It’s time for another interview! This time, I’ve got the chance to ask Shiv Ramdas some questions. He wrote Domechild and is finishing up the sequel, Wrathchild. Here’s a little bit about him.
Shiv Ramdas is a speculative fiction writer and Clarion West graduate based out of India. He has written short stories, radio scripts and plays, advertisements and in between all of these, numerous resignation letters. He has also written a cyberpunk novel, Domechild, published by Penguin India.
Scroll on down to read the interview and be sure to check out the links at the end.
D.R.- Who is your favorite animated character (comic, anime, manga, graphic novel) and why?
S.R.- Ok this is a really hard one. So many. I’m a huge fan of most Alan More characters- he does these wonderfully grey ones like Roscharch, or V or Dr. Manhattan or V or Alan Quatermain- I love deeply layered and inherently conflicted characters and he does them so well. Which is why I can’t end this list without mentioning Dr. Doom from the Fantastic 4 franchise- sorcerer and scientist, ruthless yet ultimately very principled, a tyrant who overthrew a tyrant, and probably the one great Roma character in all comicdom. Such depth. It genuinely bothers me how Marvel can be so blind as to tone and dumb down the most fascinating character in the stable every time they make a F4 film. It’s a sad mistreatment of the greatest character Lee and Kirby ever created.
D.R.- What’s your best writer’s block buster?
S.R.- Brooding. I take a walk and think and play with options and alternate story plans. And drink a lot of coffee. Maybe read a book or play a game. But mostly, I brood. It serves the dual purpose of getting things done while not feeling like I’m getting things done and keeps both my conscience and my laziness happy.
D.R.- Tell me about the biggest surprise your own character, story, or setting has given you.
S.R.- Well, existing. Take Marcus from Domechild. He wasn’t in the outline, was created for a one scene bit, refused to go away, survived about 5 attempts to kill him and in a lot of ways, hijacked Domechild. And he seems to be the favourite character from the book of so many readers. I guess he’s doing something right, even if it means I an always on edge when he’s in a scene because nine times out of 10- no 10 times out of 10, bye bye outline and plans. He’s an incredibly fun character to write, and I’ve grown attached to him, but there was a time I was tearing my hair out and screaming “why won’t you die??” at the page. I guess we’ve come a long way and learned to live with each other now. Maybe.
D.R.- Breakfast, brunch, or lunch?
S.R.- Dinner, actually, A large part of my process is carrot and stick, and food is usually my go to reward for meeting word count. I usually grab a quick bite when I get up and then don’t eat till I finish wording for the day. Coffee is my friend.
D.R.- How do you get ideas for stories?
S.R.- I’m not sure. I think I subscribe to a certain misinterpretation of Plato’s theory of ideas. They’re entities with existences of their own. Every so often they choose a medium, this person or that. This may not be a very scientific theory, but I like the idea if you’ll pardon the expression.
Which explains why some people get great ideas so often but also why some of the most amazing creative works have come from the most unlikely sources. La Marseillaise for one. De Lisle was one of the most mediocre composers alive and out of the blue came up with this work of genius- genius he never exhibited in any form ever again. In that sense, it’s not so much about me getting ideas but that certain ideas get me. And I’m glad they chose me.
D.R.- What’s the best advice you’ve gotten about writing?
S.R.- That would probably be something Michael Swanwick once told me, which was, “never be afraid to be terrible. I could name you dozens of promising writers who weren’t willing to be, but their names would mean nothing to you because they never sold anything.” It makes a lot of sense to me. Fear is the mind-killer, Frank Herbert wrote. And he was right- its what ruins us as writers. Never doubt that you may suck, but never let sucking be the reason you don’t write or submit. The only way to fail as a writer is to fail to write.
D.R.- Tell us about your plans or ideas for a new-to-you genre in the future
S.R.- Well, I’ve actually been experimenting with new formats over the last year- I’ve done short stories, novelettes and am currently working on a novella and a few more shorts as well as wrapping up Wrathchild. As far as genre goes, I’m pretty excited about my next project- high fantasy based squarely on Indian mythology. I’m with everyone who says we’re tired of high fantasy that’s basically Tolkien Ver. 2636671890. There are so many more traditions out there. Indian ones especially are woefully underdone and underrepresented. I’m actually really excited about this one.
D.R.- What’s your favorite song for writing?
S.R.- Silence. Always silence. I hate writing to music.
D.R.- Do you have a writing routine?
S.R.- Well, it usually involves pacing, typing and talking to myself in varying doses. But usually, I set up coffee, light a smoke and pace till I work myself up enough to go smash at keys. And then I usually sort of have this wait what happened moment a while later and realise I’ve got 3 or 5k down. Its kinda spooky each time it happens because I never know if it’ll ever work again, but so far, it always has.