Tuesday, November 29, 2016

Mock, Stalk & Quarrel - Author's Interview: Ranjan Kaul

Mock, Stalk & Quarrel is a collection of 29 satirical stories, penned by prolific writers and bestselling authors, that attempt to mock, question, defy, and raise a voice against issues that matter. The stories were chosen from a nationwide contest conducted by Readomania and compiled in this collection that promises to be an engaging and thought-provoking read. For more about the book and the authors, head to the Facebook page of Mock, Stalk & QuarrelThe book has made an amazing entry at no 29 on Amazon. 
Book Link: Amazon

Author Interview:
1.         How would you describe yourself in one line?
Humanist, creative fiction writer, artist

2.      After four decades of experience in publishing, how did you find the shift over to writing?
      I am enjoying every moment of it. I finally have the space and time to work at my own pace without the stresses of a full-time job.

3.      Do tell your readers about the books you have written. How did your story in MSQ come about?
     I have written two books, a novel and a collection of stories. The novel, Through the Forest, Darkly, is a depiction of the betrayal of love and humanistic ideals; it portrays the seemingly irreconcilable divides in our society that at times lead us to violence and cruelty. A substantial portion of the book is based in the Maoist-infested tribal areas of Bastar. In my recent book of short stories titled Silent Realities, I have tried to capture the unspoken frailties, insecurities and impulses of human behaviour. While the novel is ruthlessly realistic, in this story collection there are elements of the unreal and magical.
      I had written a raw draft of the satire included in MSQ in a rush of blood to express my ire at what I see as something going terribly wrong in society and which is making us more divisive.  The story was lying in cold storage till I learned of the proposed anthology, which is when I pulled it out and reworked it for submission.

4.      “We write to taste life twice, in the moment and in retrospect,” said Anais Nin. What is your view on this?
      Creative writing is based on our experiences and sensitivities. When we finally get down to putting pen to paper to give expression to our emotions and immediate responses, considerable distancing has already taken place, which gives us a newer and more imagined perspective.

5.    What are the kinds of books you like to read? Who are some of your favourite writers, and why?
     I like to read a mix of literary fiction which provokes thought. Themes related to morality, existentialism and social justice interest me. My favourite writers, to name a few, include Dostoevsky, Sartre, Kafka, Marquez, Camus, Hemingway, Guy de Maupassant, Haruki Murakami, Salman Rushdie and Julian Barnes. Of late, I have been reading a fair amount of English translations of regional literature.  I find that I’m more readily able to relate to the characters and situations that are closer home. Recently, I was delighted to discover the brilliant Urdu short story writer, Naiyer Masud.

6.      Do you think that there is a kind of etiquette in writing – between author and editor, between author and publisher, and between author and reader?
     There has to be mutual respect between the author and the editor. Authors cannot objectively judge their own writing and need to place their faith in the editors; by the same token, the editors must draw their own boundaries and know when to leave alone a piece of writing. The publisher acts as the interface between the reader and the author and can advise the author on the nature of the market. But here again the publisher should not pressurize the author to write something just because it is trendy or advise them to copy a bestselling author – that is self-defeating and can kill originality. Readers tend to believe what authors write. The author therefore has a moral obligation to ensure that his or her own writing does not lead to greater social divides, rather it enhances understanding among the diverse people of our fractured world.

7.     Satire holds up a mirror to society. What do you think Satire is important?  What is your approach in writing it?
      Satire uses wit, sarcasm and irony to prick the reader’s conscience through the shock of recognition of the prevailing immorality and social injustice. In a diverse society such as ours where there seems to be growing intolerance, I have resorted to satire as subterfuge and used analogies to ridicule the social prejudices and bigotry. 

8.      What is the difference between satire and humour, in your opinion?
      Humour is good, clean fun written with the sole objective of entertainment and eliciting laughter. Good satire on the other hand has a social objective. It uses biting humour to point out the ills in society and offers constructive criticism.

9.     What is the future of short stories? Which do you prefer – short stories or full-length novels?
      In this fast-paced, digital world where people are scarce of time, I do believe that short stories have a great future. I like reading both short stories and novels – my choice depends on my mood and the author.
10.  You are also a keen artist. Is there a symbiotic relationship between painting and writing?
     The process of writing and painting are quite similar. Both are expressive, creative and challenging, which is why I enjoy both pursuits.  Both require balanced composition and harmonious treatment. Line, colour, form and texture constitute the language and vocabulary of a painting.

11.  Do you think that it is easier for young writers to get published nowadays? If so, why?
     Yes and no! There are many more choices and avenues for young writers, especially among newer publishers including those in the digital space, than what existed a few years ago. At the same time, the larger mainstream publishers have become more selective and are taking fewer risks with new authors.

12.  What lies ahead for you as a writer?
      I am a slow and undisciplined writer. I have begun working on a novel but I have no idea when I will complete it – while I’m fairly clear about the theme and even a few of the principal characters, the plot itself has yet to crystallize in my mind. Meanwhile, I will continue writing short stories.

13.  Do you have a message for your readers? How will they be able to contact you?
      Keep reading and read widely, especially fiction. Besides giving you enjoyment, pleasure and relaxation, reading fiction is itself a creative process. It opens up your mind, compels you to imagine characters and situations, and makes you sit up and think. Reading will make you more tolerant, develop empathy for others, and nurture within you a deeper sense of right and wrong.
      Readers can email me at ranjankaul53@gmail.com. They can also visit my author page on Facebook.

Rapid Fire Questions: In one word

1.      Print books versus e-books
2.     Favourite cuisine?
Anything that’s well prepared!
3.      A hobby you enjoy?
4.      Relaxation technique?
5.      Pet peeve? What do you absolutely hate?
6.      If God gave you one wish now, what would it be?
I’m an atheist, so I don’t have the luxury of wishing!

Thank you so much, Ranjan, for an enlightening interview! I wish you luck for all your future ventures!


  1. Dear Deepti Sa, Superb and incisive questions...Indeed it is Deep ties. Brilliant answers Sir

  2. Wonderful, insightful interview. :)



MOTHER'S DAY CONTEST - #HappyStartsWithMe How good a Mom am I?  Never once, over the decades, have I asked myself this ...