Hi Laura. Thank you for inviting me to this Q&A session and giving me this great opportunity. This is my first Q&A and I will never forget it.
Tedeskimma is a character driven narrative that is painted across a really wide canvas. It is primarily a story of 11 characters, and the 1 thing that connects them. It can, in many ways, be considered a collection of self-contained short stories, each of which deals with 1 of the book’s 11 characters. Each short story is different in terms of the kind of content it contains, as well as the kind of genres and themes it deals with. The short stories are, however, connected to each other, even if the characters in some of them may not be aware of this connection.
Some of these stories are action adventures, while others describe the desperate, dangerous and harrowing journeys their characters undertake for deeply painful and personal reasons. One of the parts is a coming of age story, while another puts the reader in the shoes of a married couple who are in the middle of a difficult situation.
The book does have some common themes throughout. However, each part of the book has its own themes as well. As far as genres go, this book is a mashup of a number of them. However, if I was asked to choose just one genre, then I would put this work under literary fiction.
The inspiration for this story arrived in multiple ways. The simple idea – multiple characters connected by a single object – that forms the basic premise of this book was what occurred to me first. Once I had that idea, I began thinking of what the stories of these multiple characters will be. A few ideas formed in my head, and they created the first few parts of the book. These first few parts were rather rough. They were fine plot wise, but they had no particular emotional core or message. But then, there were a few developments in our world which shocked me, and shook the very fiber of my being. I will not describe these in detail, but what I’m referring to will be readily apparent to all readers who pick up this work. What I witnessed made me feel hopeless. I felt like there was nothing I could do about the atrocities I was witnessing, except write about them, hoping that what I wrote would move others enough to rise up and do what I could not on my own. These parts formed the core of this book. In fact, it would not be a stretch to say that they completely redefined it. They helped me nail down the emotional component of this work. I completed my first draft, and then went back and reworked what I had written in the first few parts of the book since I now knew exactly what I was trying to achieve through this work.
In short, a great deal of pain and suffering birthed this book. It wasn’t personal circumstance, or a crisis I suffered. It was what I saw happening around me. I didn’t understand such cruelty and apathy back when I wrote this work, and I still don’t understand it. However, writing this book has made me feel like I at least stood up to the injustice I witnessed in some small way. I am not sure if it is a good thing or a bad thing. I guess it is what it is. I am hoping that this book does well, so that I can donate some part of my earnings from it towards the organizations that are fighting everything this work tries to put a light on.
What’s the challenge of writing a book as connecting short stories?
One of the biggest challenges I personally had while writing such a book was making sure that each short story got as much attention as it required. Initially, I had the tendency to try and make each short story equal in terms of page count. But, fortunately, I quickly realized that what I was doing was rather futile. Trying to make every part equal would’ve resulted in a lot of filler in some of the parts, and that would’ve done nothing but create disinterest on the reader’s part. So I refocused my efforts into giving each part exactly as much room as it needed to convey its core message.
I don’t really have any particular thing I need to begin my writing day, or to write. My biggest challenge when it comes to writing is just getting myself to start. It takes me a great deal of effort to just sit down and start writing. But once I do, within fifteen minutes or so, everything around me disappears, and whatever I’m writing about is the only thing in focus. At that point, nothing can pull me out of the zone easily. As for how I get myself to start, that is something that is entirely dependent on my mood at that time, along with how much willpower I can conjure up and use to push myself to just sit down and start writing.
What’s your favourite word and why?
I thought about this a lot, but I really cannot think of one. And I actually like the fact that I cannot come up with a favorite word. As a writer, words are one of the main tools at my disposal, and not having a favorite word might just be a nice advantage, since I won’t end up overusing a favorite word unintentionally, or intentionally.
What’s your writing process like, from idea, to first draft to final edit?
I have actually gone back and forth on this. When I started writing, my process was to try and plan the entire story meticulously and then follow that plan to completion. But I soon realized that once I started writing, I would get into this flow where the words just came out of me. Having to constantly look at and stay in sync with the plan interrupted this flow, and affected what was being written adversely. Over time, I have evolved my method, and what I do now is slightly different. I do create a detailed plan for any book whose plot is rather complicated and has a lot of moving parts. I keep this plan in my head and just focus on writing, without really looking at it. Once I’m done writing for the day, I make a note of everything from the plan that I forgot to include in whatever I wrote, and I keep adding things to this backlog list until I complete my first draft. I then tackle the backlog in my second draft while creating a similar list for draft three. I keep doing this until I’m moderately happy with the end result, after which I go through it two to three times to do my own editing. This is the point at which I send it out to others for feedback or editing purposes. I would love to keep my process going until I think the final result is perfect, but I force myself to avoid doing that because I really don’t think I would stop tinkering with it.
If you could go on an adventure with any fictional character, which one would you pick and why?
I would choose Dracula. My assumption is that an adventure with Dracula would require me to be a vampire as well. Being almost immortal would mean that I would get to see the world evolve and change. It would also mean that I get to meet enough people over time to truly understand human psychology. As someone who loves to write, the prospect of gaining a deep understanding of humanity is very tempting. This is all assuming Dracula is fictional of course – wink, wink.
Which three books have influenced you the most through your life?
To be honest, I don’t read as much as I write. Videogames, and to some extent, TV shows and movies, have influenced me a lot more than books themselves. However, out of everything I have read, I would pick The Gormenghast Trilogy by Mervyn Peake. The books had imagery unlike anything I had read before, and the stories itself were rather unique. These were some of the first books that actually transported me to the locations their pages described.
Which songs would be on a playlist for Tedeskimna?
This question threw me for a complete loop. This is the one that took the longest to answer. I went through many of the records I own and I also listened to the playlists I had put on while writing the book. The playlist below provides songs that I think are appropriate for the 11 parts that Tedeskimma is divided into. The songs are meant to give the reader an idea of what kind of music, in terms of mood and emotion, represents each part of the book. I have tried to order the playlist in a way that reflects the ebb and flow of the various emotions I hope the reader will go through while reading Tedeskimma.
Are you able to tell me a little about what you’re currently working on?
Of course I can! I have quite a few ideas I’m working on sporadically. However, in order to actually get something done and continue publishing, I’m narrowing down my focus to two main projects. The first is a smaller project. It’s a short story. In addition to Tedeskimma, I have published a short story called The Hitman & The Reaper. This short story is the first in a series called The Shady File. The short story I’m currently working on is the second in this series. I haven’t worked out all the details yet, but I do have a title in mind. However, I’m not ready to share the title until I write at least 50% of the work, which should take a few months.
Apart from this, I am working on another project which is set in the same world as Tedeskimma. This is a book. It isn’t a direct sequel to Tedeskimma. Instead, it takes place many years after Tedeskimma. I haven’t figured out the exact time frame but, at a minimum, the events in this new project take place at least a century after the events of Tedeskimma. One of the parts in Tedeskimma follow a character who is referred to as The Izolai. This character is part of a much larger organization. The protagonist of this new book is a member of this same organization. And in this new book, he travels through various parts of the world that Tedeskimma takes place in. So through him, and his story, the reader will get to see how the world of Tedeskimma has evolved a century or more later.
It’s very hard, because I want to work on every idea that occurs to me, but these are the two projects I’m trying to focus all my efforts and time into at this point.
Any advice for new writers?
My general advice for all writers, no matter their genre or reason for writing, would be to just power through their first draft, no matter how bad they think it is turning out to be. I would advise on prioritizing completion rather than trying to proceed only after the current chapter being written is perfect. Writing, in my opinion, is an iterative process. You create an initial draft, and then you finesse it, and rework major parts of it if needed. And then you finesse the next draft, and so some more rework if needed. And you keep doing this until you reach a stage where you are happy with what you have achieved.
For writers who write for fame and money, my advice would be to treat their writing like a business. Create a business plan. Do the required market research and everything else, and then give it a shot. If it works out, do what businesses do. If it doesn’t work out, do what businesses do.
As for writers who write because they have an itch that writing scratches, I would advise them to always remember why they are writing. Nobody may read what they have written. And those who do may never appreciate it. But it shouldn’t matter to them. Because they have an itch, and they need to write to scratch it. So I would tell them that they should keep doing what they’re doing. Forget about how their writing will be perceived. I would also advise them to read every criticism of their work and use whatever they agree with to improve their next work. The rest of the criticism can be discarded. And the most important piece of advice I could give them would be to always remember why they started doing all of it in the first place.
Thank you once again for giving me this chance. I really appreciate it. And a big thank you in advance to all the readers who took time out of their busy schedules to read this Q&A and give Tedeskimma a chance.
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