Interviews of Dr L.Prakash Published in various periodicals
Interview Published in FHM Magazine
So, what do you do apart from being a surgeon?
The back cover jacket of my books would well answer this question. I have been many things in the past. Territorial Vice president for India; for international Brotherhood of Magicians (U.S.A.) in eighties.
General Secretary of the Indian Orthopaedic Association, in nineties (largest body of orthopaedic surgeons from the country), Youngest person to do my MCh (master of surgery) in Orthopaedics from Liverpool university. Inventor of six surgical instruments for which I hold patents. Designer and developer of Madras Total Hip, Prakash Knee, Bangle fixators etc. Reasonable marksman. Rifle shooting. Certainly not Olympic standards!
Owned a Jet ski and Speedboat. (browse the net! You might find some old home pages with my photos with rifles, speedboats, wild boars, open top jeeps, pythons, cobras and ostriches! If Ash Chandler is a contributor to your magazine, he will tell you something about me. Remind him of a speedboat ride when he lost his 500$ hat in the sea! If he is a contributor to Maxim, pardon my faux passé)
Now for the last seven years, prison has made me a writer. I am also learning art for the last six months. I have just finished my second graphic novel. Have also done a thousand watercolors depicting Ramayana to be published as an eight-volume book.
Where did you gather all the extra skills?
40% genetics. 40% environment. 20% by the stubborn attitude of wanting to try out everything myself. The attitude of never believing that the milk is hot unless I burnt my tongue.
How many years remaining for your sentence?
A life term is usually fourteen years. I have completed seven. Each year life convicts are given premature releases. Last year, chaps who had completed seven years were all released. I missed it by 103 days. Anyway, I have more than one forum left. (Appeals in High Court and Supreme Court) Justice and freedom are not too far away!
Do you claim that you are innocent?
I am certainly innocent of all charges framed against me. I cannot reveal too many details because the matter is sub-judice. Nevertheless, I can state that I have been sentenced for charges for which I did not face trial. This has probably happened for the first time in the country, and the higher courts would certainly render justice!
What is your day like in prison?
I get up at 08.15, tea toilet etc. Start writing at 8.30 and keep on till 2.30. Lunch at 2.30 p.m. Siesta between 3.00 to 5.00 p.m. Evening walk between 5.00 p.m., and 6.00 p.m. Writing begins at 6.30 p.m., and goes on until 2.00 a.m. Dinner at 2.00 a.m. Night sleep 2.15 a.m., to 8.15 a.m. I have followed the same routine for the past seven years.
Any prison brawls that I have got into?
Interestingly I have been involved in three! Each was a certain adrenaline surging occasion! Too juicy to be spilt in a magazine interview! You will have to read my book Behind the Bars; now in its third draft and in the pipeline for future publication. If you are interested, I can instruct the publisher to send you a word file of the same once the corrections are over!
I usually write three books at a time, a fiction, a non-fiction and a short story collection. Three diverse things that keeps the brain energized and on its stretched sulci and gyri!
Highest output has been twelve thousand words in a day.
Lowest output about three thousand words per day.
All writing is in longhand using A4 registers.
Total output in last seven years is a little over twelve million words. Total books-volumes now stand at 104.
To give you a small example, Maybach Maiden, the book you probably have with you, was written in 21 days. The final book represents about 90% of my first draft.
Books include Mahabharatha (4 volumes), Ramayana (8volumes), Prisoners of time (sensuous adventure 4 volumes 600,000 words) Godsister (crime mega epic six volumes 700,000 words, 243 short stories, 45 novels, nonfiction (14 titles: self help, art of living, Vedic, Puranic, jokes, naughty narrations etc). Graphic novels (3 done now on my fourth).Total volumes about a 104 to date!
Prison is the best factory to generate stories both long and short. The two thousand prisoners with whom I interact, treat, and spend time with, provide numerous wonderful stories.
I have been a voracious reader in my past and still am, reading about 100 fiction and non-fiction titles in a year!
My past life and the present itself is an adventurous roller coaster ride providing plenty of first hand experiences, more than half of which remain to be chronicled!
Have I been to all places I write about?
A definite yes! I don’t write about places I have not personally experienced or about people of the type I have not closely or personally interacted with. I have been an adventurous traveler in my past life and have traveled extensively thought India and almost around the world many times both as an adventurous tourist and as a surgeon. Have demonstrated my surgical methods and performed operations in about 40 centers in India and 38 internationally!
Research is pretty difficult in prison, however I have found out ways. My sister is net savvy. My publisher has appointed a team now to do my searches and research. All data is printed out and lands at the prison, where I sift carefully to extract what I desire!
Ever thought of breaking out?
I am eligible for parole 15 days a year. I am allowed to remain outside. I just sign at the gates and walk out! I am back when my leave is over! So there is no question of breaking out! Anyway, I am confident that my days of incarceration are numbered and I will be out soon!
Again only people without any social connections can breakout and remain safe! For a well-known property owning, tax paying affluent and popular personality like me, a life of a fugitive is hardly practical!
Finally a prison can only curtail my liberty to move around and confine me to a specific space. The only person who can take away my freedom is myself! I am free to think, imagine, write, read, and allow my mind to wander about unfettered and free! A healthy oil-less, spice less, plain boiled healthy food. No pollution! And freedom of thoughts! Why the hell should I break out? Anyway, I expect to be out soon!
Any offers to make my books into movies?
As a matter of fact, yes! Three Kollywood producers approached me. Unfortunately I was not impressed by their IQ. One even threatened to plagiarize my work and I asked him to go ahead. It is not just a matter of money! The movie should do justice to the original!
If I get an intelligent offer (directors with at least two times George Bush’s IQ,) I will be extremely happy!
If Maybach Maiden were made into a movie?
I hope you have had a chance to glimpse at the book. Each chapter is actually written as a movie scene. However, a movie has to be a little more slicker!
I would select 135 best scenes, and patch them up Danny Boyle Trainspotter style! May be borrow some technique from Babel!
Akshay Kumar as Gopi, Priyanka Chopra as Kiran. Brad Pitt as Martin. For Daloo and Lamba Suresh, we will have to get a dwarf and a Pituitary giant. I could imagine Ram Gopal Verma or Danny Boyle doing a good job on it! But then wishes are not bred in Feroze Khan’s Stud-farm!
Please ask my publisher to send you my Tangled Web! That is typical Bollywood blockbuster!
My favorite authors:
Not in any order, they would be Parasharaputhra Krishnadwapayana (the chap also known as Veda Vyasa the author of Mahabharatha), Salman Rushdie, R.K.Narayan, Harold Robins, Ayan Rand, , James Hadely Chase, Gabriel Garcia Marquez, Khalid Husseini. I have written a handbook of advice for young girls in which I recommend reading; and list ten best books in my opinion. I am copying the list here!
(1) The Ramayana by C.Rajagopalachari
(2) The Mahabharata by Dr L. Prakash
(3) The Guide by R.K. Narayan
(4) Perry Mason classics Erle Stanley Gardner.
(5) Sherlock Holmes classics by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle
(6) Gone with the wind by Margret Mitchell
(7) Tom Sawyer and Huckleberry Finn by Mark Twain
(8) Classics by Charles Dickens
(9) Short stories by William Somerset Maugham
(10) Science fiction by Isaac Asimov
(11) Crime fiction by James Hadley chase
(12) Arthur Hailey classics
(13) Midnight’s children and the Moore’s Last Sigh by Rushdie
(14) A suitable bride Vikram Seth.
(15) Prisoners of time Dr.L.Prakash.
Life after my sentence:
I am looking out for a 50 acre place in middle Andaman with the nearest neighbor 5 kilometers away! Plan to construct a seaside cottage, have a Jet Ski and speed boat, a four wheel drive sand negotiating Willys, a servant couple, a boat mechanic, a sat-broadband-net access, one small indoor pool, well stacked bar, and just me, myself and I for three weeks a month. The one remaining week will be gala party time with guest flying-steamering to my shack! Models, airhostesses and Bollywood starlets would be particularly welcome! (The last line is my hopes. The rest is a certainty)
My hopes, desires and ambitions:
Become the world’s most prolific author. (I am on my way there. 12 million words. Need just eight million more!)
Become a multimillion copy best selling author (A long uphill task, because a lot more things than writing count! Publicity like this article will help)
To keep writing until my last day, and to die with a couple unfinished books.
Current book that I am working on:
It is books rather! I am on 7th volume Yuddha Kanda of Ramayana, a crime novel False Truths (Plot outline: Girl accuses father of incest. School student alleges sexual abuse by teacher. An eve teasing accident gone wrong with the girl accidentally killed. A fake police encounter. And one common lawyer connected with all cases.), and a short story collection (my twenty first story collection)
Semi autobiographical book?
My life is certainly far far more interesting than David Gregory Shantaram’s. I have written an epic novel Prisoners of Time, in about 2000 pages, which is vaguely semi autobiographical. If you are keen on publishing excerpts, please send mail to my publisher!
On a more autobiographical tone is my book on prison stories Behind the Bars, now on its third revision. I will ask them to mail a copy once it is ready.
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Interview by Mamisha Himanshu for Indian book Review Dec 2011
1. Why are you in prison? What’s your side of the story?
I was arrested on charges of internet pornography in Dec 2001. As I was a well established and famous doctor, it produced media sensation par excellence!! Then the cops added charges of kidnap, rape, unnatural sex, arms act, attempt to murder, the whole list!! It is a tad too complex to explain, but suffice to say that refusal to pay bribes at some point; and my own aggressive behavior towards the arresting cops (senior officers at that), snowballed things into such a situation that I became a porcupine in a python’s mouth, neither swallowable nor regurrgitable. The few senior cops involved were in dual panic and could not afford me let loose. And then started the standard police methods, (of which you will find many many examples in my numerous stories and novels), media smear campaign, witness tutoring, witness threatening etc, followed by trial and conviction.
Charges of unnatural sex were dropped. I was acquitted in rape, attempt to murder, grievous hurt, and similar charges. And the learned Fast Track Court judge convicted me with a smiling face, to life imprisonment on Human trafficking charges. My judgment is a matter of record, and all I can say is that I have been convicted of charges for which I was not tried or allowed to offer defense. Conviction is for a charge not framed against me!!
I intend to appeal to the honorable high court soon. I hope for justice there!!
2. What’s your typical day in prison? What’s your routine?
This is my eighth year in prison. For the first six years, it was non stop writing long hand on plain un-ruled registers. Average 12 hours, up to a maximum of 14 hours per day.
Current routine: wake up at 8.00 am; tea and 4 newspapers, TOI, Hindu, DC, Express (in that order) and then to Jail School at 9.00 AM. Spend time till 1.00 pm on school lab PC, editing, correcting, and polishing earlier works. Back to cell for lunch at 1.30.pm. lunch is Roti, daal and curds. Back to school at 3.00 pm. Return to cell at 5.30 pm. Lock up at 6.00 pm. 6.30 pm to 1.30 am, I write. Dinner at 1.40 am. Six hours sleep!
3. How many hours do you spend writing?
Now only about 6 hours a day, because the rest I spend in editing and polishing the already written books. For the first six years it was an average of 12 to 14 hours every day including holidays!
4. Describe your cell.
12 feet long, 8.5 feet wide, 3 by 3 toilet to one side, a cot, a writing table, two barred windows and one steel door with vertical bars and a dead bolt. This is a special class accommodation.
5. Where do you get your ideas? What’s your inspiration?
Exactly after 83 days of my arrest, I was declared a Goonda and underwent a preventive detention, in the old Chennai central prison, in the dreaded Goonda’s block, CP3. My first story, and the beginnings of my writing are a part of my prison diaries, which I am still editing. Mr. Ashokan will attach the relevant chapters at the end of this note for you. It is a fascinating story indeed!
6. When did you begin writing? Did you need to get permission to publish?
My first short story; “A wild boar hunt” was written on 23rd and 24th March 2002. My first proper work of fiction; a love story with multiple endings, “Love at First sight” was written over six days in April 2002. I spent close to six years as an undertrial prisoner, and what I wrote during those days was not subject to prison censors. After conviction, things have changed. So long as it is fiction, religion, philosophy, or humor, and doesn’t contain any reference to the prison, it is ok. My writings pass through the eyes of the prison officials, but till date, not one word has been edited. Madras High Court has permitted me to write books.
7. Do the prison authorities go through your manuscripts? Have they ever suggested changes?
Anything I send out from the prison is subject to censor. But as none of my writings are against the system or security, I have had no problems…
8. Where did you grow up? What did your parents do? Do you have siblings? A little bit more abut your family background?
My father was an accounts officer in AG’s office. He is now 80, retired and is currently getting over the grief of my mother’s demise, which happened this September. My sister is a gynecologist, and her husband is a leading physician. They run their hospital in Kerala. My brother is a techie in USA. We belong to Palaghat Iyer GM branding.
9. Could you also tell me about your educational background?
M.B.B.S (Gwalior) M.S. [orth] (Gwalior) M.Ch [orth] Liverpool U.K. I must point out that I was the youngest ever since 1943 to do my Liverpool Masters in orthopaedics. I also have quite a few memberships, diplomas etc etc.. too numerous to enumerate, and all irrelevant presently!
10. Have you ever put yourself into the novels? After all, you have had a colourful life?
A mega novel “Prisoners of Time” has a hero Anand Iyer whose story has certain incidents and events from my life. You can go to www.bananabooks.in website and check up on mega novels. However I must warn you! This particular novel is pretty expressive and by some standards even erotic. I have not yet found a publisher for the same…
11. Why did you decide to go into graphic novels? Have you had art training?
My graphic novels are still in a stage of experimentation. I have done five and am now on my sixth. Actually I wrote a science fiction story and suddenly realised that it would be good in a graphic format. An artist was commissioned, who promised to do the 300 odd drawings in 3 months. Lo and behold! Three months pass by and he has not yet found time to start!! So my man Friday Vijayan is instructed to get drawing books, pencils colors brushes etc. Mr. Ashokan got me books on art. Being a surgeon I am fairly thorough with human anatomy. And so started the novels. Initial works are below average, but now it is better.
12. What’s the difference between writing books and writing graphic novels? How different are the formats?
A picture speaks a thousand words. Even crudely drawn stick drawings by a child are more representative than a complete paragraph by Rushdie, Phamuk or Gabriel Garia! And practice makes an artist. I polished my art skills by doing a thousand water colors on Ramayana while I wrote the epic in English. These water colors are available for online viewing on www.bananabooks.in/rils
13. How graphic are your graphic novels?
You can call my sixth graphic novel - Money can’t buy you everything - (under final polish) as India’s first crime graphic color novel!
14. Which has been your best-selling title? How many has it sold? Could you also give me sales figures for your other books?
I am giving approximate figures. Mr. Ashokan will give final figures. Best seller Maybach Maiden 7000 copies. All other books between 2000 to 5500 copies. My non fiction “100 minutes that’ll Change the way you live” has sold 23,000 copies. I know they are small numbers, but I have been published only for the past one year!!
15. Which shops sell your books?
Most bookshops in town will have my books. If you don’t find them, then I will blame my distributor!!
16. Who’s your audience?
Anyone who loves a good story!! Babu will attach a file with this letter which will feature a few reviews. That will give you some idea.
17. Do you miss your former life?
Ask a golden eagle so used to soaring majestically in the free blue skies, after you clip his wings, break his talons and dump him into a rusty cage, if he misses his former life!!
18. Have you ever written under a pseudonym?
I am proud of whatever I write. I am neither ashamed of criticism nor afraid of comments. So why should I write under a pseudonym? An interesting point though. It was suggested that my Mahabharatha be published under a pseudonym. I just laughed it off!
19. Do your wife, child and family read your books? What do they think about them?
The last I saw my wife was on the day of my arrest. The same with my daughter. It is only natural that they feel humiliated in being identified with me! Wifey has since divorced me. I do get satisfactory reports about my daughter’s progress. I haven’t spoken to either of them for the last eight years! I have not been a good husband and my wife’s actions are justified. I have never stopped loving my daughter and some day she will come to me on her own.
My father, sister and brother in law have not only read my books, but have also appreciated them tremendously. My father, an extremely well read man, was highly appreciative of my Mahabharata. My sister of course is my greatest fan!
20. Was it prison that sparked the writing bug? Or did you write before too?
In my previous life, I have authored three text books and 160 articles, all medical and on orthopaedics; absolutely no fiction. During my teenage days I have authored 4 small booklets on How to do magic! I started writing fiction only in prison, in my 44th year and have presently completed close to twenty million words; close to a Guinness Record. Babu will attach a word file featuring excerpts from my prison diary, which will shed some light about how I became a writer.
21. Which of your avatars do you most identify with – orthopaedic surgeon, industrialist, scientist, inventor, artist, adventurer, sharpshooter, magician, maker of pornographic videos or author? And
how do you claim to be an expert in so many fields?
Prison has changed quite a bit about my attitude in life! Now I realize that more than the above adjectives, the avatar that would give me greatest happiness, is in being a contented man who makes others happy! By my writings, a little bit of free medical advice, planting a few saplings and watching them grow, draw a good drawing, write a brilliant sentence, so simple and yet so profound, or beam out a contented smile, when a good review of my work appears!
22. How did you develop all these interest?
I am ever curious, extremely determined, and passionate about whatever I do! I always believe in the axiom; it is not important what you do! What is important is how well you do it!!
23. How much money did you make from each of these activities?
Probably a lot more than I could ever spend in my life!
24. How much do you make off your books? And what are you doing with this money?
Money ceases to be of importance after some time. Books have generated decent revenues. Prison is obviously no place for me to spend a single rupee! I plan to do a little charity. I propose to give the first 50,000 from my book royalties to the prison department to buy books for their libraries. I have just approached the authorities with this proposal.
25. If you’re released from prison, what would you want to do?
Not if, say when!! Please be positive!! I plan to buy an isolated stretch of property in Middle Andaman Islands, far away from humanity, and spend my time writing, reading, and deep sea fishing! Of course I would join civilization for my book launches, press meets and hopefully the Booker Ceremony! Please pardon my ego! Modesty has never been my virtue! My historical novel Patriot on Indian independence, under consideration by a leading publisher; is a real knock out, and many readers have predicted that it might get a Booker!!
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INTERVIEW OF DR.L.PRAKASH PUBLISHED IN NATIONAL LITERARY REVIEW DECEMBER 2011
1. Could you speak a bit about what got you into jail? How much jail-time have you served?
Around nine years back, I was arrested initially on charges of internet pornography. At that time, I was a conceited, arrogant, affluent, over confident, flamboyant rich young man, blissfully unaware of the police powers and the tremendous influence of yellow press on the society. In any case, I did not consider posting a few adult content pictures on the internet as a great crime. The arresting cop was pretty decent about it. Pay me this much; and we will forget all about it.
It was not a big amount, something that I could easily afford, but the arrogant and over confident fool that I was, I picked up a quarrel and threatened the cop. He threatened me back and said that if I don’t adjust, he would not only throw the book at me, but lock me away and throw the keys. My stubbornness, arrogance and refusal to be pliable, resulted in all my troubles.
Apart from internet pornography, I was booked for rape, kidnap, assault, and attempt to murder. At the same time four additional fabricated cases were lodged in four other police stations. Narcotics – heroine case, attempt to murder, criminal intimidation and assault. The cases continued in various courts, the police issued juicy press statements, the public got a lovely villain and I was denied repeated bails in all courts. Though I was acquitted in the foisted cases, narcotics, assault, attempt to murder etc., in the main case I was not fortunate. Though acquitted of rape and attempt to murder charges, the smiling female judge convicted me on all other charges and awarded me maximum punishment. I consider myself innocent and have planned to appeal in the high court, where I expect justice. I have spent about 9 1/2 years in prison but expect to be released shortly. Probably in a month or two. Please wish me all the best!
2. Where are you from originally? What did you study?
Parents are Iyer Brahmins from Kerala. I was born in Bangalore. My childhood was spent in Gwalior M.P., where I did my schooling. I also did my medical under graduation and post graduation from Gwalior and completed my M.S(masters) in orthopaedics. I did my M.Ch in orthopaedics from Liverpool U.K. I also got my additional fellowships from Germany and Switzerland. I was the youngest doctor from India to complete my Mch (Orth). My degrees would thus be M.B.B.S., M.S.(Orth.)., MCh(Orth)., FASIF., A.O.A.A.(Swiss).
3. Who are your literary or artistic inspirations? Were you always artistically inclined, or did your time in prison bring this side out?
Prior to my arrest, I have written 4 text books and 60 papers, all scientific and medical. I have dabbled in oil and canvas with a few paintings adoring the walls of my house. However a busy 14 hour a day orthopaedic surgeon workaholic, I did not have too much time for artistic pursuits. Imprisonment produced a paradigm shift in my life style and I suddenly found myself with too much time in my hands. A 14 hour a day workaholic like me would certainly go mad, if I don’t have anything worthwhile to do. What productive work could I do in prison except writing? I thus began writing. Short stories, long stories, novels, non fiction, self help. I tried them all.I then did some graphic novels followed by oil paintings, sculptures and masks. The trick is to keep working14 hours every day.
4. Could you describe your daily jail routine?
Wake up at 9.30 a.m.,
Breakfast + newspaper – 10.30 a.m., 1.00 p.m
1 p.m to 3 p.m writing. 1000 words/hour, about 5000 words.
3 p.m – Lunch.
4 to 5 p.m Siesta.
5 p.m to 6 p.m – walk
6 p.m – lockup
6 – 9.30 p.m writing. About 3000 words.
9.30 p.m to 3 a.m reading.
Details about books read in next answer
5. Do you read much in jail, or do you spend most of your time writing?
I do minimum 4-6 hours of reading every day. I am a voracious reader. Not much of magazines or light reading. Mostly fiction and non fiction. No particular preference. I read a wide variety of books. I am a speed reader. I read 2-3 books at one time. Thrillers, crime adventure, science fiction, economics, history, philosophy, mythology, management, self help etc. Books are my best friends.Am currently reading Ian M Bank, Wilbur Smith, Amish, Fedrick Pohl.
6. Could you describe your cell?
My cell is 9 feet by 12 feet. One door 7 feet by 3 feet with seven vertical bars and three horizontal. One window three feet by three. Nine vertical and three transverse bars. One toilet three feet by three feet. One cot. One table and chair. One T.V. this being Puzhal, one of the most modern prisons in the country, it is a heaven compared to central jail, where I spent about six years. Television shows only two DD channels. Food is standard jail chappati with dal and boiled vegetables. Fat free high roughage, healthy diet. For a matter of record, the cell I now occupy is about one third of the size of toilet/bathroom attached to the master bedroom of my house in the city! But I have understood that it is not where you live that gives you happiness. It is how you live life, that makes you happy or sad!
7. How do you access material for your various projects? Does your prison have a library?
The forty three years before my arrest have been extremely varied and I have donned many a hat. This itself gives me an experience memory bank which acts as a big reference library. I have visited 32 countries and four continents. I have been a professional magician, sharpshooter, avid hunter, industrialist , inventor, scientist, cook, collector, artist, off roader, angler, adventure sport enthusiast etc. Prison stay has given me additional inputs. I have always been interested in human beings and human behavior. The thousand prisoners that I have interacted with, each has given me a story. All this is the basic material.
The prison does have a library but all about are in Tamil, a language I speak but don’t know to read. I have a team of four boys outside. To do addition data collection, Book are purchased. Net is searched. Data is down loaded. Matter is brought to the prison. And additional special research is done by my sister Doctor Pramila, who gets me what I want.
8. How many books have you written so far?
I have completed 111 books (121 volumes). I am now writing 3 books simultaneously. A crime thriller, Ramayana volume 8 and a self help book. More than the number of books, you would get an idea about the extent of my output by my word count. Until now, I have completed twenty six millions words and includes short story collection, self help, crime, legal thrillers, adventure, romance, science fiction, mythological, Puranic, prison stories etc. Till date, 5 books have been published. The rest are being edited, corrected, illustrated, polished and in various stages of production to be published after my release. I have enough work to keep me fully busy and totally occupied for the next ten years. But then it is only sustained work that keeps me busy and occupied.
9. Which is the most successful?
Of the published books, Maybach Maiden and Tangled Web have been best sellers. This, without any marketing efforts. Only word of mouth publicity. Both books are available as e-books at Amazon. Mahabharata in four volumes is also selling well. My incarceration is a handicap. After release, I am certain that I would be able to devote sufficient energy to market them. You have been sent advance copies. If you have found time to read them, you would have got some idea about the content and salability.
10. Which are you, personally, the proudest about?
I am proudest about two of my yet to be published books.
Prisoner of time – a 3,000 pages adventure/romance is probably India’s biggest novel.
Godsister - a 2700 pages epic on crime, underworld, sex politics and the slimy underbelly of the country’s poorest of the poor is another book which I am certain will became a blockbuster. I am searching for international agents and publishers for these two books because I am certain that these are destined to create history.
11. Do you get any letters from fans or readers or critical people? What kinds of responses do you get? Which have been the most interesting?
I do indeed get a lot of fan mails by snail mail, email, facebook, wall posts etc. I have also got some flattering reviews. A review by a surgeon who speaks about his initial bias about reading books by a convicted pornographer are indeed interesting. I have attached that comment/review along with this mail.
12. You mentioned you dabble in sculpture, oil painting and masks. How did you get into this? Could you describe your creations?
A picture is worth a thousand words. By a separate email, I am instructing Babu to sent you pictures of my oil paintings, sculpture , masks and a few drawings done for book covers etc. my art is not pretty. Not is it terribly artistic. But people say that it is stark and functional. It is definitely different and unexpected! Also unique for someone with absolutely no training or education in artistic pursuits and for someone who began all this after the fifteeth year in his life.
13. Are you inspired by any writers who've worked from jail? Any author you have read, in particular, with whom you identify?
Being a varacious reader. I am impressed by a large number of writers. From Salman Rushdie and Gabriel Garcia Marquez to Harold Robins, John Grisham and James Hadley Chase, I have read them all. I know Sanskrit and have read original Mahabharatha, Ramayana etc. I am extremely impressed by Krishna Dwapayana Veda Vyasa, Valmiki and Kalidasa. Others like R.K. Narayan, Chekov, Somerset Maughm, O’Henry and Dickens are read again and again. As I don’t have any rules for reading and as I read a couple of books simultaneously jumping from one to another, I get enough cerebral stimulants and have an absolute control of my time in prison. I have absolutely no mental blocks regarding reading and love books uniformly and admire all published authors!
14. Do you see yourself as a pulp fiction author? Do you read a lot of pulp fiction, crime thrillers etc.?
This is an interesting question indeed, but first we need to define what is “Pulp Fiction” In the olden times, printing was a tedious and expensive process. Good quality paper too was sold at a premium. Binding was done by hand and usually using costly material like leather and canvas. All in all, book production was a costly affair and the end price was so high that only rich people could buy them. Middle class people had to borrow books from the library. For example in 1850, an average book in England cost as much to feed a farmer for a year and a half.
Then in early nineteen hundreds, printing become cheaper but good quality paper was still expensive. Cheap paper produced from balsa wood pulp was used to print news paper. Some one had a brilliant idea to use this cheap paper, and a card board binding to mass produce books for popular consumption. As these books were printed balsa pulp paper, they were colloquially called pulp novels on pulp fiction. However the quality of books varied widely and even Charles Dickens, Agatha Christie and Sir Arthur Conan Doyle books have at one time been termed as “Pulp Fiction”. So if my books too are called Pulp Fiction! I certainly don’t mind. However, Mahabharatha would hardly quality as a pulp novel, though people say that my rendering has made it as adventurous and racy as a thriller novel. However as far as reading is concerned, I am a veracious reader and certainly enjoy reading pulp novels and crime fiction.
And to answer question 15; I don’t think that ‘pulp fiction’ is a genere or a classification. To me, stories would be classified as crime fiction, legal thrillers, science fiction etc.
15. A lot of your work is a bit "racy". Do you find it ironic that you can make a living while in jail for something that put you in jail?
By ‘racy’ if you mean sex; then I have to confess that I have never been proudish in describing sexual events or writing about sexuality in my books, though none of my books would fall in the category of literary pornography. The sex scenes in my books too would be poor contenders for bad sex award. I am an honest writer and if the story demands sex, I don’t mince words. Regarding making a living while in jail, I don’t actually need the money from my book sales to survive because I am reasonably wealthy even otherwise. But if the books and their sales help pay the salary of five people, give gainful employment to a few more, and also generate sufficient profits to allow a publishing house to run, then why should I complain? In any case my books don’t sell because they are racy. They sell because they are readable and entertaining.
16. When do you expect you'll make it out of jail?
My appeal in High Court is being planned and I expect to be out of prison by the year end. In any case I am out for about twenty five days each year on parole, when I stay in my house and spend time with my dogs and fish!
17. Any post-jail plans?
Post jail plans: 110 books to be published! I have to find a good agent. Two offers have already come for movie scripts. And I have a ten year back log of things to be done, places to be visited and experiences that remain to be gained! How I look forward to my release!
18. What is the biggest lesson you've learned from jail?
Biggest lesson learnt in Prison.
No body can take away my freedom! They can only curtail my liberty. They can only restrict my physical movements. No power on earth can imprison my mind. None can stap my mind from soaring free, wherever it wants. The only person who can take away my freedom is myself. Likewise the situation around me might be miserable or unfavorable. But to remain happy or miserable is entirely in my hands. Prison has taught me that if I am able to harness this inner power within myself, I can achieve impossible goals and be production even among the worst and unfavorable circumstances. I have also learnt that bad times can befall anyone and arrogance and ego are great handicaps to success. Happiness comes from within and comes from doing things that keeps you happy. Writing keeps me happy and so I spend 14 hours a day writing.
19. Do you have interactions with inmates from jail? Which of them are your closest friends, and what offences are they in for? Do their personal stories contribute to the plots of your novels?
In prison, I interact freely with all prisoners. Having read all the law books and a lot of judgements, I give a lot of legal advice to inmates. I also give medical consultants to inmates and staff. In serious emergencies, I administer immediate first aid and emergency treatment to both prisoners and prison staff. And as far as back stories of prisoners are concerned, I consider them as the greatest source of plots, sub plots and characters for my book. I would certainly not have been able to write 65 crime novels if I was not in the prison.
I hope my answers are detailed enough. If you want further clarification, please do not hesitate to send me on email and I will be happy to answer your questions.
20. Best sellers
Maybach maiden has sole 17000 copies and still selling. Tangled web has sold 14,000 copies. 10,000 copies each of both books are still with book sellers throughout the country and I await periodic sales figure. Being in prison, I am totally handicapped for marketing efforts. Tangled web has been translated into tamil – villakkin adiyil iruttu and has sold over 90,000 copies. So the word “best seller” has been used with reference to sales among my books. However once I am released and am able to deploy proper marketing efforts. I am certain that the books will sell a lot more copies.
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