Madhulika Liddle struck the bull’s eye as a short story writer when her supernatural thriller story, titled ‘Silent Fear’, got picked up by the Femina Magazine in a story writing contest it had organised in 2001. Since then, it was no looking back for this ace short story writer who seems to have mastered the art of making up prolific tales over the years. Her latest book, ‘My Lawfully Wedded Husband and Other Short Stories’, is a package of the elements that make a quick-witted and a delightful compilation of thrilling short stories. Resham Sengar of Zeenews.com tried to unearth the facts about this Assam-born writer, her work and more!
The book consists of stories like ‘Silent Fear’ and ‘On the Night Train’ that have the supernatural element in them. There is also a story named ‘Feet of Clay’ that explores a 5-year-old girl’s childhood fantasies. Why is the book categorized as crime fiction despite stories that come across more as crime-thrillers?
Whoever`s categorised ‘My Lawfully Wedded Husband and Other Stories’ as `crime fiction` has got it wrong. Both my editor and I have, from the beginning (when I first began putting this book together) referred to it as `black humour`. Some stories are darker than they`re humorous; some are the other way round - and some actually are crime fiction (not necessarily `crime thriller`). But the theme of the collection, ultimately, is black humour.
How did you develop the art of conjuring short stories that look real and can leave people hooked on to them till the end?
It takes a lot of thinking. I usually spend hours, even days, plotting and re-plotting stories. Even after a story is written, I edit it repeatedly (most stories go through at least half a dozen parses of self-review before I`m satisfied).
How challenging was it to write the book?
Many of these stories were written over a few years. If a good idea comes to me, I write the story and keep it in my cache, to be pulled out and submitted for publication when I see an opportunity for it. In that sense, this book wasn`t very difficult to write - I had loads of time in which to write the stories. About half the stories in the book were written specifically for this collection, and I was lucky enough to get ideas just when I needed them.
Which all stories are your personal favourites? And which one would you suggest to be read first among the lot?
My personal favourites include ‘A Tale of a Summer Vacation’, ‘My Lawfully Wedded Husband’, and ‘On the Night Train’. Either of these would be a good way to begin reading the book - especially ‘My Lawfully Wedded Husband’, which, I think, reflects the essence of the book: it has a twist at the end, and much of the humour of the story lies in that twist.
Are any of the 12 stories in the book inspired by a real life incident?
Not exactly, though ‘The Crusader’ arose from my constant irritation at how inconsiderate so many people tend to be when they watch movies in a cinema theatre!
There is a Hindi film titled ‘Dus Kahaniyan’ that featured ten short stories. Do you also plan to pitch in your work to good filmmakers so that they might be adapted into a film?
I`ll suggest that to my literary agent!
Which all film makers do you think are capable of doing justice to ‘My Lawfully Wedded Husband and Other Short Stories’?
Perhaps someone like Homi Adajania (whose ‘Being Cyrus’ was brilliant), Neeraj Pandey, or Navdeep Singh.
Please share with our readers the books you are planning to write in the future?
Right now, I`m writing the fourth book in the Muzaffar Jang series: it`s a historical detective novel set in Delhi during 1657. I`m also planning a four-book story set in Delhi, beginning in the 12th century and continuing till Independence. That requires a lot of careful plotting and loads of research, so it`ll keep me busy for a while.