S.V.Divvaakar, an alumnus of the IIT Delhi, is an international Monitoring and Evaluation specialist and serves on the boards of a few international companies. He is now in the process of a gradual transition, re-balancing his professional work and his creative interests: writing and music. He composes music, sings and plays the key board. His music addresses matters of public interest, such as: Corruption, Delhi’s traffic, and Commonwealth Games. He writes a blog ‘Life Purpose and Happiness’ and has now ventured into writing, picking up the genre of realistic fiction. This is his second novel. Divvaakar lives with his wife and son in New Delhi.
Q 1. Out of all professions, why writing?
I think the one word that describes my life purpose most is ‘writing’. Writing has given me livelihood, financial security, independence and even a pinchful of recognition. However, I am not an author by profession, although I end up writing more than 300,000 words every year in my professional reports as a business advisor and an international evaluator. Creative writing – poetry, music, blog posts, and now novels – has remained a faithful pastime, and is finding more vent now, as I have consciously determined to rebalance my life to do more of writing, without encroaching on my mainstream professional pursuit. The second half of my life – I am 52 – will increasingly involve me in writing. That much is certain.
Q 2. Why BBB, why this particular title?
First, no brainer, I thought it is very catchy as a title.
Second, my Bhagath ends with an h, which is how it is spelt in south India.
Third, I know of three renowned writers by the name Bhagat.
There are some more interesting reasons, which I will disclose at the formal launch of the book.
Q 3. Looking forward to it! Tell us something about BBB, when did the idea strike you first?
BBB started in March 2012 as a memoir of my fledgling experiences with my debut book ‘The Winner’s Price’. I documented a lot of lessons that I learnt through my mistakes and misadventures in the quest to become a ‘bestselling’ author. However, I realised that it could be made into a useful learning aid for thousands others who must be facing the same challenges I did. I thought the least I could do was to show the view of the fencing ring for what it is worth. I also wanted to show how writing can affect other parts of life, even of those who are not doing the writing. I wrote the draft in three months, working at night, or while travelling on missions. I wanted it out this year.
Q 5. What is your inspiration behind BBB?
I want to see the balance of power redistributed: it should revert back to the writer and reader. Everyone else is merely a middleman in the ultimate sense. The pity is that they all behave like Heaven’s gatekeepers, where judgement is passed at the gates, without a chance to be shown into God’s parlour.
Q 6. How has your experience been with the publishing industry?
Need I say any more than BBB? Can one not recognise the publishers from the texts in the rejection emails? Honestly, my view is that the publishing industry is itself in the throes of a purge, and will change unrecognisably in five years. Digital platforms and e-books will bury them sooner that we’d like to believe.
Q 7. What was your first thought when you realized that your book was finally going to be published?
To be honest, the day the contract came signed, I felt it was one of life’s big moments, the crawl from absolute darkness of anonymity into the shadows of the spotlight. However, by the time the book was up for purchases, there were mixed feelings: is this what this romantic voyage is all about? Honest, the writing part is the most satisfying, not the ‘being published’ part. However, here I am, submitting myself and my wares before you, my Reader, and He, my Maker.
Q 8. Your heroes, non-fiction preferably.
Most inspired by Abraham Lincoln, J R D Tata, Kishore Kumar and Amitabh Bachchan for fortitude, magnanimity, versatility and charisma, respectively. Great inspirations to hone myself as an individual.
Q 9. Do you think writing is a solitary pursuit or do you have early readers with whom you brainstorm plot and discuss characters?
Writing must remain largely a solitary pursuit, out of compulsion, and also given the need to have one’s recognizable stamp on the product. However, in my third book (now under editorial review) I have a professional mentor from the publishing industry guiding, pushing and challenging me at every step, and I realise how important that is. Every writer should have a mastermind group to serve as guideposts, but without taking away the soul of the writer and his story.
Q 10. What were your favourite books when you were growing up and how did they influence you?
I have read two kinds of books mostly: either light fiction – chronologically: Enid Blyton, Nick Carter, Harold Robbins, Arthur Hailey, Alistair Maclean, Ken Follet, Sidney Sheldon, Frederick Forsyth, Robert Ludlum, Jeffery Archer, Tom Clancy, Dan Brown; or the self-help genre: Norman Vincent Peale, Napoleon Hill and countless gems that have strengthened and inspired me in life. A distant third would be books based on biographies and history.
Fiction books gave me the habit of enjoying solitude, transporting me into my own inner world, without having to depend on external acceptance and acknowledgement. Self-help books taught me the power of faith and made me feel the ‘inner one’ out there. Biographies and history overawed me with the grim realities of the human society and the mixed impact it wreaks on the individual.
Q 11. The person who influenced your life most?
Other than parents, I think the four icons (above) inspired me to hone myself.
Q 12. Are you working on something else right now?
My third book is in ‘draft’ stages under a mentor’s guidance, hopefully ready for the market by autumn 2013. It is a story of a woman’s resilience to win her honour and wealth back, and the turbulent relationship with her estranged son.
Q 13. Good luck with that. One thing you cherish most and one thing you regret most.
I cherish my family and work most; I regret that I never had enough guts to take on very big risks even though I believed in some opportunities.
Q 14. Any authors you specifically look to while writing?
Everyone has his/her own unique style, and should not sully it with another’s influence. So, I don’t look to any author while writing. Instead, I recall the entertaining experiences that all my favourite books gave me, and work on how best I can make my story leave a lasting impression.
Q 15. Your most fulfilling experience in life?
When my wife and I paid for our first home, and the day she held her only child for the first time. many other fulfillments yet to manifest, of that I am sure. Otherwise, I see life as one continuum which has turned out rather worthwhile, with all its pain and pleasures.
Q 16. Your message for struggling writers?
Without being self- promoting, I would say: read and learn from BBB. Especially the last page, if nothing else. To show that I mean it all, watch out for an amazing Author Mentorship Contest that’s coming up soon on my website- a unique concept for novel writing contest with a panel of industry experts.
Certainly! Thank you, Mr. Divvaakar, for your time. Looking forward to the release of Beaten by Bhagath.
Readers, you can check out the book here:
‘I’ m sure you can do a much better job than Bhagath!’ When BB hears these inspiring words from his sexy lady boss, his staid life as a successful analyst in an MNC goes into a tailspin. Bitten by the ego bug and smitten by her,
BB sets off on his quest to write a book that’s better than India’s greatest writer Dr.Bhagath’s blockbusters. Nothing unusual about this for BB, who likes a good fight. Except that he and Bhagath had been classmates and friends at college. What follows is a roller-coaster voyage of the debutant author and his book, with all its twists and cul-de-sacs. Brushes with publishers, celebrities, retailers, book chains, and competition with the alliances among giants, mark the challenger’s journey, upping the stakes at every stage.Will BB catch up with his famous friend?What will their encounter be like? Written from inside the ring, ‘Beaten by Bhagath’ is a gripping tale …the first-ever about the unseen side of the wonderland of Indian fiction.