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The man behind the mask

PREETHI ZACHARIAH
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People Eshwar Sundaresan believes that writing is not for the faint-hearted

A serial killer targeting immigrants.

A record-shattering snowstorm that aids his cold mission.

A community of 200 Indian IT professionals under a siege.

A rapacious corporate employer, an unflinching deadline and a boss willing to risk anything.

A tale-twist in every living room and bedroom.

A bleak, fateful Friday that brings together all these elements and changes lives forever.

Thus begins Eshwar Sundaresan’s debut novel Behind the Silicon Mask. Eshwar says, “I was eight years old when I decided I wanted to be a writer so the clarity came very early. The reason I took time to do it was because that was the pragmatic way of securing the welfare of my family before embarking on my own journey.”

Behind the Silicon Mask took nearly 10 years to write, “The book was started in 2003 when the World Cup was going on in South Africa,” he smiles. “There are certain reasons for that. One is I was too close to the subject so it was not possible to see it in a disinterested way. Also, though I always knew I had the talent to write, I was under no illusions that I was a finished product and could churn out a best seller. Essentially it has taken 13 redrafts for the book to reach this stage,” he admits.

In addition to this novel he has written Bangalored: The Expat Story , a history of expatriates in Bangalore. He has also completed the sequel to Behind the Silicon Mask titled Red Curry, a historical account of the naxalite movement in India. “There is a shift from the economic right to the political left,” he says, talking about the content of his two books.

Talking about Behind the Silicon Mask , Eshwar says that his own experience as an IT professional in downtown Milwaukee where the story is set incidentally, came into handy while writing the book, “My experience certainly helped,” he says adding, “Maybe I have tried to create specific stereotypes of characters in the IT Industry. But it wasn’t a conscious process as such. The characters are a combination of characters from my imagination and people I know.” Although one of the key elements of his book is a serial killer who targets immigrants, he clarifies that, “The serial killer is no way an epitome of American society. I found Americans to be an extremely accepting of me and worked with some wonderful clients.”

Yet in spite of that, his need to write took over and he left all that to pursue his passion.

“The vocation of writing is not for the faint hearted. There is so much of ambiguity. Also the quantum of rejection you have to deal with, you need to be emotionally very mature to withstand this pressure and that was one of the things I investigated in myself before I took this step. You need to know that you want to write more than anything else. Then this profession works with you and you get amazing rewards.”

PREETHI ZACHARIAH

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