Interview by Amatullah
1. Tell us more about your background and journey.
Hi. My name is Saurabh, but I write under the pen name Kumar L. If you want to discuss faster-than-light, time travel and black holes or new mobiles phones, then I am your person. I am a tech enthusiast and social media newbie. I enjoy travelling and am fluent in several languages.
A mechanical engineer who loves pulling apart gadgets and exploring their innards; I write science fiction stories and try to bring technology alive in my books. I live in Mumbai, India with my wife and two daughters who are both aspiring engineers as well.
My book, Earth to Centauri: The First Journey was released in 2017. It was followed by books 2 and 3 of the series and I am currently working on book 4. All of the above have been translated into Hindi as well.
And as I work around my stories, there have been some short stories published in the form of books as well, including Deceptions of Tomorrow (sci-fi) and Down Saharanpur Passenger (thriller). Incidentally, one of my stories won Top 3 in Write India contest judged by Amish.
2. When did you decide you wanted to be a writer?
There was no defining moment, but in 2014 I started by writing small articles on management on Linkedin. I guess that gave me the idea that I can try and write full books. I am a bit of a tech and sci-fi nerd. Guess that’s also because I am an engineer and love to tinker around with stuff. I’m a huge star trek fan and I think that’s where my inspiration comes from.
3. Is it a financially stable career?
Being an Indie or independent author takes a lot of effort not just in writing but the entire publishing process from design to sales to marketing. I have learnt a lot of lessons the hard way along this journey and, in fact, to help guide others I published a book called One Step at a Time: Your Self-Publishing Masterplan, so other new authors can avoid the pitfalls.
Like I said, it takes a lot of effort and as is well known, most Indie authors sell less than 100 copies of their book. It is a marathon and not a sprint. You have to keep writing, keep improving and keep marketing while being very careful spending your money. It is easy to get short-term benefits like a “Best-Seller” tag on Amazon but that does not automatically translate to increased profits.
The margins are wafer-thin and one is competing against the largest publishing houses as well as other Indie authors. In short, don’t dump your career to become a writer to make lots of money. Write and publish if you have the courage to go the distance.
4. Who is your favourite writer and why?
Very difficult to single out one author. I love the Shiva Trilogy by Amish. I was hooked from the first page. His writing style is simple and his descriptions are amazing. I also like Jeffrey Archer, for the twists that he creates. I read history – William Darylmple and Yuval Noah Harari come to mind besides Bill Bryson. And, of course, Stephen Hawking for physics and sciences.
5. Where does your inspiration lie?
I’ve always been a sci-fi fan but there I’d a distinct lack of science fiction by Indian authors especially series. I mean there are some very good authors out there but solid sci-fi has eluded me. I had a germ of an idea and one day just decided to develop it. Earth to Centauri was the result and the series now has a life of its own.
6. What does your typical day look like?
I have a full-time job which keeps me quite busy. Besides that, I generally write late into the night when I can manage. Otherwise, it’s Netflix and books which keep me hooked.
7. What piece of advice would you like to give to future aspiring writers?
Be comfortable with the reason you are writing – you just love writing or is it a future career or a side hustle or you want to make lots of money or just be famous? That will define how you approach becoming an author.
Edit, edit, edit your manuscript. Always, get a professional editor to run through it. There is nothing worse than putting a badly written book in front of your readers.
8. Which is your favourite book and why?
Jeffrey Archer’s book – Not a Penny More is my all-time favourite. The pace and plot are amazing. I can read it again and again.