It gives me immense pleasure to introduce my first author to be interviewed this year. I thank respected author – Sourabh Mukherjee and team Wordbite for choosing me (my blog) for promoting a neatly presented crime fiction from Srishti publishers.
Let’s find out what he has to share with us.
BNI: Tell us something about yourself and your background.
SM: An Electronics and Telecommunications Engineer from Jadavpur University, in my day job, I work in a senior leadership position in a leading global consulting firm. With several publications on emerging trends in business and technology, I have been a speaker in various national and global conferences and technology summits.
BNI: So, What all you have written / published till date?
SM: 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 one cover as Romance Shorts. My short stories in various genres were also published in international e-zines like Under the Bed and Romance. 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.
BNI: What inspired you to write this book?
SM: 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 usually end up naming foreign characters. 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?
BNI: How did you come up with the title?
SM: The story is essentially about the murders of a series of adulterous women in modern day Kolkata. Woven around this basic premise are stories of human relationships infested with lies, deceit and adultery in a fast changing, urban milieu, which almost live and breathe in the shadows of inevitable disaster.
BNI: Is there a message in your book/novel that you want readers to grasp?
SM: 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. I want my readers to see through the obvious elements of thrill and suspense in the story and realize the adverse impact of dysfunctional relationships on our society.
BNI: Do you hear from your readers much? What kinds of things do they say?
SM: I have a very active Facebook page (www.facebook.com/authorsourabhmukherjee) and there is a dedicated Facebook page for the book (www.facebook.com/intheshadowsofdeath) where I engage heavily with my readers. Readers and bloggers have responded overwhelmingly in a number of blogs, as well as in the book pages in Amazon and Goodreads. What I find very satisfying is that, most readers have loved the underlying stories of relationships, the tragedy at the core of the story, and the unpredictable workings of the human mind that the novel portrays.
BNI: When and how did you decide to become a writer? Do you write full-time or part-time?
SM: I am currently balancing two careers. And writing is a passion that actually allows me to unwind. Sometimes, stories have grown from thoughts I pen down at airport lounges or on long flights during my business travels. I believe if you are really passionate about something, you end up finding time for chasing your dreams.
BNI: Which writers inspire you?
SM: Jeffrey Archer is an all-time favourite. I think he is an institution when it comes to storytelling – whether it’s his novels or his short stories.
I have been a big fan of Agatha Christie – mainly because of Poirot’s methods of investigation, the witty repartees, the human emotions at the core of the crimes. The Byomkesh Bakshi stories by Saradindu Bandopadhyay have inspired my writing immensely.
Among more recent crime authors, I like the Alex Cross stories by James Patterson – not just for the thrills, but also for the underlying human emotions. I was floored by The Devotion of Suspect X and Malice by Keigo Higashino. I am also hooked to the works of Gillian Flynn.
BNI: What are your thoughts on book series? Would you like to have one for your latest book?
SM: I am currently working on the next Agni Mitra thriller ‘The Colours of Passion’ which would be released this year. Agni is my attempt at creating a contemporary, relatable pan-Indian detective and since he has been received very well in the first book, a series could definitely be on the cards.
BNI: Any advice for writers budding or established?
SM: It is important to create real, identifiable characters in a story – unless of course one is writing a fantasy or a superhero story. Correct use of the language is essential. An author should ensure that a story progresses at a uniform pace – a story that slows down after an energetic start is a big let down. Finally, it is not about the length but always about the impact of a story. I have read 1-page stories that have left me thinking for days.
BNI: What are your expectations for the book?
SM: We should finally have a pan-Indian character in Indian English fiction in Agni Mitra and with the response In the Shadows of Death has received so far from the national media, bloggers and readers in general, I feel that day is not too far.
BNI: Do you think book cover an important role in sales?
SM: Surely. Irrespective of what wise men suggest, we usually end up judging a book by its cover. We wanted a cover that should convey the spirit of the book. We wanted an impactful artwork that should have the right elements to create an air of mystery, without being too ‘busy’. We wanted a cover that was almost noir, and I am happy with the final result. I hope readers love it too.
BNI: ebook, pdf, mobi, kindle or printed hardcover book, what’s your pick?
SM: Being a very frequent business traveller and a voracious reader, I do see the benefit of digitizing your library and carrying it along, but then, I do love the smell of books – old and new. And I have now come to terms with the contradiction. So, you would find both in my collection.