Frontlist | The Masala Box: A contemporary fiction by four debut authors
Four aspiring authors come together to explore a daily dose of bewilderment in each other’s works and the result is an anthology called The Masala Box. Sireesha Kadiyala, Vidhi Kheria, Rachna Kheria and Sarin Mathur, hailing from diverse backgrounds, met during a workshop and have poured their varied experiences into this contemporary fiction full of spice of life. Hear it from the quartet. Excerpts:
Was it just the desire to publish a book or more that brought you four together?
Rachna: Destiny brought us together! We all hail from very diverse backgrounds, and enjoy different kinds of writing. The COVID pandemic created the ideal germinating environment for our styles to converge into a book, which to be honest, was an aftereffect of the joy of writing we share.
Vidhi: The urge to write and to put my thoughts on paper made me join the Author’s forum at Millennium Mams’ a non-profit organization that we are a part of. The lockdown gave us a lot of spare time. It was a blessing in disguise.
Sarin: Our love for writing brought the four of us together at a writer’s workshop. During the lockdown we started writing on prompts every day, our expression found its way through words and opened up a new door for us and this book, “The Masala Box” happened!
Sireesha: Our long-cherished interest to write brought us together. We decided to publish only after we put together over 60 stories of varied genres. It was more about staying together than coming together which made this book happen. As first-time writers, the journey could have been lonely and daunting but it turned out to be one of the finest experiences.
Did you want your debut read to be fiction?
Rachna: I enjoy fiction– deeply and thoroughly- so yes! I would have liked it to be fiction!
Vidhi: Not really, I was working on a historic plot while attending the Author Forum classes. Fiction just happened.
Sarin: The stories write themselves, it just happened! Yes, it was fun to write fiction. It gave me creative freedom of expression, ignited my mind to explore diverse ideas.
Sireesha: Personally, yes. I love fiction as a genre. It gives freedom to express and explore.
Tell us more about your story in the anthology.
Rachna: I have written pieces across genres in this offering of short stories– history, comedy, tragedy and some open-ended writing which leave you thinking. The one underlying constant is the tug of emotions that pervades each piece of work.
Vidhi: My stories in this anthology are inspired by the characters in Indian mythology and history. Their flavour is very different from what the other authors have written.
Sarin: My stories are based on slices of life. It is something we can all connect to.
Sireesha: My stories are based on life- chiefly relationships, and their flavours. I also dabbled a little bit with mystery as it is my most favourite genre.
Where are the characters inspired from?
Rachna: Everything in life happens for a purpose. All my experiences, conversations, interactions and memories have shaped the characters in this book. Almost every story has an inspiration you know who you are!
Vidhi: Though my characters are historic they are inspired by our own life. My protagonists think as most people do. We draw a lot of inspiration from what we see around us. For example, a trip to Burra Bazar inspired me to write one piece of fiction.
Sarin: I draw inspiration from all things around me and most of the characters in my stories are shaped from personal experiences, interactions and learnings in life.
Sireesha: Having grown up in railways family, which entailed several transfers, I got a chance to experience both colony and city life. Also, most of my childhood was the pre-cable tv era. So our sole entertainment was friends, gatherings and outdoors. My life is thus enriched with a variety of people-where each one can be a story by themselves; incidents and experiences which made way into my writing.
Rachna: The Masala Box- 2 with my soul sisters- Vidhi, Sarin and Siri! I am forever in search of something new, and exciting. So, let’s see, maybe another set of stories or a novel.
Vidhi: Would love to write a full-length novel and of course, Masala Box 2. I don’t think I can do without my soul sisters!!!
Sarin: Masala Box-2 with my soul sisters, and I am exploring new genres.
Sireesha: I Wish to graduate to novels. And God Willing to continue with Masala box series with my soul sisters. Rachna, Vidhi and Sarin.