Vikram Balagopal is the author of the award-winning graphic novel Simian. Following his training in the New York Film Academy, he worked in India with various film-makers. His screenplay was chosen for Meera Nair’s Maisha Screenwriter’s Lab. Currently residing in Delhi, Vikram is a published poet, illustrator, and cartoonist in magazines. Below is an excerpt of my candid conversation with him post the publishing of his second book Savage Blue!
- Tell us something about your recently published book Savage Blue.
Every one of us knows what it is like to feel trapped by some seemingly indomitable force in our lives that keeps us down through no fault of our own. It can come in many forms, like family pressure or strangling debt or tradition or discrimination or exploitation. I wanted to write about a character’s struggle to break free because we are all in that struggle. My novel Savage Blue begins with a dream that has haunted Shyam since he was a little boy. He meets Akila, the little girl from his dream, after twenty years and now they are both very different people. Their lives have changed them. Their first date doesn’t go very well, but they are still drawn together, because of that eerie dream. Shyam has to peel past the layers to discover more about this person he is falling in love with. Akila is an enigma at the start of the book and as the story unfolds we learn of the crazy adventures she has had on surreal worlds in another realm with a malevolent power at the heart of it. She can only meet Shyam because of a mysterious connection they share and soon she shows him the other worlds. My aim was to write a contemporary fantasy that we could all relate to as adults who have had these feelings in our lives and in our relationships, and through it take the reader on a wild trip. Akila is a character with great reserves of strength and her struggle is at the core of the story.
- Wow! That sounds very interesting! When did you start writing?
I started writing when I was around 9 years old.
- What inspired you to bring forth this idea of Savage Blue as a book?
I had been developing the idea for some years and I knew that its structure best suited a novel. It can of course be adapted later into other forms, but this was how the story came to me.
- So you do see a movie based on Savage Blue being made?
I saw the entire book in my head as I wrote it so I can easily see a movie being made based on the book.
- Is any part of Savage Blue inspired from real life?
It is a total fantasy adventure with some connections to my life. The male character is a malayali like me, but the story is more about Akila.
- Unlike regular novels, Savage Blue is a unique concept one.
I wanted to push the fantasy adventure genre to its most exciting and at the same time tell a compelling story and romance about these two characters.
- What importance do you think love, family and relationships hold in an individual’s life?
They take a lot of work to maintain them. Nothing is unconditional. They have their highs and lows, and the highs alone make it well worth the effort.
- Which of your works have been published so far?
My first book was a graphic novel called Simian which was released in 2014. Savage Blue is my first novel.
- So how was this journey of becoming a published author?
It is wonderful to become a published author and I feel privileged to have people reading and commenting on my work. It has been a long journey and every book is years in the making with many hurdles along the way.
- Have you self-published your book or followed the traditional approach?
Simian and Savage Blue were both published by HarperCollins Publishers.
- Which approach is better according to you: traditional or self-publishing, and why?
We are in a time when the difference between traditional publishing and self publishing has diminished a great deal in regards of production standards and distribution. Ultimately, the logo on the spine matters only to few readers as long as the book is good. Although to some, it is that expectation of quality that still differentiates the two.
- What should the beginners do today?
They should read as much as they can.
- What is your take on book publishing as you see the current scenario?
It cannot fight the change in our landscape regarding the role of technology in our lives. The delivery methods for books will change with time but what will always be important is the story.
- What are your forthcoming writings?
I’m taking a short break now but I’ll be getting back to working on some new projects next year.
- What is your favorite genre and why?
I read books in every genre and my list of top books is eclectic. My favourite genre shifts every few years. At the moment it is non-fiction and biographies.
- What / Who is your biggest source of inspiration in life?
The women in my life have always inspired me. That’s why I dedicated Savage Blue to my infant niece, my grandmother, mother and my sister. Akila manifests their strength.
- What is the biggest challenge you have ever faced and how did you overcome it?
I have faced challenges but I have seen others close to me face and overcome far worse and that strength in some people to still treat one another with love and respect in trying times never ceases to inspire me. We are all just trying to do the best we can in our lives.
- And finally, any message for the readers?
Thank you for keeping stories alive! Explore my new novel, Savage Blue, available on ebook and paperback.
So that was Vikram for you, author of “Savage Blue“.
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