Q&A: Jaikishan Kalawapudi, Author of 'Dauntless Maverick'

Jaikishan Kalawapudi is a working professional, an avid story teller, and numismatic and philately enthusiast. His other interests include reading, heritage architecture, history, archaeology and snooker. Dauntless Maverick is his first book.

I chat with the author about his book Dauntless Maverick, his inspiration for writing the novel, book recommendations, and much more.

Hello, Jaikishan! Tell us a bit about yourself!

I’m a working professional who has interests in multiple streams of hobbies – reading, writing, numismatics, philately, astronomy, snooker, archaeology, and heritage architecture. Having spent my childhood in Visakhapatnam, Hyderabad and Nagpur, I relocated to Mumbai in 2006 after completing my graduation in Commerce, to pursue my career. Over the last 15 years, I’ve gained valuable work experience and up-skilled myself with professional certifications. I now live with my wife Komal and my six-year-old intelligent and cute daughter Anvika, in Mumbai.

When did you first discover your love for writing?

Writing is something that has always been an interest area for me. During my formative years, I developed the habit of writing a diary. It allowed me to take a break from the reality around me and pen down my imagination of how my ideal world should be. It also was a great tool for self-reflection and has allowed me to introspect on the incidents around me and my response to them.

How would you describe your book Dauntless Maverick in one sentence?

A tale of tragedy, deceit, valour, vanity, dreams and nightmares – traits and incidents that the protagonist carries with him throughout his life.

Now tell us a little more about the book! What can readers expect?

Dauntless Maverick is the tale of Badrinarayan Swamy, also known as ‘Badri’. He is a 90-year-old ex-government servant. A simple, humble and modest man, who loves his family. Behind his veil of simplicity, Badri has an unfathomable secret. A secret that has not allowed him to live in peace, for a major part of his life. A secret that is against the very values he preaches to his family.

Badri is on his death-bed, fighting a terminal illness. As his soul prepares for its final journey from this mortal world, it seeks closure and wants to relieve the burden it has carried for a lifetime. But the maverick in Badri wants him to seek one last thrill in his mortal life. Instead of revealing everything on his own to his family, Badri opts to challenge his children by way of a will and asks them to investigate his past to discover the secrets of his life. In return, if they are successful in doing so, they stand to inherit a fortune far beyond their imagination. If they fail, everything would be donated to charity. The stakes force Badri’s children to embark on a quest of discovery. Will they succeed in finding out the truth about their father? This is the question the story seeks to answer.

Readers can expect a condensed, fast-paced recap of the protagonist’s journey from being a simple and innocent boy to a dauntless maverick that he eventually becomes.

For more information about the book, the video trailer and goodies, readers can visit the author’s website at www.kalawapudi.in. For a limited time, interested readers can order for personalized author signed copies on the author’s website: Author Signed Copies.

'Dauntless Maverick', published by Notion Press

What inspired you to write this novel?

Anecdotes from my paternal and maternal grandfathers, who had seen life in the pre-independence era and lived through the era of new India, inspired me to tell this story. I wanted to bring out the sentiments that people had during an era that was full of nationalism and ethical resolution. I imagined the prospect of a street-smart man. A man who was neither ethically inclined nor immensely patriotic and the nation’s independence had created a turmoil in his life. How would he react to the life post-independence and carve out his opportunities? For me, the prospect was worthy of a fiction novel.

What has the road to becoming a published author been like for you?

The road to becoming a published author has been a lengthy one for me. I had conceptualized the story a few years back, when I wanted to pursue writing as a serious hobby. At that time, the “Self-Publishing” concept did not exist. One had to be at the mercy, whims and fancies of a publishing house accepting the manuscript. I did pursue my applications to a few publishers, with no success.  It was a meaningless exercise for many first-time authors like me, as we had to run from pillar to post, to get their books considered for publishing. Driven to the hard end of the bargain, I’ve seen many authors settle for peanuts to fulfil their dream of publishing their book. This is the roadblock that deterred me from writing my manuscript and develop it.

I later discovered self-publishing as a platform which gives people a fair chance to publish their work, without the lag and wait time for a popular publisher to pick up the books. It is a great opportunity for first time authors to establish themselves. This was the perfect opportunity for me to start writing my first book.

How have you been coping with the current pandemic and what will be the new normal for you post it?

The pandemic has been a difficult phase for the entire world. Sadly, many people have lost their loved ones to COVID. My heartfelt sympathies and condolences to the families and friends of people who’ve passed away due to the pandemic.

Since March 2020, I’ve been working from home. COVID has also made us realize the importance of key resources and people whom we usually take for granted. For me, and for all of us, the new normal would be to wait for vaccination and until then follow all safety norms, which have now become a part of our lives. 

Lastly, are you currently reading anything and do you have any book recommendations for our readers?

I have been a huge fan of the author Anand Neelakantan. When I read his first book – Asura: Tale of the Vanquished in 2012, it had a profound impact on me. I am currently reading his latest book, that was launched in December – Queen of Mahishmathi, the third volume in the ‘Bahubali series’.

I am also reading Once Upon A Prime Time by the distinguished actor and director Ananth Mahadevan. It is a memoir of his journey covering his work on television and films. Ananth also eloquently narrates how these mediums have evolved over time. The book is a nostalgia trip for people who have grown up in the 1980’s and 1990’s and one can get immersed in recollection of memories of the era when television was truly an entertaining and meaningful medium.

The book ‘Dauntless Maverick’ is available online and at your nearest bookstore.

From Jammu, J&K; Studied in DPS, Jammu.