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Interview with Rover V

A reputed expert in computing sciences owning multiple accreditations, with his roots in India, Rover had his academic and professional life spread across the globe. He always took a keen interest in the people and happenings surrounding him throughout his academic, corporate, teaching, and entrepreneurial days.

An avid reader devoted primarily to literature, history, and philosophy, Rover has embarked on a journey into authorship; The Settled Homeless is his first novel. Generally shying away from public attention, he likes spending his personal time with his violin and a few select friends while not reading. When asked, he was candid in answering our questions.

Q.1 Tell us something about yourself not many people know?
I expect people to only know a little about me, especially when disguised under my pen name, although my life could have been an open book. 

Otherwise, too, my energetic voice, lively correspondence, and fun-loving nature keep even the close ones from guessing the challenges I face with multiple progressive health disorders.

Q.2 Are we going to read more from you shortly? Any new project you’re working on?
Hopefully, yes; as soon as I complete the next fiction that I have just started with. It is aimed at meticulously portraying the pattern and dynamics of the IT world in different countries. While expected to be enjoyed by the professionals living therein, it should also serve as an eye-opener for the ones outside.

Q.3 What made you write this book?
I have often shared many anecdotes from my days with my friends; I also talked about extraordinary characters, memorable incidents, and intriguing viewpoints that I came across. Fascinated, they repeatedly requested me to collate everything as my memoirs, which I initially had in mind.

However, when I attempted to write it down, presenting everything as fiction with an appealing storyline appeared to make of a better read. And finally, this book came into being as a novel.

Q.4 It is vital to get exposure and target the right readers for your writing. Tell us about your marketing campaign?
I remember the head of a global engineering multinational once advising in a meet, 'Don't sell. Just make products others feel compelled to buy.'With that edification still in mind, while writing the book, I tried to complete it with the utmost care putting my heart and soul into it without thinking much about its marketing. 

If they were impressed, I relied on the published opinion of knowledgeable reviewers, critics, and connoisseurs to act as trusted conduits to the reader's community, spreading the news of the book's arrival. And I hold the same belief to date.

Q.5 Why did you choose to write under a pseudonym?
My actual name is a little well-known in professional circles, like many events of my life. Written in the first person and with many overlapping aspects, the fiction could have been confused with a biography by many, leading to incorrect and undesirable conjectures. Exposing my actual name might interest a larger crowd of people knowing me, but I wanted the book to be a topic of their discussion - definitely, not myself. To avoid the risk, I hid in the safety of a pen name.

Q.6 What was the most challenging part of writing this book?
Most certainly editing. Not the copy editing to perfect the manuscript but the substantive part - constantly rephrasing the sentences and paragraphs, axing off many areas that I was reluctant to, mellowing down the vocabulary - everything with intentions of making the book a pleasanter read for readers, while containing the word-lengths to a reasonable limit. I lived with Solomon's problem and suffered from the horns of a dilemma for a long time.

Q.7 Can you describe your process for writing a literary fiction book?
Writing the story is preceded by solid groundwork. With the focal theme in mind, I first make an abstract third-person synopsis in a couple of pages; the messages to be incorporated on the side are listed separately. Then I prepare a timeline of events going to the precise months and years - not for mention in the book but for my own clarity. That exercise is supplemented by careful detailing of all characters, the aspect most critical for literary fiction, illustrated using words. Finally, an Index for the whole book with names of chapters and sub-chapters.

While fleshing out the story, I attend to the chapters sequentially. With the drafting of every section, the previous ones undergo necessary revisions, and the iterative process continues till the end of the book.

After the first cut, I allow the whole manuscript to simmer down for half a month. Then comes the revision round, when I focus more on feasibility checks for the narration, fact-checks, consistency checks, and a few more angles. After a gap of another fortnight, I initiate the critical review placing myself in a potential reader's shoes, and make all befitting alterations. Once contended with the overall manuscript, I sit for its copy editing and finish in one go.

Q.8 What advice do you have for readers who might be too intimidated to approach literary fiction?
Nothing is intimidating in literary fiction for a patient reader who is interested in human characters and cares to study them deeply; it should be just the opposite.

Contrary to the common mistaken notion, literary fiction carries most elements found in other genres, except a few, like thrillers. Only the dramatics are underplayed, the messages are more subtle, and the pace is slower - with the character and their life unfolding and evolving naturally, an aggressive telling would spoil the entire story and its authenticity. Quality literary fiction retains its irresistible appeal for the right readers if the author can match their expectations.

Instead, fear should be in the author's mind; composing a believable literary fiction with a suitable plot, diction, and context is no mean feat.

Q.9 Do you believe in writer’s block? If yes, how do you deal with it?
I am yet to face one. But if it ever challenges me, I shall abandon the conscious effort to pen a single more line and get busy with other activities. Dispelling any compulsion, I shall patiently wait for accumulated passion for expressing myself to haunt me till they force me to resume my writing. In case that never happens, I shall understand the writer in me to have retired.

Q.10 What were your feelings when you first saw the cover of the finished product?
I felt exhilarated, more so finding the cover I had designed in matt finish on the printed book.

Q.11 Why is this title The Settled Homeless?
For various reasons, I have missed a stable home from my early childhood till my advanced years, often envying those enjoying one. I have experienced how insignificant material successes become for a nomadic life; the coveted positions are no substitute for a happy abode. Motivated to share that learning with others, when I wrote this novel to realize many unfulfilled desires in the world of fiction, I thought that title best for the theme.

Q.12 What was one of the most surprising things you learned while writing this book?
Discovering myself as capable of retaining my patience and sustaining the effort to write something endlessly, excluding my technical subject matters all along. That I could write so much outside my articles, theses, textbooks, and other publications on my subject.

Q.13 As an author, were you able to detach yourself from the fictionalized story? How much of ‘you’ is there in the story?
I wonder how any author can do it. It was more difficult in my case. My story has not materialized from my limited imagination but essentially carries a collage of snapshots from my life, with many alterations in the storyline. 

Maybe not me, but my eyes, ears, and mind are present in that fiction occupying a significant portion. No, I have not been able to dissociate myself; I probably shall never be.

Q.14 How did you select the name of your characters?
With a little twist in the names of the real characters I had in mind.

Q.15 How long does it take you to write this book?
This book took me about eight months, all steps included.

Q.16 What are your favorite books from other authors and why?
It is a very long list to accommodate in this session. A fraction of that is available on my author profile on Goodreads.

Q.17 Who edited your book, and how did you select them?
I was the sole editor of my book. I trusted my alertness, literary sense, and grip over British English.

Q.18 Which famous person, living or dead, would you like to meet and why?
A. Professor Albert Einstein
. Like many, I have plenty to learn from this epitome of knowledge, imagination, sensitivity, humanity, and a remarkable sense of humor - a rare combination.

Q.19 Who designed your book covers?
My son did it for me; one friend also helped.

Q.20 Share the experience of your writing journey so far?
My newly attempted adventure into creative writing, going beyond science and technology, began as late as last November; the earlier history is unimportant in the present context. 

In place of my writing about the experience, the book, published already, should speak for it. The current book in progress has yet to move past the first chapter, comprising eight thousand odd words written in the last month.

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