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Faraaz Kazi

Faraaz Kazi on his book “The Other Side”

Faraaz Kazi, author of horror novels ‘Truly Madly Deeply’ and ‘The Other Side’, is definitely carving out a niche for himself at a time when most Indian authors are venturing into the sea of Romance fiction. Here’s a guest post by the man himself, on the how of writing, choosing to write on Horror and much more…

Shifting from romance to horror is not that difficult knowing that this is how it generally goes with life these days. Still you don’t get the idea of writing India’s biggest attempt in commercial horror literature simply by scratching your head while being seated on the pot, neither do you get it while being sprawled about in the bath tub awaiting the ‘Eureka’ moment and at the other end nor do you get it while roaming deserted streets at night searching for that elusive ‘woman in a white sari’.

The idea of ‘The Other Side’ just happened to come after the realization dawned that there was a huge market for horror that hadn’t yet being explored by Indian writers even though the success of writers like Stephen King and Dean Koontz in India was right there for everyone to see. And this despite the fact that our country perhaps has the richest tradition of folklore and mythology deeply ingrained into its roots. Wherever you go, be it a metro city or some godforsaken village surrounded by the jungle, you will almost always encounter a tale or two of the legend surrounding the place; it may be an abandoned factory, an unused well, the tree that you are not supposed to pass beneath after dusk, the ground you are not supposed to play on, the shortcut you are not supposed to take on moonless nights and so many other nitty-gritties that fascinate and imbibe the strongest emotion of all in your heart- fear. Fear of the unknown!

The Other Side by Faraaz Kazi and Vivek BanerjeeIt’s not the darkness that we fear but it’s the human inability to see in the dark that renders us helpless. We don’t trust our senses but rather choose to go with the nagging doubt that is eating the back of our minds and that is what exactly causes the fear of the unknown. Fear isn’t just limited to ghosts, spirits, witches and demons. Your daughter not showing up at home at night when her phone is unreachable is as good a fear as any. Hearing something fall in the kitchen at night and refusing to get up and investigate is a strong enough case for your knees to go weak. Seeing a body draped in a white sheet, imagining it could have been you can also cause you to perspire a couple of dozen beads. The bravest of the brave have their own fears to deal with and the sooner we acknowledge our fears, the better it is for us and those around.

It is this fear, the fear of the unknown that ‘The Other Side’ talks about. With thirteen stories that shock, surprise, scare and smolder the reader’s senses, the book is a one of a kind attempt in the Indian commercial market. With each story, the sense of foreboding grows and so does the raw scare on the horror continuum. To illustrate, at the start there’s a story titled ‘That Fateful Night’ where a doctor and his wife lose their way in the jungle and end up at a spooky haveli not knowing what transpired there eighty years back. We end it with a story titled ‘Dream Girl’ where the protagonist is a psychologically disturbed man who has been rejected and bullied around so much by the opposite sex that he vows to ‘design’ a better girl than any of God’s creations and how does he do that? Simple. He chops the best of body parts of various women and stitches them together.

Having said that, apart from the thirteen core stories, the foreword, the prologue and the epilogue are stories in themselves. The foreword talks about the fear of the unknown entirely through the reader’s perspective, dragging them into the narrative while the prologue and the epilogue have an interesting spooky setting where the authors make an appearance in the former while relaxing in the hills of Musoorie, giving the reader the insight on how the book came about through a casual discussion and in the latter they are seen investigating the ruins of Bhangarh, said to be the most haunted location in India. The same setting also inspired the world’s first animated book cover for the title and it is the introductory scene from the epilogue that the reader sees on the cover.

Irrespective of the fact that the book had perhaps the strongest marketing campaign built for it in recent times, complete with celeb events, caricature designs, social media buzz on Facebook and Twitter, blogger engagement, newsletters, e-commerce involvement, three video teasers, the world’s first animated book cover and the official trailer that was released in select cinema halls, we were always confident that people would love book right from the first page itself and the same has been evident through the reviews and ratings that are flowing in from the media and the readers, in general. For two successive weeks, the book has remained in the Top 20 most read books in India as per the data sourced from Goodreads.

The book is embellished with quotes and one-liners from the classical greats of horror literature with each story having one that acts as a backdrop to it at the beginning. The caricatures that were used as ‘meet-the-character’ tools on social media have been also included in the book sans the text on the image so that they offer a visual feel to the story. Our target is not just your average horror reader. This book is for skeptics and believers alike, for lovers of horror and for someone new to the genre, who we are sure will enjoy the journey into the unknown mingled with the taste of the culture of the country. For before anything else, this book is a tribute to the culture and lore of my motherland.

Faraaz Kazi