Dr. Munish Batra is a distinguished surgeon who has been featured in People, The Los Angeles Times, and on The Oprah Winfrey Show for his philanthropic work. He was galvanized to write Animal by the animal abuse atrocities he witnessed while volunteering his medical services around the world.
Keith R.A. DeCandido is an award-winning, best-selling author of more than 50 novels, who has worked with major brands such as Alien, Star Trek, and Spiderman, to name a few. Together, Batra and DeCandido wrote Animal to make people question whether noble intentions, such as protecting the innocent, can ever be used to justify horrific acts…
During the pandemic there has been an increase in pet adoptions; however, there has also been an increase in animal abuse. A portion of the proceeds from Animal will go to the San Diego Humane Society among a number of other animal funds and sanctuaries, to help animals who have been abused or abandoned.
In this post, Batra and DeCandido explain how they came to co-write their novel, why it's important to them that the readers experience outrage while reading, and more!
Name: Munish K. Batra, M.D., FACS and Keith R.A. DeCandido
Publisher: Word Fire Press
Release date: January 4, 2021
Elevator pitch for the book: For twenty years, a serial killer has been travelling the globe, murdering people who harm animals. Now, an Interpol agent and two detectives are finally closing in on him—but who is the real animal, the killer or his victims?
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What prompted you to write this book?
A confluence of reasons led me to write Animal. One important factor was my son Ayaan’s inquisitive nature about animals, especially when he heard about the extinction of certain species on this planet. He is seven years old and had some very deep philosophical questions, which were difficult for me to answer. Also, while on a trip to China, which was one of the places I was considering doing humanitarian work, a chance walk through a back street market place left an indelible imprint on me. I saw hanging carcasses of dogs and cats, and this led me to truly realize the brutality of humans against these sentient beings. This is the same brutality that has been inflicted on the killer whales at SeaWorld and elephants who are poached, and it continues every day. This senseless brutality seems endless and is one of the main inspirations behind Animal.
How long did it take to go from idea to publication?
The idea for Animal was in the making for about seven years. Initially, I had put together more of a movie storyline, and it wasn’t until I met Keith and had a chance to work with him that the novel came to fruition. Keith has been an amazing collaborator, and together, I really think we have created an amazing novel that I hope will shock readers and make them think twice before their next meal or the next time they plan to buy fur, etc.
Were there any surprises or learning moments in the publishing process for this title?
Animal was initially turned down by several publication houses because of the graphic nature of the story. There are many nonfiction elements in the book, including the torture inflicted on animals, as well as the way the killer exacts revenge on the perpetrators. I definitely used my training as a surgeon when coming up with the killer’s techniques. What was really key here was that neither Keith nor I wanted to tone down the graphic elements of the book because we both felt that the horrific nature of what happens—to both the animals and humans—had to be depicted vividly to really get the idea across.
Once the publisher at WordFire Press got a hold of Animal and told us that the storyline and writing had engrossed him to the point that he forgot he was supposed to be reading the novel to give editorial feedback, we realized that WordFire Press was the perfect fit for us.
Were there any surprises in the writing process for this book?
We knew intellectually how badly animals are treated all over the world, but the detailed research done to make the instances of animal cruelty in the novel accurate was sobering, to say the least. The sheer number of ways that animals are harmed is bad enough, but the reasons are often so incredibly shallow and pointless.
What do you hope readers will get out of your book?
We want readers to get a healthy mix of entertainment and outrage.
If you could share one piece of advice with other authors, what would it be?
Persevere. Finish what you start. Have a thick skin. Okay, that’s three pieces, but writing is an impossible way of life, and it’s distressingly free of guidelines, so one should give and listen to a lot of advice. But not all of it, that’s just silly.