“The day I write literary fiction, I will disconnect from my readers”: Ravinder Singh

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Ravinder Singh opens up about his ninth novel, the Belated Bachelor Party, his audiences, penchant for romance, and more

Ravinder Singh, by his admission, is willing to write about sorrows. “By the end of the book, I usually have my readers in tears,” he says. The success of his first novel, I too had a love affair, corroborates this assertion. In the semi-autobiographical work, the girl the protagonist loves dies in a traffic accident. The book therefore ends on a tragic note. Eleven years later, in his ninth novel, The late bachelorette party, who speaks of a reunion of four friends, Ravinder deviates from the usual path of pathos. It is, he says, his lightest book. “Through this book,” he says, “I say to my readers, ‘For all the times I made you cry, let me make you laugh.’ “

After the book’s launch in Bengaluru, he spoke, among other things, of his fascination with relationships.

Extracts:

The late bachelorette party is the ninth book in your 12-year writing career. What makes you a prolific writer?

It’s up to my readers to answer. You have to ask them why they read my books. And because they do, I choose to write more for them.

What about your stories resonates the most with readers?

They are found in my characters. In particular, the emotions. The hesitation of first love, the heartbreaking moments, the tears, the pain. It is not the language. I keep it simple. The day I write literary fiction, I will disconnect from them.

Almost all of your novels are about relationship. What fascinates you about this?

I look at people with emotion. I see how they are connected to each other or to me. For example, I saw four beggars at four traffic lights today. I thought about how miserable their life could be and at the same time, I thought about what they might think of me, who is sitting in an AC car. I’m not even talking about the economic divide. I’m just talking about the interaction of two different individuals. This is why I write about relationships.

You write about romantic relationships in particular …

In The late bachelorette party, I write about friendship. There is no girl in there. So, I’m writing about a different relationship. I wrote about my childhood in Like it happened yesterday.

Relationships are constantly changing. How to follow the changes?

Seven or eight years after writing I too had a love affair, which spoke of eternal love, I wrote This love that feels good in which the main plot involves extramarital affairs. It is an explosive subject to discuss. And, I presented my characters in a positive light in the book. With the changing times, I have to talk about how relationships have changed.

Are you planning to walk away and write, say, a mystery or a horror?

I would like. But I need to believe in what I write. I should feel it will work. And, my readers should accept it too. The day I feel it, maybe I’ll release a detective story. And, even if I don’t, there are enough who do.

I too had a love affair has been published in other languages. When you translate, how do you make sure that the essence of the novel is retained, especially when you don’t know the language?

I leave it to the editors completely. I can only focus my energy by writing in one language. Once I’m done, it goes to the editors. And they have a free hand in the translation.

Would you like one of your books to become a movie or a web series?

Yes, but I continue to reject offers that come my way.

Why?

Because those who come to see me don’t look convincing. They don’t even know what I wrote. They just know I’ve sold a million copies and want to capitalize on it. As an author, I see my name on the cover of the book. I have an identity. This identity is worth a shot in the movies. I can only write a screenplay when we are unable to sell books.

With more and more digital content, has it become difficult to be a writer?

It is not difficult to write. It has become difficult to sell books. Ultimately, what you write is treated as content. So if the content isn’t selling in one form, you can look to sell it in other forms. You can create a YouTube channel and start telling your stories through it. If the content is great, you will get subscribers. And if you have enough subscribers, maybe a publisher is waiting for you. The internet has changed things, you need to harness the power of the internet.

Can books survive the onslaught of online platforms?

If the books fail, something else will appear. And that will have to accommodate these content creators. This is how it will go. Then the market price for a writer writing a web series will increase.

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