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Interview with Rajendra Sarilla

He is an ambivert, but his behavior fluctuates between the two extreme ends of the introvert-extrovert spectrum. He likes being on stage and the center of attention, but he enjoys his solitude to the same degree.

Q.1 Tell us something about yourself not many people know?
I am afraid of heights. When in tall buildings, I avoid leaning against the balcony railing.

Q.2 What inspired you to write Scarlett: Lost in the Five Lands?
My desire to create a powerful female protagonist led to the creation of Scarlett. I love writing about powerful female characters.

Q. 3 Are we going to read more from you in the near future? Any new project you’re working on?
Yes, but not in the near future, as I am busy with other things in my life. My new project is the sequel to Scarlett: Lost in the Five Lands.

Q.4 What is the most challenging thing about writing characters from the opposite sex?
I am deeply empathetic, but there may be flaws when writing female characters, as I have no idea how a woman thinks and feels. My love of writing about female characters makes the process enjoyable.

Q.5 Do you plan out your books before you start writing, or do you just write and see where it takes you?
I don’t plan before I start writing. I just go with the flow, but I keep in mind the basic idea of what happens in the end. I like to see where my mind takes the story instead of sticking to an outline. I tried outlining, but it did not work for me. I am more of a discovery writer than an outline writer.

Q.6 How long, on average, does it takes you to write a book?
It took me 8 months to write Scarlett. Of course, I could have finished it in 6 months, but I did not have any deadline. After that, the publishing process took a year. Because the book has undergone a rigorous editing process until the final product is polished to near perfection.

Q.7 What’s your writing schedule while working?
I left my engineering job long ago. I value free time over money. So, I am a freelance writer and educator now. At each sitting, I write for two or three hours on a stretch, be it in the morning hours or during the night. Writing involves intense mental concentration, especially when it's fantasy. 

Many times, I felt tired after hours of continuous writing. But I enjoy the process. I suggest aspiring writers to write in two sittings, one in the morning and one at night, if they have a deadline to finish. Sometimes, I listen to epic action music while writing battle scenes.

Q.8 Imagine a future where you no longer write. What would you do?
I would do stock market trading.

Q.9 Do you try to be original or to deliver to readers what they want?
I write what I enjoy reading. I love reading fantasy. I don’t see readers as a bunch of outsiders because I am one of them. I know very well what readers want from a good fantasy book. That means I am original.

Q.10 Is it vital to get exposure and target the right readers for your writing? Tell us about your marketing campaign?
Yes, targeting the niche audience for any book is vital. Fantasy as a genre is still at its inception in India, so we targeted those readers who have read and reviewed fantasy books in the past. We used social media to promote my book.

Q.11 If you could be a member of any fantasy race, which would you choose and why?
I would be half-human, half-elf because I get to keep the advantages of being both human and an elf.

Q.12 If you could invite one character to dinner from your book, who would it be and why?
I would invite Scarlett to dinner as she is the female equivalent of a superhero. Then, I would ask her to kill all the evil people in our real world.

Q.13 What three things can a reader expect from your book?
Fast-paced story, powerful female characters, intrigue, action, a world with its own rules, and lots of magic.

Q.14 Among all the supporting characters in your book, who is dear to you and why?
Black Viper. Even when things go from bad to worse, she never gives up and keeps on fighting.

Q.15 Who designed your book cover? How do you select them?
A. Sudhir Kumbhar
has designed the book cover. I must admit that he did a great job. The image of the falling girl on the book cover is of Scarlett falling from the Sky Kingdom. It is an important scene that sets the main narrative for the story.

Scarlett is falling not just from her world but also entering a new unknown world below. The cover image creates a question in the reader’s mind. Why is she falling? What is her story?

Q.16 How do you select the name of your characters?
I took the help of Fantasy Name Generators to name my characters.

Q.17 Do you read your book reviews? How do you deal with good or bad ones?
I read my book reviews. I feel happy when people appreciate my work. I think I am lucky as I have not seen any bad reviews till now. If I see any in the future, I will take them on a positive note.

Q.18 Which famous person, living or dead, would you like to meet and why?
I would like to meet Brandon Sanderson, author of the Mistborn and Stormlight series. I love his books. I would ask him how he comes up with unique magic systems and world-building.

Q.19 Are you excited about any new books or authors in science fiction or fantasy (or both!)? What are you reading right now?
I am excited about reading The Return of the Dragon Queen, the third and final book of The Avalonia Chronicles by Farah Oomerbhoy. The first two books were excellent. Currently, I am reading Atomic Habits by James Clear, and I love it.

Q.20 Share the experience of your writing journey so far?
For any writer, it is very important to find a publisher with the same creative inclination as the writer. I think I am lucky in this aspect because I found Gloryburg Publishing. They had experience in publishing fantasy novels. So, I approached them without any second thought.

Indian readers are new to the fantasy genre. It will take time for fantasy writers to gain recognition on par with romance writers. I am glad to mention that my book Scarlett was awarded at CLA Global Awards 2022.

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