Thursday, December 26, 2013

Me - An Author?

I know - the moment you people read the title you are probably expecting me to be telling you all about how my every attempt at making conversation was treated as my telling tall stories and things like that. That, though, is not what this is all about. Hold your breaths and manfully swallow your disbelief. I REALLY have written fiction and put it up as an e-book on Kindle. (Now you know what the 'thirdly' of the previous post was)

To be sure, I felt the need to ensure that I had adequate support in the venture. Just in case someone felt the urgent need to really spew venom upon reading my story, I wanted him to have to read some others and have his rage cooled down by some decent writing before he vented his ire on comments on the Kindle Forum or on Goodreads. So, I pulled in a couple of others to write along with me. It is thus that we have a collection of three crime novellas (Yeah! I know - a strange departure for a humorist) in "Sirens spell Danger" which you can download from Kindle for a princely sum of Rs. 99/= (if you are in India) or for USD 2.99/= (if you are not).

One of my co-authors is The Fool and, for those very few people who follow me but do not know of him, he is a versatile blogger who has written pieces ranging from poetry to whimsical pieces to fiction. His Science Fiction story "A Nootropic Egress" has been published by Mahavir Publishers in the collection "Ten Shades of Life". He has a unique brand of humor and a zany creativity which has earned him many die-hard fans. His story - "Bellary" - in this anthology features a IB agent sent to Bellary to foil an imminent plot with horrendous consequences and finds himself suddenly the center of attraction of two lovely women singing siren songs of love to him.

The  other co-author - Radha Sawana - is probably lesser known in blogging circles but that is only because she is not a very active blogger. She thrust herself into my notice (very forcefully, I must say) by winning a contest in Indifiction Workshop. It was not merely the fact that she won but the writing that won it for her which caught my attention. For a young girl, she exhibits a rare maturity in her writing as her various pieces on her blog showed me. Her story - "Bella Donna" - intrigues you with a serial killer leaving strange messages which could be a challenge to the police or a siren call to lure another victim.

With the able support of these two, I hope that my own story may not raise too much ire in the eyes of the reader. "Femme Fatale" is about a IPS selectee who gets dragged into danger by a sexy siren and finds himself responsible for foiling a terrorist attack in Bangalore.

I sure hope you guys feel like reading the book and, further, are enthused to give a review on Kindle and Goodreads as well. (Complimentary, of course! I would certainly not be hoping for the other kind, would I?) And I also hope that we have managed to give you a decent reading experience.

Free Kindle apps (for other devices) downloads for those who do not have a Kindle: 

Download Link for India :

Download Link for US :

Download Link for other markets

Monday, December 23, 2013


For all those who considered me an ass - and an exemplary one at that - I need to say that you were all wrong. I have reason to know that donkeys the world over are marching to the UN with a petition to take strict action against the slur of being compared to me thereby bringing their entire species into disrepute. At least, they may, unless they feel that eating the petition would be a more productive use of the paper it is written on.

I am sure you must be wondering what, other than looking at myself in the mirror, set me off on wondering about my worldwide repute for asininity. For one, I went off the Chennai without issuing my preliminary warning that I would be back - and, probably, lead to a great deal of people celebrating, prematurely, their liberation from reading my posts. To cause so many people so much unhappiness today - and just a day before Christmas - is absolutely sadistic, I know, but I am sure you would rather have it done now and digest the bad news before the New Year celebrations start.

For another I am fresh from the reunion of my batch at IIM-Bangalore. To find myself in the company of scintillating stars - CXOs in all sorts of hifalutin organizations and entrepreneurs brought home to me the fact that I, above all, was the one student that IIMB would wish to quietly expunge from the rolls. Nevertheless, it was a couple of days of fun and to mingle with people without having to measure out every word (and quietly check up on Linked-in to see if they were worth the time) was a refreshing change.

The current lot of students must have had a great deal more fun watching fifty plus people wandering around moony-eyed all over the campus and indulging in activities that creaking bones had hitherto not permitted. IIMB has changed rather drastically in the last twenty-five years but so had we - and yet the connect with both the Institute and fellow batch-mates was almost instant and as live as it used to be a quarter century ago.

To give you one sample of how kind my classmates could be, I must mention the fact that none of them felt I was as bad an ass as I could be. Almost all of them agreed that, no matter how bad I was today, I could not match up to what I was when I was a student at the campus. I am grateful, guys, for that indulgence. The surprising thing was I was also alive in the memories of some of the professors. Why, they even told me in sympathetic tones that I must be finding difficulty sleeping, now that I had no lectures to attend. THAT sort of personal attention and sympathy is something one can only get from one's Alma Mater and co-students.

Thirdly - ah, that piece of asininity shall come in the next post. 

Saturday, December 14, 2013

An Arrogant AAP?

I hardly ever talk of politics - primarily because I prefer not talking about what I do not know. (Eh! What do you mean that, if that were true, I should not be talking at all? I do not quite get that!) But, after hearing Arvind Kejriwal talk to his party MLAs of avoiding the trap of becoming arrogant, I could not restrain myself. I mean, does the man seriously think that it is possible to be both honest and not arrogant in today's political world? That, too, in Delhi which has raised the practice of "Jaan-Pehchaan" to the status of high art?

"Arre! I just asked my nephew to get my Chintu a good job in the government. Can you believe it - he refused. He talks as though I am Ambani offering him a bribe. Corruption is one thing but if a man will not even come to the help of his family what good will he do to the country?"

"He has changed. Now that he is a big-shot why will he bother about small people like us?"

See - Power corrupts. Now that our man has got a position of power, he cannot even avoid being arrogant to his family.

"I thought he was a friend, yaar! We have been family friends from childhood. Now he will not even arrange for me to get a contract from the PWD."

"Now he is a politician. They have no friends or enemies - only interests."

"What I cannot digest is all those speeches he gives about honesty in governance and all such crap. I mean what has that got to do with this. Even in business we go by peer networks."

"Who knows? Money speaks everywhere nowadays. You thought he would give it away for free?"

There you go - you can be arrogant as well as dishonest in the minds of your friends. Honest and humble? NEVER!

"Your Montu is now a politician. He can help my son get a transfer to a plum posting."

"Montu says he will not do such things. He says corruption starts here."

"Corruption-worruption! Just tell me you do not want to help my son. No need to give speeches. And, if your Montu really believes such things, he does not live in the real world. What will happen to this country with such incompetents ruling it?"

Ah! Yes! There IS an option. You can be honest and not arrogant PROVIDED you are incompetent!

Thursday, December 5, 2013

Chakra by Ritu Lalit - A Book review

Urban fantasy has myriad forms. At one level, it can be akin to horror tales - with vampires, werewolves and other such paranormal creatures - and, to my mind, the only thing that would differentiate these tales from the horror genre would be the fact that, in horror, the monsters are more akin to forces of nature without plans and motives whereas in urban fantasy they would have evil purposes that the protagonists need to thwart. Another variation is to write a tale that moves in both a fantasy world and the 'real' world - and, normally, such a tale would have protagonist from the 'real' world. A third variation is to have a fantasy world within the real world - with the events either affecting only the people involved in the fantasy world or capable of convulsing the 'real' world as well.

In a manner of speaking, J.K.Rowling's Potter series IS urban fantasy - since it is set in a fantasy world that overlaps the real world. It does not appear as such since almost all the events happen and/or affect only the people of the fantasy world though there are instances where people in the 'real' world do get affected. Ritu Lalit's "Chakra - The Chronicles of the Witch Way" is urban fantasy of the third sort.

The words 'fantasy world', in the context of her story, is used loosely only to denote people and organizations that are a part of the fantasy elements of her story. In the first book, there is no separate geographical location like "Hogwarts" which may be termed a fantasy place. What I particularly liked about her story was the fact that, unlike most Indian fantasy writers, she has not restricted herself to re-telling or re-interpreting Indian myths but has used elements of what may be termed fantasy - Kundalini Yoga, in this case - to create a fascinating idea of 'magic'. The other thing is the usage of good English - something I had taken for granted earlier but appreciate more nowadays since I find it relatively rare.

The story is fast-paced and quite an easy read. Since this is the first book of what seems to be a trilogy or more, it is too early to start talking of how well-rounded the story was, as it is written. I, however, felt that more tension could have been created in the story with a focus on a specific objective, either for the protagonists or for the antagonists, other than mere destruction of the other or survival - but, as I mentioned, it is early days yet and I may have cause to revise my opinion when the sequels come out.

Even if the book is a part of a multiple set of books, Ritu is following the episodic narration a la Rowling in that each book is a complete story in itself and does not leave you hanging at the end waiting for the sequel to complete the story. I sure hope that the following books may prove far more interesting.

Monday, December 2, 2013

The Other Side by Faraaz Kazi - A Book Review

Tales of the paranormal are, almost invariably, associated with the horror genre. In other words, the reader expects to feel the delicious shuddery feeling of vicarious fear when he reads paranormal stories. This assumption, though, need not be entirely correct. Anne Rice's vampire tales, for example, are more literary fiction than horror fiction. The Twilight saga veers off into romance. It is, therefore, not entirely necessary for a paranormal tale to also be a horror story in order for it to be a good read.

"The Other Side" by Faraaz Kazi and Vivek Banerjee is a collection of thirteen paranormal stories. The blurb and excerpts seek to establish the collection as belonging to the horror genre. To me, though, not all stories are actually horror stories in the collection unless a reader feels that the very existence of the paranormal in the 'real' world is horrifying. That does not, of itself, detract from the reading experience.

In fact, most of the stories in the collection are a pretty decent read. A few of them end with a surprise twist and, in most of such stories, the twist is horrifying as well. In fact, one of the better things about these stories is the fact that the twist seems to arise naturally from the course of the story and does not appear to be an artificial imposition to shock the reader. The English was a pleasant surprise insofar as it pleased the purist in me for the most part. There were a few edit errors but not so many as to mar the book significantly.

I do need to point out a few areas where the book could have been better. One of the stories had a very appealing end and I would have relished the story much better had it not seemed to parallel the descriptions of possession from William Peter Blatty's "Exorcist" too closely. Where the stories were actually intended to be horrifying I found that the authors relied on graphic descriptions of the horrifying phenomenon. I have found that describing the impact on the person being horrified works much better. (As an aside, one story appealed to me mainly because it was centered around a trek to Roopkund - a trek which I attempted early this year only to be stranded by the Uttaranchal debacle)

Minor blemishes apart, the book is actually a pretty decent read. If the reader expects to be mystified more than horrified, he would derive more satisfaction. And, of course, there are quite a few stories which may be mystifyingly horrifying too.

Details of the book can be looked up here

The other side