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Interview with Randhir Sinh

Q.1 Tell us a little about yourself?
A. I’m a former army officer and retired at the rank of Major General. Was educated at Mayo College, Ajmer.

Q.2 Do you have any upcoming books?
A. Karuna and I have put our thinking caps on. We will decide in a month or two. It will again be a historical novel hopefully.

Q.3 When and why did you begin writing?
A. I have been writing articles since school days. I published my first book in 2012. It was the biography of late Lt Gen Sagat Singh and was titled, A Talent for War.

Q.4 What drew you to the historical fiction genre?
A. It is the best way to express the emotional perception of an age where historical facts are scarce. It allowed us to make Meera into a flesh and blood figure.

Q.5 Which authors do you think creates the most successful historical fiction?
A. I have read this genre since I was a boy. The authors who come to mind are Samuel Shellabarger, Tim Wilcox, Georgette Heyer, Simon Scarrow, Conn Iggledun, Hilary Mantel, and Bernard Cornwell to name just a few.

Q.6 What role does research play in successful historical fiction?
A. Without research, any historical fiction is not worth the paper it is written on. The story must be grounded on the events of that period.

Q.7 Do you judge historical fiction differently from contemporary fiction?
A. Yes! Good historical fiction brings out the events of a period alive in a manner no other genre can.

Q.8 Where do you hope to take your writing in the future?
A. I would at some stage like to write contemporary military fiction, but the process takes time. By the time I started on my first book and got my second book published it’s taken 10 years and may never have happened if Karuna had not taken the initiative.

Q.9 In your opinion, what aspects prevent a novel from being designated successful historical fiction?
A. If the novel does not stick to the historical facts and characters as known and does not examine the setting of that period clinically, it has failed as historical fiction and would be more on the lines of historical fantasy. It should also bring out the texture and emotions of that period.

Q.10 Outside of your family members, name one entity that supported your commitment to become a published author?
A. A lot of my friends and contemporaries from the military, especially the General’s family, encouraged me in my first book. With regards, the second book, VP Singh Badnore, The Governor of Punjab was a great source of encouragement.

Q.11 How do you describe your writing experience with Karuna Sinh? If you have different opinions on a particular situation, how did you resolve it?
A. The book could not have been written without Karuna. She did the drudgery and constantly encouraged me to write. Besides, she set the tone and context for the book. I could not pass a chapter until it cleared her critical eye.

Q.12 Do you believe in writer’s block? If yes, how do you deal with it?
A. I have never felt it once I start writing. I have already planned the pathway and thereafter the story follows. As regards this book I always got the feeling that Meera and others were reaching out to me to tell their story.

Q.13 Imagine a future where you no longer write. What would you do?
A. I have other interests; the most pleasurable one is reading. Nothing like immersing oneself in a good book and spending hours.

Q.14 Do you have any unique and quirky writing habits?
A. I won’t say quirky, but before I start on a chapter I make notes of aspects I want to cover in it. At times a particular aspect can’t be fitted. It rankles till I fit it somewhere. This has its disadvantages though as one tends to cram in more detail.  

Q.15 If you had to do it all over again, would you change anything in your books?
A. No. I repeatedly revise chapters and then the book. Once it’s handed over to the publisher it’s done.

Q.16 What is the most unethical practice in the publishing industry?
A. The Indian publishing industry is opaque, discourages newcomers, and does not have depth in its editors. I am lucky in my publisher but I am aware of several budding talents who gave up in despair. The problem is that publishing in India is not very profitable. People don’t read.

Q.17 What advice do you have for aspiring authors?
A. Persist. Don’t give up. If you have it in you your talents will rise. Also, hedge i.e. have an alternative source of income. Writers make little or no money.

Q.18 Which famous person, living or dead would you like to meet and why?
A. I’m fascinated with many personages in Rajput history. At the moment am taken up with Abbaka Chowta, the 17 Century Queen of Ullal, who stood up to the Portuguese.

Q.19 What is your favorite book and why?
A. It’s a slim and little-known book called The Token wrote by Samuel Shellabarger. It’s a story of medieval France and the wife of a knight, who leaves her to go on the Crusades. Every word sensitively brings out the atmosphere of that era and the high courage of the heroine.

Q.20 Share the experience of your journey so far?
A. I’m from a military family and we always thought service in the armed forces was fore-ordained and part of our life. Never regretted it though has served in the worst areas and under worst circumstances.

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Twitter - @sinhgohil

1 comment:

  1. Typically Randhir Sinh . Free Frank and forthright. Enjoyed reading the chat.