Kartikeya Ladha is also the writer of the renowned book, Dream Beyond Shadows, and Life Unknown. His recent book ‘UnHerd’ is a tale of loving and losing, understanding the darkness and light within us, travel and adventure, and the ways in which life can surprise, inspire and encourage us.
Inspired by the suffering people had to face during the pandemic, Kartikeya Ladha penned a story that not only gives hope but also sheds light on the purpose of life in the world, the true meaning of being alive, what truly matters in life, how do we overcome our darkness and many such questions in a beautiful manner. Local Samosa was in a candid conversation with Kartikeya Ladha about ‘UnHerd’, where he looks for inspiration, and a lot more. Here’s an excerpt from the interview!
Can you tell us a little about yourself?
I would say I’m an accidental writer with an online community of thousands across the globe. I first gained international recognition after the launch of my book, Dream Beyond Shadows. Later, I also had one more book, named Life Unknown, another bestseller on Amazon, which is about my travels in India.
I used to live in the U.S. before quitting my job and letting go of my plans to build a life in America. Since then, I have been on a quest to discover the absolute truth of our existence which has inspired travels to distant lands. My desire is to create works that exemplify the rawness of “what it means to be a human being.”
My latest creative endeavor, UnHerd is a fictional tale of love, wisdom, and strength. Whilst I am no longer an active part of the digital world, I continue to keep writing books and deepening my craft to share my creations with the world.
Tell us about your inspiration behind UnHerd and why you opted to write in this genre!
My inspiration to write UnHerd was almost a divine calling, where the story was simply flowing through me, and I was channeling the words through me in a period of great suffering for humanity caused by the recent COVID-19 pandemic. This story is not just about hope but transcendence. It takes the readers through a revision of their own lives while making them realize that they can overcome their suffering and pain.
Even though the human condition has us operate through the mediums of pain and suffering, we need not become a victim of the pain. We can break free. We can end our suffering. We can choose to live with love and not fear. UnHerd is a story of that choice.
What’s the plot of the book? What makes it a book worth reading?
UnHerd is a coming-of-age story, created keeping in mind the exponential changes our world has gone through in the last few decades where breaking out of consumerism and the herd mindset have become the needs of the hour. UnHerd is not only meant to inspire but also to bring light to the many questions in the minds of countless people – What is our purpose in the world? What is the true meaning of being alive? What truly matters in life? How do I live a happy and fulfilled life? How do I overcome my darkness? How do I bring light to my life, to this world?
What kind of literary influences did you have growing up? Tell us your earliest memories of storytelling!
When I look back at my literary journey, I see how I read whatever I found my hands on. I didn’t grow up in a literary family or anything. Books were my way of seeking the whys of life and imagining worlds beyond the one I found myself living in. I found stories as a medium for expanding my understanding of the world and seeing the world from various lenses.
In India, we lack a reading culture, and I personally believe that reading should be encouraged tremendously among young people. It is an essential part of developing the human brain, into expanding further in its consciousness.
How much research, imagination, and conviction do you think is required before writing any book?
I would say it depends on the genre of the book. For instance, UnHerd is a fictional book. So, it didn’t require any research but mostly imagination. So, it depends completely on what genre someone is writing. But one thing is certain, writing a book requires a lot of conviction, patience, and resilience. What does help is writing a story that we truly believe in, whatever that story may be.
Take us through your writing process.
My writing process is very simple. It’s a by-product of the life I try to live. A life that is more connected to the physical world, with my ability to stay present throughout my everyday life. In our modern world, I feel people are not able to stay focussed and be in the clarity of what a moment has to offer. Everyone is always on their phones or distracted by something or someone. And in this process, they are not able to stay present through their day-to-day, which is where creation happens. So, writing, for me, is a by-product of living a very present-focused life.
Kartikeya Ladha, how do you spend your time when not writing or busy with work?
I usually spend my time away from technology, in nature or meditating, or simply being. Dancing, music, and celebrating with my friends, family, and community are essential parts of my life. I believe life is to be lived and enjoyed. We are here to celebrate our lives more than anything else.
Who is your favorite author and your all-time cherished book? And what do you like the most about it?
I would say, my favorite author in the last few years has been Haruki Murakami, who is not an Indian author but I find his writing to be a surreal experience for readers. He is someone who has truly mastered the craft of storytelling.
Tell us about your favorite place from the ones you have lived in. What were your go-to places to grab a book?
I have lived in many places but for the last many years, I have made Goa my home. And, I have to be honest, it is also my favorite place in the world. So, I feel very blessed that my favorite place in the world also happens to be my home.
Any plans for the next book?
I am writing a new book at the moment, which revolves around the unconventional life I have lived throughout my existence as a kid and was able to continue building it, whilst living amongst the conscious communities in Goa. This new book will entail stories from parts of my life that no one knows about and will bring light into the philosophies that I realized through the experiences of what had liberated me through all kinds of vivid interactions with this world.
The book encapsulates romance, philosophy, mystery, adventure, and travel, carrying the readers through the alternating realities of New York’s streets and many parts of India, and talks about love and loss, the darkness and light that we all have, travel, adventure, and how life can surprise, and inspire us with its challenges.
It’s a fictional tale of a lawyer who is passionate and ambitious about his work. The story revolves around all the ups and downs of his life which is narrated so very well. As a reader, you do relate to the protagonist and everything he is going through. The book is a good mix of romance, adventures, sadness, fervour, and happiness, and makes you look at your suffering from a different perspective. Ladha successfully gives the motivation to survive, fight, and come out stronger and not as a victim of the same in this gem.