Maybe you’ve been following along in the series since it started in January 2019, and maybe you’re new. Either way, welcome! This is my initiative to interview some of the wonderful writers I’ve connected with through Twitter’s online #writerscommunity. I always aim to interview writers from a diverse array of backgrounds who I see uplifting others and generally being a positive force within the community. I’m so excited to interview this writer, because when he pitched his current project to me initially, I was super intrigued. Please welcome: Bharat Krishnan.
Hi Bharat! The first thing I want to know about is your journey: where are you currently at and how did you get there?
Right now I’m drafting one WIP, and revising another. For the purposes of this interview, I’m going to stick to the one I’m drafting since I that one will probably be published this year.
Sounds good to me. I actually know a little about your current project, but can you pitch it for those who don’t?
I grew up obsessed with Greek and Egyptian mythology. My current WIP is a collection of Hindu mythology in the vein of Neil Gaiman’s Norse Mythology, except it will have an overall narrative. Nothing in the market quite exists for preteens and teens to learn about Hindu mythology in an engaging way, and I want my kids and nephews and nieces to be able to know Krishna and Kali are every bit as bad-ass as Hercules and Athena.
Yay! I love learning about new mythologies all over the world, and so excited to see an increase in diverse representation of them. As you craft these stories, what’s most important to you in a story: plot, setting, or characters?
I’m definitely a plot person. I think this is a great question because it does feel like there’s tradeoffs. If you can’t have it all in a manuscript, a good plot will let me overlook some bad characterization.
I’m a fan of a strong plot too and think you’re right; much of the time, it’s what leads us. As you write, what is your favorite/least favorite part of the writing process?
I am so strange in this respect, but I love actually sitting down in a quiet room in front of my laptop and bringing that blank page to life. Discipline is very important to me in everything I do, and it takes such discipline to do good writing.
My least favorite thing is revising. I’m hypersensitive to criticism, like a lot of artists. I know your first draft is supposed to be as bloody as a Viking war after your editor has gone through it, but it never stops hurting.
Ha, bloody is a great way to describe a first draft and I agree, it can hurt to have it criticized. On that note, I wonder how you deal with criticism and writer’s block?
I don’t think writer’s block exists.
Approach writing like a job. You may not want to show up to work one day, but you have to. Go sit yourself down and just write.
It might suck, but 1,000 shit words is better than a blank page. As far as tough critiques go, you just need to develop the self-confidence that comes with writing continually - both alone and in groups. Workshop your stuff. Make sure you are writing for you and not for your readers. Then, you’ll know what advice to keep and what to discard. What comments are prompted by jealousy or disdain and what are prompted by an actual desire to improve your writing.
Excellent advice. Now Bharat, I want to talk for a minute about something personal: your background and identity. How do you feel it’s impacted your writing?
I think authentic diversity is key in writing. And doing it is easier than anyone would think! Society is defined by boundaries. Every single person on Earth has to live within those boundaries, and the ones that loom largest in our own lives are what seem diverse to us. So just write about the boundaries in your character’s life! If you can’t do it authentically on your own, do some research and make sure someone who can relate to the experience is a beta reader.
Beautifully said. Now I want to ask an even more personal question: how do you manage life and other responsibilities alongside your writing?
I have tidied up my life so much Marie Kondo would be impressed! In my past life, I was a democratic strategist and worked 80 hour weeks.
In my spare time, I had a social life that consisted of nonstop engagements. And all of these engagements involved alcohol, of course.
Well, of course.
I worked those hours in 12 states over 10 years, and have the liver to prove it. I shed that skin quick when I met my fiancee and am now getting my MBA and have finally left politics. I’m four years sober.
Congratulations, Bharat. That’s wonderful. Seriously.
All of this is to say I think it’s easy to dedicate your entire being towards something, be it writing or politics or something else. It’s unhealthy. I wish our society did a better job of telling people how unhealthy it is. I wouldn’t have met my fiancee if it wasn’t for politics, and I do think hitching your wagon to that kind of insane dedication is good when you’re young, but only for a little while. And only for the stories! I published a political memoir, Confessions of a Campaign Manager, from my 10 years of experience and I dug into all the shit that made the life truly exciting and truly awful. I forced myself to be emotionally honest and I think that’s why it was so well received.
In short, balancing life now is easy because I have like, four things I care about instead of 20. And one of those four things is writing.
While I’m immensely sorry for the trials you faced, I’m so happy to see that you’ve been able to take pain and turn it into art. (Isn’t this what we all strive for?) Now for a fun question: Would you rather have infinite wealth, or infinite power?
YES! (And you all should definitely click the hyperlink) Okay, now what advice do you have for aspiring writers, particularly those from underrepresented backgrounds?
Write your truth!
People are so hungry for it. Your stories matter, your experience matters. I got so much shit for writing an autobiography at the age of 27. But you know what? It was a hit! It debuted in the top 0.2% of Amazon’s eBook store and this school in CA actually taught from it in an American Politics class!
People are so hungry for the truth, especially now. Write to process what is going on in your life, write to get through the end of the day because you just can’t bear to keep your feelings bottled up and no one would understand, and then, when you’re finished, read it and see if there’s anything there worth saving. The pen is mightier than the sword, so take that pain and turn it into a weapon so strong people have to admire it.
I’m so inspired! From one writer to another Bharat, I’m really proud. I have another fun question now: If your life what was a movie, what would it titled, and what genre would it go into?
Phenomenal question! I did musical theatre all through high school, so I’m going to say it’d be a musical called Heart & Hustle.
That sounds like such a good movie and it’s a musical too?? I’m in. Okay last one, a bonus Question! You have an all-expenses paid trip where you want with one of your characters—where do you go and who do you bring and why, why, why?
Revi is this secondary character from Oasis, my fantasy debut, and he was head chef for the king. I would definitely need him to make me delicious food when we traveled to Lunkor together. The location is supposed to be from the novel, right? Lunkor is a sea continent like Kamino in Star Wars.
As I sit in my cold apartment, a seaside place with lots of yummy food sounds… just wonderful. Thank you so much, Bharat. Want to know more about Bharat and his writing? Follow him on Twitter!
This Friday, March 1 I'm interviewing: Nathaniel Kaine!