Interview with suspense author Sangeeta Mahapatra

My special
author guest to wrap up the week is Sangeeta Mahapatra. We’re
chatting about her new suspense and psychological horror anthology, Wreath and Other Stories: Tales of Horror
and Suspense.
Bio:
Sangeeta
Mahapatra is the executive editor of Business Economics magazine. She has a
doctoral degree in International Relations and has worked as a business
journalist as well as a research scholar in institutes in Geneva, Australia,
and the United States specializing in Security and Terrorism Studies.
She was a Fulbright
Research Fellow at the Mershon Center for International Security Studies, Ohio
State University, USA.
She is
currently based in Kolkata, India, working on a book on the counter-terrorism strategies
of India, Israel, and the United States of America.
In 1999,
her first book of fiction, Miasma, an anthology of suspense and
mystery stories, was published by Chowringhee Prakashini Press, Kolkata. Wreath
and Other Stories: Tales of Horror and Suspense
 is her second
collection of short stories.
Welcome, Sangeeta. Please tell us about
your current release.
Wreath and Other Stories is a collection of ten stories that shade over to
the dark realms of psychological horror and suspense. To annex a phrase of
Arendt, the stories deal with the ‘banality of evil’.
As a storyteller, it gives me immense pleasure to
scare my readers. The challenge is to entertain them as well.
I hope to
do this with Wreath and Other Stories.
Each story is different, but all have a strong sense of atmosphere, have
relatable characters, and if I may say so, a pretty neat twist in the tale.
Stories like ‘Red Moon’, ‘Captive’, ‘The Wait’ and ‘Wreath’ are supernatural
thrillers. ‘Malevolent’ is a psychological science-fiction having, what a
reviewer (bless him) described as “a strong human core”. ‘Fey’, ‘Tick Tock’ and
‘Déjà vu’
are a bit gothic, borrowing on traits of the noir thriller while ‘Artistic
Spirit’ and ‘Snapshot’ are comparatively lighter in tone with an undercurrent of
humour and irony.
So, welcome to my world- it’s dark, slightly unhinged, but nevertheless
thrilling. I hope you enjoy your stay.
May I invite you to know more about
the world of Wreath at my
blog
.
What inspired you to write this book?
For me, there
is no greater fear than the chilling sense of self-dissolution. The Dostoyevskian ethical dilemma fascinates me: what would
suborn a decent person to commit a crime? You might be able to escape an
external monster but how you do escape yourself? I would look to create such
plots out of images that affected me, moved me. A cackling laugh, a crow
perched on a pole against gathering clouds, a couple in earnest conversation-
any image could trigger a story if the mood felt right. Usually, a haunting
ambience would set the mood. I wrote these stories over a period of time but what
inspired me to publish them together in one book was the modest assumption that
they were too much of a good thing to be kept to oneself.
Book Blurb:
“What is
it that we fear? An evil presence around us, watching and waiting for a small
slip, or the realisation that the malevolence is within us and has already made
its move?
Wreath
and Other Stories
 will
take you into a world that is slightly off its hinges- a bizarre, eerie realm.
In short, a world much like our own, if only we would notice it.
A
dangerous obsession of an artist, a broken childhood promise, a birthday gift
gone horribly wrong, a soldier trapped in a nightmare, a warning from
beyond the grave, a writer’s new lease of life in a “suicide central”, a
patient’s struggle with insanity, a terrible crime in an idyllic artists’ town,
a man’s record of his last moments, a bride haunted by her past…
With grey
characters, a creeping sense of dread, and a twist at the end, it will ensure
that you go to bed satisfied, having had your fill of a world of wickedness and
terror…until that world engulfs you in your dreams. 
This book will enthrall lovers of horror and
suspense.”
What exciting story are you working on
next?
I was
challenged by my mother and brother to write a romance. I tried doing this but
after a few pages, I found I had murdered a character. Allowing nature to take
its course, I decided to blend romance with a murder mystery. So, my next novel
is called The Man-Haters’ Club. It’s about four spirited young women who are best
friends. They get embroiled in a series of murders (yes, why stop at one murder
when the more is the merrier) in their seaside town. Enter four men who need to
be good enough for my fab four heroines.
When did you first consider yourself a
writer?
I never
thought about this. I just wrote whatever I felt like, whenever I wanted. I
know that whenever I couldn’t write, I felt hollow and depressed, and would
look like the ghouls missing from my stories but probably haunting your
basements.
Do you write full-time? If so, what’s
your work day like? If not, what do you do other than write and how do you find
time to write?
As a
journalist and an academic, I write full-time. But the style of writing is
different. I have had to school myself here so that the academic and
journalistic styles don’t blend. I have to be measured in my tone and mindful
of the facts. But there is a precious sense of freedom in writing fiction- you
can be whoever you want, speak like different people (especially the kind of
people you don’t like- role-playing becomes much more enjoyable), and give full
rein to your imagination. The pen flows freely whenever I write fiction. I try
to eke out a few hours each week to write my novel. I am like a sloth and a
beaver here. It takes me time to start a story but once I start, I can’t stop until
I have written ‘The End’.
What would you say is your interesting
writing quirk?
I like
to play with idioms and indulge in a bit of guessing game with my readers.
As a child, what did you want to be when
you grew up?
I was
unambitious as a child. I enjoyed storing up information. I used to pester my
parents and teachers with questions and read everything from cabbages to kings.
The problem was that if one is interested in many things, it is difficult to
focus on one thing. I never planned my life and just went with the flow. I
guess, the bloodhound instinct reared up and took a different shape. Since I don’t
like violence in real life, the powers up there decided to make me a journalist
and an academic researcher instead of a detective.
Anything additional you want to share
with the readers?
I like
writing political satires. If you are interested in my non-fiction writing,
please drop by this site.
Links:
Print: Amazon
| Amazon
UK
|

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