BOOK Shatrujeet Nath on his debut novel The Karachi Deception, writing, and what publishing houses can do right

Shatrujeet Nath’s debut novel The Karachi Deception was intended to be a film script. “But what I was writing was more of a novel than a film script.” R. Balki, director of Cheeni Kum and Paa, was impressed with Shatrujeet’s novel. “So was Govind Nihalani,” informs Shatrujeet. “He had picked up the book at the airport, read it in one go, and asked my publisher to get in touch with me. I met Mr. Nihalani and we spoke about the book.”

Set against the backdrop of global terrorism, The Karachi Deception is about an audacious plot Project Abhimanyu, hatched by RAW and Indian Army intelligence to assassinate Mumbai’s underworld don, Irshad Dilawar. Major Imtiaz Ahmed is assigned to lead the special ops mission. But the mission runs into roadblocks as Project Abhimanyu is compromised and Imtiaz and his men are being led into a death trap.

From the very first page, The Karachi Deception reads like a fast-paced spy thriller. Pacing is an important element in thriller writing. And Shatrujeet seems to know the nuts and bolts of it. “When you write a thriller, it demands a certain pace. I consciously worked on it. Before writing this novel, I knew what my story would be. I knew how it would end and begin. And that’s why the story flowed. Setting my book in different locations is a technique I like, and that helped too.”

Considering the novel deals with sensitive subjects such as terrorism and intelligence agencies, what kind of research did Shatrujeet put in? “I did put in research. As you research, you come across some fascinating facts, which you would like to incorporate into your writing. It’s like laying bricks to build a wall, layer by layer.”

Although Shatrujeet loves thrillers, he didn’t set out to write a thriller. “I was clear about writing fiction, not necessarily thrillers. I am not bound by genres. I like all kinds of genres, from thrillers to epic fantasies. My next book is a trilogy on Vikramaditya and the Navratnas, who are a band of superheroes. It’s an epic fantasy.”

The most fascinating part of writing a novel, Shatrujeet says, is that the characters take on a life of their own. Authors are taking to social networking sites to promote their books. Does Shatrujeet consider publishing to be in a state of flux?

“Publishers bring a lot experience to the table. My only grouse is their speed to market. Authors have to wait for one-and-a-half years for their books to be published. The waiting time is just bizarre.”

Shatrujeet isn’t planning on getting back to journalism just yet. “It’s a dry well.” Does he miss it? “I miss it only when I read stories that miss out on a bigger story.” The charm of writing fiction, for Shatrujeet, is the sustained interest in a story for years. “In journalism, you pick a story to write on, but if it doesn’t work out, you move on to the next story. With fiction that’s not the case.”

The Karachi Deception has been published by Grey Oak/Westland.