Techie pens Psychological Thriller
By Resmi Jaimon
Cynthia Vincent Daniel, after completing a MCA from SSN College of Engineering in Chennai, started a techie career and worked as a Senior Software Engineer and Analyst for blue chip companies like HCL and Accenture. She was with Accenture till Dec 2014, but left to join her husband who got a job in Dubai. Cynthia has written her first novel a psychological thriller 'Columbina'
Techgoss (TG): Techgoss readers are interested to hear of your debut novel and a psychological thriller 'Columbina'
Cynthia Vincent Daniel (CVD): Columbina is a thrilling murder mystery that is set against a gruesome prison called Alcatraz. Alcatraz is considered to be world’s most inescapable prison and it is the only architectural structure that is situated on an island with the same name. This prison was converted into a museum in the year 1963. One fine morning a corpse is found in a loathing manner in a trunk on the shores of the island. A detective named Martin Herd is hired to solve the mystery. Annabel, a local inspector is instructed to assist Martin. Few secrets from the past are rekindled and pose a question before Martin, “Should the secret of Alcatraz be revealed or should it stay hidden?”
TG: How did you come up with the idea of a psychological thriller and the story to be based on, of all places, Alcatraz ?
CVD: Psychological thriller was the genre that was given to us when our publishers had conducted the contest. My book is published alongside Frozen Summer and is the first ever double-header book to be published in India. Thrillers have always fascinated me ever since I was in my teens. I would rather say that I am always addicted to thrillers. I grew up reading Sidney Sheldon and Agatha Christie’s books.
If you ask me about how I chose Alcatraz as the backdrop for my story, I would say it just happened. It may sound clichéd, but that’s the fact. Whenever I come up with creative ideas for a book or my blog I generally write them down. I always have a notepad in my bag, it helps me. As always, I had listed the idea of a corpse hidden in a trunk, an island that had a history and a prison that was known for its grandeur. When the time came for me to choose a name for the prison I did a small research and landed up on Alcatraz. It had all the substantial characteristics that fit well into my story. Obviously after that I had to do a lot of research on the interiors of the prison on how it looked as I have never been there.
TG: How did you hear of Half Baked Beans? What prompted you to take part in Half Baked Beans?
CVD: I heard about Half Baked Beans through Facebook. They had conducted a contest on Facebook on Novella writing. I have been blogging since 2010. I blog at “Whispers in the Wind” and my blog has been well received. I used to write short stories on my blog and was waiting for an opportunity to write a book. I came across this contest and thought, “If not now then never”. I seized what came along and hard work did finally pay off when I saw my book in print for the very first time. That joy is much beyond words and expressions.
When I participated in the contest, I did Google a bit about Half Baked Beans and found that they publish new talent. I found it very genuine and went ahead with completing the novel on time.
TG: Share with us your experience writing a novel, for Half Baked Beans, within 45 days.
CVD: Initially we were asked to submit the synopsis for the novella that we would be writing. We were given 15 days for it. I submitted the synopsis. I made it to the final few who were asked to complete the entire novel in a span of 45 days. Since I was working for 10 hours a day at that time, I would wake up early in the morning and write for 2 hours. Following which I would send the draft to a friend of mine who helped me review every single word in the book. He would give me his feedback by the time I got back home from work. I would again sit in the night for another two hours, make changes in the previous draft and start writing the next part. I had kept a deadline to complete 1000 words each day. By the end of 45 days, not only was my novella complete but I did learn a lot of lessons. The entire experience made me realise my true passion in life. Only when you work with passion and dedication can you see your dreams come true.
TG: When and how did you first start writing? Have you been published before?
CVD: The story of how I began writing dates back to the first year of my teens. I was in school and we were asked to write a poem for Father’s day. We were told that the best poem would be displayed on the notice board of the school along with our photographs. I was excited about the notice board part and decided to write a poem for my dad. My poem was selected and everyone told me things that I was hearing for the first time. They said that I wrote really well. Few said that I was gifted. That was the beginning. Ever since, I would write my diary and about the travels I had, as a kid.
I began writing short stories on my blog and everyone seemed to love the way I narrated every story and the way I played around with the characters. For any story, I would envision my characters and draw a small picture of them in a paper. For example, the protagonist wears a hat or he has a long moustache or any other characteristic. I found that readers would remember my characters and it stayed with them for a long time. I felt a connect through my characters. I have only been published on a travel website called “Cox and Kings”. “Columbina” is my very first book.
TG: Share with us your educational and professional background.
CVD: I completed my MCA from SSN College of Engineering in Chennai. I am a Senior Software Engineer by profession and have worked as a software developer and analyst with companies like HCL and Accenture.
TG: What is your nature of work at your present organization?
CVD: I was working with Accenture as a Sr. Analyst wherein we write a piece of code to fulfill the requirements that are given to us by the client and in turn make the lives of the end customers easy. I was working with Accenture till December 2014. However, I had to quit my job as my husband was offered a job in Dubai. I have moved to Dubai with him and am currently trying my luck with a job here.
TG: Work, home and to top it all, writing a novella in 45 days. How did you manage the multiple roles?
CVD: I wrote the novella in the year 2013. Back then, I was living with my parents in Pune. The only routine I followed was wake up, write, go to office, come back home and again write. My parents and my brother made life perfectly easy for me. I was not disturbed when I was writing and sometimes they would lesser the volume of the TV suspecting that the noise would distract me. I was excused from all the chores at home. They were my support network. Writing a book actually takes a toll over you. You have to get into the characters and the plot to bring out the best story. In that period of 45 days, the only thing that I thought about was the novel. I would eat with it, sleep with it and live with it. At times it would be frustrating for the people around you to see you completely obsessed with something. But my family and my close friends understood me and stood by me. The work of novel does not stop with just writing it, editing it and marketing it is equally important. I met my husband after I finished my novel and he and his family have been equally encouraging and supporting.
TG: You seem to be a frequent traveler. Tell us in detail about your passion for travel.
CVD: Travelling has always been thrilling. It helps you meet new people, new culture, new food and above all it gives you peace. It takes you away from your regular monotonous life and rejuvenates you by the end of it. For many, a weekend would mean a day of rest, for me it is an opportunity to travel. I found my passion for travelling again at a very early age. Every year my parents would arrange for a short travel for me and my brother and I would look forward to it. Marriage only increased the number of travels as I met the perfect person who loves travelling and exploring just like me. Before travelling, we actually do a lot of research about the place and a lot of planning in involved. I have never ever taken help of any travel agency for any of my travels. I do all the ground research myself and enjoy every bit of it. I even prepare travel itineraries for my family and friends who wish to go on a travel.
TG: What are you working on next?
CVD: Right now, I am busy settling in a new country and promoting my book. It is available on Amazon.in and Flipkart. I spend my free time getting to know the city and of course travelling around the city. I do have a lot of ideas penned down in my notepad and am planning to start working on my full fledges novel soon. I just need to bring back the attitude of “If not now then never”. That would definitely happen very soon.
Techgoss Note: Resmi Jaimon is a Kerala based freelance writer, who is now keen on exploring visual media through talk shows, food and travel shows. More about her at her website