A month back I got "Shadows of death" to read and to follow it with an interview with Sourabh Mukherjee. I missed on the review of this awesome crime thriller ( will share soon) , here is the interview meanwhile-
What was the moment / incident that triggered the passion for writing in you ?
I’ve been writing for as long as I can remember. I have never really written for a purpose – it is just something I love to do. In my early childhood, I would spend hours writing, as well as making illustrations for my own stories. A number of my poems were published in children’s magazines back in the day. I continued to write through my teenage and later in college.
I kept writing in office magazines for a couple of years, but the demands of my career as an Information Technology professional and my travels across the world soon left me with very little time and creative energy to write fiction. I started churning out technical whitepapers and non-fictional articles that got published in business and technology journals of repute.
However, as I travelled across the world, I grew as a person getting to observe people from widely varying cultural backgrounds and to study their emotions, their thoughts, their behaviour from various perspectives. And stories began to grow all over again.
I started my fiction writing career with the popular e-books Nargis Through my Summers and Loves Lost. Nargis Through my Summers and Loves Lost were released in paperback as Romance Shorts. Romance Shorts is currently available for purchase in the US, Canada and UK. The Indian edition will be released this month.
My short stories in various genres were also published in international e-zines like Under the Bed, Fiction and Romance from FictionMagazine.com. I won the Golden Pen Award in the Monsoon Romance Contest organized by Sulekha.com in 2014, which came as a huge motivation.
And then, In the Shadows of Death was published in mid December 2015 by Srishti Publishers.
Wow. That is quite a list. What helped you more : your creativity or your practice at writing ?
I would say, both.
Honestly, I do not follow a fixed routine when it comes to my writing.
I create a basic structure and chapter outlines and then I start writing the chapters with the basic premise in sight. And I let go, letting the sights and the sounds in my mind take over. It is, therefore, extremely important for me to be in the ‘appropriate’ frame of mind to write. I need to be in those situations myself. Therefore when I am writing a story, there are days when I am not in the ‘appropriate’ mood that the work demands, and I do not write a word.
What I always hear from my readers is that they can visualize the scenes, and relate to the characters. And now you know why.
Why crime thriller for a debut novel ?
Being an avid reader of crime fiction myself, I have always harboured an ambition to make my own humble contribution to this genre. The story, of course, had its germs in my own interests in human psychology and in the complexities of human relationships, especially in these times of changing social order.
Also, it does not make me too happy to note that, whenever we speak of popular detectives in English fiction, we end up naming characters created by foreign authors. With so much of quality fiction being written in India in the English language, where is that one pan-Indian character that is a brand by her or his own right and has instant recall? So, I asked myself, why not make a humble effort to create one in ACP Agni Mitra?
Do you think that the trend for romance books has declined in the last few years ?
I do not think so. Indian English writing is still primarily about Romance, with a handful of exceptions like Ashwin Sanghi, Ravi Subramanian and Amish, who are exploring alternate genres successfully.
We still have a situation where readers in India go to James Patterson, Gillian Flynn and Keigo Higashino when they want to read quality crime fiction.
Quite True. Hope authors like you change that. What is the kind of story that you would never write or want to be associated with your name ?
I cannot think of any such genre.
If you look at my body of work, I have written a number of romantic stories in my e-books Nargis Through my Summers and Loves Lost, available in paperback as Romance Shorts. My short stories published in e-zines are in genres like Horror, Drama, and Tragedy.
The way I look at this is, I write only about human relationships. The many ways in which they unravel and manifest themselves end up creating stories that sometimes excite us, scare us, or make us sad - leading to corresponding categorization of the stories into genres like Romance, Horror, Drama or Thriller. But, it's always the complicated and unpredictable human nature at the core of everything.
When I look at the feedback I have received so far for In the Shadows of Death, a large number of readers have been touched by the underlying element of tragedy in the story. My novel is primarily about our inner devils destroying relationships we value.
When you were creating the character for this book , did you improvise based on the plot or was it vice versa ?
The characters drive the story.
When I look at my city today, I see a Kolkata in the cusp of change. Contemporary Kolkatans are from a generation that is ambitious and ready to embrace 'the good life'. It is a generation which has seen its parents struggle, yet has barely gone through that struggle itself. And for many, there is a singular focus on fulfilling their own desires and ambitions at any cost. In the process, Kolkata today is experiencing a significant change in its societal structure and core ethics of its people. This has been a key motivation behind my story.
As for the central characters, the investigating officer, ACP Agni Mitra comes across as an emotional human being dealing with his own personal crisis and not as an infallible, larger-than-life law enforcement machinery, as the protagonists are often depicted in stories of this genre. The character of the serial-killer has several layers and a parallel track throughout the novel in the form of the voice of the killer provides insights into the dark recesses of his mind. The novel creates situations where the paths of the investigating officer and the serial killer cross – not only as a consequence of the murder investigation, but also at an emotional level.
Are we going to see more of Agni Mitra in coming years ?
I am currently working on the next Agni Mitra thriller 'The Colours of Passion' which would be released this year.
And I would definitely wait for that ..