Santosh Bakaya is one of the most prolific writers to contribute to City of Screams. Her short story is about youngsters on a trip. Here’s our interview:
1. Tell us a bit about yourself.
I am basically an academician, having a doctorate in Modern Political Theory, but it is the practice of life which has always intrigued me and the love of words has driven me relentlessly. I have almost thirteen published books to my credit – poetry, short stories, novels, my poetic biography of Mahatma Gandhi, Ballad of Bapu [Vitasta publishers, Delhi, 2015] has been critically acclaimed. My two latest books are Bring out the Tall Tales [Authors press, 2019, With Avijit Sarkar] and a Biography of Martin Luther King Jr [Vitasta Publishers, Delhi, 2019].
My Tedx Talk on The Myth of Writer’s Block is quite popular among young, aspiring writers.
2. How did you become a part of this anthology?
I happened to come across the contest in the group For Writers, By Authors, and immediately started writing the story, because horror stories have always fascinated me.
3. What is your story about?
It is about a group of three youngsters who go on an adventure trip, trying to find out the truth behind a hotel in the woods, where they are face to face with some weird and eerie happenings.
4. How did you come up with this story? Were you inspired by events?
Well, the story is just a figment of my imagination, but in the story, I refer to an incident where dogs jump from a particular bridge, that is based on a news item I had read during the time I was writing the story. [Many dogs had allegedly leapt from Overtoun Bridge in Scotland]
5. How long did it take you to come up with the final draft of the story?
I was able to finish it in ten days.
6. Anthologies aren’t as popular in India as abroad. Any apprehensions signing up?
No apprehensions, whatsoever, because I have not only contributed to anthologies, but also edited a few. In fact, Darkness there but something more, [Blue Pencil, 2017] is a ghost story anthology where I contributed a story, and also co- edited it.
7. What other genres interest you?
I am interested in romance, thrillers, and mysteries.
8. Any plans to write a full-fledged novel?
I have already published three mystery novels for young adults, and a novella A Skyful of Balloons [Authorspress, 2018] in the backdrop of Kashmir and, at present, I am in the process of editing a novel which is a satire on higher education in India.
9. The author market is choc-a-bloc today. What’s your take on that?
It is indeed choc-a-bloc, but in this market, it is only the tenacious who stay on, and not only those who have a way with words but also those who know how to market themselves. A writer has to be an authorpeneur, and has to keep selling himself\ herself relentlessly.
10. What would you tell a budding writer?
Don’t be in a hurry to get your book published. Edit, cull, and hone your manuscript many times before sending it to the publisher. But don’t shy away from writing that book skulking inside you. As Maya Angelou puts it so eloquently, “there is no greater agony than bearing an untold story inside you.” Go ahead and let the words pour forth in a gushing cascade.
11. Which particular novel would you recommend to others?
To kill a Mocking Bird by Harper Lee.
12. Any writer you’d like to see succeed?
I would like to see all good writers to succeed, all writers who write with an impassioned intensity, and all those who are really serious about writing.
13. What’s your favorite horror film?
Stanley Kubrick’s The Shining.
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