What is your inspiration for ‘The Alcoholic Holy Bull’?
The story is inspired by the ‘Holy Bulls’ or Goolis that are dedicated to the local deities in India. Bull is the companion of God Shiva and his power is embodied in the strong animal that is fearless and independent. Just like politicians, Goolis are omnivorous, they feed on almost anything, snatch vegetables from street vendors, raid shops and munch on fresh produce, barge anywhere and no one dares to beat them, since hitting them would be a sacrilege and an insult to the deity. The addiction to alcohol that I narrated in the story is fiction, though they are often seen lolling in front of country liquor shops. Presumably, they will drink liquor if offered.
How do you write your characters?
I create quaint characters for my stories based on my chance encounters with people in villages, temples, the street, government offices, farms and during my long drives in the countryside. One of my stories, forthcoming in an anthology by the Agorist Writers is based on a temple priest, a distant relative; another is a postman from my village who was the only lifeline with our relatives. I sometimes tell them, or tell my friends that I have set a story in their village, and they appreciate it.
My stories have lead characters from the middle economic strata such as priests, postmen, corrupt government clerks, prostitutes who take up the profession to survive. These are characters I like, I see myself in them, and feel what they experience.
Are you a plotter or pantser?
I am a punster, and rely on my wits to create a story on the fly. Start with a vague idea and imagine I come up with something grand. Does not happen all the time and my characters sink into a quagmire of circumstances.
Do you like editing? Yes, editing is a cumbersome process. I remove conflicts and mistakes such as ‘the dress glittered in the darkness.’ Proofing is a dead deal and I rely on the mercy of the editor (Emma) to get the commas and other stuff right.
How did you celebrate your first story acceptance?
My first story was accepted by Casagrande Press on Ganesh Chaturthi, the birthday of Lord Ganesha, the elephant headed god. I visited temples, and distributed sweets.
Do you find writing tiring or energising?
I find the writing process extremely immersive and energising.
Do you think writers need to be empathic to be successful at their craft?
Yes, a writer has to develop deep empathy for the characters.
What is your prior reading inspiration?
Enid Blyton, Westerns, Sci-fi, PG Wodehouse.
What are you currently reading?
Norton’s Anthologies. They detail character building, and plotting as used by great writers.
‘The Alcoholic Holy Bull’ by Shashi Kadapa appears in Tall Tales & Short Stories Volume One.