This weekend I had the chance to interview the riveting mastermind, Neil D’Silva on his new book, Maya’s New Husband and his experience as a self-published author. Neil’s world works a little differently than most people’s and I, personally, would like to say that he is everything M. Night Shyamalan tried to be but couldn’t.
If you’re trying to create a great thriller you get an unforgettable protagonist and some folklore and you start to write. At least, that’s how easy Neil D’Silva makes it seem. He’s an author that’s already being compared to NY List Bestsellers and he’s incredibly humble and forward thinking.
Our interview begins:
GT Nina: It’s a trilogy, correct? What can we look forward to in your next book? Do you have a release date planned?
D’Silva: It is a trilogy, but not one continuous story. Maya’s story is over in Maya’s New Husband. The other two books in the series are Sapna’s Bad Connection and Kalki’s Bundle of Joy. In the first book, Maya is trapped in an uncomfortable relationship with her husband. The next book shows Sapna trapped in the haunting memories of her ex-boyfriend. The third one is even more complex, where Kalki’s motherhood is challenged by her unconventional child. Thus, the series are about three women trapped in grievous relationships. The next book, Sapna’s Bad Connection, will be out in May, if everything goes according to plan.
GT Nina: Neil, I’ve seen Maya’s New Husband described as Indian-horror. That’s a very specific demographic. Why did you choose to go that route instead of making a story that was ethnically ambiguous?
D’Silva: It’s an Indian horror-thriller to be precise. When you read Maya’s New Husband, you will see that it makes perfect sense. The nemesis of the story, Bhaskar Sadachari, is a man with wrong ideals, which stem from wrong beliefs about his faith. That’s one of the core driving forces of the story.
Having said that, I must say the story has universal appeal. I have received a lot of appreciation from American readers, who have pointed out to me that it’s the exotic element and freshness of the story that has appealed the most to them.
GT Nina: Neil, how did you come to write horror or thriller genres? Did you feel that other markets were saturated?
D’Silva: When I started out, I did not do any research on the marketability of my story. I just felt this was a fresh idea and it motivated me enough to begin writing it. I never had a hiccup while writing Maya’s New Husband, and the fact that it was a NaNoWriMo 2014 participant and winner, helped me reach the finishing line quite smoothly. To answer the second question, yes, I do feel that some genres are saturated. But I would not like to offend the great writers of those genres by mentioning them here. If you have a good story, it will find takers, regardless of trappings such as genre.
GT Nina: Do you feel like your stories have didactical messages? Do you have recurring themes?
D’Silva: I am happy you asked me this question. This trilogy is about women who are trapped in their relationships. I feel that’s the condition of most women today. They have things thrust upon them that they cannot easily wrangle out of. However, in my stories, all women triumph in their own ways. Thus, the writing is feminist in its own way. I don’t intend to preach, but you might find something worthwhile in the subtext of my books.
GT Nina: You are a self-declared Roman-Catholic, how do you feel this plays a part in your writing?
D’Silva: I am Roman Catholic, but that doesn’t influence my writing in the least. If you read Maya’s New Husband, you will find it is steeped in Hindu mythology. My short stories are multi-religious too. I have stories with Muslim families and Christian families as backdrops. The story dictates to me which ethnicity I must choose. I think that’s the best thing of living in a cosmopolitan metropolis like Mumbai; you get exposed to various cultures and religions from across the world.
GT Nina: You write a lot of shorts, don’t you? As a writer, how do you use them in your marketing and are they part of your revenue?
D’Silva: I love writing short stories! They just come to me out of the blue, and then I have to write them. I put them up on my website at http://NeilDSilva.com/ for my fans to read them. They have helped me build a small reader-base. These readers are important to me, because they help me grow as a writer with their comments. My short stories are free for all. But, when I have a good number of them, I might convert them into an anthology.
GT Nina: Momentum or inertia as it relates to self-marketing — does it play a part in your success?
D’Silva: Self-marketing is a difficult endeavor. It is not enough for a writer to have a way with words; it is also absolutely essential to build a brand image for yourself. Readers won’t come to newbie writers, so the writers have to go to them. Social networking helps in a big way. It is also important to have a voice. Writers must give their opinions on matters of current interest, which helps them find a likeminded audience that can boost their careers. So, yes, inertia is a strict no-no, marketing momentum is the way to go.
Side note: Even if you have a traditional publisher, you will have to do most of the marketing yourself.
GT Nina: What do you feel are pros and cons to being a self-published author?
D’Silva: The pros are that you get to keep all the rights to yourself. You can tell your story your way, without interference of anyone else. Also, you control the entire process, right from formatting to releasing the novel, and then the subsequent marketing. However, there are cons too, the most significant among which is that you will have to do the entire marketing yourself. For that, you will have to learn the ropes of marketing. Social networking is important. In addition, you will need to do the proofreading, editing, cover page design yourself, which could prove to be more difficult to do than it sounds.
GT Nina: Do you have a favorite social network, tool or website that has helped you in your writing career?
D’Silva: Facebook has helped me reach out to people from across the world. There are a few very active Facebook groups (both for writers and readers) of which I am a part. From the production point of view, I self-published myself through Kindle Direct Publishing for the Amazon Kindle version and Smashwords for all other eBook versions. For the paperback version, I chose Pothi.com, an Indian print-on-demand service, which suited my needs quite well. Internationally, one could choose Amazon’s CreateSpace for paperbacks. And yes, don’t forget the importance of making the book prominent on Goodreads.
GT Nina: What’s next on the Maya’s New Husband front?
D’Silva: There’s big news! Encouraged by the initial buzz that my self-published venture has garnered, a traditional publisher has picked up Maya’s New Husband for wide circulation. Yes, I am beaming from ear to ear, because I have heard horror stories of rejections at the hands of traditional publishers; and here, I am fortunate enough to have one approach me. The book will be removed from my self-published portals shortly and be released with a bigger splash in April 2015 through my traditional publishers.
You could follow my updates on my website at http://NeilDSilva.com/ and on my Facebook
Author Page at https://www.facebook.com/neildsilvathewriter. Yes, I am also quite active on Twitter; you could check me out here: https://twitter.com/NeilDSilva and https://twitter.com/MayasNewHusband.
Thanks for reading!