I am a fiction writer. I spend a lot of my time thinking about imaginary people and their problems. It’s a strange existence, perhaps not the sort of thing you’d expect grown-ups to do. People sometimes ask me if I’d always wanted to be a writer. No, I had not. When I was eight or nine, I was very sure about what I wanted to be. I wanted to be an accountant. My friends, when asked what they wanted to be when they grew up, would reply “engineer!” or “doctor!” Not me. I was going to be an accountant. I couldn’t wait to be an accountant. To me, accountants represented the height of cool. My dad was as an accountant with the Government of India’s Audit Department. At dinner time, he’d occasionally talk about the day’s events, and he invariably made accountancy sound as exciting as exploring Mars or wind surfing or being a detective. His eyes would shine, his fingers would draw numbers in the air, and in the mornings, as he got ready for work, he would hum. I wanted a slice of the same happiness pizza.
I became a fiction writer instead. I was a software engineer for a long while, and it was a blast, but eventually I decided to become a writer. Once, I would have drummed up plausible reasons for the shift, but these days, I’m more skeptical about our supposed motives and reasons. They sound like rationalizations to me. I write because I love to write. I write all kinds of stories. Short stories, long stories, realist stories, speculative fiction stories, stories that go well with chai, stories that don’t, stories with brown people, stories without, stories divisible by 2, and stories that are even odder.
When I’m forced to pick a genre, I say I work in speculative fiction. That’s a genre that includes things like magic realism, surrealism, fabulist fiction, slipstream, science fiction, fantasy and so on. If you’ve never heard of speculative fiction, I have an explanation right here. Or you could try Naiyer Masud’s Sheesha Ghat or a Kannada folktale, A Story And A Song. Of course, no taxonomy can ever cage words and that goes for genre labels as well. I don’t take them seriously and I hope you don’t either.
My short fiction can be found in many anthologies and magazines such as Albedo One, InterZone, Interfictions Online, Lady Churchill’s Rosebud Wristlet, Sybil’s Garage and Strange Horizons. My debut YA novel The Beast With Nine Billion Feet (Zubaan, 2010) was shortlisted for the 2010 Vodafone-Crossword award and the 2010 Parallax prize. In 2012, Vandana Singh and I co-edited Breaking The Bow, an international anthology of short fiction inspired by ‘the’ Ramayan. I care a great deal about encouraging spec-fic from developing countries.
When I talk about writing, my eyes shine, my fingers gesture in the air, and I try to convince everybody to be a writer. Remember I said I wanted a slice of the happiness pizza. Well, it tastes great. I hope you’ll have as much pleasure reading my stories as I had writing them.
In The News
Review: Charles Adler’s Wizards, Aliens, and Starships: Physics and Math in Fantasy and Science Fiction.
Current Science 107(1) 2014. pp. 121-122.
Conversation with Anil Menon & Vandana Singh.
Chie and Weng Read Books
May 24, 2014
Making History: The Strange Case of Rani Padmini
The Four Quarters Magazine
Winter Edition, 2013
The Jaguar’s Wife
Fall Edition, 2013
Hacked Matter Workshop
October 19-21, 2013
Special On Indian Speculative Fiction
Interview with Yoshio Kobayashi
Review: Samit Basu’s Turbulence
World SF Blog
Aug 30, 2012
Neglected topics in SF
Aug 15, 2012
The Meaning of Curiosity
Times of India Weekend Edition
Aug 11, 2012
Podcast: In conversation with Karen Burnham and Vandana Singh
July 27, 2012
Review: Lokenath Bhattacharya’s The Virgin Fish of Babughat
July 27, 2012
June 27, 2012
Poincaré Sutra nominated for Parallax Award
Senses Five Press
August 16, 2011
World SF Blog: World Building in a Hot Climate
May 19, 2010
Hunting a Snark: On the Trail of Regional Indian SF
Trans: Juan Madrigal
May 05, 2010
Interview by Venetia Ansell
Sanskrit Literature Blog
March 04, 2010
The Hindu, Kochi Metroplus Interview
Jan. 15, 2010
Nov. 02, 2009