Sharath is an author of fiction and nonfiction based in Bangalore, India. He is best known for his Hastinapur series, and also for his first novel, Murder in Amaravati, which was longlisted for the Commonwealth Book Prize, 2013.
A veteran of over 21 books, many of which have been critically acclaimed, he has been published by some of India’s largest publishing houses. He is also the founder of Write Club – one of India’s largest writing and mentoring clubs.
Tell us about the Sharath before writing happened. What led you to take up writing as a full-time career?
The Sharath before writing happened was not too different to the Sharath of now. I’d like to think I am the same person as before, only that I write now.
I was a reasonably good student throughout school, did engineering at university, and also picked up a Bachelor of Science degree on the way.
After I got my first job, I thought it would be nice to have a hobby. Since I had a laptop with MS Word on it, I figured I had enough equipment to start writing. So I did.
Full-time writing happened as a matter of course, over time. I began writing seriously in 2008, and it was not until 2013 that I gathered enough momentum to quit my day job.
Your books seem to draw the female perspective quite seamlessly for your readers. To what would you attribute this skill of yours?
When you strip away all the layers, men and women are driven by very similar inner lives. So I write them as people, not as women. For me, they’re human beings with desires and wants that HAPPEN TO BE women.
Of course, because of social conditions, the way a woman approaches a problem is different to the way in which a man does. These differences you glean from observation, experience and reading.
How important do you think it is for the youth to explore Indian mythology? How does it change one’s outlook towards life situations?
Myths are stories that have refused to die for thousands of years. That means that they must hold some timeless truths. However, I would stop short of saying what is important for whom to read. Everyone should be free to read what they want.
I think all fiction, in some way or the other, give us tools with which to combat what life throws at us.
Do you have a target audience in mind while writing a particular book? Who would be the ideal reader for the books that you write?
No. I don’t think of target audiences when I write a book. My ideal reader is myself. If I enjoy writing the book, and if I enjoy reading it after I’ve finished it, I figure there will be people out there who will as well.
Having said that, I do think of target audiences and such once I have FINISHED the book and I am looking to promote it.
You must have probably been asked this a lot, but we would love to know where do you get the ideas and draw inspiration from, while writing.
Imagination is like a muscle. The more you use it, the stronger it will grow. My trick to keep the well of inspiration full is to read every day and write every day.
As a reader, which genres interest you the most? What new genre would you like to venture into?
I like mysteries, humour, science fiction and horror. I don’t know what genre I want to venture into next. Right now my hands are full with existing projects.
Tell us some lesser known things about you that we’d be surprised to know.
I am completely anosmic. That means I don’t have the sense of smell!
What interests you besides writing? Also, had you not been a writer what would have been your next best career choice?
Interests apart from writing are cricket, philosophy, finance, history, art, science, music, poetry – you name it. A writer of fiction is often a generalist; he is interested in everything.
What would have been my next career choice if I had not been a writer? I would probably have continued being an engineer.
What book are you currently working on? What led you to write it and what can your readers expect from your upcoming works?
I am currently working on a sequel to Money Wise, which tackles the issue of financial wisdom. (Money Wise spoke about financial knowledge and education, so this rounds that off.) I don’t know what led me to write it, I just felt it would be fun to write.
What can readers expect from my upcoming works? Hopefully deeper, more engaging stories.
What suggestions would you give to budding writers so as to develop themselves into successful authors?
My advice for budding writers has always been the same: read a lot, write a lot. This advice is easy to give and difficult to follow, though, which is why we have so many aspiring writers and so few who do it professionally.