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Black and white and dread all over

Keri-based author Girish Shirodkar’s recent release ‘In the Realm of the Unknown’ is a collection of horror short stories set against a Goan backdrop. The first-time author decided to pursue his love for writing while juggling his other job as a lecturer, NT KURIOCITY finds

ANNA FERNANDES | NT KURIOCITY

As a child who grew up with his nose buried in a book, Girish Shirodkar harboured an interest in being a writer someday. This dream was realised when his first book ‘In the Realm of the Unknown’, a collection of horror short stories set in Goa was published by Pune-based APK Publishers in August this year.

But writing was not always in the books for Shirodkar, who graduated in mechanical engineering from Goa Engineering College, Farmagudi, and subsequently worked in the industry for some years. Owing to a passion for teaching he left the job and joined Government Polytechnic, Bicholim as a lecturer in mechanical engineering. And even with a hectic schedule, he would find time, or a reason, to write – in particular, pint-sized fiction on social media for the amusement of his friends. “Until the mid of 2010, my ‘writing’ was limited to letter writing and essay composing. An abrupt transition, however, came about in my writing habits and style after I joined Facebook,” he says, adding, “I used to post pithy horror stories on Facebook and my readers adored those.” On the request of one of his regular readers to “expand, refine and compile all those stories” he decided to write a book.

‘In the Realm of the Unknown’ features short stories in the horror and suspense genre, such as: ‘The Lord Datta Temple’, ‘The Tree of Terror’, ‘My Encounter with Esmeralda’, ‘My Midnight Acquaintance’, ‘Where Did She Go’, ‘The Last Night of the Year’, ‘The Old Mansion’, ‘College Days 1’ and ‘College Days 2’. The protagonist Girish Sardessai is a professor at a college and reports his bizarre findings at various stages of his life. As an alumnus of Goa Engineering College, Farmagudi, a fair number of stories carry the reflection of the author’s alma mater. “Some of the stories are set in pre-independent Goa, and portray the typical Goan life. They are bound to take the readers down memory lane and fill them with nostalgia about the good old days,” he says.

So why horror? Shirodkar shares his fascination about the genre and says: “As a child I grew up reading horror stories by Edgar Alan Poe, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle and Suhas Shirvalkar, a prolific writer in the Marathi language. Horror, therefore, was a natural choice.” As a fan of Barbara Cartland and Sidney Sheldon, he adds that he’s also interested in romance and thriller genres. And when it came to drawing inspiration and researching for his book, classic tales of the Victorian era, the works of HP Lovecraft, MR James, Edgar Alan Poe, Arthur Conan Doyle, Mary Shelley, Robert Louis Stevenson and Bram Stoker were his muse.

Shirodkar’s work embodies the concept of magic realism, combining elements of fantasy within the traditional Goan context. “When one communicates with old folk, weird tales garnished with gothic elements peculiar to Goan life, spring up. No wonder, one will always notice a roaring sea, a sky kissing orchard, a cool night, a river shimmering in moonlight, a howling wind and an incessant rain in all my stories. When I close my eyes, my own life experiences fuse with the tales lingering in my mind, and through that fusion springs up yet another story, more amazing than its ingredients,” he says.

Asked what his advice to budding writers would be and he says: “Being a first-time writer, I am not qualified to tender any advice to budding writers. My philosophy of life is simple: struggle is an indispensible part of anything that is worth and rewarding.” Currently, Shirodkar is working on a romance novel which is in the last stage of its completion, and is expected to enter the world of literature soon.

(The book is available on Amazon for sale.)

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