Being an avid reader since my very childhood, I started trying my hand on writing through the story writing contest during the Hindi fortnight annually celebrated and writing Hindi articles for the quarterly magazine published in my employer organization (M/s Nuclear Power Corporation of India Ltd.) in the new millennium. I wrote my first Hindi play -‘Dosti’ in 2003 which had the backdrop of the communal tension in Gujarat.
I left my job in 2007 and shifted from Rajasthan to New Delhi where my writing came to a halt. However my first Hindi play, i.e., ‘Dosti’ was taken by a theatre group functioning from Bhabha Atomic Research Centre at Tarapur (Maharashtra) whose leader was Mr. Deepak Srivastava. In 2008, I came to know from him that it was successfully staged. And then he urged me to write a play with the theme being the trouble in Mumbai and the rest of Maharashtra due to the politically motivated violence against the North Indians there. I spared time from my then private sector job (at M/s Jaiprakash Associates Ltd.) to write on that theme and the result was my second play – ‘Bhoomi-Putra’.
I wrote my next play on my own after reading in the newspapers about an incident in Mangalore in which some women were attacked in a pub by an outfit known as Sriram Sene. Taking the backdrop of the opposition of the Valentine’s Day in India, I wrote my third play – ‘Prem Aur Sanskriti’ whose complete idea was thought by me while walking on the ridge in Simla during my family trip there in May 2009. I tried to use those plays of mine by visiting the National School of Drama at Mandi House, New Delhi but was of no avail.
Soon thereafter, I changed my job again and joined Bharat Heavy Electricals Limited at Hyderabad. Soon after joining there, I read an article in a newspaper regarding the centenary of Mahatma Gandhi’s book – ‘Hind Swaraj’. It inspired me to write a play with the backdrop of Gandhian philosophy of life and the significance of moral character for a society as well as a nation. After writing two scenes of that play, my pen stuck as I was not able to move the storyline further. I left it as incomplete and started writing reviews and general blogs. In that endeavour, the medium of my writing also changed from Hindi to English. After sometime I came into contact with an extra-ordinary poetess and authoress, named as Geetashree Chatterjee who inspired me to complete that Hindi play. I taxed my mind and picked up the thread of the story of that play again to complete it this time. Thus my fourth play – ‘Chirag-e-Sehar’ came into existence.
Being fond of mysteries (books as well as movies), one day a thought struck my mind – ‘Can’t I write a full-fledged murder mystery ?’ My (bitter) experiences during my working life, spitted a plot for that and my heart furnished the reply to the question of my mind – ‘Yes, you can.’ And just by intuition, I picked up my pen (say keyboard) and started. My personal experiences had provided me the idea but to spread the same in the form of a full-fledged murder mystery which should prove engrossing for the readers was no easy task. I wrote a few chapters of my novel spanning around 35-40 A4 size sheets and then felt that it was not working. I circulated those chapters to some of my friends through e-mail and sought their views in that regard. Geeta Ji suggested me (through telephonic talk) to prepare a sketch of the novel first and then decide as to how to convert it into a full-fledged story. I tried that also but the pen which had stopped, refused to be active again. I discussed this issue with my friend (who is an esteemed reviewer and blogger in his own right) Mazhar Nawaz (maaz_nawaz) also. By that time, being disappointed by my failed effort, I had started writing reviews again. Mazhar Bhai inspired me a lot and urged me not to lose heart. Otherwise also, I was feeling very bad due to leaving something incomplete (as had happened earlier in case of my play – Chirag-e-Sehar).
Finally, I gathered my complete willpower and got determined to conclude my novel come what may. And then by revising some of the already written part, I resumed my work. And lo ! Once the story started flowing, my mind became more and more fertile in this regard. I don’t know how the seasoned authors write novels. However as an amateur writer, I wrote on scene-by-scene basis, i.e., this scene should be followed by that scene. I had thought of completing it in some 150-160 A4 size sheets. However it went beyond 200 such sheets. The final word count of this novel is approximately 99300. Geeta Ji had once written a review of Agatha Christie’s novel -‘Murder in Mesopotamia’ and titled her review as – ‘Murder is a Habit’. That title had attracted me so much that I also titled my novel as – ‘Qatl Ki Aadat’ (the habit to commit a murder).
Now the creative part was over but the bigger question was how to make my work see the light of the day. I had experimented with myself to check whether I was capable of writing a mystery book myself and that experiment had resulted in success giving a lot of satisfaction to my heart. However if I wanted the world to read my book, where’s the way for that ? After getting my novel read by not only some of my friends but also Punjabi mystery writer – Hardev Grewal and eminent Hindi mystery writer – Surendra Mohan Pathak and then making some improvements in the narrative according to their critique and suggestions, I started knocking the doors of publishers and self-publication sites. Due to my good fortune and the help of Mazhar Bhai, I happened to meet eminent English novelist – Rasna Atreya (whose novel – ‘Tell a Thousand Lies’ is an international bestseller). She also gave me some tips in this regard the most important of them being – ‘Knock every door as you never know which one is going to open for you’. However all of my efforts in this regard failed to yield the desired fruit. Well-known e-book site – Newshunt (Dailyhunt) responded positively to my communication and it was available for sale there also for quite some time. However that association contained certain things which did not go well with me and hence I asked them to remove it from their site after a while.
Meantime I kept on getting tips and guidance from my well-wishers like Geeta Ji and Nishant Singh (sydbarett) but was not able to push the right button. Finally, I got an advice from my friend Dr. Kanwal Kishore Sharma who was very busy in translating some best works of James Hadley Chase in Hindi at that time (now he is a popular Hindi mystery writer penning novels as ‘Kanwal Sharma’) . He advised me to try pothi.com. This time it clicked. They asked the pdf version including the cover of the novel. I submitted and now the first novel of yours truly, i.e., Qatl Ki Aadat is available on this site.Qatl Ki Aadat (habit to murder) is a murder mystery set in an industrial town where the main industry is a government owned power house. It’s a small town with some villages nearby and the nearest city being some 50 kilometres away. The story opens with the murder of a bad character which is followed by some other murders after a couple of days. The investigating officer is a sub-inspector of police and the in-charge of the local police chowki. Being very young and inexperienced but very sincere and committed, he goes on with his investigation. however the happenings are so fast that he hardly gets any time to understand the things properly. Quite naturally, the culprit is unmasked in the end only with the reason behind the murders being something that none could have thought of. I have mixed doses of romance and emotion in the narrative and spelled out a philosophy of life also. Anyway the final decision regarding the quality of the book lies with the readers only.
I express my heartfelt thanks to my friends and well-wishers like S.M. Pathak Saheb, Geeta Ji, Mazhar Bhai, Nishant, Kanwal Ji, Parag Dimri Ji, Dr. Rajesh Parashar Ji, Mukund (toothless), Hardev Ji, Rasna Ji and many others for their encouragement and help in this regard.
The internet link of the novel (on http://www.pothi.com) is :