Warning: a bit of gushing ahoy.
Ten year ago, in a small bookstore (which has shut down now) in Delhi, I was introduced to Samit Basu’s first book, the first in the Gameworld trilogy, and was instantly jealous of him. I hadn’t read the book yet. I just stood in the bookstore, remembering that I had flicked through the fantasy novel’s pages, ending up at the first page, with his biography. What made this green-eyed smoky monster rise up through my ears was the fact that he was just 24-years of age when his first book had come out, my peer by age. By that time, I had already been harbouring a dream of writing a novel, but hadn’t started on it. And I wanted to write something in fantasy. (This ‘I want to write a book’ has become something of a fashionable thing now, to do for every bucket list, right there along with dance with the African tribals, click photographs of zebras and jump from high rise buildings and airplanes.)
Me and a friend who was there along with me, bought the book, read it, giggled at the breathless one liners after another, reread it, discussed it, and stayed with the trilogy, anticipating each of the next with as much impatience as Harry Potter fans. It was my first Indian fantasy series that made me as crazy, something I bet that all Game of Thrones fans now will remember. Now when I look back at the trilogy, it was of a new, impatient, foot-tapping author who broke limits and codes and played with myth and mythology and actually had fun doing it. At that time, it was just so much fun! Samit wasn’t looking at prettified language, he just wanted to play with ideas. That’s something that I loved most about the trilogy.
Since that day, all those years ago, I’ve had ‘fan’ moments with Samit: the day he added me on Facebook, the first time in a Facebook group when he commented on my post, and the first time he answered my emails to help and guide me in the Indian comic industry. He was a senior (by experience, if not age) writer, brutally honest in his suggestions to me (Quit if you want to make money), and refreshingly no-bullshit. Everytime an answer from him came into my inbox, my eyes lit up.
Then while working on Cult of Chaos, I did the impossible, and asked him outright, over email if he would like to give me a blurb for the book. He showed interest, I whoopied and sent him my manuscript, hoping, so much, that he would like it, because if you love someone’s stories, you would want them to be proud of you too. (We authors are like this, made of fragile egos and emotion.) No reply. I pinged him again. Poor thing had just taken up a new job and was juggling with far too much. I wondered if he would be able to go through a rough manuscript of 1,00,000 words complete with bad sentences and typos. Another reminder, wait, wait. And finally, he sent me a blurb. And here’s what he said:
Cult of Chaos is racy, rousing, rambunctious and rakshas-ful. Read immediately