#1 with Shriyut Kumar Srivastava

Not always a happy ending: The Past is already in stores now and here’s a segment of the talk I had with Shriyut, about the book and the backstage.

  • When somebody is trying to tell a story, they prefer taking the characterization of only the protagonist to the peak. The rest of the characters are narrated in fewer details, they’re usually weak and underrated. This serves to put the limelight on the protagonist in totality! This is not the way you put Not always a happy ending! There’s a competition; who’s the protagonist?
    I did this ever since I was working on the first story. I always wanted to give all my characters considerable writing time. Because, when you read a story, you don’t always connect to the protagonist. You feel you’re more like a side-lined character than the protagonist. In fact, none of my friends who read You are the one for someone could put themselves in Jay Pratap’s shoes! They felt related to the other characters. I’ve done the same thing in Not always a happy ending. I’ve given almost the same amount of space to all the characters because I want my readers to be able to connect with the story and the characters. If they feel that they don’t relate with the lead character, then I haven’t put it in a way that could be inconsiderate towards them. They are important to me! Because they are the One for Someone! (laughs) Everybody’s important and they should know it!

 

  • The characterization of Not always a happy ending grows immensely and takes a while before reaching the peak. At a point, the readers feel that they almost know a character personally and then as soon as the story is about to jerk forward, the character dies. Do you think the readers are okay with it?
    The answer to this… well! Firstly it’s very important to know that my cousin calls me George R. R. Martin. George R. R. Martin is the writer of the Game of Thrones books, and his lead characters are the only ones who die, side-lined characters don’t. They remain alive and stand tall with their spears. (laughs) Maybe this is why he calls me that. But my justification is that you cannot expect when death would happen. You cannot think that you’re going to die so you have to be invisible and not influence anyone in your life, you don‟t have to fall in love with anyone; because you’re going to die one day. You cannot do this! You are here. You are living. You are breathing. Your heart is beating and you are here till the time your heart stops beating. So, till then, you have to justify every beat of your heart. Anything can happen at any point in time. Supposing that I’m with you over brunch right now and I might fall dead right here because of food choking …anything can happen! I watched that movie Fault in Our Stars. In that, there was this character William, who was a writer, and this girl Hazel was very obsessed with his book. He died in the midst of writing the last sentence of his book, so that remained half. Nobody asked him why that happened, why are they asking me? (laughs) This is the thing …in the middle of writing another sentence…

 

 

 

  • …people die! The first book you wrote, You are the One for Someone , it has a lot of light moments… happy ones, dark ones too, but the intensity of it is dimmer. There’s less iciness! The second story, Not always a happy ending, has an intense emotional scenario. The scale has gone up to totally another level. How did this transition happen in your environment?
    First of all, You are the one for someone is a romantic comedy. You watch such shows in which the worst of the moments have a substance of humor therein. There was this show, I don’t remember the name, ’twas aired a long time back. It had this instance where a girl dies because she used to sell really cheap envelopes, and the next moment her fiance and his friends say “Hey! Let’s go for a coffee!”, and then they all go, really. (giggles) While the term ‘comedy’ is stitched to it, I cannot make the darkness and the depression look intense. It’s not possible! And even if I do it, I’m not justifying a ‘romantic comedy’.
    Of Not always a happy ending, let me tell you honestly that when I began writing it, ’twas not even an ounce of what it has come out to be. It was going to be a simple romantic book. I’d initially titled it as ‘The unexpectations of destiny’, and it took some time until I realized that ‘unexpectations’ is
    not even a word! (laughs) That was totally another story! I toiled with the basics a lot; changed the name of this character from June to Estella, and what not! In the end, it came out to be Not always a happy ending. I still remember, my first book You are the one for someone wasn’t even published when I started working on this story. And it has taken me two and a half years to bring it to that point, the first part. I still believe I haven’t done justice with what I wanted to create. I could’ve written more … a lot more! I had developed a kind of addiction for these characters. I am their God! I can do whatever the hell I feel like; I can kill any of them at any point of time and nobody can do anything about it! (laughs) That’s the point! But yes, on a serious note, I had developed this sense of maturity in me; how, I have no freaking idea! At the age of 18 years, I had begun behaving like a 35 years old man. Factually, that slipped into my writing too. And I literally wanted people to really cry their eyes out as they read my book, and I succeeded in that! (laughs)

 

  • Death is an important element in this story. There are so many deaths that if you put it into one book, the number of deaths per book won’t be okay! Is that a reason why Not always a happy ending comes out to be a trilogy?
    Actually, there isn’t so much of Death. But, the aftermath of it, the repercussions are huge. It isn’t about the deaths. It is about the radiance that surrounds, and the hollowness that it brings. If I tell you how many deaths there are, in totality, that‟d be a spoiler, so- NO!

 

  • The tales of today are largely put on the classical framework. An analysis would suggest that the characters begin with a certain state, go through this entirely altering redemption kind of process, learn their lesson, go through what a man would go through in 70 years – in 360 pages, and end up in some other state! Do your characters go through this certain frame of redemption?
    I cannot say about the redemption, because that’d be a spoiler for the last segment! The transition that my characters go through happens somewhere in the middle of the story, not in the end. Like Estella is a really shy person in the beginning. She’s very happy but very shy. She likes to believe that she’s the protagonist of some romantic story and nothing less than a prince charming would make her dream come true! That’s what she feels like. But, things take a turn and she totally becomes another person. So, that transformation, instead of occurring like redemption, in the end, happens like a transformation in the middle! Now, I cannot tell you if in the end, she gets back to what she initially was. When I created Estella Aurora Hudson, she was in no way similar to any person who I’ve known in my entire existence. She was new. As soon as I wrote her name for the first time, I fell in love with her, and I have no shame in admitting it! I am so in love with her. Although she’s not meant for me, oh my broken heart! (laughs) Everyone falls on their journey. The tires of their vehicle puncture; or they fall off their carriage; whichever era you’re living in (laughs) use that vehicle in your imagination, but, the thing is, when I wrote this book, it was not with the intent of creating a fiction. It had to come out like a real story would. Redemption I do not know, but there’s certainly a huge transformation, positive, negative, either. Because, in every story, there’s not always a happy ending!

 

  • As an Indian writer, you must be very aware that your local audience looks for a certain set of elements in every story. If they don’t happen to find it after getting into the story to some extent, they’re not pleased! That being the case, what do you believe is the best way to still keep them glued?
    I was going to ask you which elements those are, in specific! (laughs) There’s a great word for it; and if I fortunately happen to have a daughter in future, I’d put this for her middle name, the word is –serendipity. What serendipity means is, you’re searching for something, but you find something else, which is for your good of course. The story, in fact, totally revolves around the theme of serendipity. If the readers are looking for a certain element in the story, and they don’t find it, they happen to find something else that totally makes them hold on for longer. And I’ve always practiced this, ever since I wrote little poems that if somebody reads a line, they become totally incapable of not reading the next one. I have put a story out there; I believe the readers will find out something for themselves!

 

  • You put a story out there. You put it in a certain way. But the readers tend to look at it in a different light. How do you react to the way they review your work?
    The story is a dark romance. When they read it, they have no choice but to make up their mind about the depression and the romance served together in a cocktail. If people are able to appreciate the intensity of depression I’ve put therein, it‟d certainly delight me. Of course, since I’ve created the depression, I appreciate it on a totally unmatched level. I’ve spent so much time on these characters that they, in a way, co-exist with me. Responses that I’ve been getting from the people are very overwhelming though. I LOVE it when people tell me they got chills and “OMG! I shed a tear!” I SO LOVE IT! I love it when people get upset going through the story because that affirms that my words have a certain power.

 

  • J.K. Rowling says that the stories people like always live in them. If we take a reference of Hans Christian Anderson, he wrote The Ugly Duckling and for quite some time people believed it really was about a duckling. Later they did a little research and found out that the duckling was Anderson himself who lived a life of misery although he later discovered he belonged to a royal lineage! How true is it in the case of Not always a happy ending that it comes out as an essence of yourself?
    I think …100%? I mean, if you know me, you’d know that I’m a very colorful person. And the colors are blue, as in depressing blue (laughs) and black-and-white! Sometimes there’s a rainbow as well, but that’s really sometimes when it’s an after-rain situation, let’s not talk about that! When I created Not always a happy ending, the place where I made my characters live was extremely stunning; the kind of a place I’d want to live in. The female characters were the rendition of the kind of a woman I’d want to be with, and the male characters are a version of me! Jay, is the depressed me. I absolutely adore him since I‟m very close to my depressed component. Agastya is what I were if I were a perfect human being. He’s the perfect version of me – better looking, better behaved as well, and humble. I …I’m NOT humble (laughs) oh! I’m not humble. Aarav is important as well. He has his own story which is very mellow. It‟s in the third part. And since I mentioned rainbow, I have to say that I’m not homosexual. And I’d want that to be stated in bold that I‟m not a homosexual. I’m straight, and single as well. So please, contact me, readers! Please! (laughs) I already told you I’m not humble at all, so just deal with it girl! Girl with a G-U-R-L! Thank you for having this talk with me, and start eating chicken!

 

P.S. I have not started eating chicken yet!

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