Vikas Prakash Joshi is one of the prolific writers who think differently. Born and brought up in a family of readers since childhood, he remained close to books. After reading his very first book on a topic like adoption and children, I felt very few could think like him at such a young age. I am glad to present the chit-chat session, I had with author Vikas to my readers.
Welcome to the platform of Indiacafe24. Vikas, please share a brief about yourself, your education, and your family.
I am a writer by nature and nurture and not by compulsion, ambition, or conscious choice. My writing career started at the early age of 8. Since then, I wrote for leading Indian publications like The Caravan, Hindustan Times, The Wire, The Hindu, DNA, Sakal Times. My essays, articles, book excerpts, short stories have been translated and published in 31 languages, both Indian and foreign, and in offline and online outlets in 24 countries. My first book My Name is Cinnamon was published in November 2022, and is published by Hay House India, Indian subsidiary of the renowned publisher Hay House, world’s largest publisher of nonfiction books.
My father was and is a prolific writer of books on religion and spirituality, my mother is an avid reader, (writing her first book too) and so is my brother. I grew up in a home were everyone was always reading. I am also fortunate to have so many excellent teachers of English in school. My education is in various countries outside, Pune, Chennai, Mumbai and Delhi. I have travelled to between 15-20 states in India and a few union territories as well.
What are the specific qualities in you that you believe helped you in making a place in the bookish world?
I am passionate about writing, and I am persistent. Once I decided I want to write a book, I stuck to it no matter what. I believe persistence and learning from errors is very important. Plus, I read widely and write a lot. I used to take part in countless competitions; slowly you improve as
Got to know that just at the age of 17 years you turned into a columnist for a reputed weekly newspaper. So how did that happen?
I kept sending them my articles and short stories and they kept being published, till a time when they called me to their office and offered me a part time opportunity.
Writing is an art. How was this art form introduced in your life? Can you remember that moment?
I am always writing from my young days, from as far back as I can remember. So I cannot remember any specific moment. But my teachers and parents instilled in me a love of the written word.
In general, we get to see that boys are more inclined to technical studies than literature. But you remained an exception in that case. What made you fall in love with English Literature?
I believe, English Literature, always was an escape route from traumatic and unbearable experiences, plus a way of showing my talent to the world.
What was that first piece of writing of yours that grabbed the attention of the readers?
It was my essays that I submitted for essay competitions.
My Name is Cinnamon… is your first book… please tell me something about it and how it happened?
Both a captivating chronicle and an endeavour of remarkable depth and ambition, My Name Is Cinnamonprovides a richly textured narrative of a boy trying to find his roots and place in the world. On each part of his journey, he encounters new people, new cuisines, and new adventures as he learns a lot about himself and the world around him.
While being a lighthearted and heartwarming read, the book also covers some difficult themes that are rarely explored in children’s and young adult literature. It is a deeply moving testament to the unceasing desire to know oneself, the unrelenting pull of familial bonds, and the power of hope, sacrifice, and love.
With his perceptive observations, vivid descriptions, and an authentic voice, the author, Vikas Prakash Joshi, weaves an immersive plot with fully realised environments and characters that are sure to stay with you for a long time. Above all, My Name Is Cinnamon is about finding your own people and accepting yourself as you are.
I am cuffed to inform you: My Name is Cinnamon won 2 prestigious awards: A3 Foundation Literary Prize and Asian Literary Society Prize for Debut Fiction 2023.
Can you give us a brief, as to what encouraged you to work with a typical genre like children’s books? Any story behind this?
I always maintain: stories choose me; I don’t choose stories. So once a particular idea occurs to my mind, it comes with its genre of literature, its own destiny. It was meant to be a kids book, and so it is.
As an author what’s your opinion about the growth of Indian authors in the international book market.?
I see it as a very positive development. India is and has always been from ancient times, a land of stories and storytellers. We do have so many stories to offer the world, and now we need to promote our Indian language writers and our many wonderful writers for kids and YA.
People are interested in Indian literature, in my experience of dealing with people from 20-30 countries, but we lack a systematic well-structured plan on ways of taking Indian literature international. Poland, Turkey, Germany all have a well-funded translation system of translating their best books into many other languages. We need a system like that.
Writing, be it of any form, needs inspiration… who is your inspiration?
I always have ideas in my mind, and I do not need to look outside for inspiration.
Is there any scope or possibility that in near future, we will get to read more works of yours in other genres?
Yes, definitely, I am working on 2 more books: a non-fiction book and an adventure story.
Who is your favorite author and also name one book which is very close to your heart?
I read so many writers so cannot name 1. But I would like to name several: Haruki Murakami, Ruskin Bond, VS Naipaul, Patrick French, RK Narayan, Jhumpa Lahiri. Citra Banerjee Divakaruni, PL Deshpande, just to name a few.
One book close to my heart: To Kill a Mocking Bird by Harper Lee.
You are an amateur cook….so what do you love to cook, and which is your special dish?
I love to cook items like a simple tasty chicken curry, pork curry, baby onion curry, bread upma, poha with potatoes, jeera rice and roasted jackfruit seeds. I like to cook plain dal too. grilled sandwiches.
My special dish is any snacky non-veg item or a sweet item.
Who is the best critique of your work?
What are the other passions in your life?
I enjoy spending time with family, public speaking, sales, travelling and cooking.
Any Suggestions for budding authors?
Dreams will remain dreams if you don’t act—so move forward and stop dreaming!
Also, be aware motivation drops steeply about 25 % into your book, so you must prepare a strategy for dealing with a drop in motivation, especially when it is your first book. You must plan in advance on ow to deal with it.
Define Vikas Prakash Joshi, as an author in one line.
I am a writer by nature and nurture and not by compulsion, ambition, or conscious choice.