• Monday, June 24, 2024

Interview with Sourabh Mukherjee, Author of “The Highway Murders” & More

Discover the captivating world of Indian crime fiction with author Sourabh Mukherjee. Explore intricate plots, compelling characters, and thrilling mysteries.
on May 16, 2024
Interview with Sourabh Mukherjee, Author of “The Highway Murders” & More | Frontlist

Mid-Day calls Sourabh Mukherjee 'one of the front-runners in Indian crime fiction' and The Asian Age calls him 'one of the most popular writers of Indian crime fiction'. India Today has honoured him as one of the 'ten celebrated role models of 2022' and Outlook calls him one of the 'top ten personalities to look upon if you are looking for inspiration'.

His books have featured in bestseller lists in bookstores and online stores. His books are in consideration for screen adaptations. Sourabh has been honoured with several awards. He received the Golden Pen Award in the Sulekha Monsoon Romance Contest (2014), long-listed in WordToScreen - Mumbai International Film Festival (2018), Juggernaut Selects Award (2019), Literoma Hall of Fame in The Literoma International Symposium on Literature and Festival (2020), The Man of Excellence Award from Indian Achievers' Forum (2021). He is invited regularly to book fairs and literary events across the country. His books have received accolades from readers, book critics and the mainstream national media.

An Electronics and Telecommunications Engineer from Jadavpur University, Kolkata, in his day-job, Sourabh works in a senior leadership position in a technology multi-national. Author of several publications on emerging trends in business and technology, Sourabh speaks regularly in various national and global conferences and technology summits. He sits in the Academic Councils of a number of reputed Engineering and Technology institutions in India.

Frontlist: Your novels are lauded for their intricately woven plots and captivating suspense. What draws you to the thriller genre, and how do you strive to bring originality and freshness to each story you craft?

Sourabh: I believe we all grow up on crime fiction. There are stories of betrayal and revenge in our mythology. The comic books we read as children are essentially thrillers. Tintin, Phantom, Mandrake, Superman, Spiderman, Batman – they are all thrillers. The books most of us read in our childhood are of the same genre – The Secret Seven, The Famous Five, Nancy Drew, Hardy Boys, and The Three Investigators. And then, you read Agatha Christie and Conan Doyle when you are slightly older. I was no exception. I also read a lot of Bengali crime fiction when I was growing up – Feluda and Byomkesh Bakshi, for instance. Even now, my favorite authors in the genre include Jo Nesbo, Anthony Horowitz, Gillian Flynn, Paula Hawkins, Alex Michaelides, Robert Galbraith (JK Rowling) and, of course, Keigo Higashino. So, I have always been attracted to thrillers.

I make a conscious effort to make my stories relatable and the themes relevant. For instance, in my novels, I have talked about wide-ranging unconventional topics like the sexual harassment of the male child at home and of men at the workplace, the social ostracization of homosexuals, corporate espionage, the politicization of the entertainment industry, sexual exploitation of students in educational institutions, and malpractices in the publishing industry.

FrontlistThe characters in your thrillers often face moral dilemmas and navigate through complex ethical landscapes. How do you approach character development in your novels, particularly when creating morally ambiguous protagonists or antagonists?

Sourabh: I believe it is extremely important to create relatable and convincing characters. For example, it is always my endeavor to design the character arcs of my antagonists in such a way that the reader should feel that, had I been in the shoes of that person and gone through the same experiences, I might as well have behaved in a similar manner, however heinous it might appear to be – because we are only 'human'. That is the keyword – I make my characters human. They are fallible. They can be weak and vulnerable. Even in the Detective Agni Mitra series, the investigator is not a larger-than-life law-enforcing machinery. He is just another policeman with his insecurities, battling his inner demons. That, I believe, resonates strongly with readers.

FrontlistYour background in engineering and technology undoubtedly provides a unique lens through which you view the world. How does your expertise influence the technological elements and forensic details in your thrillers, and how do you ensure they remain accessible to readers without sacrificing authenticity?

Sourabh: My education and professional experience in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Mathematics) allows me to think in a structured manner, which helps in crafting the narrative. My analytical thinking helps deductions. 'Authenticity' is extremely important, especially for the modern reader, who is exposed to global content across different media – literature and the audio-visual medium. The modern reader is smart, well-informed, and knowledgeable about cutting-edge technologies and their applications in investigation procedures. Therefore, as a writer, one needs to keep oneself abreast of technical advancements in these areas.

FrontlistIn "The Highway Murders" and "The Trail of Blood," you delve into the darkest corners of human psychology and society. Can you share insights into your research process for delving into such intense themes, and how do you strike a balance between realism and entertainment in your storytelling?

Sourabh: A lot of this comes from my interest in Psychology. Even in everyday life, I always try to figure out why we do what we do. The motivations behind our actions are in the darkest recesses of our minds, and we are often reluctant to bring them to light. 

As an author, I try to explore those uncharted territories. For instance, in 'In the Shadows of Death,' parallel to the narrative about the investigation, I created a thread where the antagonist speaks to the reader in the first person, explaining his actions and motivations. I followed the same technique in 'The Trail of Blood'. Readers like this narrative style, as it makes characters layered and does not come across as one-dimensional. 

While writing non-fiction like 'The Highway Murders' and 'Death Served Cold', the challenge is to make the stories entertaining while staying true to reality. The story should not read like a bland aggregation of facts. For instance, while writing 'The Highway Murders', in addition to the research that I did on the facts of the case, I also read several books on the psychological analysis of the way serial killers think and function and then crafted the character of Psycho Shankar by infusing those elements.

Frontlist: As a prolific author in the thriller genre, what do you believe sets your novels apart from others in the genre, and what message or experience do you hope readers take away from your stories?

Sourabh: I would like to believe that I have dealt with unconventional topics in my stories. There is a social context in each of my stories. Most importantly, all my stories – thrillers as well as those in other genres – are about human relationships. Interpersonal dynamics are often complex, convoluted and unpredictable and drive us to do the unthinkable. I strive to bring such issues to the surface, provoke my readers and, make them think, and initiate conversations. I believe it is my responsibility as an author, no less important than the need to entertain.

Post a comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

0 comments

    Sorry! No comment found for this post.