Life is tough when you work in corporate sector. S Venkatesh has over 22-years of experience in this field. His expertise and skills has helped him to work for top firms like JP Morgan, Credit Suisse, and many others. In an environment that demands regular meetings with professionals to constantly discuss numbers and figures, it might be stressful. But Venkatesh eventually found order in this cyclic chaos through fiction.
'I have had the desire to write for a while,' he says, recounting what made him pen down his bestseller, KaalKoot - The Lost Himalayan Secret, that continues to fly off bookshelves across country. 'I could follow my passion in a focused manner a few years ago when I was travelling extensively on business, ending up taking three hundred flights in a couple of years.' It helped the busy man 'to tune out external noises', so he could listen to his inner voice and pen the story he wanted to say. Venkatesh grew up finding inspiration from authors among multiple genres. 'I have enjoyed reading John le Carre and Fredrick Forsyth,' he says.
KaalKoot is similar to genre explored by other bestsellers like Amish Tripathi or Christopher Doyle, yet it is unique and different in its own way. Why did Venkatesh choose to dive into a genre that has gripped Indian readers lately? 'As a nation, we have been blessed with rich heritage and culture which are replete with vivid mythological imagery. I found it natural to tap into this vast reservoir of ideas and contexts for inspiration,' he justifies. He believes that today's younger generation is interested to learn our history as they are 'unburdened by colonial hangover' and hence 'seek to find new meanings'.
Writing mystery thriller calls for heavy research. As a result, authors often get overwhelmed when they embark on 'research journey'. How did Venkatesh slip information into his story? 'While writing KaalKoot, I read scores of academic papers and spoke to scientific researchers, but I had to keep a tight leash on any desire to show off knowledge,' he says. 'Ultimately, research will reflect not in amount of information being conveyed but rather the story coming alive in reader's mind.'
Venkatesh then starts explaining about architecting his book. 'I wrote KaalKoot with a spirit of exploration and discovery rather than sticking to a template. As the writing progressed, I myself discovered shades to characters and personally experienced twists and turns,' says Venkatesh. 'I draw inspiration from places, people and history.'
How does Venkatesh juggle his life as a professional, writer and speaker? 'It is a bit of a balancing act but I have consciously chosen to pursue all three roles as they give expression to different aspects of my personality,' he says. 'It is important not to get bogged down by things that have to be done - the ‘haftas’, as Stephen King calls it - and to consciously make time for creative pursuits - the ‘wannas’. Tuning into my inner self provides the fuel for my creative pursuits.' Venkatesh is also a speaker which he terms as 'a natural consequence of wanting to share insights and experiences from my journey with a wider audience'.
Venkatesh has also traveled extensively to research his writings. It influenced his thoughts, made him more 'humbler and appreciative of the sheer vastness and immensity of the world that we live in'. Venkatesh ends the conversation with a dose of advice for writers. 'The mantra is deceptively simple – read a lot, and write a lot,' he says. 'It is also important to not try to control the process too much, and to submit to the creative forces. Lastly, do not judge yourself too harshly and not get bogged down with anxiety about other people’s expectations.'