An Electronics and Telecommunications Engineer from Jadavpur University. Sourabh Mukherjee currently works at a senior level of a MNC firm. He is an Author of several publications on emerging trends in business and technology, Sourabh has been a speaker in various national and global conferences and technology summits.
Sourabh has a flair for writing and traverses between the worlds of technology and literature with ease. He is the author of the e-books Nargis Through my Summers and Loves Lost. His e-books are now available in print in one volume – Romance Shorts, which is a collection of four unconventional romantic short stories. He has also been published in e-zines Under the Bed (in the ‘horror’ genre – Sep 2015) and Romance (in the ‘romance’ genre – Oct 2015).
A recipient of the Golden Pen Award in the Monsoon Romance Contest 2014 for his story , “The Girl of My Monsoons” organized by Sulekha.com and judged by an eminent panel. Sourabh has also been featured in Flokka’s list of 30 all-time great quotes on soul-mates. A keen observer of human behaviour and cultural diversities, Sourabh loves travelling and has travelled across USA and various countries in Europe and Asia. An avid reader of fiction, Sourabh is equally passionate about photography movies and music.
Sourabh is now ready with a gripping page-turner, In the Shadows of Death. A psychological thriller, set in the city of Kolkata, In the Shadows of Death is a whodunit with a heart-rending emotional core.
What inspired you to start writing?
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 churned 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.
Also, writing began to evolve into a cathartic experience for me. It began to help me give vent to my emotions and to create stories out of them in the process.
When I started writing fiction again, the response from readers was encouraging.
My first novella Nargis Through my Summers was published on Amazon Kindle in April 2014 and opened to 4-star reviews in Amazon and Goodreads. It continues to be popular with readers of short fiction even to this day. I followed it up with Loves Lost, a collection of short stories, again for the Kindle platform, and it quickly found a large number of admirers. I then released the e-books in print in one volume as Romance Shorts. In the meantime, a couple of my short stories were picked up by FictionMagazine.com, the popular American e-zine network, and the stories got published in two of their e-zines in the romance and horror genres.
However, my most coveted break as an author came when my first novel In the Shadows of Death, a dark psychological thriller, was picked up by Srishti for release in December 2015.
What did you like to read when you were a boy?
Mostly detective fiction – Sherlock Holmes, Miss Marple, Agatha Christie. Also, being from Bengal, I read the adventures of Feluda, the detective stories by Satyajit Ray.
What is the greatest challenge in writing a book?
Today authors as a community are competing against applications like Facebook, Twitter and Whatsapp, which are grabbing the largest share of the attention span of today’s generation. So, we are being continually challenged to create content that is relevant, inspiring and interesting to people.
The need of the hour is to tell stories that people can relate to, and build characters that they can identify with, being mindful all the time of the limited attention span the book potentially has at its disposal.
How much research do you do before writing the book?
The amount of research one needs to do before writing a book depends largely on the subject.
Let us take my latest novel as an example. ‘In The Shadows of Death‘ deals with homicide investigation and coming from an entirely different professional background, I did a fair amount of research into areas like forensics, autopsy procedures, DNA studies, cyber forensics and so on.
These, of course, were supplemented by my own studies on criminal psychology, which is a subject of personal interest.
What motivated you to write the book “In The Shadows of Death”?
The way I look at this is, I write 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 as a thriller or a horror or a romance or a tragedy. But, it’s always the complicated and unpredictable human nature at the core of everything.
In the garb of a thriller, In The Shadows of Death deals with issues like our inner devils destroying relationships we value, it looks at a city in the cusp of change and a generation struggling to come to terms with fast-changing ambitions and desires.
Can you tell us more about your latest book “In The Shadows of Death”?
In The Shadows of Death is a fast paced psychological thriller unfolding in the city of Kolkata, with Agni Mitra, Assistant Commissioner of Police, investigating into a series of murders of adulterous women, even as he has to battle storms brewing in his personal life. The voice of the serial murderer, whose identity is undisclosed till the climax of the story, runs in a parallel track across the novel providing the reader with insights into the killer’s traits, his actions, and his emotions.
Under the garb of its obvious elements of thrill and suspense, In The Shadows of Death has a strong emotional and romantic undercurrent.
The detective is not portrayed as an infallible law enforcement machinery. He is a human being dealing with personal crises. The character of the serial-killer, on the other hand, is not uni-dimensional either, and a parallel track throughout the novel in the voice of the killer provides insights into the dark recesses of the killer’s mind. The novel creates situations where their paths cross – not only as a consequence of the murder investigation, but also at an emotional level.
The characters are likely to stay with the reader long after the last page of the book has been turned.
The story is set in the city of Kolkata and the co-existence of the contemporary and the traditional, that characterises the city, provides an interesting backdrop to the novel. The city has not been explored enough in most of contemporary Indian fiction and that is also a unique feature of the book.
How did you come up with the idea of writing crime thriller fiction genre book?
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 Sherlock Holmes, Hercules Poirot, Father Brown, or still later Alex Cross, and more recently, Cormoran Strike. 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?
Who are your favourite authors?
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.
And then I have favourites by genres.
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; and the laidback rural settings on the surface with undercurrents of malice and conspiracy in the Miss Marple stories. 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 loved Stieg Larsson’s works. I was floored by The Devotion of Suspect X and Malice by Keigo Higashino. I love the Cormoran Strike books by Rowling more because of her superior writing style and the characterization of Strike. I am hooked to the works of Gillian Flynn. It is not just the element of unpredictability in her stories, but the way she builds her characters in a slow boil and walks the reader down the dark corridors of the twisted human mind is what makes her work so addictive.
I absolutely adore Koji Suzuki’s books. I wish I could read his works in Japanese.
In the Romance genre, I have gone back again and again to Eric Segal’s works. I have Nicholas Sparks and John Green in my shelves and am very eager to read them.
Over the last couple of years, I have discovered Haruki Murakami and Gabriel Garcia Marquez – albeit in English translations of their works. And what a revelation! More reasons why I regret my linguistic limitations.
How much time do you dedicate to writing on a daily basis?
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.
What words of wisdom would you like to give to aspiring writers?
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.
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