We had a chance to have a conversation with the author of Don’t Tell The Governor, Ravi Subramanian. Below is the full interview coverage.
- How did the journey from working in Banking industry turn towards writing? Was it already a passion?
It has been a thrilling journey, taking the world of banking into my writing. In fact, I never moved away from banking because most of my writing is based in the Banking industry. In fact, writing in more ways than one is just an extension of work for me. When I started writing my first book more than a decade ago, little did I know that it would become a passion and a profession for me? All I wanted to do was write just one book and be remembered.
- Most of your books are based on Corruption, Banking, Money, Big and Influential people. Do you feel that readers are fascinated by the issues going on in rich people’s lives?
I write thrillers. And banking as an industry is full of corruption, money, influential people, frauds, crime, investigation, people, relationships, etc. So It forms a good backdrop for writing thrillers. And yes, wealth fascinates. Money motivates. Money and glamour are often sought after. So I write stories about money, glamour, and crime. Rich people often lead glamorous lives, full of intrigue. And intrigue makes for good reading. That’s why I write about the lives of rich and interesting protagonists.
- The banking industry is transforming at a rapid rate from Digital banking to cryptocurrencies, do you think that these will help in corruption going on?
Corruption is not because of a lack of process and control. Corruption takes place because in every industry, every face of life, you come across people who are willing to innovate and improvise to break those controls and processes. Corruption is not because of lack of technology or innovation, but because of lack of conscience. Irrespective of trends in digital banking or cryptocurrency, the fraudsters will always figure out a way to be ahead of the curve. Haven’t you heard of scams in the world of bitcoins?
- What kind of research have you been doing while authoring your books? Or your corporate experience led you to write the books?
When I write books on banking, not much research is required. It is familiar territory for me. A little bit of reading up, talking to a few people to makes sure that the fundamentals are not incorrect, is all it takes. When I write about more complicated subjects, for example, Bitcoins, the Padmanabha Swamy temple, etc etc, it involved a fair bit of research in terms of internet searches, reading books, and one on one interviews. For Don’t Tell The Governor, I met quite a few bureaucrats, some ex-Dy Governors of RBI, and people who worked closely with the Reserve Bank of India.
- Do you think few people may differ with you regarding some events or subplots that you have written? How do you deal with such situations?
Well, I don’t deal with such situations. I just tell everyone that don’t try to find reflections of reality in my book. Read my books not as “What is” but “what could be”.
- What’s the role of Highly influential and powerful people in promoting corruption or its mainly done by the people in the lower positions?
Who says corruption is only prevalent at the lower strata of society. Every instance of corruption has its roots in the higher echelons of corporate life. Be it in terms of participating in corruption o condoning corrupt practices in an organization, the seniors are always responsible for it. The buck stops at them. Establishing a culture with zero tolerance for corruption starts at the top. If something goes wrong there, how can you let the top management get away?
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- In your book ‘In the Name of God’, the characters resembled the PNB scamsters. Was it a coincidence or your intuition?
Completely coincidence. I had no inkling of the two fraudsters or their modus operandi when I wrote the book. It worked out brilliantly in the end. I just wonder what Nirav Modi and MehulChoksi would have thought on reading my book, that too before they stood exposed in front of the world.
- What is the biggest surprise that you experienced after becoming a writer?
Becoming a writer is itself a very big surprise, I am yet to get over.
- Anything you would like to say to your readers and fans?
I would like to begin by saying that authors do not have fans. Authors have appreciative readers. We as authors must know to make that differentiation. If we treat our readers as fans, a day will come when ‘fans’ will desert you. Appreciative readers will stay with you forever. That said, I would like to thank all my readers for having given me a chance to share my stories with them. To show my gratitude to them for having given me six to eight hours of their lives per book. I owe my journey to your love and affection.
- What are some ways in which you promote your work? Do you find that these add to or detract from your writing time?
I use social media quite a bit to promote my book. These days, when books are promoted on a shoestring budget and when every rupee counts, social media allows you to target your campaigns effectively towards specific segments. Book events, lit fests, and media interviews are other means of promoting one’s books.
While it is a lot of effort, most of the promotion activity starts after the book is done. Hence it does not take anything away from your writing time. That said, it is very important to promote your book. What’s the big deal in writing a book when no one even gets to know about it. I write for being read, and book promotion on social media has played a big role in my books being read.
- What books are you working on at the present?
I am currently working on promoting my book, “Don’t Tell The Governor”. I haven’t even thought about what’s next. I will hopefully start thinking about it in January.
- What do your plans for future projects include? Any plan for converting your books to movies?
I have sold the rights to four of my books including Don’t Tell The Governor. We will be announcing it soon. Watch this space.
- How do you feel about eBooks vs. print books and alternative vs. conventional publishing?
Both ebooks and conventional books have their space. I used to be one of those who romanticized the idea of a paperback. But of late, my thought process is changing. If you have an option to carry around 1000 books with you on a kindle and read it wherever you want, then why not.
I am moving to a position where I am agnostic to ebooks or print books as long as I have something to read. I am a big fan of traditional publishing and would recommend everyone to take the self-publishing root only if traditional publishing fails.
- For those interested in exploring the subject or theme of your book, where should they start?
Chapter 1 of the book, Don’t Tell The Governor. They will surely not be disappointed.
They can all try the newspapers. These days they are full of stories of the RBI Governor’s conflict with the Finance Ministry and the central government, and that is the key theme of the book. They can also go back and watch the Prime Ministers Demonetisation Speech, which brings up the climax.
- Who are some of your favorite authors that you feel were influential in your work? What impact have they had on your writing?
I am deeply influenced by John Grisham and Jeffrey Archer. One for the way he has positioned himself as a writer of legal thrillers and the other for his lucid and crisp storytelling.
- What is the most important thing that people DON’T know about your subject/genre, which they need to know?
They don’t need to have any prior knowledge of the subject, theme, genre. Everything, even the most difficult of concepts is explained in simple words which make sense even for the reader who is far separated from the theme.
- What was your goals and intentions in the book ‘Don’t tell the Governor’, and how well do you feel you achieved them?
Well whenever I write a book, the key objective for me is to entertain. To write a book that the reader will have fun reading. I don’t intend to leave a message for the reader-A moral which they can take home. Yes, I do try to make sure that after reading the book, the reader is a bit more intellectually stimulated than he was when he began reading the book. If you read the book and if you look at the early reviews on online portals, both these objectives seem to have been met.
- What did you find most useful in learning to write? What was least useful or most destructive?
Writing for me is a great de-stressor. It enables you to shut yourself off from the pressures of daily life and take yourself into a brand new world that you create for yourself. There is no bigger liberating feeling.