Hanadi Falki is a contributing author to the upcoming urban horror anthology, City of Screams. Here’s our 13 questions for Hanadi:
- Tell us a bit about yourself.
I am the Executive Director of Wake Up India Education and Medical Trust, and am associated with other NGOs too. I believe that each one of us has an underutilized power to do good and if we tap that power, we can see a positive change spread like wildfire in this world. I am also an author with an educational background of Creative Writing and English Literature, and I use my books as a medium to shed light on important issues plaguing our society.
- How did you become a part of this anthology?
I saw a Facebook post inviting submissions for an Urban Anthology and I found the topic quite interesting. I have lived and worked in various cities and each city has its own secrets, so I thought of using Mumbai as the backdrop of my short story. This was my first attempt at penning down a horror story and to my surprise it got selected! And thus, began my marvelous journey of ‘City Of Screams’.
- What is your story about?
‘The Thirteenth Floor’ is a combination of horror and romance. It’s about a newcomer Karan who is fighting his attraction to his colleague Diya because of her belief in the existence of supernatural beings. Amidst the bizarre incidents at Royal Palms, the supposedly haunted part of Mumbai, Karan is on a quest to find reasonable explanations without losing the chance of being with Diya.
- How did you come up with this story? Were you inspired by events?
I lived in Royal Palms for a few months back in 2011 and the rumors of it being haunted caught my attention from day one. My friends began experiencing bizarre incidents and I kept brushing it aside with logical explanations. But then one day I experienced something that changed my perspective of the things happening around me and made me a believer. I won’t get into details, but honest to God, it was a ‘Push’ and I felt it for the first and hopefully the last time in my life. Whenever I narrated the incident in front of anyone, their reaction was priceless. And that’s what motivated me to pen down the story, add a few twists and turns to spice it up and a dash of realistic romance to connect with the readers.
- How long did it take you to come up with the final draft of the story?
It took me around 2-3 days to pen down the first draft because I was really excited to do so. And then another few days to get the final draft ready.
- Anthologies aren’t as popular in India as abroad. Any apprehensions signing up?
Some writers are talented enough to think about the marketing and sales aspect of their books before writing their brilliant pieces. I am yet to learn that art. I believe that one has to keep all such apprehensions aside and dive deep into a story that is pulling you towards itself. Feel it deeply, let it consume you, and when you are ready, write away without a worry in the world. For this anthology, I feel lucky to share the platform with more knowledgeable authors who know what they signed up for when they came up with the idea of this book.
- What other genres interest you?
Realistic fiction is my favorite genre but I would like to try my hand at mystery and crime too.
- Any plans to write a full-fledged novel?
I am working on two right now. The first one traces the life of two women from different parts of the world who had to come and live in Saudi Arabia for similar reasons. The contrast in their way of dealing with such an environment forms the crux of this novel.
And the other novel that I am working on right now is based in rural India and is a coming of age story of two young people living in a village that becomes the subject of nationwide debate. I wish to highlight the power of our choices through this novel.
- The author market is choc-a-bloc today. What’s your take on that?
Each one of us has a story to tell, but not everyone has the time or skills to do it well. With the advancing technology, getting published is easier than ever. And digital marketing has increased the exposure of these books to a wider readership base than the traditional methods. So now you come across a new author every other week. That’s not a bad thing, but we must focus on the quality of books we produce, not the quantity. The author market maybe choc-a-bloc today, and we hear stories of overnight success and instant fame, but readers can’t be fooled twice. Write a good book, and it will make you stand out from the crowd.
- What would you tell a budding writer?
Hone your reading and writing skills first. Get active on Writers groups on social media. Test the waters. Start networking. Take part in different contests. Learn from your mistakes and polish your writing style before penning down your manuscripts. Be patient. Keep on editing until it is truly ready to be published. It takes practice and time to produce something that you will be proud of. Hire a professional editor because first impressions matter and getting a good traditional publisher is not that easy. Let the search begin. Stay positive. And never forget the real reason you wanted to become a writer. My best wishes are with you all.
- Which particular novel would you recommend to others?
Nothing in particular. I would recommend you to explore as many genres, as many authors as possible. It is a huge world out there and there is something somewhere for every one. Go explore!
- Any writer you’d like to see succeed?
Yeah, all of us! You never know who will pick your book and how it’s going to impact them. Let us all succeed in our own ways and leave something worthwhile behind for generations to come.
- What’s your favorite horror film?
Paranormal Activity (2007) is a movie that forced me to sleep with the lights turned on (if I am sleeping alone), even now after a decade of watching it. The fact that they never gave a face to that entity and let our imagination run wild is what scared me the most. And maybe that’s why it still remains my favourite. There’s no shame in admitting that I’m terrified of horror movies and sit through them gasping in fright at every sound effect and keeping my eyes closed half of the time.
The Horror Anthology City of Screams will release soon.
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