I’m always both excited and panicked when a new novel is launched. It’s out there, with a lovely cover, and you don’t know if it’ll do good or sink in, if readers would enjoy it or frown while reading. It’s panicky, but then what’s an author’s life without it? Sharing a quick listing of all the lovely interviews, reviews How to Steal a Ghost @ Manipal, an ebook which got published with Juggernaut has received so far. It also stayed in Top of the Charts within the app! Yay!
“A young student turns into a paranormal investigator to impress her boyfriend.” – Best subhead found at Asian Age along with a rather lazy, old photo of mine.
Are ghosts real? As an author interested in the paranormal and supernatural, this is the question I get asked a lot. Do I believe in ghosts? Have I experienced any? Do I think ghosts exist around us? I’ve had a few experiences which defy logic. And I’m okay with them, because you cannot find a logical or scientific answer to everything. Continuing the blog series of real life ghost stories, here are four more tales.
Mystery man in Patna
When she was little, a friend of mine moved to a new home in the outskirts of Patna. It was pretty much undeveloped then and the kitchen window overlooked a farm. Everything was great except her mom noticed a man sitting outside in the farm, when she cooked. He looked like a farmer and stared at her, silently. She called out. No response. She ignored and continued cooking. Every afternoon, he was there, for five odd hours, staring in through the kitchen window as her mother made food. In the beginning, she was freaked, but later on her mother got used to the situation and ignored the man. “He remained there, sitting outside in the overlooking farm, staring, for five hours, for two years,” she said. “We assumed he was a peaceful ghost and let him be.” Two years later, he vanished just as mysteriously as he’d appeared.
Woman in white in Manali
A long time ago, as a teen, I’d gone to a camp from my school. We camped in a valley near Manali. It was a beautiful clear night, the sky was laden with stars. We’d finished dinner. It was late and we sat on a ledge away from the camps, chatting.
About 30 meters behind the ledge, I saw a figure in white. At first I thought it was girl, but there was something weird about the figure. It was hazy and gliding towards us. Not walking. I blinked and asked others if they saw the same thing as me. The figure shimmered in the starlight almost like she had a torch under the white ensemble. And kept gliding towards us. All of us were now looking at the figure, wondering what it was. We tried to fit a lot of logics, but nothing worked. The figure vanished a few minutes later. Till now I don’t know what it was.
This story comes to me from my grandmother who recently passed away. By retelling her tale, I hope to immortalize a part of her. She’d heard it from her brother, who’d heard it from the rickshaw driver who experienced this. One day this rickshaw driver gave a ride to a really fat lady who wanted to go to Har-ki-paudi, the popular holy ghat on the banks of Ganga. Surprisingly, though she was really fat, the driver peddled the rickshaw as if it was empty. She felt weightless. They reached the ghat, the lady stepped down and asked him to wait. “I’ll be back in 15 minutes after a quick dip in Ganga.” She gave him a handkerchief tied up into a pouch. The driver waited for the lady. He waited an hour, a few hours and begun to worry. Had she drowned? He went to the ghat and found her clothes, floating in the water, without any woman inside them. He finally remembered the little handkerchief that she had given him and opened it. The kerchief had precious emeralds and rubies and diamonds inside it. He went back to the same road he had picked her up from and inquired about the lady. Finally he found out that she was a rich lady and had died in an ashram with a wish to take a dip in the Ganga on her lips. A year before she’d met the rickshaw driver. He’d been rewarded with money because he’d helped with her last wish.
Backtracking woman on the Lonavala road
“It’s a true story,” stresses my friend from Mumbai, who called up to understand exactly what he’d seen. Early morning, as he was returning with his two friends from Lonavala back to Mumbai, they saw a woman. “We were driving slow as we wanted to enjoy the early morning scenery on that road. The woman from afar looked like a beggar, really tall, thin and lanky.” The weird thing was, she was walking backwards. They were driving slow, at 40km/hour, and passed her and saw her disappear into their rearview mirror. “Maybe she was drugged or a nutcase,” he says, “else why walk backwards?” Though they were tempted to, they didn’t dare turn around and see who the person was upclose.
Have you heard a real life ghost story? Whenever I’m travelling and meet someone new, this is the first thing I ask people. Have they seen any ghosts that have jumped onto them from spooky corners or any hazy female figures dressed in white that they saw shimmering on a lonely, dark road? I write ghost stories because I’m highly curious about ghosts, monsters and all things that belong to the dark. In this blog, I wanted to share with you a few stories I’ve heard from friends and strangers over the years. They’re all true, atleast to the people who told them to me.
Double suicide in IIT Kanpur
I stayed at the beautiful IIT Kanpur campus for a few weeks a couple of years back. It’s a dense, big campus, a whopping 1055 acres of lung space in the outskirts of the chaotic madness that is Kanpur. At a literary meet, on asking, a student told me about a room in one of the hostels, where there had been two suicides in a row. After the second one, the authorities locked up the room. In the night, some students could hear a rattling sound from the room, if someone was trying to open the door from inside. This student even approached the room door one night when the noise was disturbing him from his late night studies. “The door knob turned even though I knew there was no one inside,” he said. He ran back to his room, firmly shutting the door. “Yeah,” said another, “but the next year the room was cleared and just given to a first year student. The ghost is forgotten.” I wondered if the first-year student had experienced anything, but I never got to talk to him.
The man with a lantern
I heard this story in the mountains somewhere in the Himalayan region. Most people there have various paranormal experiences in their pockets. They tell them as if it’s an everyday occurrence and don’t think of ghost stories as something unnatural, the way we city dwellers do. In this case, an old man told me about a time when he was young. He was walking down a lonely stretch of road at night, in darkness as there was not much moonlight. He saw a man up ahead of him walking with a lantern and called him since it was too dark and the jungle had a lot of snakes and wild things. The man didn’t turn. He reached the man and touched his shoulder. The man turned and the lantern he carried illuminated his face. There was nothing there. No eyes, no lips, no nose. “I turned and ran so hard that I have no idea where I went,” said the old man.
I got this story from a friend, an enthusiastic blogger who has experienced it herself when she was little. “My great-grandmother had a small round wooden table, a tabletop with a central stand on three split legs that would rock and knock when people gathered around it for a ‘spirit’ session,” she says. Ever the curious, she approached the round wooden table one evening with a few cousins and an uncle, determined to dispel the illusion. When the table started to wriggle and tilted to stand on one leg, she asked her uncle to stop pushing it and freaking them out. “I got an electric shock from the offended table because I refused to believe it could shake on its own accord.”
It’s a paranormal adventure, full of romance, jealousy, gadgets and ghosts, set in the beautiful university of Manipal. And it has the craziest name you’ve heard of. Welcome to my latest title with Juggernaut Books. Tadaaa!
The only way Twinkle Kashyap can win Rohit Dandi’s heart is by becoming the best paranormal investigator in Manipal and stealing a few ghost-catching tricks from retired professor Susanto Das. But when a string of mysterious murders complicates things, Twinkle is forced to dive deeper into the supernatural world than ever before. Can she solve the cases and get a happy ending?
I’m so delighted to inform you of this special book. I wrote it squeezed between two parts of Anantya Tantrist series and almost shelved it.
Thanks to a lot of encouragement (Uthara, Suki, Saba, Ashwani, Indra, Kanishka, Anchal, I’m looking at all of you), I edited it again and again till it became what it is today. And I’m so glad to see it getting published. For the protagonist, Tinker, deserves it. She’s a first year student in Mechtronics in Manipal University, full of hope for her future and love for a senior. It’s her adventure with the dark side of Manipal that you’re going to read. And how she stands up to the challenges she faces. I’m proud of the 17-year-old. For what she achieves. I would personally recommend this book for anyone above the age of 13. It’s published with Juggernaut Books, which is a mobile ebook publisher, so the only way for now to read it is on your smartphone.
If for whatever reason you can’t read it on the app, write to me and I’ll send you a e-copy or a PDF. I would rather Twinkle’s fantastical adventure is read by everyone who loves to read paranormal tales.
Super duper excitement happened while I was in Delhi. First of all, I saw spring come alive in the city after six years. It’s fabulous, by the way, that end of winters before they crash into the searing hot summers. The city was blushing and blooming with colours all over, Fall tussling with Spring. And I can vouch for it, for was driving from one end of the city to the other, meeting people, making new friends, signing books, talking about the art and craft of writing books (knowledgeably at that!).
The end of my Delhi trip was with a formal launch of Cult of Chaos, which HarperCollins organised in association with Oxford Bookstore and QuizCraft Global. The idea was the same as the launch in Bangalore a month before: a quiz on everything paranormal and supernatural and then a discussion about Cult of Chaos. About 70 people turned up. The house was full, more were standing in the aisles, including me and it was a young bustling, energetic crowd, with a few kids. Manasi, an editor from HarperCollins introduced the book beautifully. Sidhartha, the handsome bloke from QuizCraft offered a rocking quiz to attendees. RJ Ginnie, who kindly accepted my request to do a discussion and ask me probing questions, made the talk about the book so much fun. Most of them who attended had a good time (and told me it wasn’t a boring book launch. Including a few peeps from HarperCollins). So see, heaven had been achieved.
Except it wasn’t just that. A lot of the people who turned up were from my school, college, post grad, ex-office pals and family. For me, more than a launch, it turned out to be a series of reunions with old friends, swapping notes, hugging, crying a bit. They were all there for me, proud, excited, supportive. Wow. Am touched, out of words, giddy and rather exhausted. So here’s all the madness. In photos and comments as usual.
Since I don’t really remember much of the event myself, here’s what two literature students who were there at the quiz and stayed till the end, thought about it. They interviewed me post the event and wrote for a really nice website called ReadersClubDelhi.Com. They were well prepared with a tight questionnaire, so check out the video below if you want to see me fumble and skirt difficult questions.
Oxford Bookstore CP and Harper Collins India in association with Quizcraft Global organized a quiz – Witches and Vamps : a quiz on paranormal crime on 28th March to celebrate the launch of the novel Cult of Chaos, a tantrik thriller by Shweta Taneja.
The event began at 3:20pm with an introduction by Mansi, editor at Harper Collins and was taken over by Siddharta Gopati, the quizmaster for the day. There were sixteen teams and three rounds – written, audio-visual and still image.
The questions were thrilling and the atmosphere electric. Written round included a few questions from Cult of Chaos among the other questions. Audio-visual round was an out of the world experience with short video clips of movies like The Conjuring and The Exorcism of Emily Rose being played to be identified by the teams.
The quiz ended at a thrilling note and left the participants awestruck and yearning for more.
Manjulika’s angel, The Reluctant Quizers and SFF were the round winners. Sawalon Se Darne Walewon the overall quiz. All of them were awarded the prizes by none other than Shweta Taneja.
After the distribution of prizes, the author was in conversation with Ginny about her book The Cult of Chaos. Here is a small excerpt from the conversation –
Ginny: As we know The Cult of Chaos is a fantasy, what was your research and preparation for the book?
Shweta: I did my best research and tried to keep the book as indigenous as possible. I read sixty books on tantrism, asked people about their experiences and folk stories. The blood of my book is Indian, unlike the western magic world fantasies.
After the conversation, the floor was open to questions and an interesting assortment of questions was thrown at the author to which Taneja answered with smiles and incredulity. More serious questions regarding her novel and protagonist were also asked.
A stunning quiz, interesting discussions and a few laughs and smiles, the evening came to an end. Check out an interview with the author.
Would you like the supernatural quiz in your city? Contact me!
There will be a quiz on everything paranormal and supernatural. There will be freebies like blade-shaped bookmarks and giveaways and book prizes and snacks and laughter during the event. I confidently promise it’s going to be a blast. As much as the book is. So just come over!
Oxford Bookstore and HarperCollins
WITCHES AND VAMPS
A QUIZ ON PARANORMAL CRIME
to celebrate Shweta Taneja’s
CULT OF CHAOS
an Anantya Tantrist mystery
Think you know your supernatural sleuths?
To celebrate the launch of Cult of Chaos, the first book in the Anantya Tantrist detective series, author Shweta Taneja takes you on a dark mission through detective thrillers, supernatural mysteries and investigators who dabble with devilish crime. So brush up on popular occult shows, comics and books and get ready to stun her with your psychic best. The duel is on!
For all ages.
DAY: 28th March
TIME: 3pm – 5pm
VENUE: Oxford bookstore, Connaught Place, Delhi
A quiz so scary, we had to have it in broad daylight