Discover the thrilling yet bone-chilling research experiences of Neil D'Silva, one of India's most celebrated horror writers.
Neil D’Silva makes sure that shivers run down peoples’ spines as they read his book: “Baak: A Desi Horror Story”. Join Tara and Michelle as they find out what he puts himself through to instill fear in his readers. How did a cowardly child become an accidental horror author? Is it a good idea to self-publish horror books?
Tune in to discover the truth behind co-authoring a book with a paranormal investigator.
Books and filmmakers mentioned in this episode:
Produced by Aishwarya Javalgekar
Sound edit by Kshitij Jadhav
‘Books and Beyond with Bound’ is the podcast where Tara Khandelwal and Michelle D’costa uncover how their books reflect the realities of our lives and society today. Find out what drives India’s finest authors: from personal experiences to jugaad research methods, insecurities to publishing journeys. Created by Bound, a storytelling company that helps you grow through stories. Follow us @boundindia on all social media platforms.
I take a very thick towel, I put it on my head, I shut my eyes, I put off the lights of the room and I just think in the darkness, I try to imagine what my scene would be like.
Welcome to Books and Beyond with bound. I'm Tara Candela. I am Michelle D'costa. And in this podcast, we uncover the stories behind some of the best written books of our time, and find out how these books reflect our lives and our society today. So tune in every Wednesday to enter a whole new world with a new author and a new idea. Yes, and after three years and 2 million listens, we are back with a fall back to season five, with hard hitting questions and life changing books. So let's dive in.
How Hi everyone, we are super thrilled to speak to India's biggest and most favorite horror writer Neil DeSilva. He's written over 12 books with publishers like penguin Rupa HarperCollins hashrate, you name it. And today's episode is going to be a spooky episode because his most recent book playthings is all set to be India's goose bumps. It's already a best seller you know, it's selling like hotcakes. It's climbing charts. So welcome, Neil, very happy to speak to you today. Thank you so much, Michelle, and Tara for having me on the show. It's always a great place to connect with readers wherever we can, in any capacity. And I'm very happy that you are having this session so that I can talk to my readers and tell them a little bit more about my books and my writing. Thank you. Looking forward to our conversation today. Awesome. Yeah, your your recent book is climbing the charts like a monster cave, your house, and it's about what happens when your favorite childhood toy is out to get you. Today, we're gonna speak to you, we're gonna get into the mind of zombies get haunted by ghosts, and get threatened by terrifying toys. So let's jump in and to set the tone a little bit. And to not scare our listeners that much. We thought that we will begin with something different for this episode, which is a little bit of a fun quiz. And then we go into the questions and I'm prepared for your questions throw what you can at me. Awesome. So which one of these is a perfect horror movie? According to you? Is it somebody trapped or phobia? Somebody I love somebody because it takes so much from our folklore and the kind of stories that we Indian says used to hearing and the whole ambience of it the very got kind of atmosphere that Tamar has, that really appealed to me. Awesome. You do this when you're out of ideas or facing a writer's block, paste the room summon a ghost through the Ouija board or chase a monster.
And none of these I take a very thick towel, I put it on my head. I shut my eyes. I put off the lights of the room and I just think in the darkness. I try to imagine what my scene would be like, Oh, okay, I never imagined that. What would you do that? Uh huh. I would choose the imaginary monsters in my head. Oh, nice. I've actually tempted to pick the second one. You know, like I would I would, you know, I think I would find that exchange very interesting, but it's a little scary. For me it is very akin to summoning ghosts in a sense, because actually what I do when I have to write something very serious kind of stuff horror, I booked myself a hotel room somewhere in a secluded town or something like that a little away. And if it has a reputation of being haunted, so much the better. I locked myself in and I try to write there. So there I get all those kinds of goose bumpy vibes that I need. So yeah, it's somewhat like going in the hunt of ghosts. Have you ever caught a ghost? In any of you? See, I don't I don't know how to answer that properly. But there have been strange kind of phenomena happening in the room when I write horror. Of course, I understand that a lot of it will be just my mind playing tricks because I write in the middle of the night. And I'm also writing in a town that I'm not used to.
Like all those spooky kinds of things that we are used to like the lights going on and off. And sometimes you see something the curtains fluttering even though there is no breeze or you feel something has gone past you, behind you. So all those things do happen. They have happened and especially the lights flickering thing. It happens so prominently once that I actually had to call the hotel guy
I do check what was the problem with it. And he said that there was no problem because the lights have been installed. Recently, I've been repaired recently, and there should not be any issue. But still it happened. And it went on for the whole night. And I was too scared to write even. And you go back for more.
Because that's what I do.
I write horror. And if I have to scare my readers, the only way to do it is to experience that fear yourself first. So it's okay, I walk on the edge. But when I do that, I know that I'll get a good scene out of it. So yeah, I'm crazy that
I got imagined, but I want like deviating from the forecast because this is so interesting, but why, you know So why, like what like what has been sort of your, you know, you're one of your India's biggest horror writer. And I never knew that, you know, you put yourself in these situations. So why horror? What is it about horror that interests you so much? Right. Going back to the times when I started reading as a child, there was no censorship in my house, we could pick up any books that we wanted and read.
At that time, I discovered books like Dracula, Frankenstein, along with all the books that my dad had, and I found them to be very,
they attracted me in a particular way. And I wanted to create those same kinds of worlds, those characters somewhere that stayed with me, also my dad who used to subtitle Hindi movies to English at that time. One of his biggest clients were the Ramsay's so all the Ramsay Brothers movies would also come home, and I don't sit with the Hindi scripts and translate them into English, I would sit next to him fascinated Lee watching him typing. Maybe that is where that entire connect of horror started to take root in me. But I'll also say this, that I was quite a cowardly child growing up, I was afraid of almost each and everything, the darkness the loneliness, people dying in the colony, what have you, I was scared of everything. But somehow, I still wanted to read a lot of horror. And I still wanted to watch a lot of horror films. Invariably, when I wrote my own novel, that was in 2014, when I wrote my as your husband, my first book, I did not start out with the thought that I want to write horror that was not at all in my mind. I just wanted to write a story. And somehow the story that occurred to me had all these deep and dark overtones. And when my first book was a self published book on Amazon KDP. So when I was uploading it, Amazon asks for the categories. So that was when I felt that horror was the best place where it should be. And I marked it as horror. And next day, it was ranking number one in the horror category on Amazon, India, then, yeah, somewhere the Juggernaut started there, and it hasn't stopped since.
What a fascinating, right, like, Who would have thought, you know, like, like, former covertly child to, you know, one of India's biggest hoarder, right, so, you know, because you mentioned Amazon KDP. Near You know, I'm really interested to know why that right. Like, why did you choose self publishing to begin with? Yeah, especially for horror writers. We also interviewed Chandra Madonna's right, who self published her first book, and it also became a huge bestseller. So what is it about it that made it really enticing?
It's an interesting question. And, you know, at that time, I did not know about it, what I'm doing. But now, you know, like, seven, eight years later, I have an answer to that. So I do not come from a family of authors. I mean, there was there was there is still no other author in my family apart from me. We did not know anything about how to go about publishing how books happen. Though my father worked in the film industry books were quite distinct for us, we did not know how it works. And as a child, I had this big, booming ambition that I wanted my name on a book that was there, but I did not know how to go about it at all. So when I wrote my first book, I wrote it only because I wanted to write a story. So writing was always there for me, right as even in my teens, I used to write a lot of stuff. So I just follow a lark I tried like how it would be for write a novel and I started writing this novel, it took shape. And then I was on Facebook and all I was in bed. I was connected with several writing communities at that time. And I was figuring out ways to make people read mine.
And at that time, some people told me that why don't you publish on Amazon KDP it is the easiest thing to do. See, by then I heard heard a lot of horror tales about I mean real life horror tales about publishers, rejecting manuscripts, and then books even though they are signed, they do not really happen or people want to send
to read, the weight is pretty long. So I did not want to go through all that I just want to want it to try it. And to see whether where I stand as a writer. So that's why I chose Amazon KDP because it was a very less, or I should say, No Hassle kind of publishing. And I did it all myself only for the cover, I had someone, I hired someone, and then I put it up just to see how it fares. And then when it did well, and when the publishers and all the literary agents, publishers got in touch with me to represent me in a better way, then I knew that what I was doing, I mean, I was on the right path. So but when it started, I had absolutely no clue. Maybe that is the reason why I am so free to share information now. Now, when any aspiring author wants to know how to go about publishing, or how to connect with a literary agent, or even some tips on writing or something I'm willing to share, because I learned it. So yeah, that's what you do. Yeah. Yeah, too. But I think you know, is there a connection with horror and self publishing? Do you think self publishing is good for horror writers? Yeah, no, actually, it's interesting, because, because, you know, I'm seeing a lot of sort of auto writers go on to self publishing first. And we also introduced interview Chandra, Rama Das, who self published her book, which was a best seller. So we were just wondering, you know, what is the connection? Or is there a connection between sort of this genre and why sort of, you know, self publishing, so well for it. So right now I'm, I consider myself to be a kind of a hybrid author, because I self published a couple of titles a year, and I have two or three traditionally published titles. So why self published works for me or for horror in particular, is because there is no censorship. So when you go the traditional route, there is this
chain of editors who will go through your work, who will, of course, I always take your feedback, very high spirited ly and constructively. So but there are things which you might need to change, which you might need to turn down, or you might need to write it in a particular way to fit the format of the publishing house, or the market that they have. So all those things come into the picture, when you're traditionally publishing a book, when you're self publishing, you can put up whatever you want. So if you compare even my writing admires new husband, and say, in your chili, you actually was a traditionally published book with Rupa and my husband has meant it's a self published book, you my readers find a big difference. Because my as Neil has meant is stark, gritty, it has a lot of go, even erotic seeds. So it has a lot of stuff that I don't think a traditional publisher would have gone ahead with, they would have asked me to tone it down or remove it entirely. So even now, when I have a story that requires to be told, in that very dark and stark manner, I choose self publishing even now, because I think that is made for horror. But if there is a story, which has a mass appeal, like he actually was, like playing things is, then I prefer it to be a traditionally published book, because then I get that wider distribution, where the book will be read by many people. So it is just a choice. It's a choice I make, as per the content of the book. Thanks for answering that question, because that's something that I have been sort of wondering about. And another thing that's really interesting about you is that you are coaching classes deliver 39. And then you got this epiphany to write and you mentioned your book, Myers, new husband, which you started with, I want to know, you know, why you call yourself an accidental horror author. What was this epiphany that you had 39 and, you know, what was that specific moment when the plot of your first book came to you? And even the topic cannibalism, you know? So can you tell us a little bit more about that? Okay. This is a compound question, because there are many aspects to it. Okay, so, let's go back to when I post graduated, I am a postgraduate in organic chemistry, by the way, I took up my dad's coaching class, he had a coaching class, and I just continued with it, and it grew big. We had lots of students and somehow it was not a plan. The students just piled up the classes just happened. And for 18 years, I was the proprietor of it, the principle of it. And also I taught a lot of subjects, but it was my own institute and I could not get myself out of it at all. I still had that literally bugging me. So whenever I got the time even during my coaching in studio times, I would always be reading some novel or the other. Sometimes I would even bring it to class and when
The students were solving problems or something like that, I would be reading the novel, then things happened in this manner that I wanted to do some things which would give vent to those creative passions. By that time I was in my mid 30s. And I was married, I had two kids. And then it was a kind of a thought process. I began to think that where is my life leading? i You can call it midlife crisis if you want. I sometimes label it as that thinking, Where am I going, my students are going all over the world. I am holed up in this one classroom, and am I going to be here forever just minting money. That's not the kind of person I am. I'm a creative person. And if I don't give an outlet to that creativity, I'll be I'll end up frustrated old man. We were on this vacation in Goa at that time in 2014. And it was one of those rare breaks that we had me my wife, my two kids, the kids were sleeping. I remember that evening. And my wife and I Anita and I were sitting on the beach, our cottage was on the beach. And I was just wondering and all this thing the musings were going on at that time I told her that you see I do not want to continue his classes. Now I don't see my future in this and I want to do something in the writing phase in the writing world. I was freelancing for a while so that I had done earlier. So I wanted to continue that. But this time, I did not want to freelance for others. I've been ghost writing I want to write for myself. So then we had that long talk. That that the only I told her that I have a story in mind. And I want to give it a shot and let's see how it happened. So she said okay, give it a try. Let us see if the book works. We'll we'll decide to future course of action. So Michelle Tara, it was on that night itself that one particular night that I did not sleep, the rest of my family slept, but I sat down and plotted Myers new husband and so I started working on that particular day because you know, family support means a lot, so on. Maybe I was just contemplating on this for a long time, not knowing whether what people would say no, but when my wife gave me the thumbs up, I thought that yes, now I should do it. So that's how it was now talking about how the plot came to me now, this was also in the sea on giving the same vacation. So I was watching all these honeymooning couples on the beach and all that newlyweds, and they were so cozy with each other and stuff. But then, you know, my writerly mind started thinking like how much do these people know of each other actually?
So what if what if one of the partners is harboring some deep secret which would shatter the world of the other person? So that was where the whole idea of Maya's new husband came in, where my school teacher is married to a person who is actually a serial killer. But, you know, of course, he's not known as a serial killer to Maya to the world at large at that point, and then how the cannibalism thing came in. That was because I, Meyers new husband, that is Bhasker surgery in the novel.
He isn't a goalie, but he's an he's a misguided accordion. So, he has assumed some of these practices of the goalies. What is actually for our listeners who don't know,
I know Gauri is a, they are a cult of aesthetics, but they practice rights which we would not have as conventional. They stay on the banks of the river Ganga mostly you will find them in crematoria. They live on dead bodies, they were the shrouds of the dead bodies, they also sometimes it's known, but it is not really documented anywhere, that they consume the flesh of the dead people as part of their initiation rites. And there was a huge large devotees of Lord Shiva. So this set has always fascinated me there was a show on Doordarshan, long, long back somewhere in the 90s called as a glory. And I as a teenager used to watch it and quite fascinated by the show, it never left me. So then I even with my coaching class, and all that I used to read all this kind of stuff. And somehow that stayed with me and I included that element in my new husband. So when we say cannibalism, it's not that that kind of cannibalism, which is shown in the western movies and this is something very different. This is something which is considered as a kind of a duty for the uglies because they do not want the human flesh which they believe is designed to go to waste and that's that's the whole place where it starts. And yeah, that was a part of my husband was spent so it all came together it all came together. These are many points, which are
On worst at this on that particular vacation wherever I was in go and I could feel that you know, you say that you will one day your your calling, but most of us never do that throughout our lives we do not know, we are in search of we are in pursuit of that one moment where we will hear the purpose in our lives. Many of us don't get it at all, but I was fortunate to have it on that particular night and on calaboose beach where I could hear it very lucidly very crystal clear that Neil this is your life now you are not meant to be a teacher you have done a lot of it. Now you have to do something else and this is it you have to write your to create stories. And I believe in the cosmic power of the universe rather than any religious I can. So the universe spoke to me that day I believe, and told me that this is the story you're meant to write these are the stories we are going to implant them in your head. And if you don't write it the stories are going to die You are the medium who's going to break the stories in the world and I'm being very philosophy but this was the way it worked for me
ya know, that's what they say right it's a calling right writing is a calling and it's interesting that you know, though Meyers new husband obviously it was you know your own idea it came to you on its own I find it interesting that your recent book playthings it was actually you know, your agents thought he suggested Why not write a book for kids? Right. And your publish also envisioned it to be like the next Goosebumps series of India, essential habit written for children earlier need you know how to write the first draft in just 30 days.
Don't tell my publishers that I wrote it in only 30 days.
So we're writing horror, I write horror, okay. But the thing is, even from my first book onwards, I have always experimented within the genre. So while my new husband was very gory, critical Dakota, my follow up to that he actually actually shot was my follow up with that. So fisheye was a paranormal love story. So it is very tempered, and it has got these beautiful moments. And then he actually when it came, it was more of a Social Drama, Social Drama, slash horror, horror has always been an element, but it was a social drama with lots of mythology in it.
Then when I wrote my two books with my paranormal investigator, co authors that is haunted and the spirits talk to me, they will purely and strictly paranormal. I'm talking from the very western point of view of ghosts and spirits and undead and afterlife and all that. So I was always open to writing new kinds of horror within my domain. In fact, when I wrote right behind you, it has 13 stories, and all of them are different genres of horror sub genres within order. So when Suhail came to me and he said that Puffin is looking for some young adult horror, I was immediately sold, he did not have to tell it to me twice. He just told me that we are looking and Puffin is Puffin has actually, you know, they want good horror routers, your name has come up. So would you be able to write something and then he wanted me to come up. I mean, I think I had also spoken to Puffin, by that time, they wanted to wanted me to come up with some idea, which would be like an Indian version of Goosebumps. So now that was already a tall calling. And I I actually take took a lot of time, and I thought that what kind of horror would appeal to children, our children here, though, it was a new thing for me. I was I was a teacher, right? You we need to remember that I was a teacher for 18 years. So I have been with students and young adults for a very significant portion of my life. I know how their mind works, I know how they think and I myself was a child when I started reading. So I knew what
what made me happy what excited me I knew all these things. So I did have the kind of I mean, I knew the pulse of my reader even though the target audience for this particular book was different. So I started developing some ideas. We came up with four or five ideas then I pitched it to them via my agent. And this one was chosen why this one was chosen because this one had it is a mixture of paranormal investigation, like very
famous phrase, Hardy Boys and that zone where we have four investigators, and they are solving ghost mysteries. So which is very Scooby Doo and
goosebumps kind of zone do a little scarier. Tony, what were the other ideas? I'm curious to know that
they might become future books. I'm not at liberty to reveal
but your most they were they were supernatural stuff. Most of one. One idea
into a haunted school idea. And I'm definitely going to write that school in which the teachers are becoming the victims of ghostly entity within the school. Of course I'm sure students will love it. Yeah, I was just gonna say students are loved. So I'm working on that maybe that will be a book in future maybe. Since we are already thinking about continuing the fame of the fearless four series playthings was supposed to was the first book in it not supposed to be it is. So we are continuing it and I'm actually working on a sequel right now. Sequel in the sense it will be like Famous Five like how we have the five investigators, including Timmy the dog and in every book they are cracking a different case. Right? So what is the case that sequel nail I want it will be it will be as exciting as the playthings case because in playthings, we have toys coming alive. So toys have a direct connect with children. So now I'll keep it open for guessing. It is something that is very, very connected to children. Children enjoy this also. So I'm going to spoil it for children and make it harder.
Oh, can we guess it? Or didn't you say?
I can take a shot. But yeah, I think we'll have to think of Yeah.
Yeah. It's interesting, because it's sort of the first, you know, horror adventure for kids. And, you know, now that I know that, you know, you spoke with the teaching, it makes sense that there's a connector because it's difficult to write for children, you know, I have edited a couple of books for kids. And as an adult, it's difficult to know, sort of, you know, what's appropriate for kids? What's too much?
You know, and I read in a scroll article that actually reading horror, helps children develop emotional intelligence, which is I think I am theory in that article.
Yeah, yeah. So So but, you know, because, you know, I've also edited a lot of children's books, and I was having this conversation with another author who has,
you know, teenage daughter, and she doesn't know what the, you know, she wants to, you know, give her book to the teenage daughter to read just yet. So how do you know, when writing for children, especially in the horror genre, how much is too much? How do you know when to stop or you know, what is not appropriate? Okay, so the first thing that we do is, of course, we do not keep it very dark. So there is not a lot of violence there. And they, there is nothing that children cannot read. It's a very PG 13 level kind of book. So we, in my mind, I had some filters when I was writing this book. So obviously, the filter was that number one, even before the filters. Number one, what was very, very important to me was that the story has to be very strong, or has to be an element or has to the kind of the vibe that the book has. But what's basically the story is about is the interaction between the kids that are in the story. So I knew that this would appeal to the children instantly, because what happens is, we all have friends like the four investigators in my book. So that was one of the things that my focus was on. So there's a lot of drama and stuff happening between the four friends as well. Now when it comes to horror, I did not want to keep anything that was
that was you know, that should be beyond the reach of children. So I did not do anything of that. So the horror is very paranormal. But at the same time, it is also nothing that is too violent. So there is no cutting or slashing or something like that. There is nothing that will leave a bad impact on the children's mind. So it is like a roller coaster. When you are on a roller coaster, you have the thrill of the ride, you go and all that. You have all those you know the highs and lows when you're on a roller coaster. But the moment the roller coaster ride is done, you don't really you enjoy it, the enjoyment is what stays with you The thrill is what stays with you. You are not scared of that anymore. So that is the kind of tone that I have used it playthings also. So there are a lot of points where you will also experience I mean, as a child will experience that.
You know, the goose Pimply kind of feeling that will come because there is, after all, a haunted clown, and all those kinds of elements in my book, so you're going to feel that creepy feeling, but it is not going to go in that territory where it will adversely impact your mind or something like that. So no, that's not going to happen. It's a very safe kiddie level book. Not kiddie level also, I will say many adults have also read the book and enjoyed it. They have been DMing me about it. So yeah, so a for anybody who wants to take up horror as a new genre. They have not read horror before, I think played
is a good place to start. And what I find, you know, interesting is that you have played on this fear of inanimate objects coming alive, right? That that's where the toys actually come to life in your book. And, you know, we know that there are all kinds of phobias out there. Right. And you know, you also you have this morbid fear of dead bodies, you know, from your own experience. And, you know, we all have, I would say, different kinds of phobias. So I want to know, you know, from your childhood to now, Neal, how much of those those phobias have changed? What are they now, and I will see why you put them into horror.
So as a child, I had multiple phobias, one of my I had a very imaginative mind, I would think that there was a man at the ceiling of my room. This was my persistent fear, oh, my particular
one particular room in my house or the room, we had a two bedroom house at that time. So we used to, I used to sleep in one of the bedrooms, and the other bedroom was mostly shattered. And in the nights, I would have this very dreadful feeling that there was a man in the ceiling, and he comes down, He slides down. And if I go there, he will be there proudly on the floor, and he'll catch me. And then one particular day, I thought that I don't want to live with this fear. And I just did myself to go in that room in the middle of the night and check what's actually going on. So yeah, I told you, I was crazy like that. I still am. So I, I always, when I get frightened of something, I don't stay with that fear. I tried to challenge myself. So I did that I tried that the first night, I could not go second night, I could not go it took me a week to even, you know, try myself to go in the direction of that room. But then I did one day. And I did and I went in that utter darkness and there was nothing. And I then somehow knew that it was opening my mind playing tricks. So this happens to me even now. Of course, I don't know, I know that there are no men in the ceiling anymore. But sometimes when you have in a lonely hotel room, as I explained to you so you know, because I am working with paranormal investigators so much. I know that there is something out there, which we cannot understand, we can never hope to understand. I'm still afraid of death, that I will admit, I'm still afraid of death and why it all ties together. Why I'm afraid of death. Is that because what actually frightened answers is the unknown. The things that you don't know where they lead, or what is in them. That is the biggest unknown factor in this world that we are you know, in this life, because we are living we are conscious at every moment, and then suddenly snap, one moment you are dead. And then not. I don't know, nobody knows what happens after that. Why that scares me so much. Just imagine when my father expired also. So he was very lively man and all that every moment he lived, like, you know, do you say that about some people, like the live every moment of your life? So my father was that kind of man. And then when he died when he passed away,
he was just a rock. I mean, this one, nothing moving his cold. Where was his consciousness? Where was his personality? Where will the entire abstract setup that made him up? Where was that? Was that still lingering somewhere? Because on some occasions, I still feel that he's around. So that happens. So that is why I'm scared of, you know, death and dead bodies. And I don't go to funerals also, because of this reason. So yeah, to that fear, I still have, but I know that I'm also exploring it and someday I'll be coming out of it also, like I have.
Yeah. Yeah. Thanks for sharing. I think, you know, the last few years, my grandparents, to have two of my grandparents passed away. And that was my first encounter, you know?
And it is, you know, you think about it, and you wonder, you know, where's this person? Does this person exist? And I'm really scared of, I think we all already scared of death to like, whenever the thought comes into my mind, I sort of shut it down. And I'm really fascinated with, you know, because I've never sort of been so much into horror, because I'm very sort of a scaredy boo, you know, and I'm not like you were confronting, I'm feel like I'm running away. Some people like they listen to horror stories before sleeping, you know, and things like that. So I find it very fascinating how,
you know, horror, what you said is a way to sort of also counter phobias. And speaking of my own phobia, I remember. So in my house, we have a lot of art. And a lot of it I don't know why my parents like to collect all of this scary looking art with sort of very weird faces. So the art man ourselves like
like random, like, they like men with like, abstract and like grimacing almost, and then in the hall in the living room. So I remember as a kid, I used to never sort of crossed the hall when it's dark, because I thought that, you know, those creatures are come alive.
And luckily, I think for me that that was like that Phil has sort of gone, but it was there until pretty late was that and sort of like, I think I was a teenager. Yeah, Michelle, what about you? What is like a phobia that you had? Oh, and listening to the art was really interesting, because in fact, it has the opposite effect on me. I really like art, which does not have symmetry, you know, and especially faces. But anyway, so for me, actually, like growing up, I was pretty courageous. I used to watch horror movies at midnight. And the scarier the better. And as I grew up, I became more cowardly, actually the opposite of name. And now I have this very, very strange phobia of spiders. I don't know why, because it's very strange. You know, like, when I was younger, I think there was this movie called spiders, whatever, these giant spiders, you know, it's a Hollywood movie. And, and I watched it. Oh, I enjoyed it. I loved it. And now, I can't even bear to see that. Which is, which is interesting. Like, we don't even know how phobias form. You know, I think they're very subconscious.
You Yeah, yeah. Did you have a spider like, come on you? Oh, my God. No, no, no, no, never. I can't even imagine. No. And you know, what's interesting, Tara, like, I have not seen this in India, or in Bahrain, or wherever I've stayed actually, I have never seen those, you know, huge spiders that you see on TV. You know, like the tarantula, whatever. That is my biggest fear. If I ever come across something like that. I don't know. I think I will just die. Oh, God. You should not go to Australia. They really don't Australia or shirty? Yeah. Yeah. Okay. Yeah. You know, one of the things that you mentioned in an earlier answer, they're working with a lot of paranormal researchers. And I also, you know, when I was researching for this interview, I came across that you had said that, and I found that so interesting. I just can't imagine, you know, what goes on in the lives of these paranormal researchers? What kind of things they must be experiencing. So could you tell us and our listeners, what is the scariest story that you have ever heard from, you know, one of these paranormal researchers? Okay, multiple scary stories, in fact, but let me tell you about what this is. So this field is growing in India, like not growing in the sense that it's booming or something. But there are lots of people who are interested in the paranormal. Paranormal essentially, is the study of the afterlife. So people who were once living now not there with us, so we try to explore like, what happens to them? How does death actually what is the shape of death in a way, so this is what paranormal investigators do. So I am in very close contact with two of them. Jaya Lonnie, who is a very famous podcaster. Now he's also getting into direction he is directing his own movie. I've written a book with him haunted which was with Penguin, and I'm writing another one with HarperCollins. Now again with J. So J has stayed in some of the most spookiest locations of the world, India, especially, he has been to around 250 to 300 Different haunted locations. He goes there, he stays the whole night. And he tries to figure out like, what is there in that place? Are the souls or spirits as we call them, still lingering there? There? And what is the effect effect impact on the atmosphere in general, he took me to one or two of these places, and for me, it was so beautifully in the daytime. But still, those places were so creepy. I could not imagine how these would be in the light. So this is how Jay works. It's more of him observing it, and trying to see if he comes across any paranormal experience, which he has on multiple occasions.
With sir budget Monty, the second parallel investigator that I worked with my book with him is the spirits talk to me published by hashrate, India. So Sarbjit is a paranormal investigator who takes some cases. So like if people have some kind of unexplained phenomena going on in their house, they can call him up and then his team, he has a whole team. They go to the place and discount and they check what is happening around the place. So sir, but it also has cracked hundreds of cases. In most of the cases, the answer was quite the rational thing. Something that could be explained. But in some of the cases, it's beyond your imagination. Like I think
spookiest one that's our budget shared with me, I can tell you two of them very briefly. They are in the book, by the way, the spirits optimizer, one of them is evils in this Kalinga battlefield Kalinga we know where the battle was fought, I'm brava Shoka. So there he went. And there he had a lot of spooky experiences, because they believed that the ghosts of all those
soldiers that died those hundreds of years ago, they still linger in some way or the other, even the locals believe this and they believed the whole culling of attitude is still haunted. And this you will experience even I experienced this personally at Kurukshetra, also when I was there, so you get the kind of feeling that something has happened to you. I don't know even if it is not really but if it is not happening, you the very feeling that you are on such a place where such a monumental tragedy took place. So that itself stays with you to serve. But these are the studios from his own data village are a little closer to that. There was this one tree, and it was on the outskirts of the village, it was a huge tree, I think a banyan tree or something. And what would happen is, there was this one phase, when young men young, able bodied men very fit and healthy, they would suddenly get up in the middle of the night, walk towards that tree. And for that they had to cross the highway. So they will do that all on food. And they would go to the tree and hang themselves to the hang themselves. So for months, villagers would discover bodies hanging from the tree like every three, four days, there was a body hanging from the tree. And it was there was no way no reason no anything. Like why these people just get up and go. So of course, sigh Vegeta and Pooja went there and they tried to find out what it was it eventually stopped. And all their findings are in my book. So you know these things, they unsettle you the answer to you because you don't know what's happening. I mean, this is what paranormal investigators do day in and day out. And
of course, that is the reason your minds work differently than ours.
Yeah, I would love to I would love to meet a paranormal researcher. There's so many ghost stories from sort of all over India. And that brings me to my next question, which is that, you know, in the West there's so many sub genres in horror. So we have the zombie we have the vampire we have, you know, the monster all of these things, right. And but I feel as consumers, there's not much that we know about the Indian drops.
You know, so I wanted to ask you, what is the one thing that you have seen in the horror ecosystem in India that is missing? And what is your favorite Indian horror element?
The Indian horror is actually quite rich our stories. We also have a lot of what you may call them creatures entities, just like how you named zombies and vampires. We also have a lot of them. Our horror mythology is immense. It is. In India everywhere. There are so many stories, I'm talking about the local stories, I'm also talking about the creatures that we have, they are everywhere and ever. There are so many of them. There are 1000s of them.
I'm documenting them bit by bit as I can. Other horror authors like Jen remind are also doing the same thing. And the only thing is that Western horror is very it's looked upon with a kind of respect there's a there's a respect to the Western horror genre. Whenever there are horror movies, they also are big budgeted people go to watch and then those movies come here down to India we watch also but that's not happening in India with our horror genre. Do we have rich stories do we have beautiful legends like we have they actually right up have the toodles and Dion's which has so I mean, well known. But even then if you actually think about what tools and insights, it's very fascinating. We have a chart we have beta ALS, we have so many other entities that you may not have even heard of like we have the bark, we have a cherry we have grant us. So all these things, they are stories are much richer, much more in character than the stories of any vampire or zombie. Now if you see what's a zombie or a vampire, it's a one line description to them. That's it, you can describe them in one line. And the rest of the story that is built up is not actually about their legend. It's about what they do, etc, and what the people do. But our creatures actually have wonderful backstories that connect with the region and so many things, but we need to be horror authors need to dedicatedly bring those stories out and
Put them in a way that people can understand it. So so far that has not happened, what where we are really missing out is under documentation of it. We have a strong oral tradition of telling stories, which is also dwindling. Now. It has been doing like for a long time, but we don't have anything documented. When I was writing Yakshini. I wanted to read about your chains. Hardly did I find any credible sources where I could do that. So how when we don't have anything to fall back upon as research, it's very difficult to take this outside into the world, which is what I want to do one day One day, I want somebody interviewing someone in America to say that in India, we have two days and diets where is our hardest standing? Just the way you are asking me this question today. So I want that to happen. It has already happened with Japanese or Korean hoarder. So all these creatures from Japan and Korea have become famous in the west now. But maybe it's time now for India to do that as well. And only thing is we have to do it dedicated Lee that's it.
Yeah, actually, I was just going to mention Spirited Away, right. So it's one of the most famous Japanese animation films, you know, like, and I found it so interesting, because it takes us into this world of spirits, right. And it's a pure the Japanese word, right? So I can't even imagine the kind of folklore that's there in the rest of Asia. And talking about India, I think the most recent, you know, fascination that I've had or each other in noggins. So listen to the recent rumors episode, because I also attempted a story. And I found it really interesting, because when I shared the story with people, they said that they're not aware of the myth. And I was really surprised. I said, Oh, this Yeah, it's a much I would say. Even even in in the world of myths, there are myths which don't have that much exposure. So like you said, Neil, I really hope that the world gets to know more about Indian folklore because it has a lot of radio. Yeah. I was just going to say that noggins In fact, they did become popular in the West for a while. And we have an agony in the Harry Potter series also. So though, that mcgeeney is not each other Rinnegan. But, you know, yeah, that's what we have these fascinating stories, but it takes time to bring them out. Yeah.
Yeah. So you know, because maybe you also mentioned that you grew up reading the classic horrors, right, which is Frankenstein, Dracula, you know, Grimms fairy tales. So I'm curious to know, if you had a chance to retell them, how would you do it?
I would not actually go about retelling any of the stories. The thing is, I did that as a, I did that already as a teenager. While growing up, I used to take Edgar Allan Poe stories and try to write them in my own way. That was where I actually learned a lot of stuff. But that was only for private circulation. I used to give it to my teachers and friends and tell them, like, how is this what's your feedback, and that was just a growing up process. But now that I'm actually an author, I do think that I will retell any of those stories. Because my idea is, those stories have already been told by the person who originally created the story, the original creator had their has interpreted it in the way that they wanted to interpret it. I, on the other hand, have so many other stories that I want to tell my original stories. So when I have those original stories to tell, why should I tell somebody else's tale? Why should I step on their feet? This is my idea of it. So hence, I don't think I'll ever retell a story that's been written by somebody else. Having said that, a lot of things that be right, I'm talking about all writers in general, it borrows from a lot of places. So you know, you are also writers, so your minds are always picking up bits and pieces from people's work, because you feel that that element could add flavor to my story. I'm not talking about copy, I'm talking about
you like taking the flavor of something or a kind of a dialog formation that you will take from somewhere or some atmospheric that you may take. So yeah, we do do that. And I also have picked on a lot of stuff. Like I, I sometimes take Gothic elements from pose works, or sometimes on a strictly in spirit inspiring kind of level. So you have to do that, but retelling a whole tale. No, but then think about it. Now that you've asked me this question, you I think made me think isn't Maya's new husband a retelling of Beauty and the Beast? A lot of people told me that a school teacher married to a person who's a serial killer and she's trapped in the
Oh, she cannot come out. So that's a retelling of Beauty and the Beast, isn't it?
Yeah, it's like it is. It's like this The Kurt Vonnegut's like story arcs. You know, usually, like so many story arcs, right. And we're sort of all retelling stories and mixing elements and you know, making it out on so I definitely agree. So now I want to move to the next section, which is called the reading recommendation section.
And so the first question that I wanted to ask you is the,
your top two horror books for children that you absolutely love for children, okay, now, this is tough. For children, I would just say pick up anything from the Goosebumps series, because that is actually very safe for children and they are thrilling stories, they are fun stories, they are not the kind of horror that will
you know, like disturb you, but they are stories that will give you that kind of adventure and thrill you want. So I would also recommend some other classics like there is Kodaline by Neil Gaiman.
Then books by
I find a lot of Roald Dahl's works also harder, you know, like even in Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, there were these elements and also I think these kinds of books are very safe for children to read.
Yeah, right. Actually, sorry to drop and yeah, I never thought of rollers or but now that I'm thinking of it. Yeah. You know, James and the Giant Peach. Were you stuck in that?
Medulla with a horrific headmistress who was so skinny, Mrs. Tangible?
No, no. And he also had a book called The witches eye. Yeah, yes.
Borrowing that work from our school library, and reading it and just, you know, loving the message in it. So So ideally, the message was that, you know, we think like a witches forget evil looking person or whatever. But then I think the message of the book was that it doesn't matter how you look, but your heart is what matters it Yeah.
So see how masterful that was that a message was told from a horror perspective, because what I have seen now since I've written pleadings at all, so I've seen that children absolutely love horror. They, of course, the pure kind of horror that gives them the thrill. They absolutely love the genre. They are though, they are big readers of horror. So I went to my launch event, in fact, was at Hamleys. And then I had another follow up event at crossword. So at both these events, the kids were in the, we're in huge attendance. And, in fact, at the crossword event, I was in fact, mobbed by children, they wouldn't let me go, because once they knew that I'm a horror author, they followed me all through the mall. I was like the pied piper, and all that it's a horror story in itself.
Because, because I was going to have these I have been nicknamed as the Pied Piper of families.
I think it's making me think what you're saying, you know, because I, you know, I mentioned I was a scaredy cat and all of that stuff. But when I was a kid, I remember reading so much hotter and loving it. So I remember this one book, which is kind of it was the Sweet Valley twins, actually. And it was like a horror Sweet Valley twins. Were
the one of the twins, I think it was Elizabeth. She goes to this carnival, and she becomes best friends with this girl. And it turns out that this girl is a ghost. And this girl is slowly sort of like taking control of her life, and she doesn't realize it. And then the other two incomes to know. And I still remember just sort of like be immersed in this book, and just so fascinated, and there's so many other books, you know,
audiobooks like that, that, you know, that we all have read. So you're right when you say, yeah, there's something about auto that is so interesting for children.
But yeah, yeah. So for the next question, you know, I wanted to know,
apart from horror, what are your top three books that you would reread anytime? So give me okay, I'm a big fan of The Godfather, Mario Puzo's. I keep reading it a lot. And rereading it as well. So you're definitely The Godfather. And the book that I read.
I come back to it again and again after a few years is Cain and Abel, Jeffrey Archer. And Memoirs of a Geisha. That is another book that I've read multiple times.
The Kite Runner I'm talking about books that are non or and,
of course, I've read the Harry Potter series also thrice I think it is
intelli Yeah, I think you mentioned sort of like some of like Michelle and my favorite books also Harry.
godfather. You know what's interesting? Like after watching the movie, I got the book, okay, and someone asked me why would you want to read the book after watching the movie? I said, No, he doesn't know.
The book or movie, I must say.
The book is a completely different experience. I mean, so immersive. But I'll tell you, Mario because I'm a big fan of Mario Puzo. In fact, in my cupboard, I've got all the books by him. But I feel his most. The book that really touched me by Pozo is the Sicilian. So if you ever I don't know whether you have read it, but it's it's one of his lesser known books. So this Sicilian is a book that if I could not get myself out of it for a while, so I will not give you spoilers in case anyone offers or any one of you wants to read it. And then there is one more book which is really disturbing again, by puzzle and that is the family, the family. So these two books, though they were non horror, they really have a kind of impact into a godfather, and it's very tame compared to these to Godfather does not disturb you, but it just gives you that glimpse of the mafia world that existed, but the Sicilian and the family will disturb you. Oh, okay. I should definitely buy that and. Okay. So yeah, you don't need to see speculative fiction is a very big genre, right? You have sci fi, you have fantasy, you have horror, there are so many kinds. So I want to know, you know, apart from horror, what is one recent speculative fiction book that you would like?
Let me let me recommend tender is the flesh tender is the flesh by Augustina basta Rica. It's a completely dystopian horror, it's horror, dystopian and a lot of sci fi in it if you I mean, sci fi is a very broad term, right? So it's not really the Sci Fi of the kind that you will find in a Hollywood movie, but it is it has got elements and since it is dystopian, you have Okay, so there is a lot of politics in the book as well, because this is a world where cannibalism is legal. So it's legal to butcher people. And who are the people who get butchered who are there. So it's the whole it's a very dark book, it's not revealed. We are talking about playthings and this in the same podcast, which is not a good thing, but tender is the flesh is one of the books that I recently read and was quite shaken by it. But if you ask me my all time favorite in terms of speculative fiction, there are many titles but I would I will talk about I Am Legend. I Am Legend was something that I love in a movie. Yeah, I've watched the movie like 567 times. Yeah, the book has the book. It ships focused on the movie a lot. But still, you know, both of them stand in their own way and quite a class apart. Yeah, yeah.
Okay, since you spoke about cannibalism, Neil. There's a movie that recently came out. It's called Fresh. I'm not sure if you've seen it, or Tara, have you seen it? No, no. Oh, really? Okay. So let me it's not a spoiler. Exactly. I mean, it's pretty much everything about the movie. So what happens is it's about a girl's bad dating life. Okay, so she keeps meeting guys, you know, and it's a very disappointing thing. Finally, she meets a guy who's so charming was lovely. Until she goes to his house and she realizes he's a capitalist. Oh my god. You should you should watch it. It is really Yeah, I still being Yeah. But yeah, so I also want to know, you know, in terms of just like this ask you about non horror, but what are your favorite horror books of all time?
Of all time? See, definitely definitely The Shining. I know that it sounds like a cliche, but I feel that the shining is a masterclass in horror writing by itself. Stephen King's the shining
it of course, I first get the Stephen King books out. So there is it and I really enjoy it. I have a special fondness for Christine. Because Christine is the book where the car gets haunted. Why? Because that was my first horror book that I read some Stephen King. So it was there's a kind of story to it. I got the book. And this was there was this hybrid Superman is the most scary writer out there. So even after buying the book, I was just like 1718 At that time, I did not have the guts to read the book for several months. I just kept it in another room. But then finally one day I sat down to read it. And of course I felt all the chills, the expected chills, but also it was wonderful writing so Christine has a special fondness. So yeah, so these are my top Steven
King books one more carry, if I may add.
Apart from that,
I enjoy books by, of course, Edgar Allan Poe, the entire body of his work, especially The TellTale Heart. So The TellTale Heart and the Fall of the House of assure the fit and the pendulum. Well, I can go on because Edgar Allan Poe is my hero. I do not have any role models as such, but I would like fall prostrate at the feet of Allan Poe anytime.
You want? Yeah, so it goes on, you know, these things don't end and Frank's books, I sometimes love the entire vampire mythology here that she has built, then there is
okay, I'm at a loss for because there are so many great people and I don't know whom to name and whom to leave out. Of course, I like Dean Koons also, we were also talking speculative fiction fiction A while ago, so Dean Koons because he writes horror, but then he has this very masterful way of writing it blending it with a lot of science fiction, and end of the world days, and that kind of the, you know, the race against time holding. So Dean Coons, a lot of his books are, again, we are my favorites. So yes, yes. And plus many more people. Forgive me if I miss out on names. Yeah, I think I think there are too many. So I'd like to, you know, recommend one book. I don't know if you guys have read it. So it's called such small hands, by Andrei Bulba. Okay, and it's a translation of, I won't spoil what the book is about, but it was inspired by a true story, okay. Where, you know, it's kind of disturbing, where a child's body turned up at a hostel, you know, like, basically, and let's say, an orphanage. And the most disturbing part was that instead of, you know, treating, let's say, the body in a normal way, the kids were actually playing with the body parts of the child. Like, can you? Can you believe it? Yeah, it's a true story. My gosh, I think Michelle, you know, one thing that like,
it's fun, sort of like to talk to Michelle. Michelle always has like, the most disturbing movie and both like him, and he is.
You're always like, oh, you know, this is so interesting and so fascinating, which I totally get, because, you know, it is so out there. Yeah, actually, you know, Tara, the thing is, I grew up on watching a lot of Ripley's Believe it or not, and taboo, there's a show called taboo or national geography. So that's where my inspiration comes from. Yeah. Good. Good. So the last question in the reading recommendation round before we move to the last section is a very short, rapid fire.
Yeah. So there's so much horror coming out in Hollywood and even Bollywood nowadays, you know, so what is that one reason Hollywood horror or Bollywood film? That was done really well, according to you and what made it work for you?
I think Hollywood if we talk about Hollywood first, The Conjuring the first movie, a lot of people and Me included will consider it to be a very perfect kind of horror movie the way that horror needs to be made. So why contouring works so well was that number one, it had of course, all the paranormal things that you needed the scare to have at the right places. There were no real big jumpscares though there was one one there was only one jumpscare as far as I remember in contracts, and it was put at the right moment where you do not expect it so nothing in conjuring was overdone. Because in horror, doing anything, you know it if you do anything excessively, it's killing the whole movie. So conjuring was well and what also worked for consuming once again, was that the historical the story behind the movie, the backstory, like why the hunting was occurring and all that. Also, it was one of the first movies that actually showed how paranormal investigators work. So I feel conjuring was made beautifully. It's a movie that I can go and rewatch another Hollywood movie that I really liked in recent times. Was hereditary hereditary also was fantastic and the entire thing of the dollhouse the motif of it beautifully done series if we talk about
I don't know your I may have some unconventional takes. So like I enjoyed Midnight Mass, Midnight Mass, where I won't spoil it if you haven't watched it, it's on Netflix. So yeah, it's a difficult watch because it's quite long drawn and all but there is a kind of sense of fulfillment when you reach the end because then you know why, why all that happened. So that thing coming to India, India, of course tomorrow we
I've already talked about. So tomorrow was good. And we the problem with India is that we don't make horror films too often. We have one coming out in a year, which actually gets remembered there were there are others that come but then they are just forgotten. And they are trash. So we had to bar which was great. I even consider, you know, bits of Kundera to be harder. Cantara though it is kind of a different spiritual kind of movie at the end of it, if you see the treatment of the movie, there are a lot of jumpscares in it also and Kantara is well made, I watched it twice actually, just to understand like, what's the appeal of the movie? Why does it you know, who cue right from the first scene and why the climax is so large and beyond you know, super human kind of thing. So, yes, so contender definitely. And if you go to the older movies in India,
I truly enjoy wrath by Ram Gopal Varma. I can watch a Ramsay movie at any time. So that is also there. Because I feel it's a kind of this kind of indulgence, you just get into it. You watch it, you have fun. And so Ramsey order is a lot of the is. It's a lot like the children's horror that we write. Because if you see it's, it has the same kind of elements. Yeah, apart from the erotic bits that Ramsay so generously put into their movies. I'm sure, Brad. And also McCurdy if you remember such as Ms. McCurdy, which we shall do it or directed. Oh, that was spooky.
I think I've given enough recommendations. Yes, yes. And if I can add to that. I recently saw this movie. It's called min me N. And it's really strange and very scary. At the same time, this girl appears in a in a in a village, right? She's actually she wants to just take a break. And she goes to this village. And you know, by coincidence, every man in that village is basically the same man. Right? You know, so it's just close. Yeah, with the same guy who appears and obviously it's like a bigger, larger commentary on men, and the way they behave, but I just found it fascinating.
And also also then I should recommend to you, Marianne, which is also on Netflix. So I will not okay, I'll check that out. Yeah, I'll not tell anything about it. But to watch it because right from the first scene, things start to happen. And you know, it's quite bizarre.
I think, definitely pick up some of these sounds really fun and exciting. So let's go to the last section, which is a rapid fire round. So if you can answer in one word on one line, that would be so your top three haunted destinations outside India you want to visit
them is definitely Transylvania that I want to visit
I don't know. Your questions are very tough in
some places in the Middle East, but I forgot the name. It's in Saudi Arabia. It was shown in a movie and I really loved the desert vibe of it. But now the name escapes my attention. But that would be the place Transylvania of course, because it is the birthplace of Dracula and anywhere in Central America in a forest.
Where you know, I will be just left alone and there will be all these creatures around. Because we don't know what's again, you know, the chupacabras and all those mythical beasts that I believe to be there. Okay, and if you love me then of course the Himalayas but not as very northern beaches. Okay. So I think that will count as out of India right? They fall under. Because Himalayas also a pretty scary when you think about the loneliness of the entire place, you know, the height and altitude and the the and reachability to civilization. I'm getting the chills.
I was just mentioning it. Oh shit. What if I ever get stuck in a cave in
the forest? Yeah. Okay, I have like you I have written a horror story, right? Somewhere on you know, very close to the top reaches of the Himalayas. But yeah, I know how it is. I know the chills out there. Especially in the season.
Okay, I'm your favorite Western horrific element.
Best and horrific element
I would ever think. Okay, I believe can I be a little unconventional? Yeah, maybe aliens, you know. Now, aliens also are an element of horror. As long as we don't know their true nature. And a lot of sci fi has aliens in it right. So we have the movie Alien itself. So and the whole area 52 thing it's quite scary.
If you think about it that I needed to find flying under the under the skin, that's another scarier movie. Yes, yes, under the skin. And then there was this whole idea, this whole notion. I think this comes from Hindu mythology. Sorry, I'm digressing. But there's this whole thing that there is a Earth below us, the people who are living below us and they are a kind of sentient people. They are also a different species. And sometimes they come up on our surface, and that's what you see. And they have a whole civilization. I'm forgetting where this is coming from. Okay, I think.
Okay, let's go ahead. Yeah, but I also like I always sort of like, I was so fascinated with aliens. And I hope one day I would I could meet an alien
so the one meet if you meet an alien, you will probably not even know that they already have
that. You might have already met one thought and you
might have made a time traveler without knowing that that person is a time traveler. Oh my god. I'm getting.
That's so cool.
This is the best part about interviewing writers. Yeah. Okay. So the one project of yours that is your favorite.
My as new husband because I was I did not have a readership at that time. I did not know who was going to like how people would react to it. And I just wrote it the way I wanted to write it. No holds barred. Just went all out with it. So my as new husband, yes, but if you talk about passion, then it would be a shame because I that's a part of my heart. Okay, fair enough. All right. Um, one space in Mumbai that you find haunted.
One space in Mumbai that I find haunted.
Nothing Okay. Okay. Oh, this sees the you know, generally the coastline itself because I find the sea very scary. This is one of my phobia also fail. Yeah, I would never go to a beach in the darkness. I mean, in Mumbai, there are many beaches that are very populated at all, but I'm talking about the lonely ones. There are many like I stay here like Milan so Milan has lots of beaches. Like we have five beaches just outside my house like on a straight line stretch. And some of the beaches that are in the far reaches they get a thoroughly creepy in the night. Very, very spooky. And why does he scares me silly is because
again, I don't know what is in those depths. What is there inside those waters? And we have heard so much about monsters being there. And it's a whole world out there. So yeah, to see scares me so I find that really haunting? Yeah, the image of like the sea with the full moon and the waves crashing? Yeah. And the whole idea like what might be lurking beneath those waters? Yeah. Okay, so what is the one magic spell you wish you knew?
To be invisible, of course.
I think that's, that's the biggest superpower and you can do anything, whatever you want. You can do with it. I don't want to time travel. I don't want to have a I mean everlasting life. I don't want to I and I am also okay with age, I will age as I am aging. But the one thing I want to do is to be invisible. So like, I can do what I want. That will
and just because you mentioned that Neil Can I recommend the Invisible Man. So actually, it's a demonstration of HG Wells classic story, but it's a recent adaptation and my god it's hooked me like Tara you might like it. Because it's it's a very interesting spin on on the Invisible Man. It's like a relationship with a man is like stalking. Oh, my God.
There was there was also Hollow Man a few years ago. Hello, man who's also very scary. Have you heard of it? That was also an adaptation of HG Wells. Book Hollow Man. Hmm. But yeah, I haven't watched it. I sure. Yeah. That was also very scary. Yeah. All right. Okay, so where do you write?
Depends. Now actually, I write in my room.
It is a room to myself that I have. But if I'm writing a story or outlining something, it is something vitally important. Then I will book a room in town, as I said, which has, you know, isolated, kind of not very bustling, so that I can go there and peacefully right. So I choose places according to this vibe of the story. So it could be somewhere in the north. I mean, I'm talking about the Himalayan places, or it could be on a beach here down south. Or it could also be just a kind of a temporary town because sometimes I just need that but I was recently in Varanasi for two days.
A very exciting experience. And I saw the guards where they were burning the dead bodies and Manikarnika are tender. So that was a whole different experience. But but good that, you know, you asked me this because I believe that traveling is something that every writer must do. Travel, see the world? Because you don't know what you're getting from. This makes your stories alive.
Yeah, I think this is sort of like one of the most interesting sort of writers like where do you write questions that have come across in the 80s, I don't go to the same place twice. So if I have written like your chinny, I wrote, I think, in one way, and then there was another story, I will get go. So I choose a different place so that you know the book is fresh for me even that way. It works at a psychological level. So I might be going to ask some for another story of mine. So it's completely different. So it gets put immersively in a completely different environment every time. That's it. That's so fascinating. Yeah, I can just sort of like picture it. Okay, so I wish the conversation could go on forever. But just one more question for you. What is next what I working on next,
I have to finish my book with Chaya Langi, the HarperCollins commissioned book, which will be a collection of his experiences, but also we are talking about paranormal phenomena in that book. So it's not just because there are a lot of phenomena like sleep paralysis, then the whole phenomena of the incubators, subscribers and there are many things that we are going to cover in the book, I cannot
mention them all. Then I'm working. I have two books coming out with Rupa later this year. So one is ghost whispers and the second one is
the curse of the Maharani the book has been very delayed, but it will come this year. And then there is also supplies bad connection, my digital horror book, which I'm very passionate about is coming up. I think in January, February, we should have it out. So I have like four books coming out this year for sure. And then the sequel to the playthings it won't be exactly a sequel, but a continuation of this feelings. So yes, this is happening. And I am also writing a show. So I have been writing shows since now two years, but none of none of it has come on screen, because of the lock down and all things were kind of at a low. But now I am working on a major show, which will be coming on screen this year itself. It's with a huge international channel, which soon they will make a public announcement of it and all. So yeah, that's happening. And that's keeping me pretty, pretty busy. So I will call this multitasking to the extreme level.
This is yeah, I'm so inspired to keep himself busy.
But I think thank you so much for this conversation. You know, it's very inspiring that sort of like you know, the way that your journey has begun and where you are now you're you're one of India's biggest horror writers, because taller me You are too kind to call me that. No, it's true. And many congratulations on you know, all of the projects, and I can't wait to see the show that that's exciting. Yes. Thank you so much. Always a pleasure talking to both of you, Michelle and Tara, you have some interesting questions that even though I give so many interviews, and I have all this I actually have to think you make the rightest thing you put them actually in the spotlight. So
I just had a mental exercise going on. Yeah. Speaking with you.
So here we are, were the end of yet another journey into the many worlds of Books and Beyond with bound. I'm Tara coneval. I'm Michelle D'costa. And this podcast is created by bout a company that helps you grow through stories. Find us at sound India or all social media platforms. So tune in every Wednesday if you live, eat and breathe books and join us as we discover more revolutionary books and peek into the lives and minds of some truly brilliant authors from India and South Asia. And don't forget to keep your love for stories alive for books and beyond.