It was an awesome time reading all the entries of the ‘May the Force Be With You’ writing contest, and choosing is always hard, as talent is everywhere! But after great deliberation, our judges have finally settled upon one entry which triumphed over all the others to rise as the winning entry of the contest. The winner is Vismay Harani, for his story A Pup and a Tin Box . He has won a digital publishing contract with Juggernaut Books!
Editor’s Note: A Pup and a Tin Box is a contemplative and frightening story about what is even more dangerous than technology overpowering us is actually the human temperament of narrow mindedness and veering away from ethics. Vismay’s writing style is not just descriptive, but also reflective of the social ills of our society. To do all of that in a sci-fi genre is a big achievement.
We had a chat with him about his story.
Your story is the winning entry of the contest. Please tell us more about it, and its inspiration.
I don’t hate animals, but I have always been afraid of them. It is just about impossible for me to pet any animal. But my flatmates love dogs. One day, we found an oddly spotted, black-&-white little pup. He was of an unascertainable breed, he had these huge glassy eyes and a round black snout. Everyone found him to be quite endearing. The watchman adopted him, my flatmates adopted him, our neighbors adopted him, people living above out flat adopted him, the house next to our apartment building adopted him. Everyone used to take care of him. In fact we named him Clarence after our building ‘Clarence House’.
Because he was a regular in our flat, he had me pegged along with my other flatmates. He would follow me around, despite my strong objections. He didn’t understand that this gentleman wasn’t as friendly as the others whose house he regularly frequented. He was dogged in his doggedly pursuits. I came to like him, as long as he understood that certain distances were to be maintained. He regularly breached those boundaries.
I haven’t been able to reciprocrate to his overtures, because my resistance was too strong. I wrote this story with him in mind, though I hadn’t yet petted him.
Today I regret that. The day I was informed that this story has been selected as the winning entry for ‘May the force be with you’, a tempo ran over Clarence and he died. The victory is bittersweet. He was a little pup that never learnt to bark. He never ever enjoyed being bound. He was a stray who loved his freedom.
That was Clarence, the dog I never petted and the reason why I am here. This story is in his memory.
Do you have any rules or rituals you follow as a writer?
Wish I did. My writing process is quite erratic. You can say that I am still trying to find that rhythm, wherein I churn out stuff regularly. But writing ain’t cakewalk for me. All that I can say is – I feel this strong urge to write, and sometimes I manage to overcome my inertia to finish what I begin.
Also, I have started attending free writing workshops, stress is on the word “free”. More than tools and techniques, I find inspiration in these sessions to continue writing. It is also necessary to have a friend who is of similar persuasion. Luckily, I found one! We push each other to write, and sometimes – that’s enough!
I have been writing since 9th grade, and I am 25 now. This is my first major ‘commercial (maybe)’ win, so you can understand how difficult it is to keep up the motivation.
You wrote a sci-fi story. What do you honestly think the future looks like?
The future is difficult to predict. As you know, and it has been said that something as small as the flutter of butterfly’s wings can ultimately cause a typhoon half way around the world.
Though, the human instincts and behavioral traits don’t keep up with the dynamism of the world that is constantly changing around us. Sometimes, human instincts are rigid and narrow.
So, I just like to throw a bunch of humans in an improbable set-up and see how they behave. Their reaction to a futuristic set-up, is what interests me. And that’s what I generally write about.
What got you interested in becoming a writer? Where do you go for inspiration?
As a kid, I never dreamt of becoming a writer. Harry Potter forced me to pick up my metaphorical pen. In my 9th grade, I was obsessed with HP movies and books. I just desperately wanted to meet JK Rowling, Daniel Radcliffe and Emma Watson. 6-8 months before the book launch of ‘Deathly Hallows’, I along with my cousin wrote a fan-fiction titled ‘Harry Potter & the king of Zephyr’ where we use a time-turner to bring Dumbledore back to life and Dobby gets killed in the process (we skimmed over the fact that all time-turners were destroyed when Harry ran into the Death-Eaters in the Ministry of Magic in ‘Order of Phoenix’). With great enthusiasm, we sent the story to England – to Bloomsbury publication, to be specific. I was hopeful that JKR would respond positively and invite us to London for the book launch. Nothing came of it, I was crushed! In my kiddish anger, I resolved to be a famous author one day, just so that when I stand in line to get JKR’s autograph – she would know my name!
Since then, I have been writing.
What’s that one piece written by you which is your all-time favorite?
It’s available on Juggernaut for free. It’s called ‘The Unrobot’.
Your bestselling authors and books list. Why do they make it to your list?
‘Harry Potter’ series by JK Rowling
‘Foundation’ series by Isaac Asimov
‘Sphere’, ‘Congo’, ‘Andromeda Strain’, ‘The Great Train Robbery’, ‘The Jurassic Park’ by Michael Crichton
I just can’t say ‘no’ to a good sci-fi/fantasy book!
Any writing tips you’d like to share with fellow writers?
Please write. I know it’s difficult. Most days I myself don’t feel up to it. But please finish that damn story you have been struggling to write since ages.