Author Interview: C.G. Salamander

  Remember when I'd reviewed Palm's Foster House for Peculiar Tales? Well, I had promised an interview with the author C.G. Salamander himself. We finally got talking and here is the result of our interview:

Author: C.G. Salamander 

 1. First things first: how did you take up writing? 

I started writing for a living in the year 2012, I’d just graduated from college and I’d promised myself the option of following my dreams as a sort of a graduation gift to myself. And I guess that was that, I’d take up writing as a career, and I’ve doing it ever since.

2. What was your very first attempt at creative writing?

I remember writing my own TV episodes when I was about five or six. We didn’t have cable TV back then, and the only time I ever got to watch cartoons was during the weekends, I can still remember the shows -- Thundercats, The defenders of the Earth, so on and so forth. In retrospect I think I wrote those episodes to keep me occupied throughout the week.

3. Where do you get the ideas for your stories?

A couple of years ago, my dog Hazel and I were taking a stroll along the beach side. It was just an average sunny Chennai day, so instead of running around pointlessly (like all the other humans and their dogs) Hazel and I decided to take it easy and relax a bit. But just as we were about to sit down on our blanket, we found a dolphin beached on the shore. Hazel at once ran towards the dolphin and I in turn followed her, and to our surprise, the dolphin communicated with us -- through its blowhole!

My dog and I stared at the strange creature, and at the holographic images levitating a few centimeters above its skull. At first we didn’t understand what the dolphin was trying to tell us, but once we noticed that all the images above its head were that of ice cream, it became pretty obvious. All the dolphin wanted was some ice cream.

Every Saturday evening, at about 7 pm, my dog and I visit the beach with three cones of ice cream. And in return for our kindness, the dolphin projects strange and exotic three-dimensional stories out of its blowhole.  Hazel and I record these stories with our camera and then we sit and write about them.

4. What in particular, gave you the idea for your current novel?

I’m not sure about the entire book, but I know for a fact that Nigel the Last Brit in India was born in a Madras coffee shop. I was sitting around with a couple of friends (Hashir and Chang), and it was that time of the day where conversations could go from ‘so what’d you think of that movie’ to ‘wouldn’t it be funny if there was an Englishman who was slightly misinformed’. Everything else about the book I made up sitting in my room by myself.

5. Do have particular schedules or writing routines when it comes to your work?

Not exactly, but I mostly prefer to write during the nights. As a matter of fact the time is exactly 12:18 am right now! I guess this might have something to with 1) my sleep cycle, and 2) it’s more quiet during the night, and thereby it’s tougher to get distracted.

6. A lot of authors are taking the indie publishing route. What’s your view about it?

I think it’s a good in the sense that it allows you to explore the publishing industry and figure out how things work, and I think that it’s especially effective when it comes to making comics/graphic novels. But at the end of the day, traditional publishing makes more sense, mainly because it allows you to focus more on your writing.

7. If your story got turned into a movie, who would you like to see star as leads?

I’ve always had trouble answering this question, mainly because I think my book would do better as a play than a movie.

8. What are your future plans for writing? Can you give out a teaser or two for your readers?

Right about now, I’m trying to write some children’s fiction. And I’d love to add more to the Nigel, and Gayatri universes, but all in good time.

Apart from that, I’m looking to dabble with a bit of nonfiction, and work on as many comics and graphic novels as I can.

9. Do have any particular authors who inspire your work?

Yes, there’s just so many of them. But I guess the top three would have to be Margaret Atwood -- who taught me how to tie up a story, Salman Rushdie -- who taught me how to write colloquialisms, and of course Sir Terry Pratchett -- who taught me everything else about writing. There’s also Warren Ellis, and Neil Gaiman for comics; Edgar Allan Poe, and H. P. Lovecraft for horror; Shel Silverstein, Kurt Vonnegut, Dr. Suss, and Kafka for letting me know that it’s okay to write whatever I want to write.

10. What would your advice be to aspiring authors?

It takes up a lot of your time, the pay isn’t that great, and there’s going to be plenty of rejections coming your way, so get into it only if you have to. Get into it only if you have something to say, get into it because you have to and not because you want to, get into it if the thought of office spaces nauseates you, get into it if you can deal with nauseating office spaces (you might have to write in an office), get into it if you have the time to read everyday, get into it if you can write everyday.

11. What would be an ideal gift for you?

A cow! Preferably a white one with black spots and a pink snout. I also like science fiction and comics books. A cow with a science fiction comic book tied to its neck is beyond perfect!

12. And finally, if there was a book you could turn into a movie, what would it be and why?

I think it has to be Ubik by Philip K Dick! Trust me when I tell you this, it will blow your mind into tiny little pieces! if you’re on this blog and thinking about buying my book, by all means go ahead and buy it, but add Ubik to your cart. And if you’ve only got enough money for one book, then as much as it pains me to say this, buy Ubik. I’m afraid I can’t tell you why I’d like to see it made into a movie, though, I think doing so would ruin it.

C.G. Salamander's first book