We got to read some thrilling stories in the Time To Thrill writing contest. Have a look at the top two entries.

The Invisible Neighbors by Prachi Sharma

The winning entry of the contest, The Invisible Neighbors is a thrilling tale with a shocking twist at the end. Prachi has won herself a contract with us. Congratulations!

Editor’s note: While reading a short story, one looks for: an original voice, a believable protagonist and a plausible yet unpredictable story-line. Prachi Sharma’s The Invisible Neighbors scored highly on all counts. That the story did this while delivering an absolutely shocking twist towards the end made it an all the more satisfying read. The story deals with a subject nearly everyone who lives in or has lived in a big city will identify with — urban alienation. The author has some interesting things to say about rigid societal norms that define the limits of interaction for people bound together by a common factor like housing society or a work-place and how evil sometimes slips through the cracks built into such structures. Any kind of character building is a difficult exercise given the word limit but the unnamed protagonist still makes an impression. A single girl who is a ‘workaholic automaton at work’, who lives on coffee, and goes for a little internet smut when the night draws on longer than usual! What is not to like?

TTT-winning entry

Read the winning story here.

Juggernaut had a little chat with Prachi about her work, her winning the contest and her passion for writing.

Your story ‘Invisible Neighbours’ is the winning entry of the contest. Please tell us more about it.

Well, Invisible Neighbors is the story of a single woman, living in an apartment, who’s been having trouble sleeping at night, soon after she moves there. The source of her insomnia is the nocturnal barrage of strange noises coming from the apartment right above her.

What was the writing inspiration behind this story?

That’s a funny story. I myself live in an apartment building in Mumbai, on the 13th floor. At times, strange noises emanate from the apartment right above us. In my crime writer’s imagination, the first thought was: Are they dragging a body across the floor?

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

Not really. The only rule is to have fun while writing a book, creating characters and whole worlds. The rest is just the art of whatever I can come up with spontaneously. Although I do follow a ritual of getting up early in the morning to write, for an hour or so.

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

My writing companion, without a doubt, is coffee. Hot, piping, strong coffee, mostly prepared by me. Or had at my favorite cafes.

Where do you go for inspiration?

The major part of my inspiration comes from reading books. If reading crime thrillers teaches me to orient my mind to a crime writer’s, reading literary novels teaches me the technicalities of storytelling, narration, prose style etc- the craft of writing, so to speak. The rest of my inspiration comes from real life- newspapers, magazines, people, incidents I’ve observed in the real world etc.

What’s that one piece written by you which is your all-time favourite?

Wow, that’s a tough one. Every piece of writing, from a poem to a novel of mine, is equally important to me. But okay, I’ll admit it- right now, I’m conceptualizing and writing a trilogy based on a serial killer, set in Mumbai, and I’m in love with whatever’s coming out on paper.

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

I first fell in love with Enid Blyton’s Famous Five series – I have no memory of the specific book which I first picked up. As to the author I admire the most – that’s an impossible question to answer, since there are way too many authors whom I admire, even worship. Still, let me kind of answer your question by naming the one crime novelist who taught me how to write noir – Japanese crime author Keigo Higashino.

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

Read, read and read like crazy. Write, write and write like crazy. Try creating the first draft for yourself – it’ll help you stay faithful to your voice and style as a writer. Even when you decide to go for publishing, it’s not necessary to downgrade yourself to market tastes. There is always a market – even if niche – for what you write, and you will find it, one day.

Honourable mention goes to Walkies by Suneet Sasidharan

An amazing tale of 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. An immensely enjoyable read.


Read this intriguing tale here.


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