We got an opportunity to interview Neil D’Silva. It was great interacting with him about his latest book Maya’s New Husband. We hope that you will get to know more about him and his work. He has been the founder-director of a coaching institute since 1998. He teaches the major subjects in this institute, such as English, Mathematics, Science, and Social Sciences. However, He intends to give up his teaching career soon so that he can focus on his writing full time.
He is a postgraduate in Organic Chemistry (M.Sc.) from the University of Mumbai.
Awards achieved for his book Maya’s New Husband:
- Literary Awards 2015 in The Entertainer category.
- National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo) 2014
What inspired you to start writing?
I have been writing since I was in Grade 7. The way writers can create new worlds and characters, and weave their plots, has fascinated me since as long as I can remember. In my professional life, I took up a teaching career, but parallel with it, I continued to write as a freelancer. However, in mid-2014, I had a strong desire to give up everything else and concentrate on writing because I figured out that’s what I really want to do.
What did you like to read when you were a boy?
The first literary works that captivated my attention were comics such as Tinkle and Amar Chitra Katha, along with foreign publications such as Tintin, Richie Rich, Archie, and a Russian magazine known as Misha. As an adolescent, I began reading books from the Enid Blyton oeuvre, along with The Hardy Boys and The Three Investigators. In my mid-teens, I was hooked on to Agatha Christie, especially Poirot and Miss Marple. Right about that time, I also got interested in reading the political thrillers of Frederick Forsythe and Jeffrey Archer. I think it was Kane and Abel that really made me want to write.
What is the greatest challenge in writing a book?
Creating the flow of the story (screenplay as we call it in movie parlance). It has to be done in such a way that it takes the plot forward, and at the same time it has to be believable. A writer should have a keen sense of progression and avoid all redundancy. That’s important when writing thrillers such as I do.
How much research do you do before writing the book?
That changes from book to book. When I wrote Maya’s New Husband, I researched on Indian occult practices from secondary sources such as documentaries and websites, and asked people around for their personal experiences. For my forthcoming book Sapna’s Bad Connection, I have interviewed people with similar disorders, whom I shall acknowledge in my book as well. The writers’ groups on social networks help a lot too; we are always out to help each other if one of us has some kind of a block.
What motivated you to write the book “Maya’s New Husband”?
Maya’s New Husband was a story that struck me out of the blue but lingered on most impressionably. Once the idea came into my head, I just could not get rid of it! And it was so poignant, a kind of a reflection of our urban society along with the horror element thrown in. A woman married with an unknown man who has the most horrible secret hidden within him, is a horrifying idea indeed. You can find out more about The Birth of Maya’s New Husband here.
Can you tell us more about your latest book “Maya’s New Husband”?
Maya’s New Husband tells the story of a woman, Maya Bhargava, who is inexplicably drawn towards a colleague named Bhaskar Sadachari. She falls in love with him and marries him. All this happens in a heartbeat, even before she can come to grips with what is happening. At the same time, there’s a serial killer roaming around in Mumbai. Some extremely gory scenes of this killer mutilating his victims are described. After marriage, when Maya actually begins living with her new husband, several suspicions come into her mind, and the horror of the situation is slowly unraveled in the most brutal way as the story progresses.
How did you come up with the idea of writing a book in the genre horror-thriller?
Genre is just a label; my story has several universal elements. In any case, we need to mention genre (even I have done so on my cover page) to gain the attention of a particular kind of reader. I was always sure I wanted to break out with a horror novel. It slowly worked its way as a thriller too as the plot developed.
Who are your favorite authors?
There are so many of them. I couldn’t name a few and exclude the others! But I could list the current favorites. At the moment, I am enjoying a vast diversity of works, especially from people as varied as Edgar Allan Poe to Neil Gaiman and Shaun Hutson. Among the non-horror writers, Khaled Hosseini is an absolute marvel for the way he weaves social commentary within his stories.
How much time do you dedicate for writing on a daily basis?
I don’t dedicate myself as such, but I write most of the time. Currently, I need to divide my time between my teaching, my writing, and my marketing, for I need to do that too. At the end of it all, I can still write for about 2-3 hours per day, more on holidays. I like to write in the early mornings and in the pre-dinner evening hours.
What words of wisdom would you like to give to aspiring writers?
Take feedback seriously. When you finish writing, send your book out to beta-readers and reviewers — professional ones, not just your family and friends. When you get their remarks, take them constructively. Even the most scathing review helps the writer. Be meticulous about elements such as grammar and punctuation. Do not forget them in the zest of finishing your story. Normally, editing takes thrice as long as writing the original manuscript. I always maintain, a writer’s major work begins after they have written the two magic words — The End.
Thank you Neil for your time and all the best for your book.
The original interview was published on 14 May 2015 here.