What if your wildest dream was meeting a person you truly adore? What if an early saturday morning turned out to be the best moment of your life? What if you get a book personally signed by an author you consider to be your role model? What if you actually meet the John Grisham of Banking? Well, that’s exactly what happened to me. Me and a few lucky ones in Easy Library, Koramangala.
The moment I knew Ravi Subramanian would be at EasyLib for tete-a-tete, I was completely thrilled. The excitement, the tension was palpable. I sat up the entire night thinking of questions I should ask him when I meet him up close and personal. The thought of meeting him, like reading his best seller books, didn’t allow me to sleep at all. No media . . . No flashlights, no papparazzi, no glamour . . . just him. And us.
For all those who don’t know Ravi Subramanian (is there any?), he is a banker by profession and has penned five popular thrillers on banking and bankers. He is the winner of multiple awards. All his books are based on financial crime. His thrillers include, If God was a Banker, Devil in Pinstripes, The Incredible Banker, The Bankster and the latest one Bankerupt. Additionally, he has written a non-fiction, I bought the Monk’s Ferrari.
Ravi was truly humble, down-to-earth and highly easy going. He was able to take constructive criticism from the audience, questions that might have thrown any author off guard. He was charming and cool all the while. He told us about his personal life, how much of a struggle it had been, the real life incidents that influenced his novels, the stinging remarks he received from critics, his two pence on writing a thriller and his inspiring talk to budding authors. As much as his books are a rollercoaster ride, the conversations we had with him were of similar vein.
On handling criticism
When his first book “If God was a banker” was released, he received a lot of negative, stinging remarks. Critics dismissed the book as a piece of crap, with feedback ranging from “He has written a book worser than Chetan Bhagat!” to “Don’t bank on it (the book).”
“It helped me grow as an author. Criticism, if taken constructively, will help a writer improve. My first book had loads of sex, no strong women protagonists, and every character was either black or white. I changed that completely from my second novel. Now, all my books have no sex (Sex DOESN’T sell, great storyline does), strong woman characters and people who are grey, neither completely black nor completely white. It helps. Embrace criticism.”
Inspirations for the Novels
“Everything from real life. Each and every one of the incidents that happen to the characters, the characters themselves . . . everything is real. My stories are all about simple, ordinary human beings . . . I draw from real life. There is no better canvas.”
Plots for the Novels
“I don’t have a fixed plot in mind when I begin writing. I don’t even know what the twist in the story will be! I just take it by chapter. At the end of each chapter, I would have four or five different ways of taking the story forward. I just make sure, I take the most shocking, controversial route in each of these choices!”
Style of Writing
“I write very short chapters. In Bankerupt, I have 77 chapters for 312-odd pages! Short chapters help keep the audience hooked. I don’t concentrate more on character development. The more I include chapters on protagonists grieving for the loss of a loved one, the more chances that I might lose the audience. My aim is not to develop characters like in a romance novel. I write thrillers…and thrillers must be page-turning and lightning quick. However, it’s a choice you make. It works for me. Identify your strengths and use it.”
Pages, Fonts and What Not
“Typically, a thriller should be 300-350 pages. And ya, around 270-280 words per page. Anything more, and you would lose the interest of the audience. Cover design is very important too. An average buyer spends around 7 seconds looking at the front cover, and 12 seconds reading the back cover. If you don’t attract the reader within those 19 seconds, you’ve lost a potential buyer. Once and for all.”
Tips for Young Authors
“Anyone can write a thriller; Just have a murder within the first five pages of the book, and a shocking twist in the climax! But, yes . . . to weave all real life stories together from multiple sources, different time frames, takes a lot of effort. Give the author also some credit!”
A parting note
I had a personal talk with him before I left. He had this to say.
“If you have a dream . . . follow it. Yes, you would be afraid of criticism, it is normal . . . but, don’t give up. Be brave. If you love writing, if that is what you truly want to do in your life . . . give it everything. I have a day job, and I come back home, tired, famished. But, I don’t stop writing. 9pm to 1am is my slot. My zone. I promise myself that whatever happens, I will write. Keep writing. Always. And one day you will be a great writer. Good luck Vishnu.”
Ravi Subramanian is my inspiration for his courage. He carved a niche for himself as a master of corporate thrillers. My world in the end wasn’t left bankerupt, infact it was filled to the brim with happiness, passion . . . and love.