Wednesday, July 15, 2015

Behind the Book: Uday Satpathy


Today at Behind the Book we have a relatively new author Uday Satpathy whose first book Brutal is about to release soon. Coming from Bloody Good Book Brutal promises to be an edge of the seat thriller.

The author , Uday Satpathy is an Information Technology expert in the world of Healthcare and Life Sciences. He has a degree in electrical engineering and an MBA from one of the top B-schools of the country. Brutal, his first novel, was born out of his love for thrillers with intricate plots. He is a movie connoisseur, a cricket fanatic, a quizzing enthusiast and a travel freak. As if that was not enough, he has a special place in his heart for cooking as well.  You can reach him at Facebook | Twitter.

Let's hear him bare his heart.

1. Firstly a warm welcome and hearty congratulations for your debut book Brutal. A murder mystery besieging with suspense and thrill, how was Brutal born?

I am a thriller freak and have been a close follower of this genre since my childhood, beginning with the Hardy boys and Nancy Drew series. With time I picked up more mature writing – religious thrillers, political thrillers, military thrillers, sci-fi novels and even horror. After years of absorbing the craft and concocting my own stories in my mind, I decided to take a leap into the other side. Thus, Brutal was born.

2. How does it feel to have your debut novel released? Lessons that you might have learnt in this journey, which you might want to share with us?

I am going through a weird set of emotions – excited as well as a bit tense. Finding someone else reading and enjoying my work will be one of the most precious memories of my life, so I guess these things come with their own birth pangs.

Talking about the lessons from my publishing journey, well, there are many. The most important thing I learnt is to be less possessive about my work and be ready to improve my manuscript, however tedious it might be. I have also learnt a thing or two about being positive and patient. If the work is good, it will succeed eventually.

3. Any experiences you would like to share about becoming a published author?

I had sent my manuscript to most of the Indian publishers who had a good list of thriller titles in their camp. Unfortunately, I didn’t get any response from them even after months. I began to wonder if there was any serious problem with my story, and whether I had it in me to write a book. This was a low period for me in which my wife and my close friends supported me a lot. I got out of this phase by deciding to look at my work through a fresh set of eyes.

So, I took a complete break from anything related to writing. I spent my time pursuing other hobbies and even read a few thrillers in the meantime. Two months later, when my manuscript again went through a dress-rehearsal, a lot of things changed. It became leaner, meaner and faster. This time I decided to showcase my novel on BloodyGoodBook, a new avenue for writers like me. In a few months, Brutal ended up as the highest rated book on the website. The rest is history.

4. When did writing happen to you?

I have been more of a reader than a writer throughout my life. During my childhood, I had written a couple of SciFi short stories but they were laughably amateurish. Perhaps the first realization which struck me was that I could create stories. I was more of a story formulator than a storyteller. I would think of interesting plots, yet never put them on the paper. It would all be in my mind. Things, however, took a different turn for Brutal. The story was as usual running in my mind for a few months, without coming out in form of words. One day while driving to my office, I struck a brilliant plot twist, which made me desperate to put my thoughts in writing. That was the beginning of my dedicated attempted at writing.
5. It is said that most of the times; a debut work of any author has traces from his/ her personal life in it. How true is it in your case?

I am the wrong person to ask this :). Only someone who knows me closely and has read my book as well can answer it. Personally, I have tried to make my characters more interesting than me.

6. What is your writing ritual like? Any quirk that you would want to share with us?

I create a high level plot of the story I am going to tell. This process takes months and takes a lot of research. I don’t feel confident about starting a story if I haven’t read multiple books and articles on the topics contained in my book. What follows is a race from one plot milestone to another. Some people complete their books in one go and then begin editing. However, for me writing and editing go hand-in-hand. In fact, there would be days when all I did was editing, even when the end of my book was nowhere in sight.

7. What or who was the inspiration behind the Brutal?

I follow global politics and conspiracy theories a lot. Brutal takes a left out of one of such stories which never came into the light.

8. Name a writer you idolize, someone whose footsteps you would want to follow as an author.

I have followed different authors through different phases of my life. But, to name a few, I admire the way Robert Ludlum, Dan Brown and Steig Larsson weave their plots.

9. Do you suffer from writer’s block? If yes, how do you deal with it?

I usually take a break. There is no point in writing against my own will. I would read other thrillers and watch movies in the meantime. My dreams would continue, however, trying to look at my story from a different vantage point. Sometimes it takes a few days and sometimes a few weeks, but ultimately the unproductive phase passes over.

10. A particular favorite character from Brutal, and why?

Mrinal Dutta is my favorite character in Brutal. He is funny, yet highly resourceful and intelligent.

11. What’s in store ahead?

I am currently writing a political thriller which will again begin as a murder mystery.

12. Any message for your readers/ followers.

In the age of Facebook and Whatsapp, take out some time for reading the books you like. The experience will stay with you longer than the status updates do.

13. Some words of inspiration for aspiring writers.

Keep improving your work, always. Find people who are keen followers of your genre and have them critique your work. Their evaluation might sting, but it would go a long way in making your work better.

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~About the book ~
Launching on 5th August 2015, Brutal by Uday Satpathy is a suspense thriller. It's blurb reads:

"You are in real, real danger." - A school teacher gets a creepy warning in his mailbox. Seven days later, he murders eleven of his students. Two months later, he is gunned down in broad daylight by an obscure militant outfit. Justice served. The nation pacified. Case closed.

But not for two crime reporters. Seeking redemption through this case are Prakash and Seema, ace journalists but broken individuals. As they follow the story, they are led to the ominous wilds of Bandhavgarh where an eerily similar massacre had occurred eight years ago. Little do they know that they have stirred up a hornet's nest.

One by one their leads start turning up in body bags and they are chased by assassins at every corner. Soon they realize that they are pitted against evil powers pervading the business and political DNA of the country, with an unbelievably sinister agenda. People who are about to let Prakash and Seema know how brutal they can be.


~An Excerpt ~

Prakash was panting with thirst and exhaustion when he reached the fifth floor. He speculated whether taking this mortal risk of climbing the stairs would lead to any positive results. He had come to visit Vidya Tomar, Nitin’s ex-wife. It was an unplanned visit. He located Flat No. 508 and studied the nameplate. Ms. Vidya Narayan. No ‘Tomar’ in her surname. Interesting.

He pressed the calling bell and looked around. Her building had a clear view of the traffic on Vivekananda Marg.

The door was opened by a stern looking lady in a nightie. She was shorter than him and had a face that might have been beautiful once. Today, it looked like a deserted garden, as if all life had gone out of it. He placed her in her early thirties.

“Are you from the media?” she asked in a strict tone.

Prakash was ready with a well-rehearsed answer. “No madam. I am a psychologist.”

She frowned; looking undecided whether to shut the door on his face or not.

This was the moment he was looking to pounce on. “After the unfortunate event related to your husband… sorry ex-husband, the government is exploring options to set-up a counselling wing for teachers,” he said, trying to sound compassionate. “You know, quite a substantial amount of children’s lives are impacted by their teachers. So, there is a need for such an institution to ensure that teachers impart only quality education to the children. They should not use the classrooms to vent out their personal anger”.

Will she be able to catch my bluff, he wondered. Reporters would have hounded her since the day her husband committed those murders. He ran the risk of being thrown off the fifth floor if he said he was from the media. That’s why he had decided to use this ‘innovative’ hook of a psychologist.

She remained silent. Pondering over this new intervention in her life.

Please. Please. Please. Please. These were the only words running in Prakash’s mind.

“What do you want?” she replied after the hiatus, opening her door a bit wider to let him in.

She did not ask for any identity card. Thank God.

Just a few questions,” Prakash said as he got in. “I can understand what you must be going through. I am sorry for that.”

He sat on the sofa. The living room looked ornate for a teacher’s wife. She must have a good job.

He looked at her, expecting her to ask if he needed some water. But her blank face showed no such intention. Ask your questions and fuck off! That’s what she wants.

Was your ex-husband suffering from any mental or psychological disorder?” Prakash began.

“He was pretty depressed with his life. His bigger ambitions had come to naught, in his opinion. The fact that I had a better paying job had hurt his male ego. He wanted to be the sole bread winner in our house.

“Was that the reason for your divorce?” Prakash asked, and then added a few words of caution, “I am sorry if I am being personal.”

“No. That’s OK. I am used to these questions now,” she replied. “Actually, we had a lot of fights over the same issues for the last one and half years. Six months ago, I decided enough was enough.”

“Did he ever harm you or your daughter physically in any manner?”

No. Rinku was his life. He would never hit her.”

“What about you? Did he ever raise a hand on you?”

No,” she replied with a faint irritation in her voice.

Tread carefully boy!

“From whatever happened in your house in these one and a half years, did you ever get any hint that Nitin was about to be so violent?”

“Never.” She had tears in her eyes. “In fact, he had started to cope up with his life after our divorce. He had even taken Rinku for a ride on his scooty once. Both of them looked so happy.”

This was how many days before the Geetanjali school massacre?”

“A week ago.”

Prakash was surprised. If Nitin was happy and positive just one week before the murders, how did he turn into a monster on that fateful day?

“You did not find anything unnatural about his behaviour when he took your daughter out, did you?

No. He looked like the old Nitin I had married.” Tears started flowing from her eyes.

“Was he seeing a doctor? Any psychiatrist?”

No. I had advised him once and that had led to a big argument between us.

So, Vidyaji, how did Nitin become such a cold-blooded murderer?”

I have no idea.” She started sobbing. “I never knew I had married such a monster.”

I am so sorry,” Prakash said, consoling her. This meeting was going nowhere. He had expected to find some negative traits like violent anger and rage in Nitin’s history. To his surprise, there was no such thing. It was as if Nitin had suddenly become a wild animal on the 3rd of March. What the hell happened to Nitin on that day?

He tried to think of any other question to ask, but none came to his mind.

OK, madam. Thanks a lot for your help. Our intention is only to find out patterns in behaviour through which we can identify in advance, teachers who need our help and counselling. Before it goes too far.

“I can understand.

“If there is anything else which you think can help us in our research, it would be of great help,” Prakash said, while standing up and walking towards the door.

I cannot think of anything as of now.

He shrugged. “Thank you then, Vidyaji.”

He took a few steps towards the staircase and then stopped mid stride. Did I hear an ‘excuse me’? He turned around. She was calling him. He rushed again to the door like an excited puppy.

P.S: A review on Brutal, coming up soon! Stay tuned to this space.

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