Interview with ‘Rising Star’ Neil D’Silva
By Irfan Ali
- Have you always wanted to be a writer?
Ever since I can remember, I have always had this yearning to write. That’s the way my mind has always worked. Whenever I would read any story or watch any movie, I would always think about it analytically. I would think, “In what way can I make this story better?” And sometimes when I would read a fantastic book, I would think, “Oh, I wish I had written that one.” That’s how it began. I was in Grade 7 when I wrote my first book. It was quite a rudimentary thing, a bunch of pages bound by a stapler, and though I still have that book, I would not like to show it to anyone today!
- Just as your books inspire authors, what authors have inspired you to write?
Thanks for saying that my books inspire others. I’d be mighty pleased if that is true! On the other hand, my own inspirations have been many, too many in fact. My earliest influencers were the Indian comics — Tinkle and Amar Chitra Katha — and then Champak and Chandamama. I loved the stories in them. The vibrancy, the color… it all enraptured me. Soon I moved on to the next big influence in my life, which was Agatha Christie. I still have a huge collection of her books. I like the intelligence she brings to all her stories. From the drama point of view, I think my style resembles that of Jeffrey Archer, who is another favourite. And then I have Stephen King as a major influence too. I am also quite enamored by the works of Edgar Allan Poe.
- What does your writing process look like? Are you a plotter or a pantser?
I am a mix of both. My creative process begins by planning the story in my head first. I do not write down an outline or prepare charts or anything like that, but the story has to be clear in my head first. I have the beginning and the end and the important milestones of the story all planned out in advance. Then, when I begin writing, the story actually becomes dynamic. The scenes pan out as I write them.
- How important are names of characters to you in your books?
Very. And I can get stuck for days if I don’t like the name of a character. A case in point is the name Bhaskar Sadachari. This name took the greatest amount of struggle actually. I used several placeholder names in the manuscript when I wrote the first draft, but it was only when I hit upon this particular name (which I think has a great hint of irony in it) that the story really started moving forward.
- What draws you to this horror genre?
I love the dark intrigue that this genre creates. Horror is a niche genre, but it is a myth that it is not widely-read. In fact, Maya’s New Husband has converted many people into horror reading. My big secret is that I don’t just deal with horror separately, but I blend it with human drama, romance, or even comedy. That is what I love about writing horror — the way it blends beautifully with other genres, almost becoming a tool to take them forward.
Then there is another point. Horror is a genre that requires the author to play with words. I love that aspect. I love being able to use the right word in the right context to generate sights, sounds, smells, and even touch. I love it that my writing can make people’s hair stand on end.
- Any tips on how to get through the dreaded writer’s block?
I believe the writers’ block is largely a myth. Mostly it is just a euphemism for our latent inability to write, which could be due to several reasons, such as personal hang-ups or plumb laziness. To overcome such lethargy in writing, it is best if you have a well-planned story at the outset. Mostly it is the pantsers who suffer from such non-writing phases. Take a break for a day. Do things you like and then come back. You will see yourself writing better. At the same time, I should like to say we should not force ourselves to write. There’s no point in churning out gobbledygook just for the sake of it. In fact, I have written a great blog post on How to Overcome Writers’ Block. Hope it helps.
- How do you think you’ve evolved creatively?
I think a writer always evolves. Even between the time you have started a story and finished it, you have evolved a bit. Personally, I think my evolution has been in terms of the basic structure of my stories. Having been writing for a while now, I understand much better now how to approach a story, like what I should mention, what I should hide. I have learnt better how to tease the reader and pull the tricks out one by one. In short, I have become better at keeping the suspense, which is an important element in horror writing.
- What would you say are the main advantages and disadvantages of self-publishing against being published or the other way around?
It is the freedom of choice, of course. As a self-published author, it is much easier for me to keep control on my books. I can plan my marketing better. The other great advantage is that I can write exactly as I want as I don’t have to kowtow to any publisher’s dictates. The general idea is that traditional publishers can help an author with distribution. But unless you have a big publisher with a wide network and, more importantly, one who places their trust in the critical and commercial aspects of your book, that is not going to work out. In conclusion, if your book is not able to interest any of the big-name publishers, it is best to be self-published.
- What advice would you give to aspiring writers?
I don’t think I am in a position to dole out advice yet, but I can surely share my observations. One of the things I feel very strongly about is the importance of good language. Due to the spurt of self-publishing, a lot of mediocre stuff is being published. People are too eager to see their names on the cover of a book. However, this is quite detrimental to the author’s career if they haven’t done enough post-work on the book, which includes several rounds of editing and proofreading. So, if not advice, you could call it a suggestion — Don’t let your work out until you are completely satisfied it has no errors of any kind, linguistic or otherwise, because bad reviews at the outset can seriously jeopardize your writing career.
- How can readers discover more about you and your work?
I am quite visible in the social media world. Do check me out on any of the avenues below.
Amazon Author Page:Neil D’Silva
Book Links: (* American, UK, etc.)
These are the Amazon links to my books:
Maya’s New Husband on Amazon.in: http://amzn.to/1bQUutl
Maya’s New Husband on Amazon.com: http://bitly.com/1F7Az75
The Evil Eye and The Charm on Amazon.in: http://amzn.to/1J4NSoh
The Evil Eye and The Charm on Amazon.com: http://amzn.to/1euHQC0
Bound In Love on Amazon.in: http://amzn.to/1fRslEt