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The ghost writer

PREETI ZACHARIAH
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Chat Suzanne Sangi’s latest book manages to blend her fascination for both social networking and the paranormal

Virtual realitySuzanne on the duality of social networkingPhoto: N. Amit
Virtual realitySuzanne on the duality of social networkingPhoto: N. Amit

She is young, sweet and only 17. Yet it is not dance that she has mastery over but words. Suzanne Sangi has just released her debut novel titled Facebook Phantom (Duckbill, Rs. 199) a story of a young girl’s brush with the paranormal in the virtual arena of social networking.

“I’ve always had a very strong love for the paranormal,” admits this effervescent young woman, a student of the arts at Mount Carmel College, Bangalore adding that she is a voracious reader with a penchant for Greek mythology and fantasy fiction such as the Harry Potter, Twilight and The Chronicles of Narnia series.

“I actually prefer this to books that focus on reality,” she says with a laugh.

Talking about her book she says, “The protagonist, Sonali, meets a stranger on Facebook who sends strange messages. Over time, she gets obsessed and possessed by this stranger and begins to fall in love with him. Yet there is something very strange about this person—although she constantly tells her best friends about him they cannot find him on Facebook. Many unnatural things begin to happen—she starts getting very strange dreams, she begins avoiding her friends and loses touch with reality completely.”

How Sonali manages to extricate herself from his clutches with the help of her friend Neel, who she ultimately falls in love with, forms the crux of this novel.

“My story came from several instances that collectively inspired me,” she says. “One was a friend in high school whose entire family, from her seven-year-brother to her 65-year-old grandmother, were on Facebook. The second was when a stranger created a profile of my sister, pretending to be her, which was very strange and frightening. It made me realize that though Facebook is such a big part of our lives, it also exposes us as individuals because we share so much on Facebook.”

Suzanne started writing her book at 15 after her tenth board examinations. She admits that though she only had a rough plot in mind, she went with the flow and the story took concrete shape once she started penning it down. She admits, though, that that her schedule was rather erratic, “I wasn’t too consistent—there were days where I finished two chapters in one day and others where I could barely write. There were even days when I thought I should scrap everything and start anew.” Yet what helped was her family, especially her two siblings who read and critiqued every chapter she wrote.

In addition to writing, Suzanne also loves music, “all genres except house,” and is part of her college rock band, “I am the bass guitarist there,” she says. She also loves good food, “It makes me happy,” she grins.

On future plans she giggles and remarks, “I keep changing my mind. As of now I want to be a clinical psychologist.” Yet what doesn’t change is her need to write, “Writing always has and will always be a big part of my life,” she says.

PREETI ZACHARIAH

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