C. R. Barath Narayanan, brought up in Chennai, is the creator of the novel Guild Hostilities published by Notion Press in the year 2014. As he puts it, by profession he is an engineer, but by passion he is a writer. Presenting C.R.Barath Narayanan, the author.
You not only published your book Guild Hostilities in 2014 but also graduated as an engineer in that same year. Therefore was 2014 a really memorable year for you?
Yes, obviously, 2014 was a really memorable year. I would call 2014 as a divine sword that helped me to slaughter the confusions in my mind. Before the release of Guild Hostilities, I was a totally confused bloke. Never was I an educational genius; right from kindergarten to under-graduation I just was a little squirrel perching on a fence that separated those so called “average”, and “above average” students. I, the little squirrel, didn’t like that position; I tried many times to leap forward and fly over the pool of above-average students to fall into pool beyond it – the pool of outstanding students; every time I tried, I failed.
Ever since childhood, I always had that urge in my heart, to engineer a talented person out of myself, but, I honestly didn’t have the nuts and bolts to do that engineering handiwork. I clearly knew that, just by being a student, and studying for examinations, I can’t make a talented person out of myself; I knew that I have to do something else.
When I was fourteen years old, I discovered that I could write well, but, I never had any idea of becoming a novelist; or, for that matter, till swimming out of school-life, and crawling onto the shores of engineering-student life, I never had any idea of doing something related to writing. The idea of trying to become a novelist came like a lightning bolt, and left a permanent scar in my mind. It happened when I was a college student; I spent days writing little stories, and incoherent poetic verses which my fellow mates loved to read; that’s how I knew that there are a few people who will like it if I write. One evening, while seeing a documentary on B.B.C. about the India-Pakistan partition, I got an idea about writing a novel which tells about the sufferings of the people who lived through those hideous and ghastly riots. That’s how Guild Hostilities was born. Then, after writing it, I wanted to use it as a tool to discover whether people who don’t know me will like it. That’s why I self-published Guild Hostilities.
Right when Guild Hostilities was published, my engineering course came to an end; then, I had to find a job. My father owns a company that sells medical goods; to sell them, we’ve to draft well written speeches and deliver it to consumers; it involves a lot of writing. I told my dad that I would like to join him in the business, and I promised him that as I can write well, I can be a good seller of goods too. He, a kind man, gave me a chance. I did well in the business, and it was a great encouragement to see myself getting something out of my skill to project the positives of things in an artistic way. Along with that encouragement, I also received positive reviews for my book from strangers; that strengthened the pillars over which my confidence of becoming a good writer stands; I also got a few negative reviews, but, those negative reviews were also encouraging, and promising – they said: “You just have some little problems, mate. You already have learned many topics in writing, you just have to learn some little things; just do it, and you’ll become a good writer.”
2014 was the year in which I found the spot where I have to dig to get the gold. It’s an amazing year! It said to me: “You have the talent. Just be an introvert, and patiently dig this spot; you’ll definitely get the gold.”
What made you want to be a writer at such a young age? Tell my readers about your journey.
Encouragement. If my friends hadn’t said: “You should become a professional writer,” I will not have tried to write a novel. I have great people around me as friends. They all are well-read; they are a bunch of intelligent people; and, I consider this as a gift – my friends have hearts that urge them to keep on encouraging me.
A particular silly incident happened to me when the thought of writing Guild Hostilities just came into my mind. At that epoch of my life, I liked a girl so much. I was twenty years old at that time, and she was a well-read nineteen year old girl. For me, she was a lightning; there might be a million stars in the night-sky, but, right at the moment when a lightning strikes, they all go dull and invisible; you can put me in a large hall along with a million pretty girls, and send her into that room after a few minutes; right at the moment when she’ll enter, my senses will ignore all the other girls in the hall; she will draw all my attention, and she will stand before me luminously like an angel, driving away all my coeval thoughts, making me do nothing other than admiring her. She was the definition of “dream-girl” in my mind. She was special to me, but, I knew that according to her, I was just another person who speaks frequently with her – I didn’t like being that. I couldn’t control myself, I thought about her so much, and spent more time thinking about how should I speak when I meet her, and I did that all sort of dreaming stuff, and all – that’s a bad thing; as a twenty year old I had many things to do and many things to mend, and I knew that I mustn’t push myself into one-sided-love. To pull myself out of this one-sided-love, I came up with a plan – I thought that, I should do something that will either make her love me as I love her, or will make her loathe me and move out of my life completely – that’s the only way to pull myself out of one-sided-love; so, I wrote about how I adore her, and sent it as a text message to her. She read it, and the next time when we met, she said: “Barath, I want to talk to you. Coffee?”
It was the longest conversation I had ever had with that girl. She said that she could never ever date me, as she likes some other guy, and soon, he will become her lover; she said that she and that guy are having a sort of confused relationship for the past two years, and she said that a few recent conversations had slowly started removing those knots of confusions. She apologized for not telling about that guy to me.
At the end of that conversation she said: “Barath. Since I was 13, many guys have proposed to me,” she paused, flashed a smile, and continued, “Really, Barath, a lot of guys had done that… but, your proposal message was the best thing that I’ve ever got from someone… and, I am sure that your proposal message will be the best thing I will ever get from someone. Within you, there’s an amazing talent. I think, you must become a writer,” she said, and smiled; that smile was a divine one; it was a true smile; it was a ray of heavenly beam of light that promised guidance; it was a symbol of truth; it revealed that whatever she said arose from her soul! Now, I am not speaking much with her, but, whenever I feel lazy, I hear those words of her ringing from somewhere deep inside me, asking me to do it – become a writer!
This is one of the thousand incidents that encouraged me to become a writer. Out of those thousand, this is the best, I guess. Ha-ha.
In your biography on Goodreads, it is stated that before Guild Hostilities you had written another book called The Legendary Last Benchers which sounds to me like a very interesting read. Why didn’t you wish to publish it?
I wasn’t satisfied enough to publish it. While writing it, I felt like Leonardo da Vinci sketching Mona Lisa, but, when I read it after a few days after completing it, I realized that I had just been a four year old with a crayon. I told myself: “Learn how to write properly, and then start writing. Know the nuts and bolts of writing, and do it properly. Every man who owns a sword isn’t a warrior; only the one who knows how to fight will become a warrior. Every man who owns a story isn’t a writer; only the one who knows how to narrate a story that he has in the bank of his imagination can become a writer. Spend some time, learning the art of writing. Then, start writing.”
Are you planning on publishing The Legendary Last Benchers any time in the near future or are you going to wait for the right moment?
I will use a few parts of it, but, I think that I won’t publish it. It’s like a housefly, ha-ha. It came, made some noise, flew incoherently, and amused the little crawling baby in the home, and died. That’s it.
In your biography on Goodreads, it is also mentioned that you took a grave interest in shaping your writing career especially by studying many ‘creative writing courses’. Describe to my readers your mental state at that point of time. How did you balance your regular studies with this creative work?
I didn’t go to a class, and learn them. I just saw the syllabuses of creative writing courses of various universities, got the appropriate books, read them, and taught myself. I started doing this when my engineering-student life almost came to an end. Engineering didn’t give me more things to concentrate on, at that epoch. So, it wasn’t a difficult thing.
Do you believe that all to-be-writers should attend creative writing classes before they embark on writing their first book? How have these creative writing classes and materials helped or not helped you in crafting your work?
I might have a wrong opinion according to some people. I personally feel that everyone who yearns to be a writer should read many books about writing that are written by great successful writers. At least, they should read On Writing by the great Stephen King alone; Hinduism has the Vedas, Islam has Quran, Christianity has Bible, and I think that the holy book of the “religion of writing” is On Writing by Stephen King.
To become an engineer, one goes to a university and learns engineering. To become an accountant, one goes to a university and learns accounting. But, to become a writer, no one learns anything, they just jump into it blindly, and when something goes wrong, they just become sad, and retire from writing completely! People who want to become a writer, I think, must either go to a university, and learn writing, or, at least, they must buy the appropriate books prescribed by universities that teach creative writing, and should read them, and should try to teach themselves the art of writing. If everyone who had jumped into writing had learned writing properly, we would not find many writers quitting writing after some failure had devastated them. If they learn the craft of writing, they will have that knowledge which will help them to discover the reason for their failure, and will help them to correct themselves. Quitting shouldn’t be an option – quitting is an act of a coward. Knowledge will not allow one to be a coward. That’s why we must gain knowledge by ourselves or by going to a university.
Give a brief synopsis of your widely acclaimed book Guild Hostilities to my readers so as to whet their interest.
It’s an attempt to experience the emotions hovering in the air of Vintage India ruled by the British, which was, later split into India and Pakistan. I just created a few main characters – Mohamed Ali Adnan, his wife Elnaz, and his daughter Schieba; Ramaswamy Iyer, his wife Janani Iyer, and his son Subramaniyam Iyer; Michael McKenzie and Ratan Singh, and threw them into the world of Vintage India, and allowed them to live there, saw them live, and wrote about it.
What comes first to your mind when I mention the following:
- Historical Fiction – a beautiful little statue made of a bowl of clay that’s made pure by the blood droplets of our ancestors.
- Quentin Tarantino – Dronacharya; I’m trying to be an Ekalayva who learns the divine art from Dronacharya, without his knowledge.
- Communalism in India – blokes of 2116 will call it as the cornerstone of the civilization of the ever invincible global superpower – Republic of India.
- The Legendary Last Benchers – housefly, ha-ha.
- College friends – Gift from God, really.
Are you currently working on a new book(s)? Share your future ventures with my readers.
Yes. I have just completed the second draft of my new book, Boatman and the brook, and I’m working on its third draft now. It’s a story about a boy, who floats like a quill in the pleasant breeze called life, enjoying every moment of his journey. For some people, this boy will sound like a reflection of themselves; for some people, he will sound like the reflection of their own dreams; for some people, he will sound like a bombastic bloke; for some people, he will sound like an intelligent bloke with a bad attitude; for some people he will sound like a normal kid; for some people, he will sound like a nice, humble, and an extremely intelligent person. Boatman and the brook is a first person narrative novel; the boy, born in my imagination is the one who narrates the novel; this book will be a portal through which you can talk with him. After you finish talking with him, you’ll either love him, or loathe him, but, this crazy guy will always put a smile on your face whenever he knocks the doors of your consciousness.
I haven’t thought about the story of my third book yet. All I know about it now is, my third book will be a very long one, and I will take a lot of time to finish it.
What message would you like to give young aspiring authors who will be reading this blog post?
I myself am a young aspiring author. So, let me tell what I tell myself:
- Never underestimate yourself.
- Write daily; stop finding excuses for spending a day without writing. You work for you; so, you’re your master, and you’re your slave. Be a strict master of yourself, and be an extremely submissive slave of yourself; ask yourself to work hard every time, whip yourself with an imaginary whip whenever something distracts you. Work hard. Achieve something. Smile. Again, work hard.
- Don’t allow failures to sink you in an ocean of agony. Failures are the opportunities that Mother Nature gives to hard workers to help them discover their mistakes and correct themselves to make themselves perfect in all ways.
Thank you Barath for enlightening insaneowl.com & its followers about your work as a writer. Continue the good work & all the best for your future ventures. I do hope that we may be able to speak through the medium of my blog once again in the near future. Warm regards from Fiza Pathan.
Copyright ©2016 Fiza Pathan