Interview with Venkataraman Nilakant

When you're not writing, how do you spend your time?
My primary occupation is teaching and doing research on organisational resilience. The city where I live in New Zealand was hit by major earthquakes in 2010-2011 that killed 185 people and caused extensive property damage. I survived the quakes and chose to do research on post-disaster recovery and resilience. When I am not teaching, researching or writing, I like to meditate. I am deeply interested in spirituality. I also like exercising and going for walks. I have a passion for photography. My photos are featured on Galaxy of Yoga Facebook page.
How do you discover the ebooks you read?
I read reviews of books. I mostly rely on references from the books that I read. I have found Zite, which is an iPhone App, to be a great source for interesting books. I also rely on Amazon recommendations.
Do you remember the first story you ever wrote?
I haven't written any fiction yet. I would like to try one day! When I was very young, I used to make up stories in my head and tell them to my best friend. He was my only audience! He loved those stories.
What is your writing process?
I try to write everyday when I am on a writing project. I use Scrivener to write the draft because it is convenient. I aim for 500-1000 words a day. I write mostly in the evening and on weekends.
Do you remember the first story you ever read, and the impact it had on you?
The first English story that I read was the Wizard of Oz. It had a tremendous impact on me and drew me to reading fiction. It was the first book that I borrowed from a public library in my city in India. I remember becoming an avid reader of books after I read the Wizard of Oz.
How do you approach cover design?
I want my covers to be eye-catching and evocative. My interest in photography helps me to identify pictures or photos that are evocative and likely to draw attention. I also use Fiverr for professional cover design. I usually supply my own photos.
What are your five favorite books, and why?
1. The Code of the Woosters by P.G.Wodehouse. It is well-written and very funny.
2. The Best and the Brightest by David Halberstam. An investigation of the decisions in the Kennedy and Johnson administration that led to the Vietnam War. Investigative journalism at its best.
3. Hooking Up by Tom Wolfe.A great American author at his best.
4. A Short History of Nearly Everything by Bill Bryson. This book is highly informative and funny. I started reading the book on the plane while travelling to the US and couldn't put it down.
5. The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho. It is a beautiful story on finding one' destiny.
What do you read for pleasure?
I read very widely. I mostly read stories, articles and reviews on Zite. I read the Economist regularly. I read the Arts & Letters Daily and the Huffington Post.
What is your e-reading device of choice?
Amazon Kindle. I use the Kindle app on my iPad.
Where did you grow up, and how did this influence your writing?
I grew up in India. It led to an interest in social justice and spirituality. My recent books have all been about spirituality, particularly about a spiritual mystic in India.
When did you first start writing?
I have always been interested in writing right from High School. I started writing articles and papers at the age of 23. I have published three books on managing change.
What's the story behind your latest book?
On the 2nd of January, 2014, I started on a road trip from Chennai, India. I was accompanied by my spiritual mentor, Siva Shankar Baba (Babs), my wife, Jayashree, and a couple from Malaysia. Later in the trip, we were joined by another couple. The trip was unanticipated. I was told by Baba on the 31st of December to get ready for a trip to North India on the 2nd of January. While he knew where we were going, there were no detailed maps or even GPS. Baba borrowed a car, a Ford Fiesta, from one of the people in his ashram in Chennai and the person from Malaysia drove the car. Neither he nor I were very familiar with driving or road conditions in India as we were both from overseas. We returned to Chennai on the 10th of January after covering nearly 4,800 kilometres. Our trip took us through the heartland of India. This book is an account of the extraordinary ten-day trip that took us through amazing places in India as we met people and visited temples.The book is a portrayal of 21st century India and its rapidly vanishing spiritual roots. It highlights the challenges a spiritual guide faces in an increasingly materialistic society.
What is the greatest joy of writing for you?
The greatest joy for any author is the effect of their books on people. I get tremendous joy when people who have read my books tell me how much they liked them and how those books impacted on their thinking.
What inspires you to get out of bed each day?
Each day I want to be a better person and I want to do my bit in making the world a better place.
Published 2014-12-22.
Smashwords Interviews are created by the profiled author, publisher or reader.

Books by This Author

Seeking Moksha in a Ford Fiesta
Price: Free! Words: 64,230. Language: English (Indian dialect). Published: December 30, 2014. Categories: Nonfiction » Travel » Road travel, Nonfiction » Religion & Spirituality » Eastern mysticism
(5.00 from 2 reviews)
The author goes on an amazing 3,000-mile road trip through the heartland of India seeking spiritual experiences. His wife, his spiritual guide and another couple accompany him in a borrowed Ford Fiesta. They visit ancient cities and temples, get lost in jungles, endure breakdowns and meet interesting people. A must read for anyone interested in India, its mystical roots and the meaning of life.