Interview with Author Menon Unnikrishnan
by Menon Unnikrishnan
(Kochi, Kerala, India)
"When Waves Fell Silent" - Memoir on last 100 days to retirement.Another Unknown Indian with Untold Stories
1. About self
Oh dear me, this is the most difficult part. Frankly I am a person who always try to duck the limelight and it feels really embarassing to be talking about self. Yet a brief intro would help in relating to what I write.
Basically a broadcaster, I had been with All India Radio for over three decades as a programme officer, serving in different parts of the country. Two national broadcasting awards stand to my credit. Couple of productions nominated to scrutiny by international jury and several features and documentaries have given immense satisfaction during the career. Presently engaged in full time writing and the first ever work, "When Waves Fell Silent"
,a memoir on the final 100 days to retirement was published recently.
2. How did I start writing?
When I look back, I do realise one thing. Writing had never been an isolated process for me that just started one fine day. Even as a child, the world around me,its people,flora and fauna.. had all captivated me and my own perceptions profiled them in its own inimitable way as simple drawings on a graphite slate. Words language and vocabulary were not within my grasp at that very early age and probably this was the way I expressed them. I believe this was what matured to what I write today.
3. Topic that fascinates me most and the favourite among my books
Guess what. All written and spoken words create a graphic picture in my mind assuming meaning and I tend to relate to them in some way. Even the piece of paper a roadside vendor uses to pack my buy gives me scope to read from it.
And the favourite of my books, well I did author only one, When Waves Fell Silent
till now which being my first offing will always be my favourite.
4. What books most influenced my life?
I would like to reframe this query as what influenced my writing for my life had been as I had wanted it to be and if at all something influenced it that would be the compulsions which had been beyond me to avoid.
My writing for that matter probably had its influence from both fiction and non-fiction. What I
drew from them had been the realistic world around me and the realism it propounded.
5. Surprising thing learned in creating the book
If I thought I could just go on writing unhindered of restraints, giving in to my own creativity, then I couldn't have been more mistaken. Reading through the first draft made me realise the responsibility factor associated with my writing. I was writing to an audience, for a society to read and that involved an obligation I could not overlook. The writer cannot overlook the society, not just the contemporary but even beyond it, as far as this responsibility is concerned. And that was something I realised during the exercise.
6. Developing plots and characters
They come from all around me. Many a time I would simply be oggling at something on the wayside and I may look a crackpot or ill mannered but in reality it's the writer in me taking in all of it. They find a place in my writing.
7. Message you hope readers will grasp
Maybe I am preoccupied in exposing the fallacies, the paradoxical and hypocrisy in society. And I hope it will make a generation realise it. Sort of holding a mirror for them so they can see for real.
8. Hardest part of writing the book
Primarily the writer's block that of and on traumatize you and then of course the laborious process of editing and re editing your draft to your satisfaction the perfection which I believe is a bane to the process.
9. And how do you deal with your writer's block?
Stop all and with your backpack take the first train and be away from the setting. Forget that you are writing. Take in all experiences of the journey with an uncluttered mind without any intention or inhibition. And when you return, there will be something in it for your writing.
10. Writing as a kind of spiritual practice?
All through my career in public service broadcast, I had been writing. But they were broadcast and the airwaves got lost around like drawing on water. So here I am now, consolidating them for posterity as a prayer, believing it to be my destiny. To that extend, yes, it's a spiritual journey. I would like to remind a contemporary world of who and what they are, the reality they should not forget. The title I choose tend to reveal the often hidden traits, like the memoir I wrote, When Waves Fell Silent.