An Interview with Author T.E Aravind author of the book , “The Memory Paradox?”

TLT: Firstly, congratulations on your remarkable title! Well, what was the inspiration behind your book, “The Memory Paradox?” And, how did the concept of the intersection of human memory and technology evolve?

TE Aravind: I have always been fascinated with the power of the human brain and how powerful our memories are. Our memories are our life experiences, and they determine our emotional and intellectual reactions and responses. Good memories create happy emotions, and bad memories create sorrow, depressive thoughts, and trauma. I drew a comparison of our memory with the cells in the body, good and bad cells, and how it determines the function of our body. In that thought process, I got the idea of how it would be if we could remove or edit the memories like how we treat our cancer cells. Removing bad memories could be a permanent cure for mental health-related issues, and what I mentioned in the book is my creation of how someone can make it happen.

TLT: In your book, you explore the intertwining of human memory and technology, presenting it as both a gift and a curse. How do you balance the positive and potentially negative aspects of this intersection in your narrative?

TE Aravind:  As I said earlier, Human memory is a gift and a curse, as life is unfair and unequal for everyone. Some cope with it, and some cannot. Again, how to handle it is based on our individual experience, surroundings, family, etc.… If you add the power of technology into it, it will only amplify both sides of the spectrum. However, I won’t criticize technology much as we humans misuse it for personal gains, and why you misuse it again, going back to the individual’s past experiences. This is exactly what I was trying to bring into the narrative in the book, and there is much more to it.

TLT: The story unfolds through a web of complex relationships spanning past and present. How do these connections contribute to the mind-bending puzzle presented in the book?

TE Aravind: Many mental health issues stem from relationship complexities, each unique. The quest for a perfect relationship is elusive. In the book, I delve into how current relationships persist despite challenging pasts, stressing the need for personal accountability over blame. Acceptance is the first step to resolution. In my book characters like Kavya, Raj, Maaya’s mother, and Ilamaaran’s mother embody different facets of this struggle. Kundhavai’s family illustrates a unique coping mechanism amid their past. The book leans towards women-centric themes because, in the past, Women had to mend the most to keep the family tight.

TLT: Mental health and psychological factors play a significant role in your narrative. Could you elaborate on how these elements shape the characters’ behaviors and decisions throughout the story?

TE Aravind:  They say, “Necessity is the mother of Invention.” Similarly, I would say, “Desperation is the mother of most crimes.” People may engage in criminal behaviour when they feel desperate or cornered, driven by a perceived need or urgency. Why would one want to erase or edit memories? Do you need such technological advancement to make use of the current mental health challenges and make money, or are you desperate to address some personal or societal problem? What could be a trigger, and how do different characters react to such technology? I have also touched upon the morality of the people building such technology and their ethical paradox on what and how they address and handle the challenges. One of the protagonists, Ilamaaran, is against it, but his partner, Maaya, is for it. Do they have the same intentions, the same goal? How two personalities with different motives can get into a relationship, and how one influences the other. In my book, I have answered some of these questions but also raised many questions for the readers to ponder.

TLT: The protagonists embark on a quest for solutions related to a controversial project. How does this journey highlight the power of collaboration, resilience, and the impact of technology on their lives?

TE Aravind: The protagonist, Ilamaaran, is an easy-going, chill person who got trapped in a controversial project. His life becomes a delicate balancing act, navigating romance, daily work, and the ethical considerations associated with the project. A black and white person unwilling to operate in grey makes his life a pedestrian crossing by drawing the lines parallel and trying his best to stay on the white. He questions the morality of manipulating human experiences, advocating for alternative solutions to the issue at hand. He draws a parallel narrative and finds answers to the real problem. This dilemma evolves into a psychological nightmare, delving into the profound human aspects surrounding such actions. Many readers have resonated with the depicted dreams, finding relatability during times of stress.

While he collaborates with his friends and is part of the journey, he also tries to do the right thing than doing things right. He consciously prioritizes doing what he perceives as morally right over simply following conventional approaches. He may not fit the mould of a typical hero. However, his character undergoes a significant and organic evolution, becoming a pivotal force that extends the story into a three-part series. And it happened organically and was not something I had planned when I started this book.

Throughout the narrative, Ilamaaran’s resilience becomes a driving force, propelling the story forward and captivating readers with the unfolding complexities of his character and challenges.

TLT: The narrative touches on the challenges individuals face in an unforgiving world. How do you approach the portrayal of these challenges and the characters’ efforts to navigate them?

TE Aravind: In portraying the challenges individuals face in an unforgiving world, I aim to delve into the raw and authentic aspects of their struggles. I focus on the emotional and psychological dimensions, exploring how characters navigate adversity by highlighting their resilience, vulnerabilities, and efforts to overcome obstacles. Life’s unexpected situations often leave a permanent scar in our minds and this scar will dent our responses, reactions, and decision making.

The first quote I wrote before I did a character sketch and plotting is “Situation is King”. There is no better villain than a situation you were put under, and your response navigates your journey. I aim to create a narrative reflecting the complexities of the human experience in a self-centred, disconnected world reality where we sometimes lack empathy and normalize the shades of grey in everyone.

The characters’ journeys mirror the diverse ways people confront and navigate challenges, fostering a deeper connection between the story and the readers.

TLT: The book emphasizes the profound impact of technology on our lives. What message or reflection do you hope readers will take away regarding the role of technology in shaping our future?

TE Aravind: Technology plays a massive role in today’s lives and has become a basic human need. We have come a long way in machines doing most of man’s work, and we are supposed to focus on bigger things in life, but we are becoming slaves to the same technology meant to save our time. Technology will make huge strides in the health industry, and artificial intelligence will be a game changer. The concept of Memory editing, which is the core plot of the book, will become a reality in the future. I don’t know when, but it will happen. This is my prediction. I would love people to take away the nuances of the book’s discussion and debates around the need for such technology. In the book, I’ve crafted a narrative presenting scenarios where identical issues can be tackled without and with technology. It’s like addressing health concerns through surgery or home medication. While technology offers solutions to many challenges, it’s crucial to recognize that it isn’t a solution to all our problems. Though technology is there to help humans significantly, if we can take care of the people around us and do the right things more often than not, then we, the human machines, can do the same today – NOW.

TLT: As the characters encounter diverse individuals with unique life stories, how does this contribute to their evolving perspectives, and what role do these encounters play in the overall narrative?

TE Aravind: Every character in the book is for a reason. Even the snake appearing in the dream is for a reason. However, some characters were underplayed in this part but will evolve in the coming parts. I have delved into the narrative in such a way that everyone is good in their way. From each perspective, it sounds logical, but collectively, it creates tension between characters due to trust issues, bad past experiences, or a brought-up family situation. We live in a world where we cannot live alone but can’t completely trust people around us. When we meet new people, there is always nervous energy. I enjoyed crafting different personalities coming together for a common purpose but with different agendas and individual needs. The tension and friction because of this prioritization and the scale of their needs intrigued me even at the time of writing. I personally enjoyed writing about Kavya and Dhivya’s characters. However, there is a special place for Ilamaaran’s mom’s character, though hers is not the main character. Sometimes, when a new person comes into our life, their influence could redefine our perception of life; Maaya’s character evolves, and her life perspective changes how Maaya shapes Ilamaaran’s life’s purpose from an easy-going chill person.

TLT: Interestingly, your book incorporates themes of ambition and morality. Can you discuss how these themes unfold in the story and the moral dilemmas faced by the characters?

TE Aravind: Doing the right thing is vastly different from doing things right. We all are humans, and we all make mistakes. Sometimes, emotions get the better of us, and sometimes, desperation and situations get the better of us. We cannot always vouch that everyone is ethically and morally right. We are neither gods nor machines. Humans change and evolve. This unpredictability makes us humans. And all of us want to succeed, all of us trying to move forward in life in our own way. We need to make many decisions during this journey. What motivates our decision-making – Ethics? Moral? Ambition? Success? Desperation? Greed? Win at all cost attitudes? I touched upon all these with different characters and how working with different people and respecting everyone’s views and actions balances our decision-making. Good people make many wrong decisions, but those decisions portray them as bad. But those decisions indicate something about their past experiences, and it is important to understand their perspective. We all have a moral obligation to take care of the people around us. I have brought these dynamics into the book as well. Collaboration is effective in keeping us from crossing the line and keeping us on track. Life is not a 100-meter race. It is a relay, and we must stay on track, pass the baton carefully, and work together.

TLT: Modern science and technology are portrayed as having much more to unravel in the mysteries of the universe. How do you weave this element of exploration into the narrative, and what message does it convey?

TE Aravind:  Modern science and technology advancements have been unbelievable in recent days, and we can proudly say we are the most blessed generation in terms of the usage of technology. It is only going to get better. It is going to be fascinating in the coming years. However, to unravel the mysteries of the universe, we are still scratching the surface, and that’s the truth. But this also allows us to explore and write about the possibilities. From a creator’s perspective, every discovery brings a new narrative. What used to be science fiction is a reality now, and this trend will continue. The pace will get faster with the help of artificial intelligence. I am very positive that the concept of editing and deleting human memories explored in ‘The Memory Paradox’ will be a reality. I am not sure about the timeline, but it will happen. I am optimistic about it.

I only wish governments and institutions to keep up speed with the governance framework to ensure the misuse and unethical usage of these technologies. I had covered that in the book as well, and there is more to this side of the story in 2nd and 3rd part of the book.

A person like me who gets excited about exploring technological possibilities, human minds, and their psychological aspects will give me enough dopamine to create a fictional narrative around it. I am sure I will be kept busy in the future.

TLT: What can your readers expect from you in the future? Are there upcoming projects or themes you are excited to explore in your writing journey?

TE Aravind: There is a second part to ‘The Memory Paradox’, which is a prequel to this book, and then the third part leads up to the future technology around the immortality of the brain and memory. After the current book series, I have a few more ideas for the next line of books. I also wrote a murder mystery novella in 2023 – ‘The Grave Café,’ which is available on Amazon Kindle. This novella is about corporate politics, greed and self-centrism. Psychological aspects of humans play a pivotal part in this book as well. Again, this book has some great female characters. I am planning to publish two more novellas in 2024. I plan to experiment a bit with my novellas, come out of my comfort zone, and try a different genre. God willing – All these ideas will converge into words, lines and paras.  I like to challenge myself, and that keeps me going.

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