After Flat-Track Bullies, author Balaji Venkataramanan is back with his another book – POPS! POPS is a delightful short story told by a 7-year-old Arun who suddenly is made to meet his father who left him at the time of his birth. Filled with sadness, happiness, childlike naivety, this book is a poignant account of the scenario of kids dealing with their divorced parents. How this crack in their parents’ relationship affects their perspective is highlighted in the book.
In a candid talk with Balaji, he spoke about several aspects of his life and book. Let’s explore:
QUES: Please introduce yourself to our readers.
Balaji: I am Balaji Venkataramanan. A typical middle class IT guy from Chennai. I am lucky enough to have my books (Flat-Track Bullies and Pops!) published.
QUES: When did you realize you wanted to be a writer?
Balaji: I never realized that I wanted to be a writer. I just wrote to keep myself amused. The manuscript of Flat-Track Bullies was lying in my computer for quite a while and my niece made me submit it and fortunately, it got published.
QUES: What inspires you to write books? What are the things which catch your attention?
Balaji: I write to keep myself amused. I write about things that make me happy at the point of time.
QUES: Tell something in brief about your latest book POPS! How did the idea of coming up with this book strike you?
Balaji: Pops! is a slice from the life of a seven-year-old boy Arun between one moral science period to the other when he is asked to write the about the same topic (About his father). Though the kid writes the same words in both the sessions, the way the change happens in his perception of his father in between the two periods is the story. Period.
Kids are smarter; they get the story. Actually, quite a few adults don’t get it. They take sides and let their thoughts race ahead of the story in their mind assuming this is how it will end. But then when it doesn’t end the way they assumed a few get disappointed with the end.
QUES: How do you manage your time between writing and work?
Balaji: I write after office hours or over the weekends. Am a slow write though. I have it for a longer time in my head before putting it on paper.
QUES: What is the greatest achievement of your life to date?
Balaji: Well the last time I answered this question was during my Campus interview. I just take life as it comes.
QUES: How would you describe the contemporary scenario of writing and reading in India?
Balaji: These are exciting times with a lot of new topics being explored and brought out by publishers. Just see my publisher Duckbill’s releases. It’s quite an eclectic mix which is wonderful
Ques: When you are not at work and not writing, how do you spend your time?
Balaji: I like sports both playing and watching and of course reading.
QUES: Have you ever gotten a writer’s block? How did you come out of it?
Balaji: I am a lazy guy. I don’t really have a writer’s block. Just that I cannot bring myself to write every day
QUES: Which one is your favorite genre?
Balaji: I like first-person narratives, umm genre doesn’t matter. What draws me to the story is the voice
QUES: The best piece of writing advice you would like to give to the budding writers?
Balaji: Read a lot.
QUES: Do you read books? If yes, which one is most dear to you?
Balaji: Catcher in the Rye, JD Salinger
QUES: Are we going to read more from you in the near future? Any new project that you are working on?
Balaji: I have a book in my head. But then it takes its own time to come out. Also, a publisher should like that so that I can get lucky again.
*We wish Balaji all the best for his future endeavors.*
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