In season one of Arcx, a six episode mini-series, Anjali Alappat talks to six South Asian sci-fi, fantasy and speculative fiction writers about literary inspiration, tracing their ideas from conception to execution. We’re peeling back the layers to retrace their steps and learn more about the media that influenced them, dissecting the stories they want to tell, and learning what fundamentally changed the way they see the world.

episode 6

Indra Das

In the season finale of Arcx, I talk to Indra Das, author, critic and editor.

Indra’s work crosses genres and creates intricate worlds. His writing is exploratory, fresh and fantastical. The Devourers, his debut novel, was published in 2015 to critical acclaim.

The same year, he was shortlisted for the Shakti Bhatt First Book Prize. In 2016 he was shortlisted for the Crawford Prize. And in 2017, he won the Lambda Literary Award for Best LGBTQ Science Fiction, Fiction and Horror.

Indra’s short fiction has been featured in publications like Strange Horizons, Clarkesworld Magazine, Lightspeed Magazine,, and Asimov’s Science Fiction Magazine to name a few.

We discuss Stephen King, the power of sensory writing, Gods and immortality.

You can follow Indra on twitter @indrapramitdas 

Read Indra’s work:

Books and media referenced in this episode:

  • It by Stephen King
  • Cycle of the Werewolf by Stephen King
  • Jurassic Park by Michael Crichton
  • Princess Mononoke (film)
  • Spirited Away (film)

episode 5

Kuzhali Manickavel

Content warning: This episode contains discussions of abuse and the depiction of traumatic events. Listener discretion is advised.

In this episode, I talk to author, editor and columnist Kuzhali Manickavel.

Kuzhali’s short fiction is beautiful, bizarre and haunting in the best way. Her short story collections Things We Found During the Autopsy and Insects Are Just Like You and Me Except Some of Them Have Wings explore a complex mix of themes that span genres.

Kuzhali has also written chapter books like How to Love Mathematical Objects and Eating Sugar, Telling Lies and picture books. Additionally, she has written for Granta, Strange Horizons, Agni, Subtropics, Michigan Quarterly Review and DIAGRAM.

We discuss her love of scary movies, the reality of unresolved trauma, dark humour, and everyday horrors.

You can follow Kuzhali on Twitter @storycakesaudio.

Read Kuzhali’s work:

  • Insects Are Just Like You And Me Except Some Of Them Have Wings
  • Eating Sugar, Telling Lies
  • Things We Found During the Autopsy
  • The Lucy Temerlin Institute for Broken Shapeshifters’ Guide to Starving Boys
  • How to Love Mathematical Objects
  • Item Girls
  • Stories from the Radio

Media referenced in this episode:

  • The Exorcist (film)
  • The Exorcist (TV show)
  • Evil (TV show)
  • From (TV show)

episode 4

S.B. Divya

In this episode, I’m in conversation with S.B.Divya, author, editor and engineer with an encyclopaedic knowledge of sci-fi and speculative fiction.

Divya’s work is a fascinating mix of her professional and personal backgrounds, with great science and even better storylines.

Her debut novella, Runtime, was nominated for a Nebula award and her first novel Machinehood also received Hugo and Nebula nominations. She has also been recognized for her work on the Escape Pod. And her short fiction has been published in a variety of magazines and anthologies.

Stay tuned for a conversation about the books that she grew up with, how being an editor helped her as a writer, privacy, healthcare and religion in sci-fi.

Follow Divya on Twitter @divyastweets.

Read Divya’s work:

Books, authors and media referenced in this episode:

  • The Green Book by Jill Paton Walsh
  • Escape pod
  • Daily Science Fiction
  • J. Cherryh
  • Frank Herbert
  • Joan D. Vinge

episode 3

Samit Basu

In this episode, I speak to one of India’s best known Sci-fi and fantasy authors, Samit Basu. An incredibly versatile writer, Samit’s work has spanned mediums, with comic books, film scripts and children’s and YA novels.

Samit’s first novel, the Simoqin Prophecies, was published in 2003, when he was just 23. It evolved into the bestselling Gameworld Trilogy. His latest novel, The City Inside was shortlisted for the JCB Prize for Literature in 2020. We chat with Samit about how he got started as a writer, his refusal to be bound by genre, fanfiction, and the not-so-distant future depicted in his novel.

Follow Samit on Twitter @samitbasu

Read Samit’s work:

  • The Simoqin Prophecies
  • The Manticore’s Secret
  • The Unwaba Revelations
  • Turbulence
  • Resistance
  • The City Inside or Chosen Spirits

Books and media referenced in this episode:

  • The Sandman by Neil Gaiman
  • Discworld series by Sir Terry Pratchett
  • The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy by Douglas Adams
  • The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings by J.R.R Tolkien
  • The Matrix (film)
  • The Monty Python films

episode 2

Lavanya Lakshminarayan

In this episode, I talk to Lavanya Lakshminarayan, award-winning author and games designer. Lavanya’s work is interesting, layered and tackles some really hard topics with ease. Her debut novel ‘Analog/Virtual and other simulations of your future netted her the Times of India AutHer award and a Valley of Words Award in 2021. She was also a Locus Award finalist and made the longlist for the British Science Fiction Association Awards. Her short fiction has been featured in anthologies like A Flash of Silver-Green, Third-eye and the Gollancz book of South Asian Science Fiction.

We discuss the books that set her on her writing journey, the importance of literary representation, access to technology, and the extremes of productivity culture.

You can follow Lavanya on Twitter @lavanya_ln and on Instagram at @lavanya.ln

Read Lavanya’s work:

Books referenced in this episode:

  • The Hobbit by J.R.R Tolkien
  • The Simoqin Prophecies by Samit Basu

episode 1

Shiv Ramdas

In this episode, I speak with Shiv Ramdas, author, storyteller and Twitter sensation. I’m a big fan of Shiv’s thoughtful, funny and irreverent writing. His work explores serious and often historical themes in nuanced and deft ways. His debut work, India’s first mainstream Cyberpunk novel, Domechild was released in 2013. Shiv’s short fiction has been featured in Slate, Strange Horizons, Fireside Fiction, Podcastle, and more. In 2020, he was nominated for a Hugo, a Nebula and an Ignyte Award.

Today, we discuss his influences, AI, magic, post-colonial storytelling, and his work-in-progress paranormal PI novel.

You can follow Shiv Ramdas on Twitter where he’s @nameshiv

Read some of Shiv’s work:

Books referenced in this episode:

  • The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy by Douglas Adams
  • The Two Towers by J.R.R Tolkien
  • The Golem’s Eye by Jonathan Stroud


Introducing Arcx, a Podcast About Literary Inspiration

What makes you want to tell a story? Every writer has at some point been asked about their inspiration. Was it something that they witnessed? A story they’d heard long ago? Or perhaps a glimpse at another carefully created world? That’s what Arcx is all about—delving into new worlds, looking at old ones with fresh eyes, and tracing inspiration from conception to the words that sprawl across pages.