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Suneet Sasidharan’s Walkies is the honourable mention for the Time To Thrill writing contest.

Editor’s note: Walkies portrays the unease a lot of us feel about how technology is reducing our life to a joyless existence and how the act of rebellion against it might come at too high a price. One feels for the protagonist and his noble (and crazy) mission to set a woman he barely knows free from technology and the final twist was satisfying. Anybody who has ever browsed through a clothing catalog online, only to find their social media platform showing them advertisements of another apparel brand the next instant, would identify with the unease many of us feel about the ever increasing intrusive nature of  technology that threatens to rob us of our privacy as well as individuality. Suneet Sasidharan’s Walkies deals with a story set in the future where technological advances are slowly depriving people of the joy of everyday pleasures. When a carefree girl falls for an overachieving type A techno-slave, she slowly lets go of her delightful dietary habits as well as her happy disposition. 

While this story doesn’t strictly qualify as a thriller, Walkies was an immensely enjoyable read. The writer’s diction is polished and it has all the signs of a professional in the making.

 

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Juggernaut had a tete-a-tete with Suneet about his work and his passion for writing.

 

Your story ‘Walkies’ is the Honourable Mention of the Time To Thrill contest. Please do tell us more about the story.
 
‘Walkies’ has rather innocuous beginnings. One of my friends bought an activity tracker for his westie, Betty, and the app would keep prompting him to go “Walkies” whenever Betty had been inactive for a while.

The idea for the story stemmed from a conversation about how an uninformed, luddite outlook of modern day innovations tends to invoke a sense of fear and insecurity. The story explores how an activity tracker, something very commonplace nowadays, affects the three characters in very different ways and drives all the characters into different arcs, while remaining idempotent. The narrator struggles every day, as he’s made more and more insignificant by technology, and is thrust into action when he sees Betty being tagged.

What was the writing inspiration behind ‘Walkies’?

The writing inspiration was a strange confluence of what I was watching then (Black Mirror) and what I was reading then (Mind Hunter by John Douglas).

Like Black Mirror, the story has a clever gadget/technology that would set the plot into motion but is truly about how different people react around it. Mind Hunter is the book upon which the acclaimed, eponymous Netflix series is based which follows a talented FBI agent around chasing serial killers and their psyche which justifies their actions.

Do you have any particular rules or rituals you follow as a writer?

I doubt I can call it a rule or a ritual per se, but before I write anything, I draw the entire timeline for all the central characters and a timeline for the whole story on a OneNote. This helps to avoid chronology issues and defines all the acts in the story. These timelines are quite fluid and often change during the writing process. But it helps maintain structure.

And I spend an equal amount of time editing as writing. I feel editing helps layer concepts better.

What/who is your writing companion? You know like coffee, tea etc.

I always brew a large pot of coffee before I get to writing. In his book on Writing: A Memoir of the Craft, Stephen King details a similar ritual and he blasts classic rock like AC/DC, Led Zeppelin etc. I tried to emulate this, in vain, I found myself trying to sing/play along. So, lots of coffee, complete silence, and no WiFi.

Where do you go for inspiration?

I’ve been trying to get into routinely writing more instead of relying on inspiration. But that being said, I have some extremely talented friends with polar opinions about everything which make for really good conversations. I enjoy writing science fiction and I tend to get a lot of material from just keeping up with developments in technology.

The first book you fell in love with and the author you admire the most. Why?

I’d say the first book that I fell for would be, cult classic, Shantaram by Gregory David Roberts. More than the plot and honesty, it captured the essence of Bombay in such graphic and sublime detail, that you could rewrite it to be a love letter to a city.

About authors, I’d say I admire P.G. Wodehouse the most. There is no other writer that evokes such genuine joy and laughter without resorting to tropes, vulgarity or slapstick routines. His writing is sharp, concise, and without fluff. Every word is measured and there with good reason.

Any writing tips you’d like to share with fellow writers?

I can’t imagine I’m good enough to be offering tips but here are some things that have helped me get better. Reading a lot and reading deliberately. Reading a lot of books, even if you don’t enjoy the author’s style lends a lot of insight into what you enjoy and how you’d want to better it. By reading deliberately, I mean reading from the author’s point of view, with the structure in mind and trying to understand why the author decides to write this part here and not before or later.

I’d also recommend reading books on writing by John Truby and Stephen King which lend some really good insights into the writing process.

Suneet is an engineer by trade whose previous writing credentials include a satirical newspaper, a motoring blog, and lyrics for a progressive rock band. You can read his book Walkies here.

 

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