Ashok Banker: On Writing Vortal Shockwave

I had no clue how I wrote Vortal: Shockwave, or for that matter, most of my books. I simple wrote them. I don’t truly understand the mechanism by which I am able to write entire novels or multi-volume series in the same casual way that I write, say, this note, or an email or text message. I just do it.
It’s like talking or breathing. It just comes naturally and I try not to question it too much because, I guess I fear that shining too bright a light on mystery might make it disappear altogether! Also because I don’t consider myself or my process to be very important. I love writing and I do it. That’s really all there is to it. But if I dig deeper I guess I can figure out some aspects of it and I’ll try and share those here with you.
Sometime during my teens I read a sci-fi novel titled Ring Around The Sun. I hardly remember it now but it was about the idea of parallel worlds and I thought that was such a cool idea. I started looking for books that used the same idea of parallel worlds. Right from that day, I knew that some day I would write a story using that same device. But I wanted to tell a story set in present-day India, not about the science of travel between worlds, but about the people doing the traveling.
Now the way a writer’s mind works is that you don’t push a story out until it’s ready to get off the plane—otherwise it’s parachute may not open and you’ll end up with a big splat. You have to wait until you’re ready to write it. Some years later, I came across the concept of Vortal, which is a vertically integrated portal leading to multiple websites.
Around the same time, I was teaching myself Action script and Flash animation programming just for the heck of it. And I thought, what if a kid comes up with a computer programme that can open up a series of doorways between multiple parallel worlds? And what if it’s based on a software and even uses the programming code but there’s also a supernatural element, one that he doesn’t know about, which is put there by this mysterious person who calls himself The Webmaster.
Now, IRL (in real life) the Webmaster is nothing but a person who handles the maintenance and upkeep of a website and takes care of it on a day-to-day basis. It’s a really boring mundane job. But I thought the title Webmaster sounded cool and mysterious. So I used it.
Then I thought, why not tell the story through different points of view. After all, it’s a story about parallel worlds, right? So why not tell it from parallel points of view! And let’s make it a family, so that way, we can have all kinds of points of view going at the same time.
And so finally, years after I had the original idea, I began writing what I now called Vortal: Shockwave. A while later, my daughter Yashka, around ten years old at the time, found the manuscript, read it, and loved it. She said, Dad, please finish it. So I did!
Flash forward to 2013 and Duckbill is now publishing the book not just in this world but in seven million eight hundred and forty-nine thousand five hundred and twenty-three parallel worlds at the same time. So you’re reading the world’s first novel to be published in Parallel Worlds simultaneously! Go ahead. Enter the Vortal.


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