An Interview with Ray Rao

Ray Rao

Author Ray Rao

  1. Describe yourself in five words:

Funny, honest, sincere, hardworking, caring,

  1. What fact about yourself would really surprise people?

That I am spiritual!  Not from any sense of religiosity, but from my belief in an inner spirit that speaks to our better selves, regardless of religion or faith, and is the essence of goodness in every faith.

  1. How do you work through self-doubts and fear?

By confronting them and tracing them to their source, so I can deal with the root cause.  That does not mean I can conquer it, only that I at least get to know my enemy, and knowing my enemy is the first step to eventual conquest.

  1. What scares you the most?

Losing my way only to find that I am someone I never thought I was.

  1. What makes you happiest?

My family—my wife, daughters, grandchildren…and my Australian Shepherd, Bandit.

  1. Why do you write?

To live vicariously in a world I have created, where my inadequacies don’t hamper me. 

  1. Have you always enjoyed writing?

Going back to my school days, Creative Writing was one of my favorite subjects.

  1. What motivates you to write

I write so others might share the world I have created, and live in it too, however briefly.

  1. What writing are you most proud of?

Bloodbath, my first work of fiction, makes me more proud than all my professional writings, achievements and accolades.

  1. What are you most proud of in your personal life?

That my legacy will live on long after I am gone: my values (and genes!) that I have given to my children, which they will pass on to my grandchildren, and they to theirs.  Which, of course, means I’m immortal!

  1. What books did you love growing up?

I was a voracious reader of the classics (Dickens, Stevenson, Verne, Dumas, Austen, Hardy, Defoe, Alcott, the Bronte sisters, Salinger, Steinbeck, Lee, Twain, Fitzgerald—I could go on and on), popular fiction from that time (Christie, Charteris, Chase, Gardner, O’Donnell to name just a few), and Westerns (Brand, Grey, Short, L’Amour, and others).  Basically, anything I could lay my hands on, regardless of genre.  Or, more accurately, anything my parents let me lay my hands on.

  1. What do you hope your obituary will say about you?

That I led a good life, as a good person first and foremost, a good physician and aspiring author, and a good father, most of all.

  1. Location and life experiences can really influence writing, tell us where you grew up and where you now live?

I was born and spent most of my formative years in India, then moved to England as an adult, and finally to the US, where I have lived the past 35 years.  I am widely travelled—31 countries at last count—including 12 trips to Japan in 10 years.  All these experiences inform my writing—as one of my friends put it so cleverly, “Amar Chitra Katha (a collection of heroic Indian legends) meets Manga meets Mission Impossible meets The Avengers (a British TV action-adventure series with a male and female protagonist).”  Nuff Sed!

  1. How did you develop your writing?

I always enjoyed writing, but my professional career as an academic physician didn’t allow me the time to write uninterrupted.  It took a lot of time, but over the years, I developed the idea of Bloodbath into my first book—with a lot of help from friends and family initially, from whom I learned what works, and from my editor/publisher, Derek, who taught me what doesn’t work.

  1. What is hardest – getting published, writing or marketing?

Getting published

  1. What marketing works for you?

I have neither any particular preferences nor exclusions.  Derek has taken over the electronic and social media side, at which he is far more adept than I am, leaving me to do what I am most comfortable with, which is to personally market myself as an author.  As an educator, that part comes naturally to me—as my wife will tell you, the trouble is not getting me to talk, it is in getting me to shut up!

  1. Do you find it hard to share your work?

Initially, yes.  I gave up even trying, after over 300 rejections from literary agents.   Then, I met Derek, and he validated my writing.  It needed a major edit and we had many, sometimes combative disagreements over content and style, which we resolved, thanks to my considerable trust in him, knowing how vested he was in my book, and his understanding of when and where to modulate his advice in those rare moments when my convictions were particularly strong.

  1. Is your family supportive? Do your friends support you?

I have no better way to answer that question than to quote verbatim from my Acknowledgments in Bloodbath, “…my wife, Kanchan, and two daughters, Divya and Anjali…are my three biggest cheerleaders.  Writing a book while pursuing a full-time academic career as a physician has been a challenge—maybe much more so for Kanchan than me!  To write without jeopardizing the precious bonds of family has meant many late nights and weekend evenings in seclusion.  It is a measure of Kanchan’s strength and love that her commitment to me and my writing never flagged.”

  1. What else do you do, other than write?

See above!  I am an academic physician, working full-time as an endocrinologist.”

  1. What other jobs have you had in your life?

See above (yet again)!

  1. If you could study any subject at university what would you pick?

Been there, done that.  Medicine, Medicine, Medicine!

  1. If you could live anywhere in the world where would it be?

The US. 

  1. Tell us about your family?

I married my first, only, and last love.  She has been my soulmate for the last 44 years, , with whom I raised two wonderful daughters, one an art historian, and the other a budding cardiologist.  My life is now captivated by three gorgeous grandchildren, an eleven year-old grandson, and six year-old twin granddaughters.  If Victor Wooten is right that “Heaven is where the heart is”, then I am already in heaven.

  1. How do you write – lap top, pen, paper, in bed, at a desk?

Laptop, sitting in my recliner, preferably, although it could be literally anywhere—bus, train, plane, ship, airport, station, even a hospital waiting room!—except on the toilet or in bed!

  1. How much sleep do you need to be your best?

Seven hours.

  1. Is there anyone you’d like to acknowledge and thank for their support?

Other than Derek, and my family, there are two others—a couple who are now like an adoptive son and daughter—who introduced me to Derek.  Without them, Bloodbath would never have seen the light of day.

  1. Every writer has their own idea of what a successful career in writing is, what does success in writing look like to you? 

That enough people like what I have written, and connect with the characters I have created.

  1. It is vital to get exposure and target the right readers for your writing, tell us about your marketing campaign?

Right now, the plan is to combine an aggressive SEO approach with my website and combine this with working on my author platform and expanding my reader base in this fashion. I also will be working on some author giveaways and trying to gain more exposure on Amazon, which is my main selling portal.

  1. Tell us about your new book? Why did you write it?

It was always a dream of mine—an unrequited fantasy!—to write a suspense thriller.   That’s tough to do while pursuing a full time career as an academic physician, combining the roles of clinician, educator, and researcher. Over the years, I would find an hour here or there to write a page or two of the story that evolved into ‘Bloodbath’, but it was just a disjointed collection of chapters and events.  Three years ago, after I cut back on my professional commitments, my work week went from 65-70 hours to 40 hours.  With 25 hours of free time, I found myself able to indulge my fantasy.  That became Bloodbath.

  1. If you could have a dinner party and invite anyone dead or alive, who would you ask?

Peter O’Donnell, creator of Modesty Blaise, who bears some resemblance to Alexis, my female protagonist, in her combat skills, but little else.  

  1. When you are not writing, how do you like to relax?

Reading, music, watching action-adventure movies and TV shows, walking my Australian Shepherd, Bandit, and (most of all) playing with my grandkids.

  1. What do you hope people will take away from your writing? How will your words make them feel?

I could pontificate with some profoundly asinine comment like “Fundamentalism, and religious obsession are twin evils with dreadful consequences”.  Or, “It takes extraordinary acts from ordinary people to stop evil from triumphing”.   But, in truth, neither has anything to do with why I wrote Bloodbath.  I wrote it for fun.  And that is exactly what I want my readers to have when they read Bloodbath: FUN!

It was a pleasure to have you with us on our page for a fun-filled interview. We hope that you’d continue doing what makes you feel fun doing, which is writing! We hope to see you around as a participant for group author interviews and author giveaways that we host from time to time!

Rao’s book can be purchased here on Amazon

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