Author Neil D’Silva’s debut book Maya’s New Husband, the newest entrant in the Indian horror fiction world, has been released in its print version at a unique online event. We catch the author on the sidelines of the event. Here are the excerpts of the interview:
Congratulations, Neil, on your debut novel Maya’s New Husband. Please tell us about the book.
Maya’s New Husband is a novel in the much-unexplored Indian horror genre. At the core of it, it is a horror story, but what inspired me to write it was the concept behind it. It is about a woman named Maya, living in the Mumbai suburbs, who finds a strange attraction towards a mysterious man in her life. Somewhere she knows it is wrong, but she feels drawn towards him and even gets married. After marriage, she stumbles upon his deep, dark world. But, by then, it is too late. She has to act to save herself and her loved ones.
What motivated you to write such a spooky and dark horror story?
Doesn’t everyone love a spooky and dark horror story? I feel we are all battling a few demons within us. Whether it is a difficult relationship, or failure at an examination, or worry about where our next payment will come from, or an illness — these fears come from unexpected sources. In my story, I have attempted to give a human form to such fears. You get an immense deal of satisfaction when the fears are finally overcome. I think that’s the reason we read or watch horror; to see the ultimate triumph out of a seemingly impossible situation.
What was your experience in publishing the book? Why did you choose self-publishing?
I have self-published the book. I believed in the potential of the book and hence chose self-publishing over traditional publishing. It is not that I am averse to traditional, but the whole process of submitting manuscripts, waiting for months to get the nod, then waiting longer to finally see the book in the stores, somehow put me off. I tested my book with a lot of beta readers. I even had a free eBook download event. During these events, I got a tremendous response for the book. People began pinging me from all over saying that they were impressed with the book. That told me I should not sit on the book longer; I must bring it out into the world as soon as possible.
What kind of initial feedback have you been receiving? What is your expectation from Maya’s New Husband?
Almost all of the reviews have been completely positive! So far, no one has picked an issue with the book. It enjoys mostly 5 and 4 star ratings on Amazon, Smashwords and Goodreads currently. I was initially skeptical about the reception of the book considering it is horror, has adult content, and is quite dark. But, since the book has been reaching the right readers, the reviews have been overwhelmingly encouraging. People are praising it for its story buildup, characters’ motivations and overall quality.
What kind of support are you getting from the book industry as well as from your near ones?
Being a self-published author is not easy. You have to not just write the book but market and promote it yourself. However, mainly owing to the content and reception of the book, a few literary agents and traditional publishers have come forward and given me a few proposals. I am looking at them, but haven’t yet decided one way or the other. At the same time, I am getting encouraging responses from online groups, both from my Facebook and Twitter communities; and the number of visits on my website at http://NeilDSilva.com have been steadily increasing after the print release.
Tell us about the book launch event. Are you happy the way it shaped out?
I had two launch events for Maya’s New Husband — one on January 1, 2015, which was for the eBook version, and the other on January 18, 2015, which was for the print version. The first one was merely a warm-up. The big do was the print version launch, which was held as a Facebook event. Several other self-published writers such as Rasana Atreya, Surya Vaidyanathan, Rachna Gupta, Deep Downer, Saurabh Garg, Amar Vyas, Devika Fernando and Roy D’Silva attended the event. Apart from the book launch, there were interviews with these authors on their books, discussions on the virtues of self-publishing, contests and giveaways. It was probably for the first time that such an eclectic mix of self-published writers from different genres rubbed shoulders with each other online and gave tips to budding writers. We also started a Facebook group titled For Writers, By Authors, where writers are invited to join and seek information from self-published authors.
Did writing come easily to you?
Writing is the best thing I can do! My other passion is teaching. When I am not teaching, I am either writing or thinking about writing. My house was always inundated with books of various genres as I grew up. My father was an avid book collector. There was always something to read. As I read them, I got quite fascinated with a few of the stories. I was barely 12 when the idea came into my mind that I could write some of those stories in a better way. At that age, I even wrote a few stories, stapled them into a book and gave them to my friends to read! Today I would be embarrassed to read those stories, but the encouragement I got from my generous friends at that age goaded me to keep pushing the pen.
Tell us something about your journey from an academician to a published author.
Oh, that’s touching a raw nerve! I am still a teacher and have my own coaching institute as well, but the whole current educational scenario depresses me. The dedication in teaching as well as learning has spiraled downwards quite badly in the last five years, especially after the RTE. The quality of teachers has deteriorated, as is the case with the state textbooks. Teachers are compelled to teach students wrong things from these erroneous textbooks, just out of fear that the students don’t lose marks at the Board Examinations. The History Standard X textbook of Maharashtra State is a case in point. The students of today are just studying; they are not learning. The sanctity of education has gone with the wind. I still love to teach, and will always do so, but I refuse to teach things that are blatantly wrong.
In any case, I have been writing professionally since 2005, as a freelance writer. I undertook several writing assignments from worldwide clients and won a huge following there. Several amazing reviews followed, but then I decided that I should write for myself. It is really painful to see someone else’s name over your creation. That’s when I decided — finally — that I had to write a book in my name and get published.
Which are the books that have influenced you in life?
No writer – or, rather, no one — can be influenced by just one book. My earliest inspirations were the Ramayana and the Mahabharata. I loved the epics so much even as a child that I used to host quiz contests on them for my friends! In my initial years, I read a lot of Tinkle too. But, the books that I can count as influential on my life would have to be Ayn Rand’s The Fountainhead, J. D. Salinger’s The Catcher in the Rye, Mario Puzo’s The Godfather and The Sicilian, any book by Agatha Christie and Stephen King, Khaled Hosseini’s The Kite Runner, Arthur Golden’s Memoirs of a Geisha, Ashok Banker’s Vertigo and, more recently, Aravind Adiga’s The White Tiger.
Tell us something about your future plans. Have you already started planning for your next book?
Yes! Maya’s New Husband is a standalone story, but it is a part of a trilogy which is titled The Beast Within Trilogy. The forthcoming books in this series are Sapna’s Bad Connection and Kalki’s Bundle of Joy. All three of these books are stories of women who are trapped in difficult relationships. The horror element is common in all three. I have already finished the manuscript work of Sapna’s Bad Connection and am currently working onKalki’s Bundle of Joy. I am also writing short stories for anthologies with other writers.
Any message for readers who would buy your books?
Read Maya’s New Husband with an open mind. It is a horror story, after all; so, it would need a modicum of strength on the readers’ part. However, I do not want to be typecast as a horror writer. I am going to definitely try my hand at different genres. Hence, I would like to ask people to keep checking me out even if they do not read my horror stories at present! There are a few free stories from me at my website onhttp://NeilDSilva.com, which could help you get better acquainted with my work.
That was Neil D’Silva! Spectralhues wishes him glorious success and hopes
Interviewer: Angella Divyesh of Spectral Hues
Interview first published here.