Enter in a world of literary fantasy

It’s hard enough writing a book, but even harder if you team up with another person. But Suresh and Jyoti Cuptara have proved it can be done. These 17-year-old twins of Indian origin have been writing since they were 11. Their book Conspiracy of Calapsia is the first in seven-part fantasy series called Insanity. The book which has made them famous in their native Switzerland is to be released in Indian soon. They speak :
How do you both write together?
Do you specialise in certain sections, or do you both have a dialogue ?
It varies. We took in turns. Sometimes we’d both sit at the computer, dictating lines to each other, deliberating over the wordings; at other times, one of us would churn out a chapter even before the other reviewed it. As Suresh has started college in England. we’ve ended up planning and plotting during his holidays and implementing it separately. Fortunately, we can stay in touch via telephone and computer, but it’s tedious to try and re-enter Calaspia with so much else going on.
You two were writing a book at 11. What were the reactions to that ?
Not many people knew of our project during the first few years, but word spread. Yes, we were crazy, and yes, we were too young. Both went together. We were crazy think we would succeed. Some people humoured us while thinking we would eventually fail and become disillusioned. Sometimes it hurt to be called naive, because we knew the odds of publication better than anyone else. But it only made us work harder.
Have you had differences of opinion?
Ironically, we hardly ever fight about what to write. If we fought, it was usually over irrelevant things, which would somehow annoy one another. When differing opinions arise over Insanity, we’ve always found a compromise. Often, we end up incorporating both ideas in different places. Instead of contradicting one another, we bounce ideas off each other. It’s a constant dialogue, and that’s the fun of writing together, because it usually is a solitary occupation.How did you go about approaching publishers at such a young age?
We looked at books on our shelves to see who had published them; we looked them up on the internet. There were standard guidelines in approaching a publisher, e.g., synopsis and the first three chapters. The first few rejections slips were standard ones, sometimes with a line of encouragement, such as ‘You are young, so don’t be disappointed,’ ‘stick at it and good luck,’ which was kind. They don’t often bother with that. Later, the rejections started to become more constructive as the publishers saw potential. Suggestions ranged from tightening the structure of the novel to redoing the characters, which were too thin. We learned that it’s very hard to try and rewrite a book with these things in mind. But there was no question in our minds that one day we would be published.
Considering your Indian origin, is there anything in this book or forthcoming ones that has been influenced by India?
There are, but we’d rather let the discerning reader discover them. They range from influences in behaviour that we’ve observed in Indians to food (gulabbib are gulab jamuns). Needless to say, Indian has the best cuisine in the world!
With so many fantasy books already in the market, aren’t you worried readers will feel a sense of deja vu?
The genre is definitely jaded. Some of the most popular fantasy writers of today are simply giving fans more of the same. They want it. But however crowded the pitch becomes, there is always room for innovation. We try to take a fresh perspective wherever we can.
Like what?
Well, where we do have familiar elements, such as dwarves, we ensure there is something different to them (more in Book Two). Then we ditched dragons and elves altogether. Some passages which are reminiscent of Tolkien are actually more of parody, they’re a nod in his or some other author’s direction without being serious. For example Calaspia begins with a birthday party like Lord of the Rings, but isn’t a birthday party at all.
Francois Rene Chateaubriand said: ‘An original writer is not one who imitates nobody, but one whom nobody can imitate.’ That is our goal.

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