Interview with Ramakanth Jonnavittula

Why did you first try to write a story?
My mother tongue is Telugu; there were many poets of repute but I hardly heard of a famous prose writer. I always believed that if someone could do something, I too could do it with proper training and effort. In Telugu there were differences between literary language and the language spoken in different regions. There was a movement to give an honorable place in literature for spoken Telugu. Magazines were very few and I used to read some of them. I found BHARATi to be a good magazine which was the only respected one for its literary, critical and modern content. I liked stories and longed to write a story worthy of publication in Bharati.
I adopted a CVia media' style, wrote a story and sent it to Bharati; it was accepted and I was paid Rs.Ten for it!
Name some authors who influenced you.
The list is long; although I may not be able to remember all of them now, their influence certainly remains. To name a few: Tolstoy, Balzac, Turgenev, Satyanarayana, Ibsen, Somerset Maugham, Canon Doyle, Abbe Provost, Edger Allen Poe.
I also believe that what matters is not the number of books or authors that you have read but how you have read the books. I will give an example. Sree Harsha in his book Srungara Nyshadham described how a swan-messenger described Nala's qualities to Damayanti and how the same swan described Damayanti's exquisite qualities to Nala. I heard a scholar elaborate why the poet added the extra adjective to Damayanthi. That is how a book should be read.
Describe your desk
I am aged (85) and am a victim of macular degeneration and glaucoma; I keep only my computer on my desk.
When did you first start writing?
I began writing in the early fifties in Telugu; perhaps I began writing in English in the seventies but was not serious about it. It was some years after my retirement in 1991that I began again.
What's the story behind your latest book?
My latest book is "Don't disturb a sleeping dog". I wanted to write a crime based story and used fictitious names for countries and persons. I did not want to associate any known country or religion with the criminal and his activity.
What motivated you to become an indie author?
The desire to succeed in what I was trying to do made me an Indie author.
How has Smashwords contributed to your success?
This is my first book with Smashwords; I hope to publish a few more books and I fondly hope that I would be a successful author.
What is the greatest joy of writing for you?
When a person reads my story or my novel and makes a comment- praise or criticism- I feel happy and satisfied.
What do your fans mean to you?
They mean a lot to me.
What are you working on next?
After I publish the present lot of my books I propose to write a few stories and a novel.
What inspires you to get out of bed each day?
Honestly, I don't want to mislead you. Plots and ideas occur to me randomly and I will convert into writing, some of those that I can remember. However after beginning something, I keep thinking about it till I complete it.
When you're not writing, how do you spend your time?
At my age, I can't work continuously for long. I have to keep an eye on my medications and diet- and sleep.
What is your writing process?
I write, add or delete revise and sometimes rearrange; there is no particular pattern.
Where did you grow up, and how did this influence your writing?
I was born in India where I had my formal education (Ph.D. in Mathematics; later, Ph.D. in Business Management). I had been through the political changes of our country and our state of Hyderabad. I taught Mathematics at several colleges in India, USA and Canada. Finally, I retired in 1991 after serving for 25 years in India. Now I am a citizen of USA. All these have had influence on my personality but I can't quantify.
Any awards or distinctions?
My drama "Kalachakram" won 4 awards including the second best script award at the "All India Andhra Nataka Kala Parishattu" in 1960. My story "Kanuvippu" won the second best story award at the compititions conducted by the 'American Telugu Association'.
I am a 'Fellow of the Andhra Pradesh Akademy of Sciences'.
One collection of short stories in Telugu;
4 print Books in English;
13 E Books in English;
and one Audio Book in English.
Published 2016-04-25.
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