Interview: Samit Basu, Author of Turbulence
Superheroes are in now, as anyone who has checked out the Avengers or Nolan’s Batman trilogy will be aware. Usually superheroes inhabit the comic book or movie world, but Samit Basu’s Turbulence brings them to life with the written word.
We had a quick chat with Samit, and you can check out Shaneyah’s review of Turbulence here.
Note: Spoiler-y questions are marked with *asterisks*.
How long has this idea been with you for?
I wrote Turbulence in late 2009, and it was published in India in 2010, the UK in 2012 and now the US in 2013. So a lot of the events that take place in it have actually had parallel events happen in the world, without superheroic intervention of course. When I wrote it, I tried to write it live, with the phone and the Internet on, while just living in a very tough city, instead of trying to find some sort of refuge to work on the book in isolation. I think this helped with one of the objectives involved, to make Turbulence as much about here and now, the world we live in today, as possible. It’s not an idea I had carried with me for a long time, but I’m glad to see it fits in the world four years after I wrote it.
Do you classify Turbulence as urban fantasy, science fiction, or something else entirely?
I actually don’t classify it at all. It didn’t start out being a superhero novel that fitted into established superhero tropes, so I guess urban fantasy covers it. There isn’t any real science in it, so if that’s what sets SF apart from fantasy it’s not SF. I don’t particularly care about classification, I have to add – I didn’t grow up reading in any sort of genre-specific way and that’s not how bookstores or libraries in India were arranged when I was a child. But if I had to pick a side…urban fantasy. Or science fiction. Or something else entirely. Whatever you think it is.
I have to ask – what power do you think you would have ended up with if you’d been on the plane?
Probably something entirely superficial, but if I had any choice in the matter I’d have Tia’s power – the ability to split into multiple bodies and live several lives, do everything, see everything, and never have to make a choice again.
Your book has some wonderfully humorous elements. Having not read your work before: would you say this is part of your writing style or is it something unique to Turbulence?
I think humour does play a part in everything I write but none of it is particularly intended: it’s probably the way I see the world. Which is a good thing, because I don’t really like most jokes, and I think right now the best works of humour we see across media come from real life, grow organically out of situations people find themselves in, which is what happens in Turbulence: at some level even the characters in it are conscious of the sheer ridiculousness of the experiences they’re sharing. I think my earlier books made a more conscious attempt to be funny; with Turbulence, whatever humour is there comes out of the characters and what happens to them. And I’m deeply relieved that you appreciated it, because organic humour is really the only kind that has any chance of working in countries far away.
*Tell us a bit about the inspiration behind Anima’s character. Is there a sort of personality shift between her human form and her powered form?*
Definitely. Her powered form is the anime princess that’s hovering in her subconscious, probably as a result of watching far too much action-girl anime. I’m no anime expert, but I remember how much things like the Thundercats, Voltron and He-Man dominated my imagination when I was the age Anima is in this book. If I’d been on the Turbulence plane in the 80s, I’d probably have come out in some deeply questionable outfit, wielding some kind of power sword. It was mostly a process of wondering what a child might have wanted most, and how frightening that thing might actually be, without the filters we acquire in the process of growing up.
*Have we seen the last of Sundar?*
I really shouldn’t tell you as this is a mystery Aman and team actively try to solve in Resistance.
*Do you think there are some Tia’s hidden around the world who don’t want to rejoin the rest?*
Absolutely. No question. If you had the choice to live any life without giving up your present one, I think you, or I, would definitely have some extreme ones hidden in there.
*Was Namrata’s character arc planned out from the beginning, or did she surprise you?*
Her arc was actually planned from the very beginning. The media plays such an important part in our lives now that one of the characters had to be a TV journalist. I know a few people like her, so it was quite easy to see how things would go.
For new readers of yours: what should we read whilst waiting for Resistance?
Well, my first three books are all on the Kindle store now. I’m doing a fair amount of other work, but I’m not sure how much of it will be available in the US right now: eventually I’m hoping it will all be, but these things always take a lot of time.
Will there be another book or books after Resistance?
If a story comes to me set in the same universe that demands a new book, definitely yes. But it hasn’t happened yet. Unless you’re actually a Hollywood producer, in which case of course, yes, I have seven more.
Check out Shaneyah’s review of Turbulence here!