11 May, 2015

#Interview with Neil D'Silva, #Author of Maya's New Husband

About the Author:
Neil D’Silva is the author of the critically-acclaimed Maya’s New Husband, a horror-thriller set in Mumbai. This was his debut book; he is currently working on his next book, Sapna’s Bad Connection, which will be released shortly. Apart from that, he also writes short stories, which he occasionally puts up on his website at http://NeilDSilva.com/.

He is the debut winner of the Literary Awards 2015 under The Entertainer category for his book Maya’s New Husband. The book was also a NaNoWriMo 2014 winner.

He is quite prolific on social networking platforms, most notably Facebook. His Facebook group named For Writers, By Authors is a platform for budding writers to seek information from published authors. He also runs another group Micro Horror Chronicles, where he regularly posts microfiction in the horror genre for his fans.

Neil D’Silva has been a teacher for over two decades, having taught subjects such as English, Social Studies, Mathematics, and Science, up to the high school level.

Interview with the Author:

When did you first realize that you wanted to be a writer/ a storyteller?
I guess there was always a storyteller in me. The earliest memory I have of writing a story was when I was in the Grade 7. We had a typewriter at home those days as my father used to subtitle Hindi movies into English. When he wasn’t around, I used to toy around with his typewriter. I remember writing a story in those days named Petra, about a woman who gets lost in a cave. Sadly, I have lost it now.

What inspires you to write?
Anything around me inspires me to write. It could be something as simple as a man walking on a street. I strongly believe that each and every one of us has a story within us. I don’t consciously look for inspiration; it strikes me when the time is right.

How did you come up with the idea for your current story?
Maya’s New Husband was created because of a particular thought I had in the August of 2014 when I was touring Goa with my family. On the beaches, I saw these newly-married couples, merrily frolicking with each other. They had made the commitment to spend their lives together. But, the question that arose in my mind was: How much do they know of each other? Universally, marriage is a huge gamble. What if the person you have chosen to spend your life with has a dark, insidious secret? What if he is a serial killer, or, perhaps a cannibal? This idea forms the crux of the story.

Is there some story tucked away in some drawer that was written before and never saw the light of the day?
Oh, there are many! A writer is constantly thinking, constantly planning, constantly writing. We think at the speed of light, probably even faster; therefore, story ideas develop in our heads faster than we can write it. Maya’s New Husband will be followed by two more stories to form a three-part series. Apart from that, I have an idea of a haunting in a Rajasthani desert, a hotel infested with killer worms, and a detective character that I wish to create.

Tell us about your writing process.
As soon as an idea hits me, even for the first chapter, I begin to write. I know I will most probably scrap this chapter later, but still the writing gets me going. It makes the idea concrete. Then, when the first chapter is written, I pause, and then I begin to outline. I first develop the climax, which must have kind of a message, and then I work towards it. I write whenever I am inspired. I don’t force myself to write, because that never works.

What is your favorite scene in the book? Why?
My favorite scene is from the chapter Aunty, How Are You? It has this wonderful interaction between Maya’s mother and Maya’s husband. The scene is extremely violent and one of them gets badly hurt. It was an interesting scene to write. Apart from that, when Maya brings the human heart to her classroom, and Bhaskar’s childhood flashback chapter were also exciting to write.

Did any of your characters inherit some of your own quirks?
No, I don’t think so. There are few men in Maya’s New Husband, and the most prominent among them is Bhaskar Sadachari. He is as different from me as could be.

What is your most interesting writing quirk?
I have to design the cover page first! Even though this might not be the cover page I’ll eventually use, I want it. It gives me a graphical representation of how the book will look like finally and eggs me on to keep writing.

What is your usual writing routine?
All through the day, actually. I write best when I am alone. I cover the most writing ground in the early mornings and in the evenings before dinner. Even if I am home, I feel it difficult to write it in the afternoons because it is so hot in Mumbai! Unlike many other writers, I can write when distracted, but when I am writing important scenes, I’d rather shut myself in my room and let my words flow out in the manner I want.

Do you read? Who are your favorite authors and how have they influenced your writing style?
Of course! You cannot be a good writer unless you are a reader first. My favorite writers include Agatha Christie, Stephen King and Jeffrey Archer. These are the lighthouses of my reading domain; they guide me to the right place and comfort me. Then there are zillions of other writers whose works I have liked. Most currently, I am reading Shaun Hutson and I am impressed by the quality of his work.

What is the best piece of advice you have received, as a writer, till date?
That a writer must write and share his work with others even though he may not find it to be perfect. And also, that a writer cannot hope to achieve much with just one book. There should be at least four books out there to pass muster. In addition, I am a part of several writing groups on Facebook, where we writers constantly share good advice with each other.

What is the best piece of advice you would give to someone that wants to get into writing?
That the most difficult job of a writer begins after writing the two magic words ‘The End’. Seriously, writing the initial manuscript is just the tip of the iceberg. Once that is out of the way, you have to edit like crazy. For me, editing takes thrice the amount of time that the actual writing takes because I am so particular about each word I let out. Then there is the marketing, which is a whole different ballgame. You need to start with the notion that no one is going to promote your book for you; you have to do it yourself. 

What would be the Dream Cast for your book if it was to be turned into a movie?
There are feelers for a movie already, but it is too early to comment on that. If I go for Indian actors, then I must confess I had Nawazuddin Siddiqui in mind when I wrote Bhaskar Sadachari. He has that kind of body and energy in his eyes to carry out this strong role. Also, Mr. Siddiqui has the courage it will need to perform this unconventional role.

If you were to be stranded on the famous deserted island, what three things would you carry?
I’d need a photograph of my family first. Then, probably, I’d need my laptop (and some way to keep it energized). And, I guess I’d carry a load of dark horror books that I haven’t read already. 

How do you spend your free time? Do you have a favorite place to go and unwind?
We go to Goa each year; that’s almost a ritual now. For short sojourns, I like the beaches near Mumbai, the emptier ones. I dream of being able to live in a cottage somewhere in the northern states, probably in Shimla or Khufri, and write, but that is just a distant dream for now.

Can you share with us something off your bucket list?
Visit as many countries as possible. Not just visit, but to live there, be one with them. Experience their lives. Learn what moves them, what inspires them. Eat their food, wear their clothes, perform their dances. Yes, that’s a thing I strongly want to do before I pass on.

Tell us three fun facts about yourself.
I have a giant OCD. Yes, deal with it! It irritates me to no end even if I see my toothbrush facing the other way in the morning. (Now I don’t know if that qualifies for a fun fact but people around me find it funny.) I am an avid movie watcher and TV show binger. And I like to try out each restaurant that opens in the vicinity and then mentally review them.

What do you have in store next for your readers?
The subsequent books in The Beast Within Trilogy will be out soon; Maya’s New Husband was the first. The next, Sapna’s Bad Connection will be probably out in June. It is at the editing stage now. Once that is done, I will move on to the third book, Kalki’s Bundle of Joy.

Is there anything else you’d like to share with your readers?
All I’d like to say is, share your feedback with authors once you read their work. Do not think that we writers live on another planet. We are just as human as you are, though we may be eccentric at times. For a writer like me, a single review carries more weight than a hundred sales. Really! That’s the biggest payback you could give a writer, and they deserve it more than anyone else because every writer today is struggling to get exposure. Every single bit counts.

About the Book:
In the suburbs of Mumbai, the atmosphere is grim. There is an evil shadow lurking around, stalking and snatching able-bodied people. The hapless victims are never found again, all their bodily traces lost forever. 
In the midst of this is Maya Bhargava, a schoolteacher trying to forget a past personal tragedy. Her career looks promising though. She is learning to pick the broken pieces of her heart and move on. 
While still trying to cope, love comes her way. It comes from the most unexpected of quarters, from a man named Bhaskar Sadachari who is despised and even feared for his weird ways. 
The sensible and cautious Maya has her head in the right place, but it is her heart that refuses to obey. 
She chooses her new husband. And the horrors begin to unfold. 

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