17 August, 2019

#Interview with Walter Salvadore Pereira, #Author of The Missing Fairy Princess

About the Author:
After spending over 25 years in the Middle East, the author, aged 75, now leads a retired life.  He lives with his wife and son in Thane, near Mumbai. He has been passionate about writing from his early days.  His first book was a fast-paced sci-fi novel titled “This Nightmare is for Real”, was self-published. That was followed by a historical fiction titled “Bheem – The Sage of Madhavpur”, again a self-publication.  A third book, a fairy tale titled “The Missing Fairy Princess” which was published on Kindle Select during the first week of June 2019, while a fourth on the oft-discussed topic of cross-border terrorism titled “The Carnivore has a Heart” is slated for publication shortly thereafter again on Kindle Select.

Contact the Author:

1. When did you first realize that you wanted to be a writer/ a storyteller?

I read “Uncle Tom’s Cabin” by Harriet Beecher Stowe in my early teens and became aware that the written words stirred up emotions within one as much as the actual events one witnessed occurring around.  That book was followed by “The Count of Monte Cristo” by Alexandre Dumas.  Those two books, although of entirely different genres, had a profound impact on me and set me on my journey as an avid book lover.  At the same time, they did ignite an urge within me to emulate their authors.

2. What inspired you to write?

My granddaughter, Riya Reddy Kakani, right from her toddler days, just loved stories.  At the slightest signs of unrest in her, I would come up with a mini story and that would instantly distract and pacify her. 

As she grew, I had to sharpen my wits in order to be able to keep pace with her age as well her interests.  So gradually, from one liner, the stories expanded in volume, until she wasn’t satisfied even after an hour long story, at times, my imagination ready to burst at the seams.

To make matters tougher, she wasn’t satisfactory merely in listening, but would insist on dictating the direction of the story as well and demanding the role of a particular character be cut short abruptly thereby compelling a major structural change in the story at the blinking of a eye, all the while keeping the narration going, without interruption!

Thanks to her, all those efforts have resulted in regimenting my imagination to such an extent, the writer’s blocks have all but have been banished.

3. How did you come up with the idea for your current story?

The credit again must go to my granddaughter.  Her favourite topic in her younger days was fairies and naturally, I had to make sure that a fairy princess was part of every story that I told her.  Incidentally, she began recalling her previous life as a fairy princess called Ashlyn, with a younger sister named Merlyn.  I have borrowed those two names and they form the central characters in my book “The Missing Fairy Princess”.

4. Are there some stories tucked away in some drawer that was written before and never saw the light of the day?

I have an obstinate streak in me which hates to accept defeat.  I still remember in primary school there was an instance where I had topped the class in all subjects, but in Maths I was totally flummoxed by the very first question. I refused to give up and kept at it, attempt after attempt, until finally, the gong announced end of time. The kind teacher though graciously gave passing marks on the basis of performances in previous tests, to bail me out of a tight spot or else it would have cost me the first rank.

That tenacity helped me with by book “Bheem – The Saga of Madhavpur”.  It was my first attempt at writing and it took me almost five years to complete.  I had shelved it at a crucial stage unable to decide on the course of the story from a few divergent options.  In between, I worked on another story idea and from it emerged my first self-published book titled “This Nightmare is for Real”, a fast-paced sci-fi adventure.  Next, I embarked on my current book, all the while toyed with the various scenarios for “Bheem”.  On an extraordinary bright day, I finally hit the solution and switched back to “Bheem” and took it to a conclusion, an extremely satisfying effort.

5. Tell us about your writing process.

I have come across a few articles by some experts that an author has to chalked out a sketch of the plot and then expand on it.  I am certainly not contesting it; maybe it is a better way going about it.  With me, however, writing a story mainly begins with finding a strong protagonist and then an equally powerful antagonist.  Once I have found a satisfactory duo, it constitutes half the idea.  The rest flows in gradually with the antagonist having an upper hand initially and the tide slowly but surely turning in favour of the protagonist.  That is the formula that I have adopted in writing all my four books and fortunately, it has worked fine.

6. What is your favorite scene in the book? Why?

It has to be the one in Chapter 4, where the Mayor during his early morning stroll through the main street of Laketown finds a two-year-old girl all by herself standing under a Frangipani tree, looking lost and forlorn.  He is quick to realize the girl doesn’t belong in his town and softly questions her about the whereabouts of her parents.  She struggles for words and the expression in her eyes reflects the helplessness she experiences. She haltingly answers that she was waiting for her aunt who had earlier brought there on a flying carpet, promising to return soon to take her back home, but had failed to return so far.

Each of us would have experienced the agony and frustration of a similar situation where we would have been caught up in a tight spot, desperately praying for help from some quarter.  Perhaps you can recollect the level of anxiety during those intervening moments.  Then, imagine such pain thrust on a small child.

7. Did any of your characters inherit some of your own quirks?

Not really.  But being a tale of fantasy and magical realism, abounding with witches, one has the opportunity of re-living the childhood fantasies of magical carpets, magic wands and aliens. 

8. What is your most interesting writing quirk?

I would say visualizing the characters of Granny Annabelle, the Principal Witch.  If I have succeeded in the reader connecting with the loveable witch, I would really feel proud.

9. Do you read? Who are your favourite authors and how have they influenced your writing style?

I do, mostly fiction.  For me, Alexandre Dumas, the creator of “The Count of Monte Cristo” undoubtedly would remain one of the most fascinating authors.  Among the older generation, I would pick James Hadley Chase, Harold Robbins, Mickey Spillane, Arthur Hailey, Edgar Wallace and Louis L’Amour, although not necessary in that order. As for the current breed, I would rank Dan Brown as the most interesting one, followed closely by Sidney Sheldon, Robert Ludlum and James Patterson.

Each of the above mentioned authors has his own style of writing and I cannot say that any of them has particularly influenced my writing. On the other hand, without being parochial, I can proudly state though the Indian evergreen classics like Ramayan and Mahabharat have influenced my writing.

10. What is the best piece of advice you have received, as a writer, till date?

Try to be true to yourself and attempt to do whatsoever is within your reach rather than aiming higher than the capability of your artillery. With experience you’ll definitely mature and bound to achieve greater results.

11. What is the best piece of advice you would give to someone that wants to get into writing?

Follow your own chain of thought rather than falling prey to the temptation of copying the style of a popular writer. It is simply not worth the trouble.

12. What would be the Dream Cast for you book if it was to be turned into a movie?

The characters in the story are fairies and witches, excepting for the little girl transformed by the antagonist. Hence, ideally it would have to be an animation movie.  As it the present trend with such movies, the voices lent by popular actors would certainly have a great impact in attracting larger audiences.

13. If you were to be stranded on the famous deserted island, what three things would you carry?

If you are speaking in terms of ‘carrying’, they would be a magic wand, flying carpet and of course, a cute pet. (I am afraid I haven’t been able to shake off the effects of the fantasy yet.)

14. How do you spend your free time? Do you have a favorite place to go and unwind?

I am a snooker addict and naturally, a visit to the snooker room goes a long way in unwinding me.  Also, I enjoy long walks which invariably are a sure way of untying the knots within.

15. Can you share with us something off your bucket list?

I always dream of starting a shelter for orphans, the aged and stray animals.  If I were able to fulfil that desire, I’ll leave this world a truly satisfied man.

16. Tell us three fun facts about yourself.

This one counts for all three. The fact is I can be naïve at times. I cannot forget an instance when around 10 years of age and participating in a 100-feet sprint.  I had overheard a conversion between two boys among the spectators about the purpose of the rope held by two persons at the finishing line.  One of them authoritatively commented that the participant would be disqualified if he touched it.  Soon my race was on and I was in the lead, with the second placed boy at least a couple paces behind me.  In the final few yards, while the rest of the racers were exerting their energies to narrow the gap between them and the rope, I was engaging in applying the brakes in order to stop avoiding making the contact with the rope!  With the result, I lost a race which I should won by at least a yard and a flabbergasted PT teacher rushed to me anxiously asking me why I had stopped abruptly short of the finishing line!  Too late, I realizing the gaffe and was too embarrassed to answer him.

17. What do you have in store next for your readers?

My next book relates to the problem faced by India over the past several years – terrorism from across the border.  Whether it was Kargil or the attack on the Taj Hotel in Mumbai or countless other instances of sabotage, where it has been proven beyond doubt that a neighbhouring country was responsible, carrying out those dastardly acts through terrorists trained on its soil.

In recent times, the head of a terrorist sect in that country has been reported exhorting his followers to take to nuclear technology to teach the “kafirs” (non-believers) a lesson.  I have picked up that thread and expounded it into an incursion by agents of the enemy armed with miniature nuclear arms. It is an edge-of-the-seat thriller where the bravery of a Military Intelligence officer foils the elaborately planned offensive although at a great personal cost, aptly titled “The Carnivore has a Heart”.  I plan to publish it on Kindle some time during August 2019, may be to coincide with the Independence Day.

18. Is there anything else you’d like to share with your readers?

An author is an individual blessed by nature with a creative talent.  While we worship our movie stars, the behind-the-scene persons like story writers, script writers, dialogue writers do not get the credit they rightly deserve. It is time, our society remedies that injustice.

About the Book:
“The Missing Fairy Princess” is the story of a 16-year-old fairy princess pitted against a powerful witch. The witch has stolen a potent new mantra developed by a colleague, ruthlessly snuffing out a brilliantly innovative mind.  She then hatches an elaborate plot to frame an adversary for her misdeed.  Her intention is to exact sweet revenge from her foe and at the same time, get away with the theft.  The victim, caught in her vicious web, is doomed to disgrace and a life sentence on a harsh penal colony. Meanwhile, the witch learns from her crystal ball, about an imminent threat from a fairy princess wearing a pink tiara.  To ward off that threat she kidnaps the fairy princess, wipes her memory clean and then turns her into a two-year-old girl.  

Unfortunately for the culprit, she has goofed up by kidnapping the wrong fairy princess, Merlyn, instead of Ashlyn, her twin.  The mistake turns out to be the undoing of the witch because Ashlyn proves to be her nemesis.  The brilliant fairy princess exposes the cobweb of misleading evidence fabricated by the witch, ultimately unmasking her.

If you love mystery, whodunit, with a dash of magical realism and sci-fi, this book is for you.

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