Allow me to introduce Mr. Varun Sayal, an author by passion. Recently we got a chance to read his debut book “Time Crawlers (Stories from Parallel Universes)” which is a collection of SciFi short stories.
You can read our detailed book reviews for the same at:
We are impressed with the book, especially the way “science” is mixed with “fiction” and thought it would be interesting to know more about him. What could have been better than an Author Interview?!
So we’ve approached him, and fortunately the things worked out positively :). I am glad that from our team I got a chance to have this Q/A session with him.
Before I published “Time Crawlers“, I used to study some statistics for books written by independent authors. I observed that many of them had less than 10 ratings & reviews on Goodreads for their books, even after one or two years of having released the book. That was something which was not very encouraging, to be honest.
But the amount of love and positive reviews Time Crawlers has received on Amazon, Goodreads, Instagram and on various top-notch book blogs is just phenomenal. I already have close to 100 reviews and ratings on Goodreads within just three months of the book being published and that motivates me to write more and more. It’s a very positive feeling indeed.
Not really. In fact, the best part of writing for me is the ability to create new universes, worlds, realms, characters, their storylines. That for me seems to be a never-ending process. An enjoyable arcade game with no foreseeable “last stage”. So I do not see a sense of completeness anywhere close as of now.
I am B.Tech. from IIT Delhi and M.B.A. from Indian School of Business, Hyderabad. I am currently working as Manager of Data Science and Analytics with Amazon Business. At work, I am very passionate about solving complex data problems. And in my writings, I am very keen to pursue areas such as time-travel, parallel universes, dystopian worlds, alien adventures and space opera. I also love to throw in the paranormal angle once in a while.
At times while you are writing your brain is running faster than your fingers can type. That is the phase when you are getting a very-very strong flow of ideas and you just want to pen them down ASAP. That is the ecstatic feeling I want to experience repeatedly. When the words I write give me goose-bumps, I know I am on to something really good. That is the mood-state I write for. And later when readers who leave amazing reviews and even converse with me on my stories, that’s another amazing experience I aspire for.
When I started writing short stories, I didn’t realize that a major challenge would be to create a universe, create a conflict and give it a justifiable end within a small space of a short story. And short stories are like cutting out a small, but significant, piece from a big cake. They are akin to a small window into a larger conflict, which is why some of the short stories are cliff-hangers. But then if the cliff-hanger is very abrupt it will leave a sense of dissatisfaction in the reader and will render the story weak. On the other hand, if you do start explaining a lot, the story will move towards a Novella. Deciding when to draw the line on the cliff-hanger can be a difficult decision. Dealing with these scenarios was pretty challenging.
Absolutely, as a SciFi writer, one should be able to satiate more advanced readers as well as those who love to read SciFi but don’t want to bogged with too technical details. Which is why it is critical to research for facts which are hard science and then weave them in the narrative in layman terms. For example, while defining a time-slice for “Time Crawlers” I was doing some internet search and I stumbled upon the scientific definition of one second. And realized that this was something I learned during a physics course in High School. And when I read it I understood very well what it meant. It was a very satisfying experience. I was writing something which I fully understood.
I loved writing the part in Death by Crowd where SS is taking in detail about nature of A.I. and discussed the theory around it, because that theory I feel is most probably true.
I am more of an impulsive writer, however that works much better for short stories. For a novella or a novel you need to have a structure in place else you would end up botching the whole writing effort. Since my next book is going to be a novel, I am working on putting more finesse in that structural method.
I was completely involved in the process. Initially I studied proposals from around 10 designers before I chose to proceed with one. And thankfully the one I chose was a very good artist who was ready to work iteratively with me. Together, we would have done 15-18 iterations before we finalized the cover.
The journey of this book from conception to publishing is an interesting tale in itself. I have been writing short stories on various blogs, websites such as Medium and other such writer forums for a few years now and readers have been loving my work. But sometime around the beginning of 2018, I decided that a more concentrated organized effort on publishing was required if I wanted to reach and “wow” a mass audience. Around February of 2018, I started to pen down stories with a very specific theme in mind, Science Fiction. And that’s how “Time Crawlers” was born. I then got a cover designed, got the book edited by a top-rated Editor from UK.
Specifically speaking about the stories. I had written the story “Genie” very long back, perhaps around two years back, but rest of the stories “Time Crawlers and Death By Crowd etc. were written only a few months back. All these stories were just scattered pieces of fiction and were yet to be woven into a storybook. How I came about an idea of choosing these six stories for my book, among many others I have written, was an interesting thought process. If you look at the underlying tones for these stories, they are very different. Death by Crowd has a very dark theme with a near future kind of storyline, whereas “Nark-Astra, the hell weapon” is an ancient mythology tale from a parallel universe. While Genie, is very light alternative take on Djinn folklore, “The Cave” narrates a story of a powerful planet consuming entity in crosshairs with a legendary telekinetic protector. But the underlying theme which connects all these stories
is Science Fiction and the concept that they all take place in different parallel universes, which are not much different from ours.
After writing ton of short stories and putting them out in front of a very wide audience, I feel now I have finally got them out of my system. So now I am ready to pen down a larger body of work, something I am already working on a paranormal Sci-Fi fantasy which would be a full novel.
“Time crawlers” is a buffet of sci-fi tales, which deals with themes such as Alien Invasion, Djinn Folklore, Darknet conspiracies, ancient high tech mythology and telekinetics etc. If you like any of these concepts pick up this book and read on. If you are looking for a quick two-hour airport read, read on. If you want to re-look at some of the existential questions of life with a very fresh lens, read on.
Mahabharata is my favorite tale as it is actually a sum of thousands of small tales. The story of bhakt Prahlad and Narasimha avatar is also a very engaging tale and one of my favorites.
Indeed from richness of content and perspective of scientific rigor we have a very powerful religious texts. We used to read a Physics book for IIT JEE preparation by an author H.C. Verma. In one of the chapters around speed of light he translated an ancient Sanskrit shloka which described the time light takes to reach from Sun to earth. And by converting old units to current day measures he proved out ancient sages knew the speed of light to remarkably close accuracy. How is that possible if our ancient sages were also not trained physicists?
I truly believe we were an advanced civilization. I will share one very interesting example with you. One of the stories in our ancient text describes an incident where King Kakudmi and his daughter Revati travel to “Brahmaloka” where the creator of the universe Lord Brahma resides. When they reach Brahmaloka they are asked to wait for a musical performance to get over. And after that, while they are taking the blessings of Lord Brahma, he tells them that every hour spent in this place is equivalent to thousands of earth years.
And when they do come back to earth they realized that very many years have passed on earth. Their whole families, the kingdom is long gone. In fact, so much time has passed that the people are much smaller in height than they used to be. Now when you read this as a religious story, you tend to dismiss this as a figment of the imagination. I remember watching this story in some old TV serial, years back. And thought how is this possible? One hour at one place is equal to several thousand years in another place? But now armed with a knowledge of black holes physics when you see the same fact being shown in Christopher Nolan’s “Interstellar“, you can just marvel at the depth of knowledge our ancestors possessed. They really were very-very advanced scientifically. With the passage of time, over the ages, don’t know when and why did we deteriorate so much that all that immense knowledge is lost and now some of that is just part of religious texts.
I love to read Isaac Asimov. I also loved reading Khushwant Singh a few years back.
I love to eat good food. But now gravitating towards foods which are nutritious as well as tasteful.
While physical books have their charm, what I have observed is that even if we are not reading ebooks we are doing a ton of reading on our phone and tablets anyhow. We are reading emails, FB posts, Whatsapp messages, news articles, medium.com posts, blog posts and what not on our phones already. So while one can dismiss them, ebooks will slowly become a part of our life.
I like to read both. Both have their pros and cons. For more light reads I prefer ebooks but for more deep reads I prefer prints.
Ramayana and Mahabharata are very good stories that we as Indians get to hear as children. Because although they are religious epics, they are very gray by design. Even as a child you see that not every character is totally positive or negative, which brings down the level of preachiness in them and makes them mature reads. Draupadi is on the positive side but jokes on Duryodhana in a very demeaning way. Karn is a good guy but sides with Duryodhan. Arjun is ready to fight a righteous war but uses Shikhandi. He also kills Karn, when he is without a weapon.
Coming to Ramayan, Mareech does a dirty deed but before that, he chastises Raavan on what he is about to do. Kumbhkarna is a demon but before he goes to war he scolds Raavan for his ill deed, yet fulfills his brotherly duties. Kaikaai is supposed to be a loving mother but she sends Ram to exile. Deeper stories around Shakuni, Bharat, Pandavas, and on Krishna’s side, they all influence you and give you a narrative of life which is very authentic. I believe all these influenced me a lot.
I think we are, but books can solve that. I haven’t heard as many stories from grandparents as many I read from those Amar Chitra Katha during my childhood. And another reason I feel we will not lose these stories is that they are damn good stories. Some of them have utilized the Hero’s Journey template very well which makes them so appealing. They are here to stay with us.
While Facebook and Twitter can ensure that news flows like a wild-fire, I see Goodreads and Instagram as two very powerful social networks which allow people to do what they want. A) Read and B) Share your love for reading with others. So if someone indeed pens down a very strong book about a social or ethical cause and if rings bell with thousands of people, it will get popular fairly quickly.
- Website: http://varunsayal.in/
- Blog: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/18131196.Varun_Sayal/blog
- Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/varun.sayal
- Twitter: @vsa2
- Linkedin: https://www.linkedin.com/in/varunsayal/
- Amazon Author Page: https://www.amazon.in/Varun-Sayal/e/B07F37Z7LX
- Goodreads Book Link: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/40540847-time-crawlers
- Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/18131196.Varun_Sayal
Not an autograph but one of the reviewers from US was so delighted with my stories that she asked me if I could send her a signed copy. Unfortunately there was no way for me to do that. If
I do visit US sometime in future I may contact her and grant her wish. Just yesterday another reviewer has asked me for a signed copy.
As an author it’s my humble plea to readers to please leave ratings and feedback on various review platforms. Even a two line review can help us a lot in getting more traction to our books. Every new feedback is a motivator for us and tells us that our work is getting attention and encourages us to write more and more.
Quick Purchase Links:
- Buy Book From Amazon India – Kindle EBook
- Buy Book From Amazon US – Kindle Ebook
- Buy Book From Amazon US – Paperback
Over To You:
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