Saturday, 6 May 2017

Interview- Neil D'Silva- The Man Behind the Scary Stories


It is difficult to imagine that an adorable gentleman with a child-like innocence on his face writes horror stories like Maya’s new husband and Pishacha. It’s only when he speaks with complete command of the subject (and many more things) that you put your doubts to rest.
For somebody with a couple of best-sellers to his credit and a glorious description on his visiting card, Neil DSilva is extremely humble and friendly. And he validated this when he readily agreed to do an email interview. The fact that he is handling a lot of things these days (sequel of Maya’s New Husband, movie based on his first book, film production house, editing services etc.) did not keep him from patiently answering the questions in detail.

A million thanks to Neil D'Silva.

The world today knows Neil D’Silva as one of the best-selling authors on Amazon. But was there an “author” in you always or did it just happen? What was your writing journey like? 

Thank you for saying that! People generally see the ‘bestseller’ tag and forget about the years of toil that have gone behind arriving at this position. However, ‘toil’ is not the correct word, because I love writing. I don’t know what else I’d have done if not written. 

The author in me emerged when I was in Grade 7. Impressed with the various storybooks I read, I wrote a story on my own — typed it on my father’s typewriter, actually — and bound it. I titled it Petra and even circulated it among my friends. The euphoric feeling it gave me knowing that people were reading my story is unparalleled to this day. 

Professionally, I started writing in 2004. I wrote freelance from 2004 to 2013 and worked for several national and international solo and corporate clients. I loved that phase of my life because that is really where my writing was honed. The only downside was that the work did not go out in my name. 

My first novel was Maya’s New Husband. It was released on Amazon in January 2015 and instantly became an Amazon bestseller. It stayed on Amazon.in top 10 (horror category) for close to eighteen months, often peaking at #1! That was when I knew I had to just write. When you know people like your writing, you want to do it more and more. 





Why did you choose to write horror? Were there any other choices? Are any of the stories inspired by real life experiences? 

I was a voracious reader even as a child. My father had a huge collection of books of all kinds and one of my favorite pastimes was to rummage through his books and read them. And, in those days, horror appealed to me the most. I happened to read both Dracula and Frankenstein when I was barely 13. I loved the thrill they gave me. They were truly my inspirations to write horror. 

Even today, the horror that I write, though purely Indian, has some gothic elements. There were umpteen choices as I was exposed to virtually all kinds of literature in English, Hindi, and Marathi pretty early on in life. But I chose to horror because it appealed to me the most. 

None of my stories are memoirs yet, but there are elements that I have picked up from true-life people and experiences. You will find that littered throughout my book. No author can avoid including their true life experiences in their writing in some or the other way. 

Your stories are always built on the backdrop of Indian mythology. Is there any particular inspiration behind this? 

Blame Amar Chitra Katha for that! That was my first exposure to Indian mythology, and I instantly became a huge fan. I am awed by how our mythology encompasses almost all genres within itself. There’s romance, there’s mystery, there’s political turmoil, there’s social satire, there’s even horror! You cannot truly write a fully unique story because our Indian epics, especially The Mahabharata have it all. 

I, of course, did not stay limited to the comics. That was just my initiation. Later I went on to read several mythological texts, including our epics, the Vedas, the Dashavataram and several other related works. 

What is your opinion on current reading habits of youth in our country? Are they reading enough or reading the right kind of stuff? 

Most analysts would say that people in India don’t read much. But I am not very sure of that. We Indians do read. We read more in terms of average hours than people from other countries. But the sad part is that we don’t read the right stuff. 

Most of our reading is work-related reading, like school and college textbooks, research papers, and the like. We are dismal when it comes to reading for pleasure. 

I don’t mind people reading anything. They must make their choice on what kind of book they want to read — popular fiction or literary fiction or something that’s in the middle like most of us do. But they must read. That’s our only lament. 

The trends are changing though. With big players like Amazon making it easier for us to read through the Kindle and the several mobile reading apps such as Readify, it has become quite easy for people to get their hands on a wide variety of books and start reading right away, wherever they are. 

What did you read while growing up? What’s your favorite book or author? 

As I said above, I read a lot of books. Most of my reading in my earliest days was comic books like Tinkle and Amar Chitra Katha. I was a fan of foreign comics (which were hard to get in India at that time, in the 80s) such as Tintin, Asterix, Misha and the like. Then I went on to do the usual rounds of the Famous Fives, The Hardy Boys, and The Three Investigators. These were series that highly inspired me too. 

Along the way I read abridged and then full-fledged versions of almost all the classic novels, beginning with Dracula and Frankenstein. 

As I stepped into college, I graduated to reading Jeffrey Archer and then Fredrick Forsythe. But my literary nirvana was achieved when I discovered Edgar Allan Poe, who is, for me, the greatest horror writer the world has ever seen. 

What do you do when you are not with a book (reading or writing)? 

I am binge-watching TV shows and multitasking by playing games on my cellphone! Only if the show is in the league of Stranger Things or Sense8, I keep the cellphone away! 

And, I need to my dose of recreation with my children, Gilmore and Felicia. We goof around, listen to songs and then sing them like something has bitten us. We play games on the computer together. I tell them fascinating things that I know and smile at their wonderment. We go and chill at the mall. That’s the kind of stuff we do! 

What should be Neil’s fans excited about (new book or a book turning into a movie or something else)? 

Well, it follows that my fans should be excited about what I am excited about, isn’t it? 

So, Maya’s New Husband is getting made into a movie by an Indo-Canadian team. I am pretty chuffed about that. 

I have recently launched a film production venture too, which goes under the name of Zovie Media. My partner in this, Varun Prabhu, and I have already filmed three short stories, two of which are from my books Bound in Love and Pishacha. 

On the writing front, I am releasing a horror collection in July 2017 with another traditional publishing house. It is yet untitled. I am also giving the final touches to the sequel to Maya’s New Husband, which is titled Maya’s New Husband 2: The Birth of the Death. I expect a Diwali 2017 release on that one. 

Thank you! Keep reading! Keep watching!


Book Launch of Pishacha
About the Author: Neil D'Silva is the author of four books. His 
debut, Maya's New Husband, tells the tale of a woman who finds herself trapped in the wrongest kind of marriage, and the subsequent horrors that unfold upon her. His second book, The Evil Eye and the Charm, consists of three short tales of the Indian lemon-chili charm, each of which raises the perpetual debate between rationality and superstition using horror as their narrative element. His third book, Bound in Love, is a collection of eight short stories of dark and twisted human relationships. His recently released fourth book, Pishacha, is the story of a demon with a human woman.

Neil D'Silva also finds himself published in two anthologies. The first is Vengeance, an anthology put forward by Wrimo India, India's arm of the global NaNoWriMo organization. The second is When They Spoke, which is a collection of winning stories of a short story competition organized by Readomania and the Delhi Literature Festival. (Source: Goodreads.com)



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