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Ahona Das

~ON A CHAT SESSION WITH SOURABH MUKHERJEE, THE AUTHOR OF 'IN THE SHADOWS OF DEATH'~

Ahona Das Book reviewer and editor

⁠⁠⁠1. The lead character , that is, the detective from your novel, has got an interesting name. How did you chalk out the name?? 


Let’s just say we have a ‘fire’brand detective in Agni Mitra.


2. How difficult was it to plan the perfect crime? 


As they say, there is a killer lurking inside each one of us. When penning crime fiction, one needs to reach out to one’s cunning, scheming, wicked self. This becomes especially true when one is writing a psychological thriller.
‘In The Shadows of Death‘ deals with homicide investigation and coming from an entirely different professional background, I had to do a fair amount of research into areas like forensics, autopsy procedures, DNA studies, cyber forensics and so on. Technology plays a crucial role in detection procedures these days. Add to that, the fact that readers today are exposed to more sophisticated methods of investigation because of their exposure to the internet, crime serials on foreign-origin channels, and international bestsellers.
My research, of course, was supplemented by my own studies on criminal psychology, which is a subject of personal interest.


3. I hear, you are an avid reader. Tell us more about your reading habits.


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.


4. Has blogging enhanced your writing skills?


Regular blogging is certainly a great way to ensure you write something every day, which is extremely important. Unfortunately, I have not been a very disciplined blogger. 


5. What inspired you to write down your first nonfiction?


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 like Anandamela and Shuktara 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.


6. Share with us, something interesting about yourself. 


What I find interesting about myself is my ability to chase my dreams under all circumstances. While I have had this extremely blessed journey from being a state topper in West Bengal Higher Secondary Council Examinations to being among the toppers in the Electronics and Telecommunications Engineering department in Jadavpur University to finally becoming one of the youngest Vice Presidents in Accenture and now, an Associate Partner of the firm in IBM, I have managed to remain loyal to my passions and have sung on stage, anchored programs, spoken in national and international conferences and carved out a full-fledged writing career.


7. What were your 1-2 biggest learning experience(s) or surprise(s) throughout the writing-publishing process?


What I cherish about the whole process of producing a book is the collaboration among all the involved parties. Writing, by itself, can be a lonely and private process. An author spends days and nights pouring his / her heart out on paper, sharing dreams, fantasies, opinion and his / her view of the world and the society. And then, one fine day, that dream becomes a shared dream. You have an editor who comes in with his / her views. A cover designer creates wonderful layouts that echo your dreams. The marketing team starts working on how best the key themes and messages of your work are conveyed to the world. I find this socialization of an author’s vision extremely fascinating.
The other overwhelming aspect of my journey was the very warm welcome this book was accorded. The book was launched by noted poet and educationist Sahitya Academy Award winner Dr. Subodh Sarkar in Kolkata, who had highly motivating words of praise for the book. 
Within months of its release, the book found shelf space in leading chains like Starmark and Crosswords along with global bestsellers. Esteemed reviewers from mainstream dailies like The Hindu (twice, in fact), The Times of India, The Hindustan Times, The New Indian Express, Business Standard, The Free Press Journal, Absolute India, Zee News, Tahalka News, Yahoo India News, Punjab Tribune etc. profiled my book (http://mukherjeesourabh.blogspot.in/…/what-does-indian-medi…)
The blogger community had great things to say about the book. The reader response has been overwhelming with extremely gratifying reviews on sites like Amazon, Flipkart.


8. Show us a glimpse of your daily life.


I spend a lot of time in my day job in meetings with my clients, business associates and globally distributed teams starting early in the day and stretching till late. In between, I write, blog, or catch up with my friends on social media. I make sure I read everyday, and I relax on my way to work and back by listening to music. 
It is 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 story demands, and I do not write a word.


9. Would you share the most memorable incident of your life with us?


Holding my son in my arms for the first time was a memorable moment.


10. What is your favorite poem? Share a few of your favorite lines from it.


This will probably sound clichéd (and the cliché comes from the fact that, these lines are so relevant for all of us). My favourite lines are from Robert Frost:
The woods are lovely,
dark and deep,
But I have promises to keep,
and miles to go before I sleep.


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