Interview with Author Subhrashis Adhikari
Hello Author Subhrashis Adhikari! Tell us something about yourself?
I am a geologist, author and an avid traveller. Geologists are strange creatures. A survey done half a decade back showed that geologists are the happiest lot in colleges, and I am not surprised… Geologists thrive on two things: Rocks and On-the-Rocks. So, you understand from that…. geologists are a very inquisitive lot. When you sit on a rock outcrop and take in two shots, then the rock does not stay a rock anymore… it turns into questions. Where did it come from, when was it formed, how did these inanimate rocks from the specks of dust of Big Bang turn into smart apes who are now sitting at different parts of the globe and are now connecting and communicating with each other in abstract sounds to which we gave a meaning. The root of my writing journey lies in my inquisitive nature…
Your book, “5 Questions of the Inquisitive Apes ”, was published in 2019. To begin with, could you tell those who don’t know much about the book?
My second book “5 Questions of the Inquisitive Apes” is about the evolution of the brain with little brawn apes, mentally, physically and spiritually, from the leftover dust of The Big Bang. Some say this book is about explaining the truths of nature. But my aim has never been to ‘explain people about the truths’. That would be a big claim, and I am not capable of it. The questions in the book have been asked and answered many times in the last 5000 years. I wrote this book to make people ask more questions, and try to give them a new perspective to the old questions. These are questions that have bothered me, and I have been trying to find answers to. The book is a result of the limited knowledge that I have gathered so far. I am really humbled by the kind of positive reviews the book has got, both from the readers as well as from Indian media.
What inspired your debut?
Being a geologist is about asking questions. It is about reconstructing the past. In doing that you fall in love with the bygone era. History asks the question of how human civilisation evolved into the modern world. Geology is like the bigger brother of history. It stretches that question further back, since the beginning of time. No wonder, my first book was about Indian History. When you combine historical time with geological time to understand the present and predict the future, you get an inquisitive ape. That’s what my second book is. It may not be apparent but all of them are connected, and at the heart of all this is geology.
Now, there is another part to that too that I must confess. While the inquisitiveness led to my research, it was my lack of memory that turned those ideas into pages of a book. When I realised that I have a very small hard disk inside my skull, I was in desperate need of an external drive. That’s when I started writing. I try to pen down the ideas and information that I research before they leave my mind…. and they leave very fast. These ideas get stored to my external hard disk, which is my blog. Now, when I am looking for something I don’t have to dig into all the books I have read. All I have to do is hit the search button in my blog. When I was a regular blogger back in 2011-2012, my blog somehow managed to be amongst the top blogs in India. My kind and wonderful readers found the articles a bit different and interesting. Some of them requested me to write a book. I thought, why not. I have read some horrible books in my life, so I assured myself that I can add another one to the list… not a big deal… That was the beginning of this short journey so far.
What is your process of writing a book?
I don’t have any writing ritual as such. I have to squeeze time from the busy schedule. So, I write whenever I find time to write, sometimes even multitasking, like writing when I am helping my daughter complete her homework. Sometimes I do get hit by writer’s block. Then I do something else till the writer’s block gets bored and leaves. As far as the writing style is concerned, I do try to surprise the readers with some data and humour. The kind of book I write needs a lot of research. My first book took me 5 years and the second one for more than 2 years. Being from the science background I’m comfortable reading scientific papers. They form an important part of my research. I also read a lot of books, travel the world and interact with a lot of people. I ask questions to people and even send surveys to my followers. That forms the framework of my research.
What book are you planning to write next?
I am preparing a couple of manuscripts. One is a self-help book that follows on from my last book 5 Questions of the Inquisitive Apes. This book is about sharing my learning’s to help people develop multiple perspectives and lead a happier and healthier life. It is based on some of my key life-changing experiences… especially an accident that changed me… It is a mix of modern knowledge and traditional wisdom for a happier and healthier life.
The second one is about peopling of India. What pre-historic records we find from India. There are records of Homo Erectus, earliest origin of the fire, a catastrophe that almost wiped our species, cognitive and neolithic revolution, from various places in India. Apart from archaeological records, findings from recent genetic studies have has also been revealing. it will be about all of that.
Finally, what advice do you have for aspiring authors?
I am not sure if I am the best person to give advice. These are my thoughts. Take it for whatever they are worth.
To write a book:
1. Know what is your strength as a storyteller.
2. Have an idea and pen them down when your mind is active.
If you want to publish it, you have to additionally:
1. Think of a genre that has a market.
2. Have a core theme around which the entire book must revolve.
3. Try to be authentic and unique.
4. Find an editor.
5. Find a literary agent.