One of the best things that has happened to me, during A to Z Blogging Challenge 2017, apart from debuting as an author of course, was the golden chance of connecting with some brilliant minds and the most tender hearts.
One such amazing person is Dr. Roshan Radhakrishnan from Kannur, Kerala. It is my absolute privilege and honour to have him in the house today.
When I first approached him a few days back for an interview, he graciously accepted without a second thought, warning me well-in-advance about his braggadocios blog. Honestly, it is a tough call for even an interviewer to talk about him without falling into the bragging zone.
Where do I begin? Really! Talking about his achievements would run into several pages. But, for the readers, let me try summing it all in a pretty piece of pearl shell for you.
Dr. Roshan Radhakrishnan is a real life take on ´Dr.Jekyll and Mr. Hyde´. An Anaesthesiologist by day and an avid blogger and a published author of several books and anthologies by night. Dr.Roshan is not your conventional medical doctor. He is a maverick of sorts which works perfectly well in the writing or blogosphere. Yet again, Dr. Radhakrishnan is not your conventional author with a ´head in the clouds´ stereotype persona. He is the perfect blend of responsibility, practical wisdom and idealism which works perfectly for both the occupations.
His writings bear the perfect testimony to his versatility as a writer in several genres with equal adept and ease. Whether it is humour (The scheming doc), satire, fiction or serious thought-provoking articles, Dr. Roshan delights his readers with his authoritative intellect and astute insights.
His blog ´Godyears´ won the Best Creative Writing Blog in India (Win’14) by BlogAdda. His inspirational short story ´Prisoners´ bagged the first place in the Write India Season 1 conducted by ´Times of India´ in 2016. Dr.Roshan has been featured in several media publications across the globe from BBC (I will never allow you to become a doctor), Forbes USA, Huffington Post, BBC Radio, Times of India, Deccan Chronicle, NDTV, The Quint, The News Minute, Indian Express, Hindusthan News, Today, Financial Times, Herald Goa, Manorama Arogyam, Vanitha, Medicos India, Docplexus, Bombadil Publishing UK and more.
Apart from being an exemplary writer and doctor, Dr. Roshan is one of the finest human beings you can come across. Humility and Kindness are his individual hall-marks. I personally think he is the ´Robin Hood of Writers´ because he truly stands up for the under-dogs. His writing are marred with love for humanity. Be it featuring unsung heroes, the sad plight of doctors in India (Why I will never let my child to become a doctor in India), the suicide epidemic and its prevention (My Friend, Are you thinking of committing suicide), marital rape (Is Rape sanskari too now?) or simply the voiceless in all his stories, it is extremely hard not to be touched by his writings at the deepest emotional level.
Over to Dr. Roshan himself with a quick sixer of questions –
1. How do you manage to glide so smoothly in two boats (being a doctor and writer) at the same time and still come out a stellar winner? What is the secret, doc?
A. Wow. None of those nice words – smooth, stellar, winner, beautiful, perfect, balanced, competent, brain – are usually associated with me!! Jokes aside, I can’t lie. It does get hard balancing a medical career with writing (regularly for the blog as well as keeping track and writing for literary contests), especially with the hours and stress of the former never providing a good atmosphere for the latter. It helps because there is a certain amount of overlap. Ideas that get formulated for blogposts get jotted down during work hours and then can be fleshed out and expanded later on. My Evernote app is filled with 100s of such posts that never saw the light of day. In the end, it comes down to wanting to be heard and making the extra effort for it.
2. What is that one moment that you realised that you had it in you to become one of the country´s leading contemporary writers that we have today?
A. I don’t believe I’m ever going to reach that level but your question brought up an old memory. My first published story was in ´Chicken Soup for the Indian Doctor´. And I remember thinking I had to work harder to prove that this wasn’t just a flash in the pan. That led to being selected for ´Urban Shots: Bright Lights´. Still, the fear persisted! I didn’t want to be ‘that guy who got lucky twice.’ So I participated over and over, winning with Penguin, Rupa and most publishing agents who hosted anthologies in India, across all genres culminating finally with winning ´Write India´ contest in 2016. That, for me, was my ‘Okay! You’ve arrived!’ moment.
3. If the readers had to start with one book of yours, which one would you recommend them to begin with and why ? Any personal favourite authors and books?
A. Most of the stories show a part of me or my journey in life, just dressed up in a different location and face. The easy one to recommend is ´Write India´ because alongside my own story, you get some excellent stories that were chosen by the best selling authors of India. The character closest to who I once was would definitely be the protagonist from ‘Father of My Son’ in Urban Shots: Bright Lights.
When it comes to authors, I still enjoy a wide variety. I love John Connolly’s almost poetic darkness in his Charlie Parker series. Jeffrey Deaver’s ´Lincoln Rhyme´ series is a gold standard of modern crime procedurals. Where once I mocked his style, I’ve come in recent years to appreciate Stephen King a lot over the years. Jk Rowling just for how she’s inspired an entire generation.
4. You have managed to stay so humble despite such big wins in the blogging as well as your mainstream profession as a doctor. Whether it is responding to newbie bloggers or featuring unsung real-life heroes in your blog ´Heroes of Kindness´, you come across as a really open, approachable and humble individual? What or who helps you to stay so grounded?
A. Loss. It’s a surprising answer, I guess! I know what it’s like to lose and I know the feelings of insecurity, despair and pain that comes with it. That is perhaps why I gravitate more towards those I feel could use a helping hand.
Of all the posts I’ve written over 13 years of blogging, this year’s ‘Heroes of Kindness’ series will always be one of the blog´s greatest achievements for that reason. I wanted people to see the good that exists but I also wanted these unsung heroes of kindness to know that people appreciated them. From Tabrizis, the fine dining restaurant owner who shut his restaurant to the public just so he could feed the homeless thrice daily for a week during trying times to Chris Dempsey, an ex-marine who gave his organs to an absolute stranger, I’ve looked to personally track them down for interviews and shared these posts with them so they know that random people from across the world salute them. I want people to know their names too. I want people to remember that good guys still exist.
5. What does your personal blog ´GodYears´ mean or represent?
A. So many people ask me this and many have been hesitant to even enter assuming it’s a religious site. The truth is that this blog was created when I was doing my internship after passing my MBBS. It was pretty much my entry as a legit doctor into the world. I don’t personally subscribe to the ‘Doctors are God’ philosophy everyone speaks of so decided to do an ironic take on it. Thus, the blog which I assumed would feature my ‘Doc Years’ became my ‘God Years’.
6. Any advice to aspiring authors, including me. 🙂
A. Follow my philosophy – “Read. Write. Listen. Evolve. Repeat.” If I’ve been published 20 times, I’ve been rejected 40. Read and write are obvious points, I guess. As a blogger, we have an advantage of good literary critics from our peers who often give genuine feedback on grammar, style and what can be modified for better impact. Listen to them and slowly evolve. Move away from your comfort zone. Stray away from romantic stories and venture into angst. Try your hand at horror. The more you write, the more feedback you receive and the better you get if you listen to them. If I’ve won in 2016, it’s because I’ve been receiving invaluable feedback from friends right from the days I was writing short stories and screenplays inside classrooms and dissection halls in 1997 and 2000.
Dr.Roshan Radhakrishnan blogs at http://www.godyears.net.
You can check out his list of published books and anthologies on Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/6994907.Roshan_Radhakrishnan