Pranav Rao is a talented writer who has written two astounding books. The author is striving to tackle stereotypes that need to be challenged and he has successfully used his writing prowess to do this.
The author’s books are not only enjoyable to read, but also can enable one to question themselves and their thoughts. Pranav Rao encourages people to embrace themselves for what they are, be unique and receptive to new schools of thought.
Here is the pleasant and progressive Pranav Rao in a conversation with Icy Tales.
Q) What was your ambition as a child? Were you always inclined towards writing?
Pranav Rao: I used to write poems when I was in school. They used to get published in the annual school magazine. But, there was never a conscious decision that I want to start writing or I want to become a writer. It is just that one day I sat down with my laptop and the words kept flowing and I was like why not? Let’s give it a try.
That’s how I actually started my first book. And I started floating certain chapters with my friends and they said this is good stuff, you should continue doing this. They said this is interesting to read, so I decided to give it a try. So I used to do that after work hours. I write in the night. Around 10-10:30, I start writing.
Q) You are tackling stereotypes that are embedded into Indian culture, what promoted you to do so?
Pranav Rao: I like to question things. I would not blame everyone out there but we have embedded some values, some traditions, customs, that we get bombarded with. This is the right direction, this is not.
I love reading. If you go back and read any of our religious scriptures, or any literature through ages, you start understanding that this is not the case, and every revolution or change of thought per se always begins by questioning the stigmas or the accepted standards of society. I am that kind of an individual. So, I was like why not.
My belief is, I could be wrong but, there is such a taboo on the topic of sex and relationships, pre-marital relationships and that people gradually understand the whole fundamentals of it or that is where I feel that the whole objectification of women starts from.
Instead, if we keep speaking about it and make it normal conversation, like how we speak about different things right? But there are traditions and all that have become accepted over a period of time. So I thought I should start and normalize it in my own small way.
It is only when the dialogue or conversation starts that is when people start getting enlightened about it and there is an exposure towards it like it is alright to have casual relationships but you need to respect the other person.
And there’s you know, mutual consent, willingly then it’s fine. It can go bad, and that could get ugly. I am trying to do that through my writing and hopefully, that is the reason why I am keeping my writing language simple.
For readership improvement, in our country, there is a decline when it comes to reading. There are a lot of good Indian authors with a wonderful vocabulary and a common man who is not a reader has to sit with a dictionary and that interrupts the flow.
If the person, is not a natural reader, he simply throws the book away. So consciously, I have tried to make it important that I keep the language as simple as possible. So that at least there are more readers and we as, Indians start reading again on a much higher scale.
Q) Can you tell us about the thought process behind each book and how you go about writing it? Also, do you encounter any writing blocks along the way? If yes, how did you overcome them?
Pranav Rao: I write books in three phases, my first phase is where I call it vomiting on paper. I just keep writing regardless. If I feel there is a block, I keep that thing as a pause and I move on ahead. I finish the entire draft manuscript and once I am done with that, when I feel like that I have got enough body of content, I keep the whole thing aside for a month or two. I don’t look at it, don’t think about it.
After a couple of months, I start with my second phase of writing. That is when I go through the entire book, as I am reading it, I make changes and corrections or additions or deletions and then stitch the places where I had a block before, so I have seen that usually once I give it a rest of a month or two and when I get back to it, the patchwork is relatively easier. The third stage is where I clean it up completely. That is more of a cleanup phase.
Q) Very few people choose to follow their passion, but you did. How easy or difficult was it for you to make that decision?
Pranav Rao: To be really honest, my main line of work is different, where I get my bread and butter from. So, by god’s grace, I was born into a very nice family. I have very supportive parents who ensured that my needs are taken care of. So, for me, it was not a very difficult call.
We say that one has to leave a nice paying job to pursue their passion, the few years of struggle and then they strike gold. But I have been very lucky. It is only a matter of how much time I give to my passion and how much time I give to my work. I have to just balance that, it has been good for me.
Q) What advice would you give upcoming writers?
Pranav Rao: To upcoming writers, my advice is don’t pretend when you are writing. Every individual is different and it should reflect through your writing. Your personality, your thoughts. Just because someone has a better vocabulary, you don’t have to just force it. You don’t have to try and copy others. Don’t pretend. You know who you are, you know your thoughts, be original, and just be yourself.
Q) What is the inspiration for your writing? Do the characters in your book derive resemblance from people you know?
Pranav Rao: Not really. To a certain extent, I would say ten to fifteen per cent. Everyone does that, but I don’t do it to a much larger extent. But, I do because what you write or what you imagine is what you see in life or experience.
For anyone, your mind is limited to what you have seen or experienced in life. So you need to take references from your life around you but then use your imagination to create a story out of it. So, that’s what I do.
Q) What / who shaped your formative years to make you the successful person that you are today?
Pranav Rao: My mother and my father. My mother is a strict person and my father is equally calm. So I was kept in check because I was very naughty by my mum and my father gave me the direction in life, see you do what you have to do but there has got to be moderation, you have to balance it out and have a long-term goal.
And they never stopped us from anything, this is right, this is wrong. They were always like you think for yourself, do what you believe is right. You think for yourself which ritual you want to follow, and what you don’t but you need to have logical reasoning towards it. I got very lucky.
Q) Do you receive any negativity for your work? If you do, how do you deal with it?
Pranav Rao: Yes I do, let me give you an example. I want to tell you this one experience of mine, after my first book. There is a family friend, she has been a dean of a big college, well-to-do, well-travelled, this lady invited me, my mother, and a few other family friends for dinner.
This was after the release of my first novel and in front of everyone, she tried to put me down. She started thrashing me with her words. She was like how could you write such a thing? Are you not ashamed? I just stood there and I started laughing.
I didn’t want to back answer because she is a senior. That’s when my mother stepped in. She asked how many of you are published, authors? At least he is writing, whatever he writes, I support him hundred per cent. I was like, wow. Kudos mom.
You know, it is an art. You got to look at it that way. You can’t look at it like it is something perverse. Because it is not, it is really not. It is very difficult to write erotica because there is a very fine line.
Some reviews have been on the negative side. I am the kind of person who enjoys criticism or negative feedback because I believe that is my learning curve. I can learn from that and do better the next time. That’s how I handle it. It affects me only for like five minutes. Then I decipher that review, I make points, notes and the next time I’ll ensure this is taken care of.
Q) What can your readers expect in the future? Can you tell us about any upcoming projects?
Pranav Rao: So my second novel is releasing on the 15th of October. That is contemporary fiction, it is not erotica. And to give you an elevated pitch, it is about the process of arranged marriage in urban India. It is a light-hearted satirical sort of take on things that actually happen out there.
A twist on the whole arranged marriage process. But I have not included any of the typical dowry bit or anything of that sort. That is because there is enough being spoken about it. I have taken certain topics which are personal and very conversational in nature that actually happen.
Come to think of it, it is sickening and actually very sad but it is reality and we accept it like it’s ok chalta hai types. So I tried to make humour out of that. They have a laugh but realize like ‘oh! I have also done this, that I am guilty of doing this.’
Q) Would you like to convey anything to your readers?
Pranav Rao: Keep reading because books, it has been said that they are your best friends but they are more than that. They can teach you things that you didn’t know exist in this world, you can broaden your horizons to a level that is unimaginable or unfathomable.
It just helps you become a much much better version of yourself because it exposes you to different viewpoints and thought processes and that is the most important thing in life to hear and read about different viewpoints and learn to accept them. Not agree with them but accept them and move on in life. So that shapes an individual in a different way.
Pranav Rao is a delightful author with progressive ideologies. His writing is distinctive, simple, and relatable; just like his personality.
His latest book aims to discuss the topic of an arranged marriage with a perspective that people have not discussed before. A Tale of Arranged Marriage hopes to invoke a conversation around the topic of arranged marriage in urban India with a humorous twist to it.
Every reader can relate to the complexities of the characters in his book and the situations they find themselves in. Follow Pranav Rao on Instagram for an insight into the life of this joyous personality and other updates.