Barbra Dillon, Fanboy Comics Managing Editor: The Fanboy Comics Staff and I are very excited about the recent US release of your book, Turbulence. What inspired you to write this novel?
Samit Basu: It started out being a novel about people in the Indian subcontinent, a part of the world that needs drastic change, not preservation and protection (which is the standard deal in, say, American comics), and these people suddenly acquiring the capacity to really transform the world around them, and achieve the fulfillment of their own deepest desires, as well. And, events spiraling out of control, and moving to affect the whole world.
So, that's what Turbulence was trying to be, a book about here and now, and because of the world we live in, characters with these physics-defying abilities start seeing themselves in reference to superheroes, the same superheroes we know and love, who exist as fictional characters in this world, just as they do in ours; it's a little like the bit where Joss Whedon makes Iron Man call Hawkeye Legolas. If the events of Turbulence had happened in ancient Greece, the characters would think they were demigods. So, the superhero thing was something the story, and I, and the characters organically arrived at, not really something I started out with. But, having reached that point, it was great fun to play with superhero tropes, because there are so many wonderful stories in that genre.
BD: Given your writing experience in the comic book industry, have you considered adapting Turbulence for a graphic novel format?
SB: Absolutely, but I'd have to find the right artist to do it, since I cannot draw to save my life! I'd actually considered doing it as a graphic novel first, but I had a lot to say, and wanted to tell this story in a medium where I could actually build the whole world myself. I love comics, and learning how to write them was both challenging and a whole new experience; it's a fundamentally different process from planning and writing a book. I'd love to see a Turbulence comic, though. It's tough to get the kind of comic I want done out of India, but maybe if I can find an American collaborator, who knows.
BD: Many of your previous works, including The Simoqin Prophecies, The Manticore's Secret, and The Unwaba Revelations, have been deeply rooted in the fantasy genre. What draws you to this genre, and do you feel that it offers specific tools as a storyteller?
SB: Absolutely. It gives you the freedom to not only let your imagination run riot, but also to approach your story and your world on as grand or minute a scale you want. There's scope for huge themes, and super-dramatic moments, and humour, and romance, and action, large questions, and larger-than-life characters. The world we live in is rich, deep, dark, and complex, but there's a lot to be gained by building more worlds, and seeing our own world through those.
BD: Turbulence is currently your publisher’s (Hachette India) most successful Indian title. Have you been able to glean audience reaction to the book from the US?
SB: Well, it just launched a couple of days ago, and luckily the reviews that have come out so far have mostly been very positive. I got my first video review a few days ago, and loved that: what an interesting format. America is Superhero Headquarters, so it's where I really discover whether I can tell this sort of story or not. I'm hugely nervous, but also hugely excited; you only make your US debut once.
BD: Are there any upcoming projects on which you are currently working that you are able to share with our readers?
SB: I just finished writing Resistance, the sequel to Turbulence; it took me a long time, but I had so much fun writing it. It's set in 2020, in a world dominated by superheroes, and takes place all over the world; one of the key locations is a near-future New York. It's out next year, I think.
I'm also doing a couple of comics, but those are only out in India now. One, UnHoli, is a zombie comedy set during the Indian colour festival of Holi, and another, Local Monsters, is a sitcom-style comic with various Asian monsters sharing a flat in a conservative Delhi neighbourhood.