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In Conversation With Arun Krishnan, Author

Judi Simran Silva

Arun Krishnan is the author of the The Loudest Firecracker , an interesting tale told through the eyes of ten-year-old Siddharth, complete with the perfect blend of wit and somberness. It centers on the repercussions of an untimely firecracker blast at the end of a cricket match between India and Pakistan - tragically turning Siddharth’s life upside-down.

In the aftermath of the event, he soon becomes cognizant of the fact that growing up is not an easy task. Living in Poona, India at the time only exacerbates that sentiment. Amidst tennis matches, school and elocution contests, Siddharth must come to terms with death, betrayal and the ever-mounting tension between Hindus and Muslims, along with his father’s attempts to make it as a film director in Bollywood. Peer pressure and a leader’s persuasive tongue wreck havoc on Siddharth’s already troubled mind, leaving him in a state of confusion - even getting him caught up in retaliation events before he realizes what is happening.

His mother and grandmother play important roles in shaping Siddharth’s ideals and beliefs. However, when the world starts spinning around him, will he remain true to what he has learned?

Once a star student at the top of his class, Siddharth becomes despondent, begins to fail miserably in all his subjects, and resorts to cheating as a means off bringing his grades up. This, he decides must be kept from his father so as not to anger or disappoint him. To accomplish such a feat, Siddharth must devise a plan. 

Beside the trials and tribulations that are part of his life, he also must decide to either overcome the handicap that has plagued him for so long or find a way to use it to his advantage. Choosing the later, he is fully aware, will also bring repercussions.

The author transports the reader into a world, which may at first glance seem different from the one we are used to, but inevitably, the reader comes to recognize it all too well - relating through feelings, ideals, decisions, etc. The sights, sounds and situations may be slightly dissimilar, but not so obscure that one cannot discern the outcome and in spite of it all ... feel (think) that “everything might just turn out to be all right in the end.”

The Loudest Firecracker is a book that is difficult to put down until one reads the last page. Krishnan does a fantastic job of introducing the reader to Siddharth’s life, wielding his pen so that each word and phrase guides us through the journey that lay before this young boy. This reader hopes that his debut book will be the first of many to come.

You can purchase The Loudest Firecracker via the author’s Website. Here is the link: http://www.theloudestfirecracker.com

Interview with Arun Krishnan

Where are you from and how has this influenced your writing?
For a large part of my childhood, I lived in Poona, India. As a result, I was able to portray Poona and its people in a simple way without needing to leap towards the dramatic or exotic. As someone who has grown up in urban India, I am very influenced by the narrative structures and styles of our great epics – the Ramayana, the Mahabharata and the works of P.G. Wodehouse.
How is it that you decided to write The Loudest Firecracker?
I had been in New York for three to four years. At parties, running tracks and falafel stands, I always spoke about writing a book. I guess it’s the fashionable thing to do in New York City.
The novel came about when I moved to Tucson, AZ for a two-year gig with IBM. I didn’t know anyone in Tucson, and the desert was empty. Even the neighborhood coyote didn’t seem to belong to the particularly chatty kind. It was then that I decided to write a book.
Around that time, riots broke out in Gujarat. The government killed thousands of Muslims in what can only be described as a genocidal manner. I am not particularly interested in politics, but the carnage brought back memories of darker times when leaders like L.K. Advani and Bal Thackeray were running rampant on our newspaper headlines. That got me upset enough to begin writing the novel.

Has becoming an author changed your personal and/or professional life?
I have certainly not made enough through The Loudest Firecracker to quit my day job. However, just writing the novel has helped me see how the day job is a lie. The novel has certainly helped put things in focus and perspective.

Who are some authors and books that have inspired you?
I am very inspired by P.G. Wodehouse and how he has so much fun with the language. I am also constantly inspired by Hemmingway, Amitav Ghosh, Haruki Murakami, Tagore and so many other writers who are so good at setting a mood and carrying you along with it.  
Can you describe your writing process?
The first step is to write a horrible first draft -and cleverly hide it from all friends and family. After that, you edit the novel many, many times. All the while, it is helpful to keep reading the works of writers who are better than you are (a very large universe) to keep the inspiration going.
What challenges or obstacles do you encounter while writing and how did you overcome them?
If you have to work for a living and come into the world equipped with a security loving middle-class mindset, the biggest obstacle is the lack of time. You also have to be a bold person who is willing to look at himself in the mirror and be able to say after that first draft, “Yes, I am a horrible person who was responsible for this putrid nonsense.” Then, get the courage to write something else and go through that whole mirror standing process again.
What message do you want people to come away with after reading The Loudest Firecracker?

Well, I don’t want to give advice or messages and morals in a world dominated by loud opinions. However, I hope after reading The Loudest Firecracker, people realize that being ceaselessly active or like they say in sales meetings “hyper-aggressive” is not all that it is cracked up to be. Even if Microsoft Word doesn’t think so, it’s ok to write in the passive voice occasionally. Sometimes, especially for a child or an immigrant in a foreign land, it’s a lot more fun to let the world come to you, as you try and make sense of it.

How do you view the advantages/disadvantages of self-publishing versus traditional publishing?

I think being published by a third party publisher lends more credibility to a new author. That said, however, the online world has changed dramatically over the last few years in terms of how people are able to interact with books, bands and even brands and express their personality through their preferences. I think third party publishers can certainly learn from many self-published individuals who are using the Internet uniquely to engage their readers and bring their work to new audiences.

What advice do you have for other authors?

Read extensively and read like a student.
What is next for you?
I am working on a tale of a young immigrant in New York, who goes through seven eventful days.
Thank you for allowing Lokvani to conduct this interview with you. We wish you all the success with The Loudest Firecracker.

You can purchase The Loudest Firecracker via the author’s Website. Here is the link: http://www.theloudestfirecracker.com

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