Hello Mr. Menon. Please tell us a bit about yourself and your journey as a writer?
I have been a news agency journalist for most of my life.I was posted as the correspondent of the leading Indian news agency, the Press Trust of India in Dubai. That experience gave me an opportunity to base my novel in Dubai. As a wire service journalist,I have been schooled to write with brevity, clarity and accuracy which feature, I believe, is reflected in my style of writing and also in my thriller,Desert Hunt.
You’ve been a journalist and a writer. Could you tell us the difference between the two? How were your experiences as both?
As a journalist you are not at liberty to take a purely subjective view of events. A journalist at best is only an interpreter of events. A writer is not bound by such rules. However, after being a journalist for so long, I cannot exercise that writer’s freedom to see things only in any one perspective. When I write about a people or a region, I am conscious of the fact that it is my responsibility to see situations from a wide angle.
What is your book about? How did you come up with the plot and the characters?
“Desert Hunt” has terrorism as the theme which is very topical today. When I conceived the idea of a Dubai-based novel, I wanted to write something unique. As far as I know, no novel has been published by an Indian expatriate author based on this kind of a terror plot unfolding in the Middle East region, particularly Dubai. This emirate is at the crossroads of East and West and also of opposing ideologies. What is foreseen in the novel is something that is waiting to happen. Once the theme was decided, the characters fell into place. It was as if I knew them in real life.
Who or what inspires you to write?
That is a difficult question. I had done creative writing a couple of decades ago. But in the interregnum, try as I may, I could not produce any fiction, not even a short story. But then one day, I decided to write again. It was part destiny that I succeeded.
What are the qualities, which you think is needed to become a successful writer?
First and foremost one should have the felicity of expression. Language is your tool, and proficiency in language does not come about in a day. One has to be observant of people and places that one has been associated with, as all that will find a place in what one writes. Then there is this endless churning in the mind, which ultimately leads to creative writing combining all other elements and a lot of imagination.
Give our budding writers some tips on how to write well and get published.
Read, read and read. Write, write and write. Earlier, one had to be in an exclusive club, or very luckyto get a book published. Now, thanks to Amazon plus other self-publishing platforms, and social media, anyone can write, and quality and effort can sell.
As a writer, what are your pet peeves?
I have none. But I always wonder why I had a writer’s block for a long time and how why the synapses opened suddenly.
What are the books, apart from your latest release, that you would like to recommend all the bookworms out there?
I now read books of many of my fellow authors who are on, say, goodreads or other similar sites. I must say many of them write very well and are waiting to be discovered. Selection may be decided by the genre one likes. Of course, step into other genres and see what is happening there once in a while. You may enjoy that too and get motivated to be an author.
Given a choice, what would your ideal writing space look like?
I will be alone, all by myself. Plus my laptop, books mostly of the same genreas the one I am trying to write, reference works, and dictionary. I read dictionaries by the way. Keep your cell phone; but switch it off.
Desert Hunt is for all your thriller lovers out there! Do read the book and share your thoughts with us!
fantastic interview Sucheta!