T. Sathish - I String My Stories Around A Genre Called 'Reality Fiction'
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T. Sathish works in Corporate and is a cricket columnist. He has written two novels, his latest release is ‘Long Run : A Paradise Augmented.’ Let’s talk to him about writing and more.
From a ‘good kid’ to a quirky writer
What do say about someone who has always listened to their parents and teachers and did an arranged marriage? A “good kid.” Sathish had been one of the good kids until he started doing something new – writing and publishing interesting stories.
‘The one thing quirky about me is that I started writing and publishing my works. What is even more surprising is that those books are not nerdy!
I do have plenty of life philosophies. The chief among them is that I tend to stay upbeat about life all the time. The other is that life is random, but it has a pattern you can influence through hard work.’
‘I started to write on a whim’
How did it all begin? A writer is not born in a day. Sathish startted writing on a whim and the journey continues.
‘Writing is my meditation; It is the way I expose my soul to the world. I was kidding!
I started to write on a whim. I read a lot and follow plenty of topics in various media. So, just like I have a nose, I have an opinion on everything. I used to express those opinions on my social media accounts. One fine day it struck me that I should do more than type a few words. I started to write columns on Cricket, a few short stories and then expanded into writing a novel.’
Writing Fiction (novels) vs Non-fiction (Cricket)
Sathish has been a cricket columnist since long, he writes in Roar now. Simultaneously, he has written two interesting novels. We wanted to know how he balances the two spectrums.
‘As a Cricket columnist, I write based on facts. I express my opinion on what happened on the field and analyze some of the decisions that impacted the match. I have ready-made material to work on and write about in my columns. It is the case with most non-fiction writing. The writer constructs the book either using their breakthrough research in their fields of work or by analyzing available data on subjects of their interest.
While writing fiction, I must imagine and create. Many fiction writers can imagine and create a town or a set of characters or superheroes. To help me create, I string my stories around real-life events, a genre termed reality fiction. I learnt this technique by watching Mani Ratnam movies. During the 90s, he made movies with stories strung around real-life events, like Kashmiri terrorism, Bombay riots, etc.’
‘Long Run : A Paradise Augmented‘ – Let’s get to know about the book
The idea of the novel germinated when Sathish watched a visually-impaired stock trader on television back in 2002. He wrote the story in a few months.
‘I was stunned by that person’s achievement in such a cut-throat industry like the financial markets. When I thought of a subject for my second book, I remembered this person and decided to base the story around a visually challenged investment manager. I picked the dot com boom of the late 90s as the timeline for the story as this period contains excellent memories for me.
Once I identified the central character of the story and the timeline to set him, I could write the story in a few months. I read books and news articles to make sure the events that I quote in my story are correct. I even checked the weather data to mention how that day was in New York.’
‘A visually impaired investment manager is the USP of the book’
‘The central character of a visually impaired investment manager is the USP of the book. I expect readers to find themselves thinking for Raghu as he tries to find his way back after the accident. I have tried to keep his travails real and his method of success close to reality.
There are some cameos that readers will enjoy. Raghu finds help from unexpected people and things in his journey. It is these “things” that will surprise the readers.
At the end of the book, I hope readers will find motivation and inspiration for their life.’
‘I write my first draft with pen and paper’
Each author has their own quirks and writing process. Sathish is a very good time manager and juggles his job, cricket columns and writing novels.
‘My writing process is 80% done in mind and 20% on paper. I spend a lot of time visualizing what I am going to write. Once I am convinced in my mind, then I put pen to paper. The quirky thing about me is that I write my first draft with pen and paper. Writing the first draft with a pen helps me connect better with my stories. However, I don’t follow this method for my cricket columns or short stories.
One thing I am excellent at is managing my time. A key component of managing time is to set priorities. I wake up early all seven days a week and give myself about 18 hours in a day to accomplish my prioritized set of tasks. Try it; you will have plenty of time to do things.’
P G Wodehouse and Manu Joseph – more on Sathish’s favourite authors
‘Over the past few years, I have become a voracious reader. My favourite writers from the past are PG Wodehouse, Agatha Christie, Arthur Conan Doyle, RK Narayan. In the current writers, I enjoy the works of Manu Joseph, cricket writers like Jarrod Kimber, Siddharth Monga, non-fiction writers like Malcolm Gladwell, James Clear, Morgan Housel, N N Taleb and many more.
My favourite books, among the many, based on the impact it had on my thinking are Peak: Secrets from the new science of expertise by Anders Ericsson, Fooled by randomness by NN Taleb, My stroke of insight by Jill Bolte Taylor, Atomic Habits by James Clear, Factfulness by Hans Rosling, Deep Work by Cal Newport, Zero to One by Peter Thiel, The 48 laws of power by Robert Greene.
I would have missed out on many of my other favourite ones. The above list is as good as it gets.’
‘For an aspiring writer: Read and listen a lot.’
Sathish is a veteran writer. Here are a few tips and tricks from him for aspiring writers.
‘Digest, analyze and express your opinions on topics that interest you.
Along with writing, please build your brand online. Use Instagram or Twitter to create a public persona for you. Engage your followers on topics that are vogue or those topics in which you are building expertise.
Without a follower base on social media, one will find it very difficult to attract publishers. Publishers, apart from looking at the book’s content, look at your ability to sell books. If you have a robust online presence, they will be willing to bet on your work. Otherwise, it is tough to attract more prominent publishers.
I understand from my agent that publishers are hungrier for non-fiction books than fiction books from new authors. So, if you have expertise in a specific field or unique insights based on research, you can find publishers willing to look at your work.
As far as editing and book marketing is concerned, take the help of experts in this field. Engage a professional editor to work on your book if you can afford it. They will be able to give a new perspective to the story. There are good ones like Writers Melon for book marketing who can help you wade through the crowded market.
The bottom line is, take professional help to produce a high-quality book. The book’s commercial success is not in your hands, but making a high-quality book is certainly in your hands. Don’t leave any stone unturned in your pursuit to create the best product.’
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