Author Interview: Lavanya Nukavarapu
Lavanya Nukavarapu is Finance Graduate and currently working as a Deputy Finance Manager in an MNC. She is a voracious reader and is passionate about writing, She strongly believes that words and compassion can change the world.
Ravi: What’s your favorite short story?
Lavanya: “Coda Overture” from the book “There is no one new around you” by Mahboob Hussain (Pen name Kalam Babu). This is one of the best stories I have read in recent times in terms of story, narration, and technicality of the concept. Each paragraph in this story begins with an ending word from the previous paragraph. The story is about a guy who rescues himself from an earthquake by hiding himself in a washing machine. Brilliant idea and execution. a
Ravi: The best piece of writing advice?
Lavanya: I am not someone who is in a position to give advice because I am still learning. What I can offer though are my experiences in writing. My two cents - Be original, be creative.
Ravi: Where do you write?
Lavanya: I can write anywhere if the story/poem flows. I once wrote a short story in a hospital waiting room. A lot of writers have this misconception about a writing place. If you are writer and if you allow yourself to listen to the stories, when the story flows, you cannot contain yourself. You will have to take a pen and paper and empty your mind on paper.
Ravi: Where do you get your ideas?
Lavanya: Life and experiences and add a little imagination to it.
Ravi: Does writing energize or exhaust you?
Lavanya: Both. When I finished writing my first book “The Captive” I was drained out. I was unable to start on my next story for a couple of months. “The Captive” is a dark psychological thriller and depicts the gray shades of the human mind. The story will intrigue, embroil, and leave you disturbed. And writing such an intense and dark theme that too my first was definitely not easy. The characters of the book camped in my mind for a long time. It was time eventually that faded these characters in the intrinsic columns in my mind.
But that now I am writing my new book, a coming of age sort of story, about a young woman in her mid-twenties trying to seek answers relating to sex and love, I am quite energized and feel that I am writing about a lot of topics that are shunned, that people refuse to even speak about especially about the modern, independent woman.
Ravi: How long on average does it take you to write a book?
Lavanya: I took one year to write “The Captive”. I will take almost a year to write the current one. So, on an average of 9 to 12 months. You will also have to understand that I am a writer who does not settle for less, not that I am aiming for a booker prize but I will not be satisfied unless I translate every image, every detail of my mind into words.
Ravi: If you had to do something differently as a child or teenager to become a better writer as an adult, what would you do?
Lavanya: In terms of writing, nothing, because what I am today is because of what I have undergone all these years, be it good or bad. We cannot ignore the fact that the stories a writer writes are in a way a reflection of his self, his perspectives, his ideologies, his experiences, and his thought process. If a writer is an evolved being as an individual, his writing will reflect that kind of depth and maturity. Otherwise, it will be shallow.
Ravi: What is your favorite childhood book?
Lavanya: “Not a Penny More Not a Penny Less” by Jeffrey Archer. I finished this book in one sitting.
Ravi: What are your favorite literary journals?
Lavanya: Verse of Silence.
Ravi: What one thing would you give up to become a better writer?
Ravi: What was your hardest scene to write?
Lavanya: Everything I write is difficult for me in one way or the other. Because to translate what I feel/imagine becomes difficult. But then I do not give up and continue to redraft and re-edit until I am satisfied that what I have in my mind is reproduced in words. But building a back story of Anthony Pastor in “The Captive” will be one of the difficult scenes to write ever in my life. For the benefit of the readers, who did not read “The Captive”, Anthony Pastor is a voyeur.
Ravi: Do you Google yourself?
Lavanya: Very often.
Ravi: Do you hide any secrets in your books that only a few people will find?
Lavanya: I do not hide any secrets. But I always say that my writings are bits and pieces of me.
Ravi: Do you read your book reviews? How do you deal with bad or good ones?
Lavanya: Yes, I do. In the beginning, I used to take them very seriously. It took some time and conscious effort to teach myself that you cannot impress everyone. I write to express not to impress. So, it is okay if people write bad reviews. I do not let the negative reviews get into my head. At the same time, I will accept any constructive feedback and work on that.
Ravi: Have you read anything that made you think differently about fiction?
Lavanya: Kurt Vonnegut’s “Cat’s Cradle” changed my entire perspective about fiction and creative writing. The one thing that the book taught me was there are no rules to writing, the rules apply only to language and grammar. And I strictly follow this code to break the rules of storytelling.
Ravi: What did you edit out of this book?
Lavanya: Just the normal proofreading errors, grammar, and a few sentences arrangement. My process of writing is different from the major lot. I work out the entire story including scenes and details in my mind. Unless I am sure what I must write, how I must present and what I must narrate, I do not start typing on the page. I will share an example from the book that I am currently writing. In this book, the protagonist has this habit of categorizing people into a flock like a swan flock, the peacock flock and so on. This was very clearly formed in my mind before I even started to write. I pay a lot of attention to narration and presentation. So I work out all the details mentally and then pour them out. I edit only if the words do not reflect what image or emotion that I had mentally visualized.
Ravi: How many hours a day do you write?
Lavanya: I try to pen a few lines every day. But I cannot write long hours. Depends also on my mood.
Ravi: How long were you a part-time writer before you became a full-time one?
Lavanya: I am a part-time writer even now. I have a full-time job as a “Deputy Finance Manager” in an MNC. I love writing. I cannot live without writing stories or penning poems. These are like oxygen.
Ravi: What kind of research do you do, and how long do you spend researching before beginning a book?
Lavanya: Depends on the genre and the story. For Captive, I researched a lot. Documentaries, research articles, news, Wikipedia, and I have talked to people who were involved in politics and have interacted with criminals.
Ravi: What’s the best way to market your books?
Lavanya: I am yet to find out.
Ravi: How many unpublished and half-finished books do you have?
Lavanya: I have almost as many as twenty drafts which I have to complete first. These are halted at several stages- idea stage, half-baked, detailing, and so on.
Ravi: How did publishing your first book change your process of writing?
Lavanya: It did not in any way. It just helped my book to reach people. The process of writing did not change, and I will not change. I will write what I want to tell. Not because a story is commercially viable, or I have to make changes to make it saleable. A writing piece is a piece of me, a part of me and compromising on it is compromising self.
Ravi: If you could tell your younger writing self anything, what would it be?
Lavanya: Writing happened to me because of a dark phase in my life. So, there is nothing that I would tell my younger self. I have evolved over the years and will continue to do so.
Ravi: What other authors are you friends with, and how do they help you become a better writer?
Lavanya: Kalam Babu (mentioned in the first question), has been a good friend who listens patiently to my ideas and gives valuable inputs. I like to brainstorm my ideas with him. We are also collaborating on workshop development and two novellas. I mostly like to think and write alone. My best friend edits my works. So, I am lucky to have a powerful editor and an author friend with whom I can brainstorm my ideas.
Ravi: Do you try more to be original or to deliver to readers what they want?
Lavanya: I would rather not write if I cannot be original. I believe that sometimes readers need to be given a new perspective, a novel idea rather than the routine mediocre writing. And as an author, I do not underestimate the readers.
Ravi: What advice do you have for writers?
Lavanya: Write what comes naturally to you. Be true to your heart and soul. Try to hone your skills. Don’t try to be wannabes and do not go for quick fame.
Ravi: What are the most important magazines for writers to subscribe to?
Lavanya: Read good books, books that will inspire you, that will teach you. Do not settle for average, mediocre books.
Ravi: Tell me about your recent book to our RaviReads Blog Readers?
Lavanya: “The Captive” is a psychological thriller and a crime investigation novel revolving around the abduction of Kruthi Shah who escapes from her captivity and the crime investigation post that. The book is different from the other books in this segment because of the recent crime investigation modes that have evolved over time like profiling, forensic psychiatry, memory retrace, reverse psychology which most of the Indie writers wouldn’t incorporate in their books on crime investigation. The novel also explains the why of the serial murders and criminal psychology by elaborating on the backstories of the serial psychopaths in the book.
Thanks to Lavanya for agreeing to this interview! If you know of an author who’d like to be featured in an interview (or you are an author who would like to be featured), feel free to email me at the address on my contact page.