Born in Gwalior, a historical town in India, Kartikeya Ladha grew up immersed in the palette of India’s vibrant customs and family life whilst being educated in a rigid school system at The Scindia School, a relic from the days of the British Raj.
After completing his High School, Kartikeya left India to attend the D’Amore-McKim School of Business at Northeastern University in Boston, where he concentrated in Management and Entrepreneurship. Soon after graduation he moved to Brooklyn, New York and worked for a start-up solar company as a door-to-door salesman and soon became a team leader.
It was one of the most successful community solarization programs in the U.S and Kartikeya fearlessly knocked doors in Brownsville, tagged as “Brooklyn’s Most Dangerous Neighborhood” by TIME magazine in 2012. He educated hundreds of households about climate change and motivated them to take positive action for the environment by embracing renewable energy.
Kartikeya Ladha quickly became the company’s highest earner and enjoyed all the delights of fast city-living – until an inner voice surfaced out of the darkness and compelled him to renounce his long-held plans of building a life in America and go “seek the truth” behind human existence.
His quest in wake for the absolute truth led him to walk on an unknown path, and inspired him to travel around the world to faraway lands while breaking past the normal equations of life to unearth his calling from our mystical world. In this process, he also initiated an endless stream of rediscovering himself as a human being, while trying to serve upon his life’s heart felt mission.
Dream Beyond Shadow is his first book, which captures the narrative tales of his many insightful stories, based on the experiences he gained from a trailblazing expedition to Peru, South America.
TBE: Tell us about Dream Beyond Shadow, can you share with us something about the book that isn’t in the blurb?
Kartikeya Ladha: The most important aspect of this book is that it’s not just any other book, but instead it is a means to a start where I can start building a life that people can’t even think of. This is the beginning for my endeavours of wanting to bring people together and building a better and wholesome world for the future generations.
TBE: How did you get the idea of this book?
Kartikeya Ladha: Becoming a writer and a new age thinker wasn’t part of my original life plan, but life as it is, is full of surprises. When I decided to leave my original life plan, I didn’t know what I was going to do in the future, but having surrendered myself to the world, I found inspiration in all the events that started transpiring every single moment of my life, which escalated a changing mechanism within myself that had me bring out my deeply held feelings and emotions.
As I felt the rawness of human existence, all I felt like doing afterwards was to express it. And writing being a beautiful art form, I chose it as my medium for expressing to the world how I felt with every passing second of life.
TBE: Why did you choose to write on this subject?
Kartikeya Ladha: I do creative writing, and my writings are inspired by real life experiences. I don’t write in the frame of black and white, rather explore the grey area, which is where I feel all the creativity happens. That’s the space for abstract writing, which is what I incorporate in my style, and that’s what gives it a unique and fresh voice.
My subjects are just a medium for me to express what’s truly in my heart. So, the subject isn’t as important as rather how I choose to innovate and create the rawness through my writing.
TBE: What is the key theme and/or message in the book?
Kartikeya Ladha: The most important message that I want to convey to the readers is that it’s very essential that we build a life that is not drawn upon the aspects of what we were told to do or conditioned to believe all our lives, rather is inspired by the truth of our actuality.
I believe every single individual on this planet has something unique and existential to offer, and if only they can nurture enough courage in their hearts to break free from all what holds them back, is when we will build a beautiful world.
A world that is harmonious in nature and isn’t resurrected on the grounds of demolishing our natural ecosystems.
TBE: What was your writing process for this book? What literary pilgrimages have you gone on?
Kartikeya Ladha: My writing process was very simple. I believe in consistency and regularity. So, I wrote every single day regardless of If I wanted to or not. And I knew some days were going to be good and some bad, but the key was to keep going no matter what and not let the distractions take over.
I live a very yogi centric life, so that helps me with maintaining my minds clarity and helps me freshen my mind every single day.
TBE: How did you research on the subject?
Kartikeya Ladha: It’s creative writing, so I didn’t have to research anything. I wrote as it came.
TBE: How long does it take you to write this book?
Kartikeya Ladha: Including edits and everything it took almost one year to write the book.
TBE: During your journey from the idea of this book to the publication, what was the most difficult thing you faced? Is there anything you find particularly challenging in your writing?
Kartikeya Ladha: During the whole process from the beginning till now, every single step of the way I faced more rejection and opposition than I could have ever anticipated and not just from outsiders, but also from people close to me.
But I knew I was going to face such challenges as I began on this path, as I knew that whenever you try to do something different in life, there will be more people standing against you rather with you.
So, it’s a really good life lesson, as these two years really showed me how important it is to believe in what’s truly in your heart and stay with it no matter what the external voices have to say to you.
The biggest challenge is really yourself, if you can win over yourself then none of the external stuff matters and no one can stop you.
TBE: How did publishing your first book change your process of writing?
Kartikeya Ladha: Well, I have already finished writing my second book, which complements the first book, so the process of writing didn’t change much but what has happened is that now I’m thinking more big than ever before, and I want to take everything to the next level, which is of course going to require a lot of effort on my part, but more importantly it’s going to be about bringing people together and really doing something phenomenal with our lives.
TBE: What is the significance of the title?
Kartikeya Ladha: As you read the book the title becomes clearer, but what it really stands for is this analogy where when I was living in New York, I could see the people walking by on the street from the window of my apartment.
And one night when I was looking down that window, it was dark, cloudy and rainy… And all the people who seemed to be swiftly passing by one another looked like shadows.
That’s when everything started for me, and began the birth of this idea where I wanted to break free from the story that had been drained drown my throat since I was a child as to what I needed to do and who am I supposed to be.
Looking past who we think we are, lay the birth of our true dreams. And that’s what we need to strive for as humans, rather than being enslaved to a rotten system. This is where resonates the title of ‘Dream Beyond Shadows’.
TBE: What do you hope your readers take away from this book?
Kartikeya Ladha: One thing the readers will certainly take away from this book is that while they will be reading the book, they will start thinking about their life, and the choices they have made in the course of their living.
It is a very compelling and arousing book, which will certainly inspire the readers to reflect upon their own life and the world as we know it.
TBE: According to you what is the most challenging thing for budding writer? And what are common traps for them?
Kartikeya Ladha: I think the most challenging thing for budding writers is to not lose their self belief, because there will be moments of doubt, but in those moments it’s essential to keep going no matter what.
The most common trap is to start doubting yourself based on what other people think, or losing touch with reality themselves, or giving into the many distractions surrounded by our modern world.
TBE: What marketing strategies do you find most helpful? Any resources you would recommend to other authors or aspiring authors?
Kartikeya Ladha: A good strategy initially is to know who exactly would want to read your book. In marketing terms, your target market. Focus all your attention on those people at the beginning, because that’s where you’ll get a good start from. Cater to people who would actually buy your book, instead of pleasing everyone.
TBE: When did it dawn upon you that you wanted to be a writer?
Kartikeya Ladha: It was during my time in Peru, where I realized that this is what I needed to do in life and it was very clear to me that this is whats going to get me going in my endeavors for doing the best that I can in my efforts for contributing towards building a better and more wholesome world.
TBE: Do you read much and if so, who are your favorite authors?
Kartikeya Ladha: I grew up reading a lot, and it only grew more with time, I can not say who my favorite author is as it always changed depending on my age and mood, but I remember liking Ayn Rand quite a bit when younger.
TBE: What do you like to do when you’re not writing?
Kartikeya Ladha: I am always doing something or the other, as my personality is that of a person who is always working, creating or doing something.
That’s why over time I had to learn to channel my focus and energy properly; and for that I really try and make space for myself without doing anything. Just meditating, swimming in the ocean, walking by the beach, trekking on a mountain; the more I am with nature by myself, I find inspiration and feel rejuvenated.
TBE: Do you believe in writer’s block? Have you ever experienced it? How long does it usually last? Any tips you would like to share to overcome it?
Kartikeya Ladha: I can say that writer’s block maybe a thing, but the trick is to keep writing through that period regardless. I personally don’t believe in waiting for anything to happen; I think you have to be relentless and consistent in your will to keep going no matter what. And this philosophy applies to anything in life really, not just writing.
The tip is to keep going.. going.. and going…
TBE: In your opinion, what is the most important thing about a book?
Kartikeya Ladha: The intention behind writing the book. The more selfless and pure the intention is, the book will come out more honestly. You can’t cheat on honesty and truth. The reader can see through it if you do.
TBE: What does your family think of your writing?
Kartikeya Ladha: Initially no body including my family could understand what I was doing and why I was doing it. Neither did I expected them to, as it was difficult for them; and I understood the confusion they were in because of how they were simply worried as my parents.
But over time as they saw my diligence and resilience with what I was doing, they started supporting me. Once the book actually came out and they could see how people were responding to it, their confidence grew in me.
TBE: What was one of the most surprising things you learned in creating your book?
Kartikeya Ladha: That how challenging it is. Really… when I started writing it I knew it was going to be challenging, but not until I finished it; I recognized how writing a really good book in itself requires you to evolve yourself as a human being. Where you learn the importance of patience and start focusing on one day at a time.
TBE: What was an early experience where you learned that language had power?
Kartikeya Ladha: I think since I was a child I understood language had power, because it’s the essence of how our world functions.
We communicate and do everything based on ideas; which we initially write or draw and only then can it grow and materialize into something big. And that’s the beauty of it. What a gift we humans have. An unyielding capability.
It’s sad that majority of people in India don’t think or even consider the importance of language in such a manner.
TBE: Do you have any suggestions to help me (any one) become a better writer? If so, what are they?
Kartikeya Ladha: The key to becoming better at any art form and not just writing is to keep pushing yourself beyond what you think is your limit, because that’s where all the expansion takes place.
Don’t be afraid to push the boundaries. Keep taking risks and live with them, that’s where the magic happens.
TBE: A common misconception entwined with authors is that they are socially inept, and they are often associated with loner tendencies; is there any truth to that?
Kartikeya Ladha: There is definitely some truth to it. Even though I love socializing and meeting new people. I do love my lone time, which I don’t publicize or talk about. It’s a space away from the world where I gain my energy and clear my mind into doing what I need to do.
There needs to be a good balance between the two, because not being able to socialize isn’t good either; because there is so much to learn from other people.
TBE: Do you have a set schedule for writing, or are you one of those who write only when they feel inspired?
Kartikeya Ladha: I definitely work on a schedule when I am dedicatedly writing a book. The inspiration comes before I start, and once it’s there, I go in solitude. I remember locking myself into my room for two weeks followed by a two-week long retreat when I was writing my second book.
It’s important to get that clarity of a voice, before putting it down on a piece of paper.
TBE: Is there anything you are currently working on that may intrigue the interest of your readers?
Kartikeya Ladha: I have finished writing my second book, which will surely excite the readers even more as it’s very idea based and cut throat in it’s take on the world. It will inspire the readers in so many ways; at the same time make them think about how our world was back in the day; what is it now, and where it might be headed.
Also, I am planning to start a more ambitious project in the coming year; which is along the lines of walking through the south-west coast of India. I will only be able to share the details of it; when it’s all figured out but it’s definitely something to keep an eye out for; as with this I will be taking things to the next level.
Buy Now: Dream Beyond Shadows by Kartikeya Ladha
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