Interview with Gaurav Sharma, The author of It all Happened in a School
Gaurav Sharma Lakhi, a mathematics teacher who is trying to be a writer. He has written five books – LOVE @ AIR FORCE, RAPESCARS…They Never Heal, DAWN AT DUSK, UNBUDGETED INNOCENCE and the recently published IT ALL HAPPENED IN A SCHOOL.
Ravi: What’s your favorite short story?
Gaurav: Quite a few but the two I can read again and again are- Mrs. Packletide’s Tiger by Saki and The Man in the Cremation Ground by yours truly.
Ravi: The Best piece of writing advice?
Gaurav: The best piece of writing advice is no advice at all. Let your heart pour out. But yes. Do let your brain edit it.
Ravi: Where do you write?
Gaurav: Anywhere. I do have a small study-cum-office but I don’t particularly go there to write. I am moody. When I feel an urge, I start writing wherever I feel comfortable.
Ravi: Where do you get your ideas?
Gaurav: Life is the greatest reservoir of ideas. Every writer is a keen observer. There is a story in every moment, every smile, every conversation, every fight, every argument, every journey, every success and every failure.
Ravi: Does writing energize or exhaust you?
Gaurav: The body has its limitations. When overworked, it gets exhausted, but writing does energize my soul.
Ravi: How long on average does it take you to write a book?
Gaurav: Almost a year and a half from the first draft to the final draft.
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?
Gaurav: I would read a lot of books and write as much as I can.
Ravi: What is your favorite childhood book?
Ravi: What was your hardest scene to write?
Gaurav: Writing steamy scenes has always been my problem. There is always a tussle between my morality and professionalism. If ever I have to write such a scene, I try to do it decently.
Ravi: Do you Google yourself?
Gaurav: Quite often. I love to do that.
Ravi: Do you hide any secrets in your books that only a few people will find?
Gaurav: Every writer does. However, the more joyful is to learn the things that readers derive from your writing which you had not thought of or intended to say or mean.
Ravi: Do you read your book reviews? How do you deal with bad or good ones?
Gaurav: Reading reviews is fun. A good review sometimes brings tears in your eyes while a bad review forces you to assess yourself. It depends on how strong you are and how you respond to criticism. An honest assessment of the negative words about your writing is essential to improve as a writer. If your assessment conforms with the critique, you must find ways to get rid of the flaws. If not, just smile, send a polite acknowledgment, and keep writing. Both praise and criticism, should not affect you.
Ravi: Have you read anything that made you think differently about fiction?
Gaurav: At a tender age, my Hindi teacher had advised me to read ‘Chitralekha’ which is one of the finest works by Bhagwati Sharan Gupt. I have read that book many times. What I learned is that fiction is an elusive term for realism. We can translate only our experiences and observations into stories and not the unheard-of and unrealistic flights of imagination. Fantasy seldom connects the readers. Secondly, every story must have a message for the readers. These are the two aspects I try to bring in my stories.
Ravi: What did you edit out of this book?
Gaurav: IT ALL HAPPENED IN A SCHOOL was a difficult book to write. I had to think about the aftermath of what I was writing. I wanted to be harsh and ruthless but not at the cost of tarnishing someone’s character or insulting someone’s religious and social beliefs. So, it was writing, reading, thinking aftermath, more thinking, and deleting umpteen times.
Ravi: How many hours a day do you write?
Gaurav: That is not definite. Reasons, I am moody and I am the head of a family which is my priority.
Ravi: How long were you a part-time writer before you became a full-time one?
Gaurav: I am still a part-time writer. That’s why I say, I am trying to be a writer.
Ravi: What kind of research do you do, and how long do you spend researching before beginning a book?
Gaurav: Research is an integral part of writing, especially fiction. How can a person know about the intrinsic skills of all occupations? For instance, all my novels had episodes that involved a doctor but in all four, the doctor was dealing with different ailments. So, I had to research the terms, symptoms, treatment, and other necessary facts.
Ravi: What’s the best way to market your books?
Gaurav: I am still trying to find one.
Ravi: How many unpublished and half-finished books do you have?
Gaurav: Two. One in English and one in Hindi. I don’t start a new book until my complete manuscript gets published.
Ravi: How did publishing your first book change your process of writing?
Gaurav: Nothing has really changed in my process of writing. I always prefer to write on paper first and then, convert it into a digital format. But, yes, as in everything else, the more practice you do, the easier the task becomes for you.
Ravi: If you could tell your younger writing self anything, what would it be?
Gaurav: I would tell my younger writing self to be more fearless.
Ravi: What other authors are you friends with, and how do they help you become a better writer?
Gaurav: Discussing ideas, narratives and strategy of marketing with the author friends does help.
Ravi: Do you try more to be original or to deliver to readers what they want?
Gaurav: I always try to be original and never consider manipulation to deliver to readers. My definition of literature is orthodox. I write to annoy, to force thinking and not to entertain. And, I don’t mind being hated for this.
Ravi: What advice do you have for writers?
Gaurav: I still too ignorant and unskilled to impart a piece of advice. I can just tell you that I write from my heart and write about the subjects that I feel like writing about.
Ravi: Tell me about your recent book to our Ravi Reads Blog Readers?
Gaurav: My fifth book IT ALL HAPPENED IN A SCHOOL has been recently published by Petals Publishers and Distributors. It is the story of a rather ill-reputed school which is run jointly by two different religious organizations. The story reveals the wrongful and corrupt practices of the private schools and how they loot people in the name of imparting education.
Thanks to Gaurav 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.