Today, Paul’s Fantasy Writings has the honour of an interview with author Shashwath Sanil. Shashwath has written Love Shorts, which is a book consisting of four short, brilliant stories.
Recently, Shashwath and I connected on Instagram and he agreed to answer the following questions:
Where do you live and has this place, or any other of the places that you’ve lived, appeared in your novel?
I live in Bangalore. I shifted to Bangalore 5 years back, before which I was in Chennai for 4 and a half years. In addition, I spent around 6 years in Mangalore, where I completed my college, and before that I was in Mumbai for around 14 years where my schooling also took place. So, with these details you could roughly calculate my age too (*chuckles*).
As far as these places are concerned, yes, they did have a huge influence on my writing, and I think this influence is going to stay with me forever. In Love Shorts, there are stories which are set up in Bangalore and Mangalore. Moreover, there are stories from places that I have been on a vacation to, like Kullu, Manali or Dharamshala. So, I think yes, places and people always have an influence on your writing and they ultimately end up being the premise and the characters of your story.
The tagline on your Instagram page and website is An Illusion Manufacturer – The Storyteller. How did you come up with this tagline and what do you hope it tells people about you?
Well, that’s what you get when the writer is an engineer too. The ‘manufacturer’ part of it comes from my engineering background. As far as illusion goes, the very word ‘fiction’ itself means imaginative; yet, when your readers read your imagination, they do it with their fullest conviction.
So, basically it’s like an untrue truth, isn’t it? Like life, maybe. Therefore, I think it makes sense to believe that a writer or an author is like a machine who manufactures illusions. Frankly speaking, I just thought that this line makes my bio look a little smart too 😊.
This blogger: (*Laughs*.) It most certainly does! I think your tagline is brilliant and I like how you came up with it even more! You not only have a bright imagination, you are an effective marketer as well. There are worse skills to have in this world (*smiles*).
Your novel, Love Shorts, consists of 4 short stories about marriage, friendship, destiny, dreams, revenge and love. What made you write 4 short stories rather than a novel?
It wasn’t a very conscious decision to write a book. Yes, the writing was always there within me, but then I didn’t really have a story in mind. I just started off with something, and it turned out not to be so bad. In fact, over a period of time it started looking quite good to me, actually.
The first story that I wrote was a 20 pager, or something like that. The first one encouraged me to write my second and that came out pretty decently, too. It was around 50 pages. So, when you have writtne 70 pages, you are suddenly convinced that you could write 200 pages! Now call it my attachment with the 2 stories that I had already written or my laziness to think of a completely new story. Nevertheless, it kind of triggered this idea of converting it into a book consisting of short stories instead of a fully-fledged novel.
This being my first book, it also kind of gives me that space to gauge what readers love to read. If you read all the 4 stories, you will realize that while the genre remains about love or romance, there is a lot of difference in the way all the stories are handled. So, it kind of gives me an idea of what my forte is. Not that I have figured it out yet, mind you. But as an author you are always in the process of discovering. So, I think, that is what it is.
This blogger: That is utterly fascinating. I had never thought about writing short stories as using them as a tester for the author or for what one’s audience wants to read. That is very smart, indeed.
Are any of the stories linked to one another?
No, none of these stories are linked. It’s like you could be traveling to your office or college and you could just finish a story or two on the way.
After reading the four short stories, what do you hope readers take away from your book?
Well, I just hope that my readers are entertained and are able to connect to my version of messaging.
Which of the characters in any of the stories is the least like you? And why?
Well… there’s a character named Mohit. You must read the book to know why I say that. I might just end up revealing more than what I should if I tell you the reason. Other than this, every other character in the book has a lot of me in it.
This blogger: Fair enough. You have already made me want to read the story just to find out about Mohit and why he is so different to every other character 😉.
In one of my blog posts, I have written about the purpose of an ending. What in your opinion is the purpose of the ending for a story? And how does it differ when dealing with different short stories in the same book?
You were so disappointed by the ending of Game of Thrones that it led you to dedicate an entire blog post to the purpose of an ending, isn’t it?
This blogger: Very much so (*sighs*).
Shashwath Sanil: Now that is exactly how important an ending is. An ending is what your story is ultimately leading to. Perhaps, in a lot of cases, the ending is the reason why the story was written. So, you can’t afford to be dishonest with your ending. Like you have mentioned in your blog, an ending has to be logical and satisfying. It can be happy or sad, right or wrong, but it can’t be dishonest. It doesn’t matter even if the ending is simple, but it has to stay honest to its path.
It’s easy though when you are dealing with short stories rather than long ones. Like in my case, there are 4 different endings, which offers me a wider ground of acceptance. Readers might not enjoy the ending of 2 stories, but they might end up enjoying the ending of the other 2. So, it kind of ends up nullifying the dissatisfaction, if any.
Basically, what I mean to say is the risk factor with shorter stories is relatively thinner in comparison to a single story. That said, the space for setting up the premise and the characterizations is also thinner, comparatively. So, yes, there are its own advantages and disadvantages with any form of story that you are dealing with.
This blogger: First, thank you for reading my blog post on endings; and, second, I am really pleased that you agree with my assessment on an ending’s purpose. Also, I think you are spot on about the pros, cons and differences between the endings for short stories and for ending novels.
If you could give your younger self some advice about writing, what would it be?
Stay more focussed on the characters is what I would like to advice my younger self. I have always been more obsessed with the story, the twists and the turns. That’s important, but it can’t beat the importance of your characters. After all, characters are what readers or viewers connect to; for example, what would Narcos be without Pablo Escobar being the way he is?
On your website, it says that you are a lyricist for musicians. Do you think that writing lyrics for songs has helped you in your craft of storytelling?
Well, it has helped in nurturing the poet within me. If you read the first story in Love Shorts, there are a lot of short romantic verses in it. These verses are definitely an add on to the regular. So, yes as a romance writer this nurturing provides a lot of conditioning to my lines.
What is the hardest part about writing for you? And is it easier for you to write stories or songs?
The hardest thing about writing a story for me I would say is to first fall in love with an idea and next of course to stay committed to it. As a storywriter, you tend to flirt with a lot of ideas but then identifying the right idea to get married to is a big challenge. Otherwise, you end up wasting a lot of time. It has so happened with me that I have gone months together writing and then realized that it isn’t working. It’s about time you see.
Writing a song is a different game. Regarding the process and lengthwise, it’s relatively easier. But then it has its own restrictions. Your words have to follow the protocols set by the song track. Having said that, there are lucky days too when you are told that, boy don’t really worry about the track and all, we will manage, just write the song.
This blogger: That is a brilliant analogy! A writer really is married to his book. You absolutely need to commit to it, like a marriage; and, yes, it’s very easy to walk away. I like it a lot!
Have any of your friends and family read Love Shorts or heard any of the songs that you have written the lyrics to? If so, what have their reactions been, and how do you feel about them talking to you about your writings?
Yes, of course. My friends and family have been extremely supportive and encouraging, be it with my books, songs or anything else I’ve done.
I am sure this happens to all artists. Your first set of reviewers are usually your friends. So as far as the book is concerned, some of my friends have indeed read the book even before it became a book. Also, to let you know, one of my biggest critics is my dad. He has spent his entire career working in a steel plant, and has never had anything to do with reading or writing at all. But the inputs I get from him are massive. It makes me wonder if the story writer in me is a genetic thing indeed.
This blogger: First, it is wonderful that you have such great support. As it happens, I have interviewed some authors who either don’t tell their friends, family, etc… or their friends, family, etc… are not particularly supportive. So, it is fantastic to know that you have a support network.
Second, writing may be genetic. Honestly, I have no idea. Nevertheless, it sounds like your father has a hidden talent for critiquing stories in a constructive way. May he keep on providing terrific input into your writings.
Lastly, outside of writing, what do you like to do?
I am a huge film buff. To say Bollywood runs in my blood would be an understatement. So, most of the time you can find me using my Netflix and Amazon Prime subscriptions, or listening to music.
That said, I have a serious inclination towards filmmaking. Presently, I am exploring that side of mine. I have also learnt astrology, so when someone wants me to read their horoscope, I do that, too.
Strangely, I am not an ardent reader unlike most of the authors are. I read, but I don’t read very serious stuff… and rest of the time, I am just lost – I just keep thinking, thinking and thinking. I mean, I realize that I am a very boring person to live with that way or maybe I save all the interesting things within for my book 😉.
This blogger: (*Chuckles.*) You are anything but boring, Shashwath. You have a lot of interests and passions, and I can imagine listening to you for hours about any of the subjects that you are fascinated by.
End of Interview
Thus, our interview with author Shashwath Sanil comes to an end. I would like to thank Shashwath for his time, and to say that it has been fantastic interviewing him. I wish him all the best in his future writings, whether books or songs, his astrology, his engineering, and that he finds success in his filmmaking venture.
You can purchase Shashwath’s book on Amazon. If you like thoughtful and thought-provoking short stories on marriage, friendship, dreams, revenge and love, then Love Shorts is the book for you. Check it out now!
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