“I just create the characters and their universe. Once that’s done, they make their own way in their world, and I become less of a writer and more a chronicler of their lives. It’s kind of like giving birth to a child.”
Nishant Muralidharan, a junior in the Electronics and Communications department of Manipal Institute of Technology, recently released his second book, ‘Tempestatem’. The book follows the life of Gale, a young man, who is thrown into the fray of a supernatural battle in his afterlife. ‘Tempestatem’ is a delectable cocktail of science and fantasy, with wizards creating black holes. The MIT Post interviewed the author, for it’s a tremendous feat to be in Electronics and Communication and find the time to write a fantasy novel.
“Hello, Nishant. I’d read your book a few days ago…”
You read my book? How’d you like it?
“I found it interesting.”
Alright. Tell me more about how you felt.
“I thought this interview was the other way round.”
Oh yes. (laughs) Carry on.
“This is something every budding writer is waiting to find out. How exactly do you go about getting yourself published?”
It’s a long process. Most people take it lightly. You prepare your first draft, which should be for your eyes only. Then comes the second, which you give to a few close people who’ve known you for a while. Following that should be the third draft, which you give to the RED group, which is to say, people who don’t know you – that gives you an objective opinion of your work. You can go about this through online clubs. What followed next was working with the editors. After a few debates here and there, my work was finally passed on to the publishers. It was hard finding publishers for this genre, since India is a little new to these themes.
“That sounds like a lot of work. What do you think it takes to be a writer?”
For me, writing is a lot about inspiration and feeling. I’ve written next to eighteen books already, but, this one felt just right to me. I don’t believe in strictly chalking out a character’s path and deciding his adventures and fate. I just create the characters and their universe. Once that’s done, they make their own way in their world, and I become less of a writer and more a chronicler of their lives. It’s kind of like giving birth to a child.
“That’s wonderfully put, Nishant. In the book, we’ll read the adventures of Gale, the protagonist. Tell me about Nishant’s adventure. How was the experience of writing this book?”
I did most of my writing in the vacations, dedicating nearly twelve hours a day to my work. Then, once I completed it, I spent six months away from it. You see, if you keep incessantly working on the book, the characters will either feel old to you, or you’ll start believing that it is too perfect. Spending some time away from your creation helps make your opinion of it slightly more objective.
“So, it’s like sending your kid to college?”
Yes, yes. That’s exactly it.
“Your book shows its protagonist, Gale Storm, coming to this ‘transitional’ world after his death. How would you describe him?”
Gale’s very neutral. He’s got a very different take on society. He’s not the kind who believes that in a war, it’s always heroes versus villains. He knows that whether a person is a hero or villain is a matter of perspective, and more importantly, victory.
“True. If you had to imagine an actor playing him…”
Well (laughs) that’s kind of hard to say. If time wasn’t a factor, I’d pick a 19-year-old Keanu Reeves.
“Now this is something I’ve been trying to research, but in vain. Why the title ‘Tempestatem’? It does come from ‘Tempest’, meaning storm, but…”
The lead character is called Gale Storm. Think about it.
“I feel my IQ dropping a couple of points. Anyway, tell me this. What inspired a student from MIT to pick a theme revolving around death and the afterlife?”
It’s hard to pinpoint my inspiration. I was never really into fantasy that much. However, what I’ve observed is that MIT’s diversity is such that it is full of people who look beyond the scope of engineering. There are fantasy aficionados aplenty. Talking to these people piqued my interest in this theme. I credit these dreamers for sowing the seeds of fantasy in me.
“So the dreamers made you one of them. Which writers do you really look up to?”
I adore Jeffery Archer and Enid Blyton. I had this deep-seated urge to tell stories since I was in the fourth standard. I tried, and I was told that I was terrible. Still, I kept going. I kept working with peers online who helped me grow as a writer.
“I heard that some of your characters were based on your own classmates. Anything you’d like to share on that?”
Let’s see. Oh yes, I had this character called Sam, based on my batch-mate Samarth. When we’d had our English Presentations in the first year, whenever Samarth was asked to air his opinions on the speakers, all he could muster was one of two words, “Beautiful”, or “Seriously?” So his character, Sam, is a man with only those two words in his entire vocabulary.
“Now comes the big question. Where do you see yourself in the future?”
My dream is that, in ten years’ time, I’ll have lunch with Jeffery Archer.
“One last question. I’ve also been told that you’re working on a prequel to ‘Tempestatem’. Are you?”
I am. If all goes well, I’ll get to work in the summer break. The book should be out before I graduate.
Nishant’s book is available on Amazon, after having been sold out on Flipkart. Get a hold of this volume, grab a cup of coffee, and lose yourself in a fantasy world where there are dragons, wizards, and no boundaries.