Interview with Bir Singh Yadav, The Author of The Fake Degree
He was born in village Dolcha in Baghpat District of Uttar Pradesh. He took his primary education at Dolcha and secondary education at Meerut. He completed my Bachelor’s degree in Veterinary Science and Animal Husbandry (B.V.Sc. & A.H) in 1979, and Master’s degree, M.V.Sc – Pathology, in 1981, from the College of Veterinary Science and Animal Husbandry, Mathura (UP).
He worked as Veterinary Officer in the Dairy and Poultry industry from 1981 to 1995. Subsequently, He worked as consultant Veterinarian, School Principal, as a Reporter in a Hindi newspaper, as Freelance writer, and as Assistant Professor and Deputy Registrar at a Private University.
Presently He is based at Meerut and working as a Content writer and Insurance advisor. He runs a half marathon and enjoys outings.
Ravi: What’s your favorite short story?
Ravi: The Best piece of writing advice?
Bir Singh: Lage Raho (Keep writing)
Ravi: Where do you get your ideas?
Bir Singh: Reflecting on past, meeting people and from current events.
Ravi: Does writing energize or exhaust you?
Bir Singh: It energizes me. It is relaxation, not exhaustion.
Ravi: How long on average does it take you to write a book?
Bir Singh: It took me one year to write my first fiction.
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?
Bir Singh: I would study languages, literature, rather than science.
Ravi: What is your favorite childhood book?
Bir Singh: Ramayana. When I was in class two, I would dig myself into a copy of Valmiki Ramayan which lay neglected in a corner of our ancestral home.
Ravi: What are your favorite literary journals?
Bir Singh: Swarajya. I browse through other national and international journals in digital format.
Ravi: What one thing would you give up to become a better writer?
Bir Singh: I left eating conventional food as it didn’t meet my demand for energy. I can give up anything which doesn’t support good health. I enjoy eating raw and what they call `caveman diet’. Indeed I can forgo a lot if that takes me to better writing.
Ravi: What was your hardest scene to write?
Bir Singh: There are some technical details about veterinary science in my fiction `The Fake Degree’. These were very difficult to write about. Writing about `Yemen’ in 500 words was another piece of writing, paid assignment, which I found very difficult.
Ravi: Do you Google yourself?
Bir Singh: Yes. It’s a great help.
Ravi: Do you hide any secrets in your books that only a few people will find?
Bir Singh: I believe in revealing, not hiding. Yes, those who know me can make out that some of my characters are a projection of my own personality.
Ravi: Do you read your book reviews? How do you deal with bad or good ones?
Bir Singh: Yes reviews help you connect better with readers. Some readers spoke to me in great detail. I have accepted their advice for my next book.
Ravi: Have you read anything that made you think differently about fiction?
Bir Singh: Yes, the autobiographical novel `The naked triangle’ by Balwant Gargi.
Ravi: What did you edit out of this book?
Bir Singh: The naked Triangle is brilliantly written in simple English. The author is very thrifty in using words. Seeing a solo word in place of a sentence was a new experience for me. The book inspired me to be a writer, in a big way.
Ravi: How many hours a day do you write?
Bir Singh: An hour a day. Will write more.
Ravi: How long were you a part-time writer before you became a full-time one?
Bir Singh: From 1995 to 2006 I was writing for reader’s views in newspapers, and reported for a Hindi daily at Meerut. The fire that broke out in Victoria Part, Meerut, was extensively reported by me. Even the court hearings following the tragic inferno were attended by me and written about in a dedicated column. Earlier to this, I was offered the Principal’ chair in private school. I served there I served for a full 6 years and did a good amount of commissioned writing during this period.
From 2006 to 2009 I was a senior reporter in Gujarat Vaibhav, Ahmadabad based Hindi daily. In Oct 2009 I joined Shridhar University, a private university, at Pilani, Rajasthan. With additional charge as Public Relations Officer at University, I wrote extensively for digital and print media. I resigned from University in Oct 2017. Since then I am a freelance writer. For the past two years, I am writing for STSTW MEDIA Private Limited. I am not a full-time writer as of yet.
Ravi: What kind of research do you do, and how long do you spend researching before beginning a book?
Bir Singh: For my one and only fiction I began writing on my friend’s daughter, a medico, presently fighting a legal battle for separation from her cruel husband. But somewhere on course, I picked up a different agenda. For more than half the book I didn’t know how I would conclude the story. But it happened. I guess I write like a painter pouring colors randomly on a blank sheet of paper. When colors dry up, he looks for images, real or potential, that form in a natural way. Then he builds on those images.
Research is integral to writing as the story ought to be in tune with the time period of the narrative.
Ravi: What’s the best way to market your books?
Bir Singh: Reaching out to readers is the key. Be it in person or digitally.
Ravi: How many unpublished and half-finished books do you have?
Bir Singh: Just one book. A fiction in Hindi. I hope to finish it by the end of this year.
Ravi: How did publishing your first book change your process of writing?
Bir Singh: I was very fearful since it was autobiographical and names and situations I described were real. This fear forced me to drastically edit the text. So much so, it became just 42 pages but got published nevertheless, on Kindle. It was `The bird and the buffalo ‘a treatise on my multifaceted carrier. Subsequently, I rewrote/revised to make it 100 or so pages. Due to some technical mistake, the revised text got lost. I see part of it pop out on trying at the Kindle portal. But I have failed to retrieve it. What is available in the old 42-page script. The experience helped me a lot in writing my 2nd, The Man From Dolcha, and 3rd book, The Fake Degree.
Ravi: If you could tell your younger writing self anything, what would it be?
Bir Singh: When I began writing, I was arrogant about my abilities. Writing has humbled me drastically, and that’s a huge gain.
Ravi: What other authors are you friends with, and how do they help you become a better writer?
Bir Singh: No author friend in real life, except Prajesh Banerjee who I have never met. I wrote a review for his manuscript which came to me through my younger brother. That started our Facebook friendship. He returned the favor by going through my manuscript of `The Fake Degree’ and giving his opinion.
Any and every author that I read from time to time, is my Godfather.
Ravi: Do you try more to be original or to deliver to readers what they want?
Bir Singh: Yes. I presume what readers may not be knowing, and go about expounding on that. I believe readers must get more than just a story. They must get facts, and knowledge that works.
Ravi: What advice do you have for writers?
Bir Singh: Be yourself. You have no competition. Because none in the world has your kind of background or life experience.
Ravi: What are the most important magazines for writers to subscribe to?
Bir Singh: Swarajya is one which I have read, and subscribe it to writers.
Ravi: Tell me about your recent book to our Ravi Reads Blog Readers?
Bir Singh: My recent book `The Fake Degree’ by Eka Publishers is based on my experience of having worked as Dy. Registrar and Asst. professor at Shridhar University. In my 8 year tenure with University, Vice chancellors I interacted with people having fake degrees and heard stories of Chancellors and Vice chancellors charged with complicity in fake degree rackets. Even at present, fake degrees are making news. A teacher in UP was arrested for working at several schools on fake credentials. Now educational documents of all teachers enrolled in primary schools are being rechecked. My story is woven around this tragedy of the present-day society and offers a cogent solution.
Thanks to Bir Singh 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.