Shaurya Arya-Kanojia lives with his family in New Delhi. He is part of the editorial team of Ayaskala Literary Magazine, and some of his short stories, flash fiction, and poetry have been/are going to be published in literary journals like Cabinet of Heed, Babel Tower Notice Board, Tealight Press, Speculate This, and All Ears. His likes include gorging on diverse cuisines, drinking cups after cups of Masala Tea, watching reruns of The Office and Everybody Loves Raymond, and kicking back with a good Stephen King or Gillian Flynn novel. His debut book is the psychological thriller novella, End of the Rope, which was featured in the Pune Lit Fest.
I chat with him about his book End of the Rope, his inspiration for writing the book, why he delved into writing a psychological thriller, book recommendations, and much more.
Hello, Shaurya! Please tell us a bit about yourself!
Lovable, affectionate, generous… Of course I would say that about myself, wouldn’t I? Haha. But, truth be told, what pretty much sums up who I am (an engineer turned writer, like we don’t have enough of those already) is the everlasting struggle between who I want to be and who I really am. I love colours, but my go-to filter for a self-portrait will perpetually be black and white (or sepia, at best); I claim to be decisive and clear in my head, but if you give me three restaurants to choose from I will not be able to make up my mind; I have always believed I’m quick on my feet but, well, if one were to believe my wife I’m “downright lazy.”
Pretty much a house of contradictions.
If you could only describe your book End of the Rope in five words, what would they be?
An unassuming conversation gone wayward.
Now tell us a little more about the book! What can readers expect?
End of the Rope is essentially a suspense thriller, which has been told in the form of a conversation between its two protagonists, Advana Naidu and Taishna Sen. It is through the revelation of their secrets and the skeletons they’re hiding in their closets that the central mystery that forms the backbone of the story is unearthed. The two women present sometimes contrasting and sometimes not so, perspectives of their understanding of the world, which I believe adds an element of relatability to the book; and, so, the line between who’s right and who’s not often gets blurred, leaving the reader to judge for themselves.
What inspired you to write this book?
I suppose suspense thrillers have always been my most favoured genre, be it in books or movies. More often than not I’ve found myself taking comfort in kicking back with a good Alfred Hitchcock movie at the end of a tiring day; which is almost like a catharsis. My interest in suspense thrillers developed with movies I used to watch as a kid in school and, then, in college. (Reading, regrettably so, came much later in life for me; which I’d definitely want to change if I’m ever able to time travel.) So, there’s always been a natural inclination towards the genre. And, once I attempted to write a story of my own, I suppose there was little question what genre I’d be going with.
What were some things you had to research for the purpose of writing this psychological thriller?
Absolutely none! Research – at least from an academic point of view – is something I absolutely loathe; which perhaps is the reason why I never scored well in my research based assignments in college. Advana’s and Taishna’s characters really come from the people I’ve observed in my own life. Not taking any names, but in a way they are based on people I’ve known. Of course, there’s a lot of embellishment that goes into developing these characters (principally to make the story more dramatic); but I suppose all the research I needed to write End of the Rope was already up here. (*points to his head*)
As a debut novelist, were there any authors or works which influenced your writing style?
Oh, definitely! Stephen King and Gillian Flynn have had the most influence on my style of writing. Their way of narrating a story, which may not necessarily follow the mandated conventional writing guidelines – including short and clipped sentences – is what makes their writing style more accessible and relatable. I’ve also been hugely taken by JK Rowling (especially what she’s writing under her pseudonym, Robert Galbraith), mainly for the methodical way she builds her story; which flows from one page to the next like a dream. The kind of planning that must go in her books is enviable, something I hope to be able to imbibe one day.
How have you been coping with the current pandemic and what will be the new normal for you post it?
The pandemic was rough. Being cooped up in your house all day – and no matter how much Netflix you consumed or the fact that you had all the time in the world to indulge in things you otherwise couldn’t – I realised I missed ‘being out’. Even the prospect of an evening walk became more enticing than all the riches in the world. Come to think of it, that does come across as ironical because every time I have looked for a job I’ve only targeted ones which allowed me to work from home.
Even from a writing point of view, stepping out serves as an inspiration in more ways than one. And being devoid of it was definitely unfortunate.
What are you reading currently? Do you have any psychological thriller book recommendations for readers who enjoyed End of the Rope?
I’m currently reading Troubled Blood by Robert Galbraith. Absolutely brilliant! I’d say it’s the best in the entire series, partly because of the massive scale in which it’s been written. But as far as book recommendations are concerned, I’d definitely suggest Stephen King’s Secret Window, Secret Garden. Even the Johnny Depp starrer movie was good, despite it not receiving as favourable reviews as I expected. Or even Gillian Flynn’s Gone Girl, which as a book I would say has an edge even over the brilliant David Fincher adaptation.
The book ‘End of the Rope’ is available online and at your nearest bookstore.