Hello Aindrila, thank you for being a part of IWI’s Incredible Women Writers of India 2016, and sharing your journey as a writer.
How would you define yourself?
I’m an introvert and a recluse. I’m at my happiest when left alone. That’s not to say that I don’t love my family or enjoy their company, I do. A lot. It’s just that I am at my creative best when I am alone. I’m passionate about my writing, reading, paleontology and food. I may not look it, but I’m a big foodie.
I’m a very private person who prefers to live her life off the social media. I only use social media to build my network and have fun.
What was your childhood like? Any incidents form your growing up years that shaped you as a person?
My childhood was a mixed bag. Early childhood was fun, with lots of exciting things around me. However, things changed when I was 11 and my family moved town. I was unprepared for the move and it brought my dyslexia to the forefront. To make matters worse, I was studying in a highly competitive school where exams were the yardstick with which people were measured. The next few years I struggled with a learning disability, peer pressure to do better, bullying and ostracism. Wasn’t easy. But today, I can say that I am a better person having lived through that. I am who I am today largely because of those formative years.
When did your journey as a writer/poet begin?
My journey began around the same time as those difficult formative years that I spoke about in the previous question. I was 11-12 when I first started to pen thoughts that I was too young and too shy to articulate verbally. In a way, it’s my writing that pulled me out of my depression.
Do you have a muse? If yes, who or what acts as a catalyst to your writing?
I can’t say I have a muse per se. My muse is internal. When I get the mood to write, I write. Can’t say that there’s a catalyst.
Do you plan out your work or just go with the flow?
I used to be a go-with-the-flow writer when I started writing novels. But after two consecutive projects, where I wrote myself into a corner with no way out, I have become a diligent planner. Now I have extensive plans for my works in progress.
For you, what’s the easiest thing about writing and the hardest thing? Do you have any weird/funny writing rituals?
Easiest thing for me are emotions. I have no problem stepping into my characters’ shoes and feel what they’re feeling.
Hardest would undoubtedly be action scenes. What I visualize in my mind as a scene to rival great epics turns out on paper looking like two stick figures fighting. I’m horrible at action scenes. Although, given my personality, marketing my book comes a very close second.
Since I work alone, and I live in USA, it can get really, really quiet. So what started as white noise has morphed into this hilarious ritual where I have an exceptionally bad movie playing in the background while I write. Logic being, if the movie is super horrid, I won’t be tempted to look up.
Do you get writer’s block? How do you battle it?
No. I do get an occasional day where I find no words are coming to me, but that usually lasts for a day or two. I usually have 2-3 works in progress at any given time. When I can’t work on one, I work on the other.
How have you evolved as a writer since you have started? If you could give one advice to yourself, what would it be? What are you working on now?
I have come a long, long way from when I started. I’m much more verbose now, where initially I wouldn’t describe at all. I have become much better in characterization, dialogue and plotting. But most importantly, I have learned to finish my novels.
I’d advice myself to not be so hard on myself. I’m usually my worst critic, sometimes to the point of being harmful. I need to believe in myself a little more.
Oh boy! I have loads of projects on right now. A supernatural, romance, high fantasy titled ‘Moonlight Sonata’. A modern horror-fantasy (that merges various mythologies and borrows heavily from paleontology) titled ‘Dreamscape’. An urban fantasy duology titled ‘Blood Brotherhood’. A dark high fantasy trilogy titled ‘Blackened Mirrors’. And finally, a high fantasy quartet that’s based on Ancient Indian society, tentatively named ‘Sussanoh Scrolls’. Basically, I am crazy.
What’s your opinion about the future of writing/reading/the publishing industry in India?
I’m not very familiar with the Indian literary scenario at the moment, however, I do know some people who are incredibly talented. I have faith that they will become the shining stars of Indian publishing industry in not so distant future.
Favorite food… Mutton Biriyani
Favorite Book… Kite Runner
Favorite author… Edgar Allan Poe
What are you afraid of… Spiders
What makes you angry… Passive aggressive behavior
Childhood crush… Shah Rukh Khan
Things that you can’t leave without… I never leave my house without my phone, credit card and car keys.
Any message or advice you want to share with our readers?
Read, read and read more. There’s a treasure trove out there, explore. And when you read a book, remember to thank the author by leaving a review.
Excerpts from ‘I SEE YOU’:
The feeling that something was wrong just would not leave him. Assuming that the bulb of the table lamp had blown a fuse, Liam got off the bed and moved to the switch near the door. He was about to turn the overhead light on when he heard a rustle, like a paper. Whirling on his heels, his eyes scanned the room, but there was nothing. And that made Liam all the more uncomfortable. What could possibly be rustling in his room? The door was locked, the windows boarded, and the A/C was on. There was no reason why a paper should be rustling, but he was absolutely sure he had heard it. Liam turned around, flipped the switch, and yet again, nothing.
He briefly wondered whether the power was out, but he could feel the blast of cold air coming from the vents so that was not it. Why weren’t the lights coming on then? The only explanation that he could come up with was one he did not like. He was in another nightmare. Another vivid, life-like nightmare.
“Okay, then I’d like to wake up now.” He said, not missing the slight tremble in his voice.
A crunch behind him stilled his hand and stiffened his shoulders. Slowly, he turned, scanning the room. It was a while before he spotted it, but now that he did, Liam’s eyes would not move. There, in the shadowy nook between his bureau and the window, he could make out the silhouette of a person.
Startled, Liam took a step back, his heart hammering in his ears. “Wh-who are you? Who’s there?”
It was the heat that woke him up a few hours later. Stifling, sweltering heat. Eyes still closed, he wiped the sweat off his forehead, threw the blanket off and turned to his side to fall back to sleep, but the heat was oppressive. After spending a couple of minutes tossing and turning, Liam caught a whiff that jolted him fully awake. Something was burning. Eyes snapping open, he sat up on the bed and a scream tore through his lips. The foot of Liam’s bed was on fire and it was creeping further up at a frightening speed.
Shock paralyzed him for a precious few seconds in which the flames engulfed the entire bed frame and began licking the mattress. Egged by primal fear, Liam leaped out of the bed, his body passing through the flames. Panting heavily, he stood on the floor with his hands on his knees. Having caught his breath, he turned around, prepared to see a flaming inferno, but instead his eyes were met by an empty bed. There was no fire anywhere. No signs of it either.
It was then that he smelled the stench that turned his stomach into ice. The same fetid, meat-gone-bad stink that he associated with the apparition. Trembling and gasping, Liam turned and in the faint glow of the digital clock and the street light, he saw the shadowy figure glide towards him slowly. Liam stood heaving, his extremities going cold and knees trembling.
A couple of feet away from him, she stopped. Even though Liam could not see anything save her silhouette, he had the distinct impression that she was watching him. To his horror, Nyx walked up to the apparition and settled at her feet. The scream that rent from his throat was bloodcurdling, jarring even to his own ears. He fully expected the light to switch on and Griffin to appear swearing a blue streak. Hell, he would even welcome a punch on the face from his roommate if it meant waking up from this horror show.
But what happened instead was worse than anything he could have imagined. As the last echoes of his scream died, what followed was an absolute, crushing silence. No lights flicked on, no burly roommate came barreling in. Nothing. Just pure, oppressive silence. His lips trembled in a low whimper and for some reason, she found it amusing. A loud, raspy and somewhat papery cackle reverberated through the kitchen and the shadow moved forward, inching towards him.
Please Note: This interview has been conducted online via emails by Rhiti Bose for IWI.