A data analyst by profession, Anubhav Shankar has finally decided to shed his dilletante tag and give his creative side an outlet with his debut novel, Fait Accompli, an edge-of-the-seat thriller which seeks to add a new niche to the Indian thriller genre.
When he isn’t trying his hand on writing a best-seller, he could be found binge watching shows online or playing his PS4. He currently lives in Noida, with his family.
TBE: Tell us a little about your story and the story world you’ve created.
Anubhav Shankar: The title of my book is ‘Fait Accompli’ which basically talks about something that is a done deal and presumably irreversible. It can loosely be interpreted as inevitable as well given that it also generally implies a lack of choice apart from accepting the said outcome.
TBE: How do you come up with the title of your book and what is the significance of the title?
Anubhav Shankar: To be frank, the title is to convey something which’ll happen at the end of the series. Chose it because it’ll signify the unpredictability till the end and if possible, instill a feeling of ‘hopeless witness’ in the readers.
TBE: How this story first came to be. Did it start with an image, a voice, a concept, a dilemma or something else?
Anubhav Shankar: I played Prototype in 2012 on a friend’s PC for the first time and was struck by the concept. I wrote a short story derived from the theme of a character with similar powers set in modern-day Delhi-NCR albeit with different origins, circumstances, and motivations. That was the rough draft of the script which seven years later is the book that got published.
TBE: What is the key theme and/or message in the book?
Anubhav Shankar: The key theme of the series is biological mutation/new evolutionary step for humanity with a milquetoast of political, social, and historical fictionalism.
TBE: Are your characters based off real people or did they all come entirely from your imagination?
Anubhav Shankar: As mentioned previously, Shanaya’s character takes inspiration from James Heller (Prototype 2’s main character). However, rest all characters are completely a product of my imagination.
TBE: Who’s your favorite character from the book and why?
Anubhav Shankar: Though by default, the protagonist should be the favorite, however, my favorite character is Shiuli Mukherjee. I honestly have a thing for beautiful yet evil villainesses.
TBE: How would you respond to the accusations that your book is simply the game ‘Prototype’ in book format?
Anubhav Shankar: I have never hidden the fact that my current work is heavily inspired from Prototype. In fact, the disclaimer at the bottom of the front cover was initially inside the book. The character simply has the same types of powers as the main character in the game, however, the motivations, origins, and rest of the plot is completely different from the game. In fact, I see my work as paying an ode to this brilliant but underrated game. Also, this is the first of the series and the character is still evolving.
I guess people seem to have forgotten the age old saying – “Don’t judge a book by its cover” 😊
If we go by this rigid logic then the people should also have problem with Deadpool (complete copy of Deathstroke), Batman (heavily inspired from Zorro), and The Punisher (literally the same origin story as Mack Bolan by Don Pendleton). In my opinion, any new work of art or creativity draws its first inspiration from something that already exists and imagine it in an altogether different context and impart a new meaning to it.
TBE: How do you see the relationship between science fiction and culture? How about the boundaries between science fiction and reality?
Anubhav Shankar: I think as technology progresses the realm of what all were once considered science fiction will continue to shrink. Owing to massive advancements in Machine Learning and the advent of Quantum Computing, the boundary between reality and science fiction is shrinking rapidly.
TBE: What do you think are the main reasons of the popularity of science fiction? To what extent has the Film and Video Game industry helped in popularizing the genre? Will sci-fi motion pictures or Video Games substitute science fiction novels one day?
Anubhav Shankar: That is frankly a tough one to answer. I think popular culture and scientific advancements often go hand-in-hand more often than not. Look at the concept of the Multiverse which is quintessential to all DC and Marvel comics.
TBE: To what extent can science fiction affect or improve the developments in science and technology in human life? Is it right to say that science fiction can change what human life looks like in the future?
Anubhav Shankar: Asimov’s Three Laws of Robotics come to mind when we talk about science fiction affecting development of scientific advancements. The three laws have become fundamental to development and advancement of robotics and artificial intelligence as well.
TBE: In your view, who are the best science fiction writers?
Anubhav Shankar: Following three names come to mind -> Issac Asimov, Arthur C. Clarke, and Douglas Adams.
TBE: Have you ever learned anything thing from a negative review and incorporated it in your writing?
Anubhav Shankar: I have often been told that I tend to get a bit too wordy. Frankly, I am still working on that.
TBE: In your opinion, what is the most important thing about any book?
Anubhav Shankar: I am on a journey to find that out for myself as well. Will let you know once I have a more reasonable answer.
TBE: What are some must-read titles in your genre?
Anubhav Shankar: The Sentinel (adapted as the movie: 2001, A Space Odyessey) by Arthur C. Clarke and the Watchmen by Alan Moore.
TBE: Is there anything you are currently working on that may intrigue the interest of your readers?
Anubhav Shankar: I am currently working on the second part of the series whilst trying my hand on Medium. You can find me on Medium by – “The Melancholy Optimist”. Also, I am working on my first CreepyPasta story.