Aindrila Roy is one of the authors of the upcoming urban Indian Horror Novel City of Screams. Indian Horror Club got in touch with her to discuss the upcoming anthology. Here’s the interview:
- Tell us a bit about yourself.
There is so much to say, where do I begin? Since this is an author interview, maybe I will speak about that aspect. My love for books and the written word began a little late in life. I was eleven when I picked my first book (under parental pressure, I will admit), Wizard of Oz. Since then, my love for books has only grown. As I started to read, I realized that I could do it too, I could string words into a coherent form to paint a picture. I wrote my first story, a little tale about a princess who defends her fort, when I was eleven or twelve.
- How did you become a part of this anthology?
The editor and compiler, Neil D’Silva, is a friend of mine. He was the one who brought this competition to my notice.
Honestly, when I first read the rules, I wasn’t certain I would be able to join because I had no story in my mind. It was just a tiny miracle that I actually got an idea in time. When I sent the story for the competition, I had no hopes. It was a pleasant surprise to see my name in the shortlisted authors.
- What is your story about?
My story is about a girl called Kajal who has moved to Bangalore from Jamshedpur to work at an office. She lives as a paying guest in a PG. Some time later, a girl called Anushya comes as her roommate. Anushya tells Kajal that she is in Bangalore for the treatment of her sleep-paralysis. What Kajal doesn’t know is that Anushya is telling only half of the truth and is hiding a very damning secret. The rest of the story explores the horrors of sleep-paralysis with a nice little twist at the end.
- How did you come up with this story? Were you inspired by events?
Sleep-paralysis and dreams have fascinated me for a while. In fact, I have an entire novel (titled Dreamscape) that explores the world of dreams and nightmares. In a way, this story spawned from an idea I had while I was writing this novel. In fact, I do mention the rudimentary concept of this story in Dreamscape.
Now to answer the second question. Not this idea specifically, but the idea of Dreamscape originated from a place near my house, called Powell. It’s a small picturesque settlement. Somehow, to me, the place had a million stories waiting to be told. I just picked the one that spoke the loudest to me. Since “If Only…” is, in a way, a spawn of Dreamscape, I would say that Powell is my inspiration.
- How long did it take you to come up with the final draft of the story?
Once the story was set in my mind, I began putting it on paper. That done, I sent the story to a couple of friends, both of whom are discerning readers and writers par excellence. Taking valuable feedback from them, I fine-tuned the story. Two drafts later, I sent my story. The entire process took about a week.
- Anthologies aren’t as popular in India as abroad. Any apprehensions signing up?
I am a nervous person by nature. I’m apprehensive about everything. So, it’s no surprise that I’m a bundle of nerves over this book. That said, I know that the guest authors, Suhail Mathur, Neil D’Silva and Kiran Manral are well established in their fields. I’m sure their names would give this book some leverage. I’m hoping mine and the other stories are strong enough to give this book the boost it needs to capitalize on the momentum that these stalwarts provide us with.
- What other genres interest you?
I read a whole lot of things. But I am partial to horror, fantasy, and on rare occasion, romance. I also like to read Paleontological books. Lately, I’m reading up on various mythologies and have read a few biographies.
- Any plans to write a full-fledged novel?
Haha, so many of them. I’m brimming with ideas. I already have a novel that I self-published on Amazon. Another one, the one I mentioned before (Dreamscape), is finished and I’m currently querying agents about it. I am working on a couple of them, one a fantasy series and the other is a stand-alone novel.
- The author market is choc-a-bloc today. What’s your take on that?
I believe that everyone has a story in them. Only a few get to tell them. I feel like there are more readers than there are authors. If you have a story, write it. Market will make itself.
- What would you tell a budding writer?
Read and write. Read and write. Rinse and repeat.
What I mean by that is, the only way to get better at the craft is to read and write. So, keep at it. Read a variety of books and write what comes to you. Have faith.
- Which particular novel would you recommend to others?
Oh, there are so many! Depends upon the reader, I guess. Some of my most recommended books are, Kite Runner by Khaled Hosseini, The Bartimaeus Trilogy by Johnathan Stroud, House of Leaves by Mark Z. Danielewiski, and Many Lives Many Masters by Dr. Brian Weiss.
- Any writer you’d like to see succeed?
The couple of writer friends I mentioned above? They are Percy Wadiwala and Prashanth Srivatsa. Arguably, two of the best authors I have ever read. They are the ones I’d like to see succeed.
- What’s your favorite horror film?
I’m going to cheat here and mention a few. The Omen (1976), The Innocents (1961), Shutter Island (2010 (even though not technically horror, the movie spooked me)), Pan’s Labyrinth (2006), Errementari (2017), Tumbbad (2018), Raat (1992), 13B (2009)
The Indian Horror Novel City of Screams releases soon.