Arjun Basu is a Master of micro-fiction on Twitter. Canada-based Arjun’s ‘Twisters’ or short stories told via the 140 character limitations of Twitter have become so popular that he recently won the Literature category of the Shorty Awards set up to honour the ‘best individuals and companies’ on Twitter.
Techgoss spoke to Arjun.
Techgoss (TG): Arjun, tell us about yourself first, where were you born, your family, your education, your current location work etc. Did your parents migrate to Canada in the 60s?
Arjun Basu (AB): I was born in Montreal. My parents came over here from Calcutta in 1966 and I was born at the end of the year. My father is semi-retired and they spend six months a year in India now (smartly, they spend their winters there and not in Canada). I lived a fairly conventional middle class existence in Montreal and graduated from university with a degree in Creative Writing and a minor in Film Studies. Upon graduation, I worked at a children’s book publisher for five years and then spent a year freelancing and then found myself with a magazine publisher, where I’ve been now for 10 years. I work as their Editorial Director, here in Montreal.
TG: What are your links with India now?
AB: My links are family. I haven’t been to India in a long time, perhaps 20 years. Not because I haven’t wanted to go but life keeps getting in the way. I do hope to return soon.
TG: How did you start your literary odyssey?
AB: I’m a writer. I’ve always told stories. And I’ve always had a great love of books. I published my first book of short stories in 2008 (Squishy, DC Books) and am at work on my first novel.
TG: How did you get to the shorter form of writing, and was it a challenge? How did you overcome it if it was?
AB: Twitter created an interesting forum for experimentation. I don’t know why I started my stories on Twitter, it was a random decision, without any real thought or planning but I found it challenging and I quickly found that others liked what I was doing and I’ve been doing it ever since. I’ve written over 2,000 140 character short stories on Twitter now. It’s an odd thing I’m doing and I don’t know where it will lead. I suppose I’m going to get bored with it one day and then I’ll stop.
TG: How was the twister received initially? Does it have many takers? Could you quote some statistics on that?
AB: Like I said, I had no plans. The fact that over 24,000 people follow my stories is very humbling. But I’d like to think I’m doing something different and possibly entertaining. There are others writing short stories on Twitter but I don’t know of anyone who is writing them in exactly 140 characters each and every time.
TG: How has life changed after the Shorty Twitter Awards? Has a publisher approached you? Any projects you have been asked to join after the Shorty awards got you an international profile
AB: I can’t say my life has changed at all. I had a literary agent before the Awards and publishers still aren’t sure what to make of what I’m doing. They aren’t sure if my little stories can carry over into print, especially since one can read them for free online. Plus, not too many Twitter books that have been published have done all that well. And with the state the publishing industry is in right now, they are feeling a little weary of experimenting with a new form. Because in the end, that’s what it is: a new form. My hunch is that there will eventually be some kind of e-book that comes out. It makes the most sense. As a writer I have built up an audience of readers. Some of them have purchased my book of short stories and I’m sure some will purchase my novel when it’s published (but first I have to finish it!)
TG: What are your future plans?
AB: Finish the novel. I’ve been writing it for quite a few years now and I’m on the final draft and hope to have it delivered to my agent within a month. And then move on to the next project. I’ve been writing more short stories as well and also have an idea for another book.
Arjun has published a book of short-stories called ‘Squishy’ in 2008 and is working on a novel titled ‘Waiting for the Man’ currently. He still continues his twisters on the web.
Sounds interesting? Then follow his twister tales at twitter.com/arjunbasu