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Interview of Vamshi Krishna

Student suicide is big issue now a days. There are very few people who are working to spread awareness in this field. Today we are talking to an author who wrote an enlightening book about student suicide.
Vamshi Krishna spends most of his time writing – code or stories. He says he is a software engineer by chance and a writer by choice. He believes that his 4 year journey at IIT-BHU is the best time of his life. He strongly believes that every student, for at least a couple of years in his early 20s should experience hostel life. ‘Nobody dies a virgin, life fucks everyone’ is the motto he believes in. ‘Zero Not Out’ is his debut fiction novel which talks about student’s life, and prior to this, he authored a coding related book.
This novel is inspired by his real-life incidents (and accidents).
Let’s try to know more about this topic from him;

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.
I love to code. 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.

What inspired you to write your Book? Is there any particular event which turned you a writer?

Chetan Bhagat is the one who’s inspired me to write. Coming from a backdrop of immersing myself behind Maths, Physics, Chemistry textbooks till my Engineering, I never thought I would read anything beyond textbooks.
I heard about him after I entered IIT. 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’.
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 and youth, in general, 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.

Why did you choose such a sensitive topic for your book?

I browse newspaper every morning and it’s a rarity to not find a news with ‘student committed suicide’ as headline; with the main reason being exam failure or failing to land a job.

I have been through that phase and I could come out of it only because I discussed it with my family rather than dealing it all alone by myself. I wanted to show that depression can be cured, if handled properly.

I believed this topic needed to be addressed and it deserved more visibility.

How do you think your book is going to change people’s mindset?

After a certain age, the youngsters today should be given freedom to choose their careers. They should be taught that it’s okay to fail. They should be made aware that they will disappoint most of the people around them, including their families, on their paths to making the life choices that are really suited for them. In today’s modern civilised world, any kind of pressure due to academics, jobs, relationships etc. leading to unwanted complications should be avoided.

Agreed that there will be hardships but one needs to believe that the hard times will pass and keep hustling everyday. This is what I tried addressing in ‘Zero Not Out’. I am trying to get as much coverage as possible for my novel.

What is the most important thing you discovered about writing a novel in your journey?

Believe in your plot, that’s the most critical thing. Having doubts about your writing style, vocabulary, screenplay, etc is fine but it’s your conviction about the core plot that can help you overcome any kind of self-doubts. Be like a boss while you’re developing the plot. Once the plot is set, be its slave and let it lead you.
And, ‘hope’ is a drug, it can keep you going.

What is your favourite genre as a writer and reader?

I don’t have any favourite genre as such. I used to read love stories while I was writing ‘Zero Not Out’.
I’ve recently started reading our Indian epic Mahabharata and now I am in complete awe of it. I am totally in love with the character of ‘Draupadi’ and that’s my next novel too.

What will be your reaction if you’re told ‘Zero Not Out’ is getting converted into a movie?

I would feel grateful for the producer as movie medium gives more visibility to the topic of suicides in the youth and the importance of addressing depression clinically.

By Sneha Prakash

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