Author Interview with Vijai Singh Mankotia #Upheaval

I feature an author interview on the blog after a long time. Things have been brewing and stalling but it’s all going to work out. I firmly believe all progress is good progress and I have great things planned. If you are an author and wish to be featured for an interview on the blog, just drop me a line.

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Upheaval tells the story of two young people who have a deep understanding of the power struggle among nations and their own roles in such a tragic narrative. Yet when destiny binds them together through a sublime and ethereal love, it draws the ire of forces beyond their control. The book is not just a story about the power of love, but also a commentary on the terse political drama being played out on a global scale. It will also ask the reader to shake their dubious cloak of morality and take notice of how their choices affect their nation,” says Major Mankotia 

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About The Author

Vijai Singh Mankotia’s first book was “Patterns of Destiny” released in 2000 by the Dalai Lama. A beautiful love story set against the backdrop of the India Pakistan partition, between an Indian Army Officer and a Muslim girl. It has a spiritual angle of Buddhism. After that, he has written a book of poems “turmoil” released in the year 2014, again released by the Dalai Lama.

He shares with us his writing process, his books and what keeps him going, motivating him to write more as he melds love and life and current challenges we face. Welcome to #EloquentArticulation Major Mankotia. Let dive into the questions…..

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  • When did you decide to become a writer? Why do you write?

The urge to read and write came fairly early in life. My education at Bishop Cotton School, Shimla ensured a very sound grounding in the English language and the innumerable stories of renowned authors that my mother narrated during my childhood led me into the world of wonderment, imagination, fantasy as also anger against injustice, oppression, brute force and deceit. 
This also created the romantic in me. 

Why do I write? Primarily to satisfy my inner instinct and desire. To read out to that segment of society that feels nostalgic of times that are no more. Or on the other hand make them aware, shake them out of their state of indifference and frozen silence, their attitude of complacency towards that which, is grossly wrong. Whatever violates human dignity and is scornful of our fundamental rights is unacceptable and towards this end I feel compelled to write.

I write about love too. Love that transcends all boundaries. I write about faith in that divine power that we call God, or by other name, and my belief in the power of prayer.

  • Give us three “Good to Know” facts about you. Be creative.

Conversation

A sense of history

Incurable optimist, with an abiding love for the many gifts and bounties of nature

  • What has been your motivation for writing this book, “Upheaval”?

My novel ‘Upheaval’ is the result of my having been witness to the devaluation of our moral standards, our disregard for ethics and principles, the betrayal of the trust and faith of millions of Indians by politicians who have manipulated democracy and all but destroyed the system of governance, with criminal elements having infiltrated into the corridors of power and political pimps and wheeler – dealers calling the shots.

Through the medium of this novel, a work of fiction, I have tried to open a window into the sordid and murky world of those in high places and expose their ugly under – belly.

  • The cover is worth a thousand words, how much of the cover designs for the books did you choose or were they designed by someone else?

. Nothing could be more appropriate and symbolic of the title of my book ‘Upheaval’ than the cover depicting the eruption of a volcano. After short-listing a number of designs, three very important members of my advisory group, my wife, my daughter and my very artistic grand daughter finally agreed on this cover design.

  • How important are names of the characters in your books? Do you choose the names etc based on liking the way it sounds or the meaning? Do you have any name choosing resources you recommend?

In the two novels, ‘Patterns of Destiny’ and then ‘Upheaval’ that I’ve written, I’ve tried to the best of my ability, to make them credible so that the reader feels comfortable in relating to the story of which, they are a part. I’ve travelled long and far in my journey of life. Its been an exciting adventure. Along the way I’ve met many people from those in high places to the lowly and the impoverished. My own career in the Indian army and politics has provided me the content I needed for writing these books. Even though both the novels are works of fiction its easy to relate to the characters for any reader who keeps abreast of the happenings in India and the rest of the world.

A very easy method of choosing names is to observe carefully the names that appear on the screens of films. Its now mandatory for the movie makers to mention each and every name not just of the caste but every individual or firm associated with the making of the movie. One can have ones pick.

  • What can your readers look forward to next? Share some details about your WIP?

I’m trying to gather as much material as I possibly can to write about a real life story of an Indian Army soldier who was taken a prisoner of war by the Germans during World War Two and the bond that developed between German lady member of the prison staff, perhaps the Jail Wardens establishment and this Indian Army soldier. This story was narrated to me many years ago and I’m researching on this. A lot of evidence is required to authenticate the reality!

  • Do you read your reviews? Do you respond to them, good or bad? Do you have any advice on how to deal with the bad?

I certainly do. They mean so much. The good ones are like tonic. Recharging one and re-energising one. The bad ones can put one on correction course for the future. All to be taken in the right spirit. As long as one feels that one’s book isn’t in the realm of the absurd, and if that were the content no publisher of any repute would publish it, one should feel a degree of satisfaction. There is always scope for improvement, who wouldn’t agree!

  • How do you think you have evolved creatively? If you could have been the original author of any book, what would it have been and why?

It’s important whether one has an ear for music. Good, melodious, soul-uplifting music that leaves one spellbound. The strains, the lyrics, the harmony lingering long after the listening is over. Such an experience pre-supposes that one is sensitive.

Now creativity can come only if one is sensitive. Acute awareness to sound, sight, colour, beauty, love, compassion, patters of human behaviour. The abundance of natures gifts and bounties, all this on one side; the other, what we now term as the dark side – the harshness, the brutality, the injustice, the under-world, the sadists, the perverts, terrorism, fanaticism, rapists, murderers, the dirty politicians, the fake preachers, priests, God-men, in reality predators exploiting the weak and the ignorant. Only the ones who are sensitive can thus be touched and moved to write meaningful writing, I wish to assert. Writing that impact the reader. Stir ones conscience. Like the music, whose strains linger. Thought provoking. Stimulating. Or even arousing controversy and debate. But not hurting the religious faiths. Knit a story, weave a story, highlight the patterns and the designs. Arouse curiosity. Awaken ones conscience.

One has to experience, observe, feel, allow emotion and sentiment, grief, sorry and pain, happiness, joy and elation to touch you, let tears run down and laughter ring loud and clear, your creativity evolves.

The second part of this question is not easy to answer. In the literary world, when one has devoured book after book on varied subjects from classics, to the modern, from historical’s to spy’s, from mystery to romance – its endless. But perhaps I could mention a few books without prejudice to any, who I wish I could have authored, had I their gift and their genius:

The Fountainhead by Ayn Rand;

2. Désirée by Anne Marie Selinko;

3. How Green was my Valley by Richard Llewellyn;

4. The Da Vinci Code by Dan Brown;

5. A Farewell to Arms by Ernest Hemingway;

6. The Shoes of the Fisherman by Morris West;

7. War and Peace by Leo Tolstoy;

8. The Good Earth by Pearl S. Buck;

9. To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee

10. Keys of the Kingdom by A.J. Cronin.

To the question ‘why?’ I suppose for their brilliance in putting together a story perhaps entirely fiction or perhaps based on historic facts or certain incidents or happenings but so meticulously researched that you feel the drama unfold right before your eyes and you marvel at their sheer genius, their dedicated labour, their disciplined effort to have produced works of everlasting fame.

  • Where do you see publishing going in the future? How do you think we can promote and increase diversity within the literary industry?

The IT revolution has certainly impacted the publishing industry. Lesser people now visit book stores or libraries unless for reference or research. Yet the fascination of the book will outlast time. Atleast that is what those of my generation feel. May be it’s a sense of loyalty. But the publishing industry will survive. Let there be book fairs, literary festivals that embrace not just the social elite but many authors knocking on the doors for recognition, even though not part of the glamour world or the party circuit. Let the movie filmmakers draw upon the writings and the novels, the books, to produce movies based on these stories. The electronic media could play a vital role in promoting books with talks shows with the author and panellists who are well known in literary circles. All this could act as a shot-in-the arm for the publishing industry.

  • ·         How can readers discover more about you and your books?

There is an invariable brief write-up about the author and normally it has his or her picture. Besides it, of course, the internet and Google are an instrument

BLURB – Upheaval

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From the rugged hills and the blood-soaked sands of Afghanistan and the Frontier region to the political drama that is being played out in the corridors of power of India and Pakistan, the novel delves deep into the conspiracies, conflicts and crisis that plague the subcontinent plunging it into a state of unimaginable turmoil. The unabated and growing menace of terrorism unleashed by al Qaeda, the Taliban and the innumerable jehadi outfits born, bred, nourished, nurtured and harboured by the many regimes in Pakistan under the remote control of the military and the ISI are now threatening to erupt and ignite a possible third world war! No less is the danger that China poses to the democracies of the world with its multi-dimensional power structure, economic, military and nuclear. Added to this is the ambition of its authoritarian leadership that makes no pretensions about spreading its hegemony over the entire world to challenge the USA and India in terms of being the undisputed top global power. This novel, a work of fiction, confronts us all with some very vital and disturbing questions. Has India’s political canvas been so smeared by the blackest of indelible paint representing an all-time low of our moral, ethical and spiritual fabric! Can there be an awakening to collectively combat the monster of terrorism, jehad and Islamic fundamentalism! Through the vast and sweeping expanse of this work of fiction, the harshness, the violence and the blood-shed, unfolds a unique and a tender love story of a young girl, the sole survivor of the family of a legendary warlord of Kandahar, Afghanistan and the Harvard law graduate, son of India’s Prime Minister, who rebels against his family and the system that has been ripped apart and totally subverted. As two young hearts struggle to seek their destiny, will India along with the other democratic nations finally launch itself into a decisive battle to demolish the forces of terrorism.

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Thank you for such an insightful interview! The Da Vinci Code and The Good Earth are among my favourite books as well.

I wish you great success and many more books ahead!

Keep Writing!

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Comments

  1. Shalzmojo

    Its so good to delve into the author’s mind and know what he was thinking when he wrote something. I loved how the author has dedicated his love of listening to/reading stories for his creative expression. His book list had me googling as I have only heard or read only 3-4 of these. Thank you for such a detailed and interesting interview with this author Indy!!
    Shalzmojo recently posted…My View – Green hearts beat for Mother Nature in GurgaonMy Profile

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