackson, Ambedkar, Einstein have significantly influenced my school of thought.
How much time do you dedicate to writing on a daily basis?
When in college, I used to write whenever I could and did engineering when time permitted. Back then, I wrote almost daily, religiously, spending at least a couple of hours which could stretch to six/seven hours if needed. This was for four years.
And then job happened. So the trend switched. I did job whenever I could and wrote when time permitted i.e. on weekends. I try to write on weekdays though on Quora and if not, stick to reading.
What words of wisdom would you like to give to aspiring writers?
Read. Write. Rewrite. That’s the only way there is. And do read Ira Glass’ – Advice for beginners.
You can buy his book now: