Author Kevin Missal: St Stephen’s allowed me to learn from varied people
Heroes or monsters, author Kevin Missal’s world has ’em all. Popular for his Kalki trilogy, the 24-year-old St Stephen’s graduate is known for having dabbled in mythological writing, with finesse. For his recent work, he has chosen to reimagine a classic fable, and come up with Sinbad and the Trumpet of Israfil.
In a tête-à-tête, the Gurugram-based Delhi University graduate confesses that it’s “mythology and fantasy” that define him, but he likes to write all kinds of genres. Excerpts:
Tell us about your upbringing in Delhi and college life at St Stephen’s (DU). Which ones were your favourite college hangouts? Have you visited them recently or plan to visit them anytime soon?
My upbringing in Delhi had been quite boring, to be honest (ha ha). I wasn’t much of an outgoing kid and so I used to stay at home most of the time. But in college, I used to party and enjoy a lot. I studied less and did extracurricular activities more because Stephen’s allowed me to meet varied kind of people from different backgrounds, and I learnt a lot from each one of the people I met. After all, we are shaped by the people who we are exposed to in our lives. I used to hang out at Stephen’s Cafe Tree, Kamla Nagar and Hudson Lane. I continue to go Stephen’s time to time, to meet juniors and my colleagues too who are doing their MA and MPhil. But it doesn’t hold the same magic now, I feel. Some memories are left good as just ‘the good old times’ and nothing more.
How has life changed post the success of Kalki series? Did you anticipate this much fandom?
I didn’t, to be honest. But I think it’s the cliched answer every person who has passed this trajectory does. I personally feel, the popularity has made me quite aware and I want to continue to outwork and outdo myself on a daily basis. Be it by finishing four books a year or opening a startup, which is a creative marketing agency that helps in book marketing campaigns and author branding solutions. I also plan to open a writing school and a publishing house.
From jinns, giants, monsters, and voyages, this world you’ve created in the new book is gripping and interesting for a reader. How difficult was it to reimgine the age old tale of Sinbad? Did you go back and reread it?
It was quite a tumultuous task; took me two-three years to nail the concept. I wrote three drafts before this and then I ventured for the fourth one where I was able to find the right voice. Of course, I went through various books and read the Arabian Nights, saw all the available Sinbad movies — even Thief of Baghdad which is brilliant by the way — to really do something different but also something similar that pays homage to all the tales of Sinbad that have been told before.
Is it safe to say that mythology and fantasy fiction define you as an author? How do you come up with characters, stories, and what to write next?
Yes, it’s safe to say that it defines me. I mean, I’m considered as a mythology writer even though I like to write all kinds of genres. The characters took time, but each became interesting as I wanted them to have a back story, a flaw and a passion. Like Sinbad who is a serious but snarky fellow to Azrael, who is a victim of bullying, and Ashrafiyah, who is a badass sorcerer-vampire with a penchant towards women — I had it all.
Author tweets @Nainaarora8
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