Thursday, June 22, 2017

A Singer Turned into a Writer - Meet Sydney Kishore Author of Semmanthaka

When I first received Semmanthaka from Zorba Books. I thought author "Syd K" would be some non-Indian. But later I came to know it is a short form of pen name Sydney Kishore. Later I interacted with the author on Facebook and found out that his real name is Sivaram Hariharan. Even Sydney Kishore is the name given to the author.

Today we have Sivaram or Syd Kishore is with us. First of all we would like to congratulate on a wonderful book. It is really a nice read. We really loved your book. The review is published on our blog a few weeks back. 

Coming back to your pen name, can you tell our readers story behind it?
Sydney Kishore is my Stage name when I perform Kishore numbers professionally on stage. Because I lived in Sydney for 14 years... so sydney kishore.
Really interesting! Being Ph.D. and Post Doc in the field of Pharma along with being stage singer, when did you decide to become a writer?
During my Ph.D. days in the USA, I used to blog a lot on various sport newsgroups, reg cricket, hockey, and baseball.  But my first serious writing came in 1998 in Australia when I contributed a short story on cricket betting for the INDIAN LINK newspaper in Sydney. Around the time when I contributed the short story to the INDIAN LINK and it got very good response. And that unleashed a string of short stories to the LINK, all of them which were very well received and published as a collection of 20 short stories. BEES: A Hive of Short Stories.
Wow! That's great. Do you like to read? If yes then can you tell about your passion for reading?
I mostly read nonfiction these days. I’m a research writer, I love to use facts from non-fiction in my fiction books to make them more authentic. In recent years, I’ve become a big fan of writers in this genre like Amitav Ghosh, Rohington Mistry. In fact, I would not call these writers as writers of fiction. I would call them more like writers of faction (fact+fiction). Also, wildlife documentaries inspire me. The episode concerning the lions in my book Semmanthaka was inspired by an outstanding documentary on a coalition of pride males who ruthlessly ruled the Saabi Sands wilds of Southern Africa. From another documentary on leopards, I have used the fact how the big cats alternately freeze and move when stalking their prey from close quarters. Another fact is how lions are sloppy climbers of trees unlike their arboreal cousin: the leopard.
So, what are your ambitions for your writing career?
It was fiction and more importantly wildlife fiction in my early days. But now, I am keen to bring out the glory of our ancient faith and land through my writing, which I hope SEMMANTHAKA will manage to do, in my humble opinion.
Do you have a special time to write?
No.  I write as and when inspiration strikes me which means it happens in spurts. And since I’m a Professor at a Pharmacy College and also a professional musician, my writing is part time for now. But I would love to have the opportunity of becoming a full-time writer/musician.
Is this your debut work? If not so, what have you written?
I have published two short novellas and a novel. I have also published a bunch of well received short stories in the INDIAN LINK newspaper Down Under Australia, a compilation of which I published as a collection of short stories. But I want to keep the focus on my latest work Semmathaka. In a way, SEMMANTHAKA is my debut work because of the exposure and the good reviews it has already received and brought me to the notice of the writing world.
What genre are your books?
Research writing… on wildlife earlier and more on our epics and history now.
Can you describe Semmanthaka in few lines? What’s it about?
It’s about a legendary gem called SEMMANTHAKA aka SYAMANTHAKA which is extolled in the Shreemadh Bhaagavatham text. It is one of the most remarkable story one can ever come across - Lord Krishna is falsely accused of murder and robbery (of the gem), he goes through immense hardship to clear his name. That was the first quest. This novel is the second quest for the jewel in modern times by a trio of characters: Marine Archeologist Dr. Shiva Baalan and Dr. Yogi Yaadav and a professional treasure hunter: Stalin Malhotra.
Can you give us an insight into your main character?
Dr. Shiva Baalan is the typical academic marine archeologist nearing retirement while Dr. Yogi Yaadav is his young and enthusiastic Post-Doctoral Assistant.  Stalin Malhotra is a ruthless go getting billionaire treasure hunter only concerned with the bottom line, bent on increasing his collection.
Where did you get the idea for this book?
From the original story in our sacred texts. These texts are an infinite treasure trove of plots and ideas for any aspiring writer. Not only that, you can interpret and rewrite the same plot in myriad ways.
How much research did you do for this book?
This was knowledge built over the years in various fields as I’m a voracious reader of non-fiction. You need to be a huge eater of non-fiction to write good believable fiction.
Who is your favorite character in your book and why?
Dr. Yogi Yaadav even though he plays second fiddle to Dr. Shiva Baalan.
What was the toughest thing about writing your latest book?
Getting a logical conclusion for which I went back and forth with my editor many times.
Please provide a link to trailer if you have one.

What are you working on at the minute?
Not yet decided. But I will certainly reboot RUMBLE as I have mentioned earlier and get rid of lots of unnecessary matter from that book and keep it centered on the plot. That is certainly on the cards.
What are your thoughts on writing a book series?
If it has to be then it will certainly be a series in the genre concerning our glorious history and ancient faith.
What advice would you give to aspiring writers?
BELIEVE IN YOURSELF AND YOUR WORK AND NEVER GIVE UP. I’ve been writing for close to 20 years and it is only now that I have started getting a semblance of recognition through my latest book: SEMMANTHAKA.
Links for your book readers


  1. Good on you, Shiva. Very proud to have a friend in you. Or, should I say, "I found Syamantaka you".

    1. Rajan... Ps read the book... U will really enjoy.. It caters to all ages...Shiva



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