Having aced his game at a lot of things, destiny finally led Nirmal Ranganathan to writing. His varied experiences in the diverse fields of photography, radio jockeying, production design, advertising and learning design led him to accumulate a lot of perspectives.
And the creative outcome of all those years spent at honing his skills finally led him to one of the most creative processes – writing.
In his own words, he understood that all the distinct achievements were finally converging into a more meaningful path; a path that let his creativity flow unhindered; a path that led him to imagine, reinvent and create.
Nirmal Ranganathan’s debut attempt is called The Astral Surge, which tells us the story of two siblings Catherine and Ron who are actively exposed to nature. The only difference between the two is that one is exposed to all things positive resulting in a positive outlook and the other is exposed to its darker side; a side that will only enhance the negative. Both the siblings are rewarded for their exposure in a terrific sequence of events that finds its conclusion in an astral intervention and an ultimate catharsis.
We at bookGeeks got a lucky chance to have a candid conversation with the talented author.
Here’s what he has to say about his debut book, his love for reading and about writing in general.
bookGeeks: Tell us something about yourself; who is Nirmal? What are his likes and dislikes? What are his aspirations?
Nirmal: I am ‘work-in-progress’. Forever.
This, for me, is enlightenment and it leaves me with a yearning to constantly evolve. ‘Cause, it’s only that way I – can – stay ‘fresh’ all the time.
All moments that help me discover newer experiences are the ones I like the most. And, I dread moments that signal stagnation.
Interestingly, the choice to either constantly evolve or stagnate, lies with me and only me.
bookGeeks: When and how did your first encounter with writing happen?
Nirmal: A fatal attraction for movies and my seven-year stint with professional photography actually did it.
The day-in-day-out practice of seeing my subjects through the viewfinder composing photographic frames for them, triggered an inevitable after-effect.
Disparate, random scenes started playing on my mind screen during those free moments when I didn’t have anything else to do except to pedal my Hero Ranger down those solitary, picturesque roads. I was like, ‘Why not document these scenes on my system, for whatever it’s worth?!’
And, that’s how I had my first encounter with writing.
bookGeeks: What was the inspiration or motivation to write the book, The Astral Surge?
Nirmal: The answer to this question takes off from where the previous answer lands.
The motivation to get on with The Astral Surge sprang out of my documenting those disparate scenes that kept electrifying my imagination. Little did I know then that those scenes were, in effect, the visual components of The Astral Surge.
The novel was never planned for. It just happened, with me following that tenuous thread of inspiration that came from nowhere… from The Unknown.
bookGeeks: Is writing science fiction difficult than writing other genres?
Nirmal: Nothing is difficult. Just like how nothing is easy. I think it all boils down to how comfortable we feel about the genre we handle.
Having said that, fiction does carry on its shoulders an additional responsibility of imagination. It needs to use real-time events and scientific facts as the launch-pad to catapult itself into the realm of fantasy.
While doing this, it shouldn’t, even for a moment, take its eyes off its audience. They should not only stay ‘logically’ connected to its bizarre figment of imagination but also derive loads of vicarious excitement from its outlandish sequence of events.
bookGeeks: What kind of planning and research did you undertake for writing The Astral Surge?
But, that was the very bottom-line I needed to address even while I was following that tenuous thread of inspiration. Because I realize that a strong foundation (of extensive planning and research) is key for the Inspiration to be able to help me architect a multi-storeyed story.
I also realize that the authenticity of real-time facts is the only traction point for my readers to be able to relate to my ‘fiction’.
So, I better do the basics if I want my readers to fall in love with my story.
bookGeeks: Who is your biggest critic and why?
I have to be. Else, I will easily get washed away by the tsunamic excitement that spontaneously surges out of my writing.
Being emotionally invested in what I write is very important, alright. But what’s more important is my not getting emotionally attached to what I write. ’Cause, that’s when I start defending my words, I get lost in a self-anointing delusion that ultimately quarantines me from my readers.
So, what I do is, I consciously become the alter ego of my readers while reviewing what I’ve written earlier on. Appraising it from a third person perspective, I delete portions – even pages – that sound boring, irrelevant and verbose.
I think it helps. Big time.
bookGeeks: Which are some of your favourite science fiction novels?
Nirmal: Jurassic Park, Sphere, Timeline, Frankenstein, The Invisible Man.
bookGeeks: A few tips that you would like to give our readers to improve their reading habit.
Nirmal: Reading expands our knowledge horizon. It ignites our imagination to unimaginable levels. Words we read, convert themselves into visual imageries in our minds. Getting a taste of this experience can get us addicted to it. And, people who take to the habit of reading never suffer from loneliness. That’s an irrefutable truth.