We offer our first and exclusive Q&A Interview with GS. Subbu, a writer whose literary works have been featured on our Spillwords pages as well as being Author of the Month of November 2020.
What does it mean to be selected as Author of The Month?
First let me thank the Spillwords team for selecting me as ‘Author of the Month’. It certainly is a great feeling to be recognized and is surely a motivation for me to keep on writing and contributing more on the platform provided by you. In a way, this has made me realize that as a writer, I am able to connect with the reader. So, thank you once again for this opportunity and honor.
How have your friends and/or family influenced your writing?
I can never discount the role of my family and friends in spurring me on to bring more content and meaning into my writing. While my family has given me the space and understanding to express my views freely, they have from time to time reiterated that it is essential to consider contrarian points of view to become a better writer. My friends have expressed similar sentiments and at the same time taking the trouble to review what I write and put it up on social media, which has given me the needed exposure.
What inspires you to write?
The need to arrive at a comprehensive view of life through my own and the lives of others has been my inspiration. I see stories in every person I meet, every place I visit, and they inspire me.
What was your writing catalyst?
When I look back at the road I have traveled, I keep discovering those little joys, some sadness, successes, failures, and questions on life. In fact, this resulted in completing my first book ‘I am just an Ordinary Man’. The very first sentence in the book reads “Sir, you asked me who I am. What shall I say? I have been asking myself this question for quite some time and reached nowhere”. This perhaps is how it all started: the need to translate into words my explorations of life.
Tell us a little bit about your writing process?
I guess that all writers undergo the same process – an idea, giving it form, writing it down, reading, editing, re-reading, re-editing, and the final product. It is an iterative process till you are satisfied that you have very nearly put down what you wanted.
For me most of the ideas which originate find form during my solitary morning or evening walks, mostly along the seashore. When I am back home, I write sitting late into the night. Usually, the concept develops as I write. I start with no plot, just a general idea. As each character takes shape, I try living through them to make them as genuine as possible. Of course, research becomes an integral part when I write across different locations and timelines.
What would you say is most fulfilling about writing?
The most fulfilling aspect of writing is the ability to translate emotions, ideas, and perceptions, which are intangibles, into words. It is an outlet for your imagination and a world of your own where you are the creator. The sense of fulfillment that accompanies the publishing of your book is immense and gives authenticity to your existence. When a reader tells you that your book was interesting and meaningful, you know you have connected and that is enough of an appreciation whether you write to entertain or enlighten.
Does the addition of imagery help to tell your story?
Imagery is an essential part of story-telling. I have relied on it to capture the mind of the reader and enhance his reading experience so that he is able to visualize the setting on which the story is based. To give an idea, let me reproduce a passage from my latest book ‘The Diary of Mriyunjay’-
“For two days I had watched the Himalayan heights through a veil of mist and sheets of rain from the common verandah on the first floor of the lodge where I was staying”. It was necessary to build up this imagery as a precursor to the disaster that follows. The other type of imagery that I have used effectively in my books is by way of dreams. The main purpose has been to take the reader through the dreamlike state to the reality of the present. The river has been used extensively in the book as symbolic of the flow of our life and destiny. The river plays an important role in the book. The creative force of its serenity and the destructive nature of its turbulence on its journey to merge with the ocean are but allegorical representations of our journey through life.
What is your favorite reading genre?
In the beginning and that is to say from childhood to youth, I read any book I could lay my hand on; this included literary classics, detective novels, and spy thrillers. It was in my mid-twenties that I was introduced to philosophical fiction through Camus, Sartre, Kafka, Dostoevsky, and Hermann Hesse and came under their influence. So, it is philosophical fiction that is my favorite genre now, for it has molded my thought process and in a large way influenced my writing.
What human being has inspired you the most?
I have never narrowed down to a single human being as the person who inspired me most. There are so many of them. It is the human who goes about doing his duty with unfettered devotion and keeps the wheel of life rolling, the discoverer, the inventor, and the revolutionary who attract my attention. They are extraordinary human beings. It will not be fair to name a particular individual. They have collectively inspired and made me move forward in my endeavors.
The poem by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow ‘Psalm of Life’ has been a favorite and stayed with me through all the years from childhood. Two stanzas sum up what I want to say –
“Lives of great men all remind us We can make our lives sublime, And, departing, leave behind us Footprints on the sands of time;
Footprints, that perhaps another, Sailing o’er life’s solemn main, A forlorn and shipwrecked brother, Seeing, shall take heart again”.
What message would you have for the Spillwords Press community that voted for you?
I thank the Spillwords Press community for having voted for me as the ‘Author of the Month’ for November 2020. To sift through voluminous content of submissions and publish quality writings is no mean job. It only highlights the extraordinary level of diligence, scrutiny, and application on their part. To have come through such an exercise gives me great satisfaction and pleasure. Thank you.
What would you like your legacy as a writer to be?
In trying to elaborate on this, it is necessary for me to quote from my very first book ‘I am just An Ordinary Man’-
“My diaries and books have been my constant companions. They adorn my bookshelf and from time to time I pick them up just to feel them, for that is enough to have a relook at the path I have traversed. With the passage of time, the diaries have turned old keeping pace with my advancing years. I always wrote but decided to compile them only now. Maybe I find pleasure recapturing those lost moments; maybe I want to leave a legacy. Whether anyone is interested or not, I would feel satisfied that I have done my job”.
More than anything else, I want to be remembered as a person who acted as per the callings of his heart and not by the machinations of the mind. I do not want to be judged by what I have done. I would rather be accepted for what I was.
12. Is there anything else you would like to add?
The process of writing has given me immense satisfaction and fulfillment and acted as a mirror where I have been able to look at myself with all the distortions I had earlier avoided looking at. It has made me a better man. I realize that I am in a genre which finds limited readership, but I believe that there comes a time in the life of every person when he reads more for enlightenment than for entertainment.
NOVEMBER 2020 AUTHOR OF THE MONTH at Spillwords.com
I explore through all my books the reality of human existence, whether it is aging and loneliness, infatuation and love, or finding authenticity in one’s life. I am also an active book reviewer. An Engineer from the Indian Institute of Technology, Kharagpur, India, by qualification and a Banker by profession, I retired from the State Bank of India in the year 2010 and settled down in Chennai, India. After retirement, I have been devoting my time to writing. I also write regularly on my blog ‘Sublimation’ covering various topics ranging from art, philosophy, and culling out slices of life from my various encounters which have found their way into my books more specifically ‘Darkness and Beyond’. My published books include: I am just An Ordinary Man, Darkness and Beyond – A Medley of Many Lives, Autumn Leaves – Seasons of Life, Secrets of the Soul – A Journey in Verse.