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Interview #1: Vivek Kumar, author of The Fishbowl

Interview with Vivek Kumar, book author.

Dear Readers, Visitors, and Members of Maddie's Just Read,

I launched my website on Tuesday 1st September 2020 and it's just been one month since the launch, within a quick succession I have published 50 posts. So, bringing a special #50 post for you, an interview with an impassioned writer and book author, Mr. Vivek Kumar. Vivek is the author of the book, The Fishbowl: Story of the Storyteller. I had quickly read the book in three days and reviewed it a couple of days before. You can find the book review here.

I was really moved by the book which left me inquisitive and curious to know more. So, I planned for a short interview with him, which he readily accepted. I would like to convey my sincere gratitude to Vivek, for giving me this opportunity. Let us begin now...

Question: I came to know that it took over ten years to finish this book. And you had one hell of an inspiration for this story: your childhood days in school. So, I wanted to ask you, when exactly, you know, at what point or moment of your life it occurred to you that you wanted to write a story about the school days? 

Response: It was during my post-graduation days, when it became clear to me that, what is a lived everyday reality to me, is an incredulous story to others, with many refusing to believe in some of the stories as true. I had begun to think about writing a book around the same time and it struck me that I can compile all the childhood stories etc. and I remember making a list of episodes that I felt could be written about. I lost that list eventually but the idea remained with me. It took another 5-6 years before I could write the first episode for “The Fishbowl”.

Q: The Cloaked Man character was mysterious, symbolical, and anew. How did you come up with such an idea? 

R: The Cloaked Man is part of a dream I had about 17-18 years ago. The dream represented the contradiction between the life I had led and the life I was headed towards. The idea obviously grew into much more during the course of the writing.

Q: I felt the story was pretty long than it had to be. But as a story writer myself I know that your original story would have been longer and it had to be cut short to the current length. So I’m just curious to know, are there any interesting incidents from the expunged parts of the story? 

R: The original version was about three times the length of the final one. Many episodes and story-tracks were stripped out to make it comprehensible for the reader and to keep it centred around the central space the novel captures - the state of being in a bubble, a fishbowl. One such story, that was left out, was about three boys going to raid a honeycomb, and the most covered-up among the three getting bitten under both his eyes. Others were around school politics, pre-adult incidents etc.


Q: I loved Bulb and Kevalnath characters but there was no proper endings to them. Any word on how are they and what they have become after you left the school?

R: Kevalnath’s character had a longer track but eventually got stripped out. Providing endings to all the characters was not feasible as that would have required stepping into worlds that the book couldn't link-up to. Some characters had to be kept intentionally underdeveloped thus. Coming together of people of such different worlds made the school experience eccentric but making sense of all of them at the same time would have been incredibly complex and maybe beyond my capabilities.

Bulb is a dentist today. About Kevalnath, there is no clear information available as he seems to have fallen off the radar of all the school-mates.

Q: Finally about you. The Fishbowl is one book of yours. What other books have you written? And how long have you been writing? Who are you inspirations? 

R: This is my fourth fiction work. First three were To catch a smile (2008, a short story collection), To catch a butterfly (2011, A novella), Love, Me & Bullshit! (2012, A novel).

I wrote my first short story about 14 years ago. Before that writings were limited to spontaneous poetry and other creative works, and occasional submissions to school/college magazines etc.

Am still trying to figure out the source of inspiration or motivators behind writing. In terms of literary works, Agatha Christie, Herman Hesse and Franz Kafka caught my fancy at different points of time though I have read only limited works of all three. Apart from them some of the works of Paulo Coelho and J. D. Salinger left an impression.

Thank you Vivek, for answering all the questions with patience and diligence. I wish you Success and Prosperity in all your future endeavors. God Bless You!

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