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Interview with Sandip Badi

He lives in Pune. He has a bachelor’s degree in English from Pune University. Other than reading and writing, he enjoys listening to music and creating oil-free dishes.

Q.1 Tell us something about yourself that not many people know?
I cut my own hair. I haven’t been to a barber shop in more than six years.

Q.2 When should we expect your next book? What will it be about?
A dystopian society where there is extreme distrust between men and women, and they live separately. It should be out next year.

Q.3 When did you decide to write In the Age of Loneliness?
I wrote the last two chapters of this novel in 2015 and the rest in 2020-21. I have been thinking about this story since my college days. I have always felt that individuality and loneliness are interconnected.

Q.4 Loneliness is a prevalent issue in today's society. How did you approach depicting this theme in your novel, and what messages or insights do you hope readers will take away from it?
It is a prevalent issue in society, and society is well aware of that, and that’s why it provides constant amusement. This book talks about what happens when you don’t become a subject in that scheme of society.

Loneliness is individual, so I had to approach it from an individual point of view. Writing this book in the first person was probably the best decision I made in the development of this book.

Q.5 In the Age of Loneliness is described as a dark satire. What societal or cultural elements did you satirize in your book, and what kind of commentary were you trying to make through satire?
All individuals have a unique relationship with society, although most of them never realize it. Society has a goal, and it uses individuals to achieve that goal. Most individuals believe that it is their personal goals and ambitions, which isn’t true most of the time.

I will not talk about the commentary I wanted to make. Because then, there will be no pleasure in reading the book. Jobs, relationships, hookup culture, love, individuality, and loneliness are major elements in it.

Q.6 Which character(s) in this book spoke to you the most and why?
The nameless narrator in the book. When I started writing this story, I thought I understood that character completely and the story was going to unfold according to him. 

But as the story progressed, I began to understand very little of him, and he started reacting to things in ways that surprised me. I thought I knew too much of him in the beginning, and he became a mystery to me in the end.

Q.7 What was one of the most surprising things you learned while writing this book?
One of the most surprising things I learned while writing this book is that, on occasion, characters write their own actions and reactions. You just sit there typing things on the keyboard and realize what happened only after reading it.

Q.8 What challenges did you face while writing this book, and how did you overcome them?
Many times while writing this book, I was convinced that I would never be able to complete it. At times, I couldn’t write for days. I have never forced myself to write. I never will.

At times like those, I instead gave myself time away from writing. Sometimes a couple of hours, sometimes days. And then I would always find myself with too much to write. I have so many times gone back to writing mid-lunch, mid-sleep, and mid-shower.

Q.9 Beyond writing, are there any other creative pursuits or interests that you’re passionate about?
I love all types of storytelling. Not long ago, I made a short film based on my book. I am also looking forward to learning how to play the piano.

Q.10 Dark satire often balances humor with a critical examination of society. How do you maintain this balance in your writing, and do you have any favorite comedic moments or scenes in the book?
To be able to balance humor with a critical examination of society, one needs to have a good understanding of society and human psychology. If the actions of characters or of a certain character are in correspondence with the expected standards of society, it is never going to be humorous or shocking.

One of my favorite comedic moments is when the protagonist goes next door to ask for a press iron but eventually doesn’t because he doesn’t want to disturb them when he has to return it.

Q.11 Who would you most like to thank for their involvement in your writing career?
My father. My earliest memories of my father were of him reading or writing something at his study table. It was because of him that I fell in love with reading and, eventually, writing.

Q.12 How do you select the names of your characters?
I select the names of characters in terms of their essence in the plot.

Q.13 If you could offer one piece of advice to aspiring authors, what would it be?
A piece of writing with no perspective isn’t a piece of writing. If you have no perspective, you don’t have a story.

Q.14 Do you have any unique and quirky writing habits?
I do understand that to meet deadlines, one has to follow a routine. I don’t make writing a routine. I don’t ever sit in one place thinking about what to write. I carry a small notepad and pen with me everywhere I go, and whenever I get some ideas, not necessarily about what I’m working on at the time, I write them down.

Q.15 How do your family/friends feel about your book or writing venture in general?
My family has always been very supportive of everything that I do. In the Age of Loneliness, unfortunately, isn’t quite family-friendly. But overall, my family is very excited about my writing venture.

Q.16 Do you read your book reviews? How do you deal with good and bad ones?
Yes, I do read reviews. I think there is no such thing as a bad review. In fact, bad reviews can be a step towards learning something new.

A book with no bad reviews is probably written by God or every reviewer’s best friend. I am neither.

Q.17 Who designed your book covers? How do you select him/her?
This was one of the hardest parts of my publishing journey. I must have hired at least five different people to design the cover. I loved all their designs so much that I had to design the cover myself.

Q.18 Are there any authors or books that have had a significant influence on your writing style or the themes you explore in your work?
Yes. Albert Camus, Dostoevsky and Cervantes. They have had some influence on the themes.

Q.19 In today's rapidly changing literary landscape, how do you see contemporary fiction evolving, and where do you think your work fits into this evolution?
Most books that are published and read these days are self-help, romance, and fantasy.

Contemporary fiction has taken a backseat.

Having said that, loneliness is an epidemic, and a dark humor satire about it should garner some interest.

Q.20 Share the experience of your writing journey so far?
I have been writing since I was thirteen. Writing, for me, is therapeutic. I never imagined that I could write a book. But the idea had been there in my mind for some time, and in the end, I could not suppress it anymore. And I am so glad that I had in myself the courage to leave my job to complete this book. A lot of things aren’t easy, and it certainly hasn’t been easy for me.

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