The Interview originally appeared on The New Indian Express.
The author’s last published book India’s Most Haunted is a compilation of 50 horror short stories.
BENGALURU: Author Hari Kumar K’s love for thrillers can be seen in his last three books. His last published book India’s Most Haunted is a compilation of 50 horror short stories. The author also writes screen play for movies and recently released web series Bhram starring Kalki Koechlin and Sanjay Suri.
What was your trigger for writing India’s Most Haunted?
As a horror and paranormal enthusiast, I have always wanted to visit haunted places that are accessible to me. When my editor put forth this idea to compile a book on such places, that moment became an instant trigger. The idea was to make a big book of spine-chilling and thought-provoking horror stories based on real places in a single volume. Then there was no looking back!
What drew you towards writing for the horror genre?
I grew up in the ’90s. I feasted on Scooby Doo, Goosebumps, The Real Ghostbusters and periodicals like Chandamama that had plenty of hair-raising stuff. Add to them the stories of ghosts and yakshis narrated by my grandmother. All these stories fascinated me in childhood which kind of drew me towards horror.
What are some of the biggest challenges that writing for this genre throws up?
Writing is a challenge and horror in particular demands a lot of sensory details. The story in the writer’s mind will have all the sound effects and visual brilliance, but if it does not come correctly on paper then the reader might not be able to perceive it. Fear defines horror, and therefore, the reader must be able to perceive that. Writing screenplays have helped me polish my fiction writing skills. I use elements of sound wherever possible to create an atmosphere of seclusion.
Have you been inspired by the works of any horror fiction writers?
Inspiration comes from all quarters; films, folktales and even cartoons. I have read stories from Chandamama, and ghost stories of Charles Dickens, Satyajit Ray and Ruskin Bond. Pet Sematary was the full-fledged horror novel that made a deep impact in my mind. The Butcher’s Theater by Jonathan Kellerman made me realise that every horror story does not have a supernatural entity. This served as an inspiration for my book, That Frequent Visitor (2015).
How did you separate fact from fiction while doing your research?
This was important because most of the places are only rumoured to be haunted. So, the facts themselves are lying in a grey area. Some places are connected with people who are still alive, and care was taken that the stories in the book does not affect them in any possible manner.
Could you walk us through your writing process?
Collect all resources about the place from the internet. Double check facts. I tried to visit some of the places to get the feel of the surroundings. Met people who could tell me a thing or two about the history of the place. Therefore, some of the stories are more visually perceivable than others.
Have you always seen yourself as a writer? What has been your inspiration?
I got thrilled after reading stories of Sherlock Holmes and that is how I started writing. I wished to have my paperback on bookshelves some day. I also had a passion for making films. Both are different forms of storytelling, so, I would say one inspired the other. I write the book with a screenplay in mind. This helped me a lot when I adapted my 2018 book, The Other Side Of Her, into the web series Bhram for Zee5.
Do you think marketing plays a role in the success of books?
The advent of social media has made marketing a must for any product. There are so many avenues where one can portray their products. But more avenues mean more competition, and it becomes
difficult for people to choose.As an ex-content strategist, I believe that it is important to build a brand rather than focusing on immediate results.
With the digitisation of books, have you moved on to reading on screen or do you prefer paperbacks?
One should move on with the times. I have a Kindle which I use to revise my scripts/manuscripts on the device. I use it during narrations as well.However, when it comes to reading for leisure, I still prefer the good-old paperbacks. I grew up reading books and writing on notebooks. My generation cannot make the switch that easily.