It was war of creativity, fuelled by grit and gusto as aspirational writers came together from across the globe to be featured in author Sanil Sachar’s second book, The Dark Side of Light. In a contest aptly titled ‘An Unexpected Turn’, participants were encouraged to pen down short stories cutting across genres, the only caveat being that the story must have a twist.
Interestingly, the contest theme resonates well with Sanil’s own life that has been replete with twists. His journey from being a young student-cum-footballer, to an author of two books at a young age of 23, had started rather unexpectedly. Miles away from his family and friends, studying and playing football in the North of England, Sanil took to writing during breaks in his football matches. The pen got mightier and the author in him started to evolve. The result was ‘Summer Promises & Other Poems’, his first book that was published by Rupa in 2013.
After he finished writing his second book, a thought that he had harboured for a while started to take shape. He wanted to do something that presented young aspiring writers an opportunity to make their work public and foster their latent creativity. He shared his idea with Rupa Publications, and as a result this contest was born. Powered by Hindustan Times, the contest asked aspiring writers to submit their stories online. The response was overwhelming and the contest was extended by another week. The contest reached 8 million people online in just two weeks. Testifying to its wide reach and response, the contest hashtag #AnUnExpectedTurn trended at #2 on Twitter nationally during the Diwali week.
Commenting on the contest entries, author Sanil Sachar said, “Writing is something that both relaxes me and gives me a rush at the same time. I always had this idea of ‘aspire to inspire’ which would help provide a platform to other writers. Yet, it is not easy to open your work, your creative creation fuelled by sweat and tears, and add another writer’s work to it. One looks for certain synergies in terms of quality, content, tempo or flow in the story etc. But it was very heart-warming to see what others had come up with. I am very happy with the winners and would be reaching out to them personally.”
The jury, comprising of Sanil and senior editors from Hindustan Times, had a challenging time selecting winners. The judges were pleasantly surprised at the interest and intent to express by so many young, aspiring writers. Many late night discussions and debates eventually led to the final decision. The jury found their champion in Jaiveer Singh Hundal with his story ‘The Other Man’ making for a fascinating read. As the winner, Jaiveer gets published in Sanil’s upcoming book and also receives a gift voucher from Rupa Publications, a personalized copy of the book and an invite to the exclusive launch. The other ten winners also receive a gift voucher from Rupa Publications and a personalized copy of the book.
All short story entries are available for reading here