“At one point in my life a few years ago, I was down and depressed where I had become a zero. I somehow managed to pick myself up to where I am today. This journey taught me not to dwell so much in the past or be anxious about the future but to always stay in the present. You might be down at zero, but that does not mean that you are out and done. You always have a chance to make your life better despite being a zero.”– Vamshi Krishna
These are the thoughts of author Vamshi Krishna, an IITian who wrote the book which is inspired by his real-life incidents. Vamshi Krishna is a software engineer by profession, and a writer by choice. He started writing the Zero Not Out book after his engineering. Rejected by 80% of the publishers, the book is now touching the hearts of readers to the core.
Read on as author Vamshi Krishna talks about his book, life as a writer and software engineer, the inspiration behind writing the book, favourite novels and authors, and more.
1. Let’s begin with a brief introduction of yours and an overview of your book—Zero Not Out.
I am Vamshi Krishna, living in Bengaluru. I see myself as a coder by chance and a writer by choice. I spend my days as a software engineer and the nights as a struggling writer, with a hope to make it big someday.
‘Zero Not Out’ is my debut fiction novel, before which I did author a software-related book.
‘Every journey has to end, for a new beginning’ is the bottom line of the story. The protagonist in the story is Varun Krishna, a regular boy next door with big dreams in his life. Getting into an IIT was a major milestone in his journey. When he was cruising towards a successful life, fate hit him hard by the time his college life ended pushing him onto self-destruction mode.
How life takes him forward from such a miserable state to building a startup aimed at curbing suicides forms the rest of the story. Riding high on emotions while emphasizing the role of family during crisis time, the novel illustrates the theme of how a father is looked up to as a real hero by his son.
It was launched in July’2019 in print and Kindle editions.
2. Where did you get the idea behind the story of Zero Not Out? Do the characters come from real-life incidents or from your own imaginations?
After finishing my engineering in 2014, the idea for my debut novel was always to start with my real-life incidents and add a few fiction elements to make the plot interesting. So, when I had decided in 2018 to start working on my debut novel, I first penned down my real-life elements which I felt were worth sharing.
Be it depression or exam failures or love failures, the suicide rate among the college students has been alarming these days. As someone who had been through that phase of depression in the early 20s right after college, I thought to make the plot a bit message-oriented saying ‘Every journey has to end, for a new beginning’ and that’s how ‘Zero Not Out ‘ was conceived.
Though the plot is fictional in parts, I would say most of the characters in the novel are for real.
3. What does the title of your book “Zero Not Out” suggest?
I love cricket. In the game of cricket, in every innings, however great or how bad a batsman is, he always starts from zero; with his past stats or glories or failures playing no role. His scorecard reads as Zero Not Out (0*) and he always has a chance to make it big in that innings.
At one point in my life a few years ago, I was down and depressed where I had become a zero. I somehow managed to pick myself up to where I am today. This journey taught me not to dwell so much in the past or be anxious about the future but to always stay in the present. You might be down at zero, but that does not mean that you are out and done. You always have a chance to make your life better despite being a zero. Hence the title, ‘Zero Not Out’.
4. Tell us about the journey after the manuscript was ready on your laptop.
Once I was 80% through my manuscript and I knew what to write for the rest 20%, I started pitching ‘Zero Not Out’ to publishers via email (most publishers take 4-6 weeks to revert). 80% of them rejected and I chose the best possible one among the available options (Invincible Publishers and Marketeers). But then, I realized this was only one-third of the journey.
Editing process at the publisher end and pre-marketing is another one-third.
Suggested reading: 7 most effective book marketing ideas for self-published authors
And once the book is launched, you need to market it as much as possible and this is the last part of the journey, which I am currently in. Publishing is equally important as marketing and promotions.
5. What sort of reviews you are getting from the readers?
Till now, the reviews have been great. Simple language, engaging writing style, emotionally connecting, good attention to detail, know about IITs’ lifestyle are the keywords from the reviews on Amazon.
There’s a bit criticism as well, but I respect and value that too, as I believe that criticism helps me in improving myself as a writer.
But the reach has only been limited till now. I am planning to start with promotions very soon. Looking forward to more reviews from the readers.
6. Getting into the IIT (Indian Institute of Technology) and still finding a path towards writing. What inspired you to become a writer?
To get into IITs, a regular student spends 12-14 hours studying almost every day, including weekends. Once he gets into an IIT, he finds more free time for himself relatively. Students use that free time in pursuing their hobbies/ interests. I used to spend time reading stories/ watching movies.
I am that type of guy who reads the reviews to know the storyline before reading a novel/ watching a movie. And many times, midway during the story, it happened that ‘Oh, from this point, this story cannot go in the direction as to what I read in the reviews’. But then, 3-4 scenes later, I get convinced. And all this happened because of the storyline, which implies dialogues. It’s these kinds of incidents that made me believe in the power of dialogue and eventually inspired me to write stories.
7. You are a writer of both— stories and code. How do you differentiate your role as an author and software engineer?
Frankly speaking, as a software engineer, one of the motivating factors for me is the monthly salary. I see my code’s outputs regularly which pushes me to work hard. Also, I work as part of a team in my daily job and hence there are people around me to make the work environment fun.
On the other hand, writing is a lonely journey; there’s no one around to help you. It demands an immense amount of intense lonely time. There are times when you see nothing but eerie darkness and scary silence around, making you feel cosmically alone. There’s a part of you desperately needing to have a human connection but you are just helpless. You’re bound to create plots even when you’re down.
You see an output only once or twice in a year when you launch a novel. You need to push yourself hard and keep yourself motivated whenever there’s a writer’s block. You got to deal with extreme mood swings.
But to be honest, it makes a hell lot of difference to have someone special who believes in you, asks about your daily progress, supports you during tough phases and just be there as an integral part of your journey.
In the end, it’s all worth because you are here by choice.
And in both the roles, I believe in investing time and I am in for the long run; hence the smaller obstacles do not matter much.
8. What do you love to do when you are not writing?
I like to stay fit – I work out regularly. I love reading cricket commentary on Cricinfo/ Cricbuzz. I watch Indian standup comedy videos. I love reading about women. I love reading about failure startups/ enterprises.
9. A quick-fire round:
– What compliment do people give you the most?
That I have a keen sense of attention to detail.
– What advice did you get that was the most rewarding?
Life’s a marathon; not a sprint. Learn patience and believe in the process; don’t get too carried away by the results.
– Three favourite books?
I would love to put “Man’s Search for Meaning” by Victor Frankl in 1, 2, 3 slots till my top 10. But I would say these are my top three.
- Man’s Search for Meaning by Victor Frankl
- Grit by Angela Duckworth
- Purple Cow by Seth Godin
– Who are your favourite authors whose writings inspired you the most?
It will always be Chetan Bhagat. Coming from a backdrop of immersing myself behind Maths, Physics, Chemistry textbooks till my college, I never thought I would read anything beyond textbooks.
But once I entered IIT, I heard about Chetan Bhagat and his novels. Picked up his ‘Five Point Someone’ and once I finished reading it, I was in complete awe of the writer.
I believe he is the one who changed the mindset that reading novels is an elite group habit; he got the masses reading.
That’s when I decided I should try my hands at writing sometime in the future and I am glad it happened with ‘Zero Not Out’.
And in general, I am a devotee of MS Dhoni. I just watch his videos on YouTube whenever I feel like I need a dose of motivation in life.
10. What’s next for Vamshi Krishna? Any more books we can expect from you in the coming time?
Nothing concrete as of now. I do not want to write a love story/ rom-com novel this time. I have a plot for mythology fiction blended with contemporary storytelling, but it is very abstract as of now. I am working on the plot besides reading books in the same genre. I plan to start writing it in October.
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Virendra is a passionate reader and writer. He is currently working for two leading IT media portals. This blog is where he shares everything, whether it is a book review, technical article, author interviews, things he has learnt (and still learning). He also writes about his take on this world through unique, helpful and odd stories.