Interview with Khayaal Patel, Author of “The Zamindar's Ghost”Explore Khayaal Patel,'s exclusive interview on Frontlist, where he shares insights about his fantasy book "The Zamindar's Ghost".
on Sep 12, 2023
Frontlist: What inspired you to write "The Zamindar's Ghost," and how did you develop the idea for this particular story?
Khayaal: I've always found the concept of genre mashups intriguing. Adding a paranormal aspect to the classic whodunit within the Indian context struck me as a refreshing approach. This blending has been attempted several times, yielding varying degrees of success, and I wanted to try it myself.
Though an eerie ambiance prevails throughout the novel, causing readers to question the authenticity of The Zamindar's Ghost, at its core, it remains a mystery. The story places significant emphasis on the natural elements, prioritizing them over the more extraordinary aspects of the supernatural.
Frontlist: Your book is set in a historical context. How did you approach researching and recreating the time to bring authenticity to the narrative?
Khayaal: I usually immerse myself in the period's ambiance by watching documentaries and delving into literature about the lives and era of those individuals. For more intricate research, such as understanding how the police handled crimes during that time, I tend to venture down the rabbit hole, exploring both the vast resources of the internet (the "blue pill" of Google) and the comprehensive information on Wikipedia (the "red pill").
Frontlist: "The Zamindar's Ghost" blends historical fiction with supernatural elements. How did you manage to strike a balance between these two genres while maintaining a coherent narrative?
Khayaal: To be honest, it might sound a bit unusual, but I believe my inclination towards this style is partly influenced by watching a lot of Scooby-Doo during my younger years. The show expertly combined mystery with a touch of youthful horror, striking a near-perfect balance. Looking back, The Zamindar's Ghost could easily fit into the mold of a more mature episode of Scooby-Doo. I even took into account the presence of the inquisitive kids and a trusty dog in the story.
Frontlist: This book has fleshed-out characters that grow on you as you flip through the pages. Which character did you enjoy writing about the most in this book?
Khayaal: The central character, the titular Zamindar, was a delightful creation for me. In my imagination, he embodied all the nuanced shades reminiscent of Amrish Puri's roles, and every action he took—whether virtuous, malevolent, or unsightly—formed a rudimentary exploration of morality. While many of his actions might be labeled as heinous, they are rationalized within his own mind. These actions, to him, serve as mere tools toward achieving an ultimate goal. The intriguing aspect lies in whether he seeks redemption beyond the grave or if his motives are driven by something even more sinister.
Frontlist: Starting from releasing your first book in 2018, you have come a long way as an author. How has your writing journey been so far? In what ways have you grown as a result of it?
Khayaal: The world experienced a year and a half of shutdown, allowing me to write during those moments when the usual clamor of utensils in the balcony subsided. I managed to make progress with my writing during this period. The sequel to Tarikshir, titled "The Sons of Hanuman," has been uncertain for quite some time, making me uncertain about its eventual release, though I hold onto hope. I've also penned another project—an absolutely feminist reimagining of the Ramayan—which fills me with immense enthusiasm. Moreover, the early success of The Zamindar's Ghost has inspired me to embark on yet another project in a similar vein.
Frontlist: Lastly, what message would you like to give to someone who picked your book off the shelf before they began reading? And, what do you hope readers will take away after reading it?
Khayaal: Pat yourself on the back, whether you picked "The Zamindar's Ghost" or any other title; reading books is a dying art. The joys of reading and discovering a book can only truly be appreciated by the reader, so thank you for keeping that spark alive.
After reading it, though, I hope you feel it was a better decision than picking something to watch off the TV/ Smartphone/tablet/laptop/ watch(?), and for whatever amount of time, I managed to entertain and, to some extent, terrify you a little.