An expert in Capital Markets who is working as an Associate General Manager for one of India’s top IT companies, Mr. Sumit Ghosal is a man with varied interests.
The author holds an MBA in Finance from Calcutta University and an M. Tech in Material Science from the prestigious IIT, Kanpur. He also holds a B.Sc (Tech) from Calcutta University. In his illustrated career, he has had the pleasure of working with esteemed organizations like SEBI, The Calcutta Stock Exchange, and ING Life Insurance.
Though his professional and educational background would not reflect so, the author has had a love for the written word from a very young age. A voracious reader himself, Sumit’s bookish interests are as varied as it gets. From thrillers, mystery, detective fiction, horror, to mythology, cricket, history, historical fiction, finance, wildlife, films, travel, and biographies – the author loves to read a diverse range of genres.
A self-proclaimed cricket lover, in his close circles, Sumit is also known for his cricket trivia and statistics. Amongst his prized possessions, are rare books like the autobiographies of Donald Bradman, Errapalli Prasanna, and Tiger Pataudi. He is fluent in three languages – English, Hindi, and Bengali.
Sumit is a member of a book reading society in Bangalore which meets regularly to discuss the works of well-known authors. He is also a member of the Screen Writers Association of India and has a screenplay registered with the organization.
His debut novel, a detective fiction, The Dead Don’t Talk, is a murder mystery set in the Kolkata of the seventies. The book has been published by Om Books and has received many rave reviews from book critics and reviewers alike.
We at bookGeeks got a lucky chance for a tete-e-tete with author Sumit Ghosal. Here is what he has to say about his debut novel, his writing, and the Indian literary landscape in general.
|Tell us something about yourself. Who is Sumit as a person? What are his likes, dislikes, tastes, and preferences?
|As is true for almost everyone, I have my positive and negative sides with the positive sides hopefully outweighing the negatives. I am sincere, hardworking, determined, honest, and organized. While I am not a social animal, I make friends easily with like-minded people.
I would like to involve myself in social work and charity in whatever way I can and I see myself more active in these in the future.
I like reading, cricket, and movies in that order. My reading tastes are varied and extend from mysteries, thrillers, westerns, history, historical fiction, sports, mythology, classics, wildlife, business, and travel. In movies, I prefer English, Hindi, and Bengali films. I am a diehard fan of Amitabh Bachchan and have been so for 47 years now.
I love watching cricket, whether it features India or not. My favourite players from India were Sunil Gavaskar and Mohinder Amarnath while an all-time favourite was Brian Lara, a choice that led to animated and occasionally heated debates with Tendulkar fans.
I have an extensive collection of cricket books, with a few rare books like the autobiographies of Donald Bradman, Errapalli Prasanna, and Tiger Pataudi. Cricket statistics is a major strong point of mine.
I am an open and straightforward person and dislike people who are not. I do not like false pretense and affected behavior.
I am also a very family-oriented person and love spending with my family, both immediate and extended.
I am also fond of travel. Given a choice, I prefer the hills compared to the cities and have travelled extensively across the Western Ghats as well as the lower Himalayas.
|Tell us about your educational and professional background. Has your writing ever borrowed from your professional knowledge and experience?
|Academically, I have done my B. E (Ceramic Engineering) from Calcutta University, M.Tech (Materials Science) from IIT Kanpur, and MBA (Finance) from Calcutta University.
I have made a professional career as a capital markets specialist in the Information technology sector. So far, my writing has been pure flights of fantasy and has not been influenced by my professional experience.
However, I do not preclude that in the future. To most people in this sector, the most exciting thing to happen is a software failure and its corresponding business impact. Therefore, a thriller with the IT sector as a backdrop might give vicarious pleasure to many and might be well received.
|What does a normal day look like for you?
|My normal day would resemble that of most other family men in India holding a regular job. Prior to the pandemic, my day would start by dropping my son at his school and then proceed with the trappings of a 9 to 6 job (though it is usually extended beyond the said hours).
Evenings usually were spent with family, followed by writing after dinner. Nowadays, with work from home being in vogue, the lines between personal and professional lives have become blurred. What has not changed is the time taken out by me to pen down my next story.
|Your debut work The Dead Don’t Talk is set in the Kolkata of the 1970s. What kind of research did it entail to get the period and the atmospheric vibe right?
|The atmosphere and the setting were influenced by the books and movies of Satyajit Ray as well as books by Samaresh Basu, Shirsendu Mukhopadhyay, and Sunil Gangopadhyay.
Though my book briefly touches upon the Naxalite movement at that point in time and the movement has no direct bearing on the story, I have read books on the movement by various authors.
In addition to the above, I have relied on my own personal experiences of Kolkata of the seventies.
|How long did you take to complete the book – from the idea inception to the final draft?
|It had taken me around 12 months to write the first draft. I did three edits of my book and the final version was ready 19 months after having started the book.
|Which part of the book was the most difficult to pen?
|Being a debut author writing a murder mystery, the construction of the murder with the associated clues was the most challenging. I had to rewrite and add several portions while reconstructing the murder scenes with each of the witnesses being interrogated by Rudradeep. As any details would have to tally or contradict, as the case may be, with the statements of other witnesses.
|How crucial is it to read books of a particular genre before writing in that genre?
|It was very important for me. Reading books of that genre allows you to get a feel of the stories and it does influence the writer’s style while creating the atmosphere and the characters.
|Are you a disciplined writer or a spontaneous one? Can you shed some light on your writing regime?
|If I am to make a differentiation I would call myself a disciplined writer. Once I have started a book, I normally make it a point to write at least one page every day within the confines of my schedule.
There have been days I have fallen short of my target but it has not been on account of trying. I also create a framework of the story initially, changing the framework at several key points in the story, which I term to myself as milestones. However, once I start writing, new ideas and situations present themselves as well.
|Your favourite writers and some of your favourite books?
|There are several but Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, Alistair MacLean, John Le Carre, and Bibek Debroy are more than others. Favourite books by them would be The Hound of the Baskervilles, The Guns of Navarone, The Spy Who Came In From The Cold, and The Mahabharata respectively.
|Which is your earliest memory of writing?
|It was quite early in my life when I was all of 12 years old. We were a group of friends in Hyderabad and all of us were fans of books like The Hardy Boys and The Three Investigators, books which used to show a group of young friends solving mysteries.
While we did not have any real-life mysteries to solve, we delighted ourselves in creating imaginary mystery stories around our real-life surroundings, stories where we were the protagonists. I do remember that I had written down two such stories.
Incidentally, a few of those friends were amongst the first readers of The Dead Don’t Talk.
|Your favourite bookish quote or a favourite quote on writing?
|“When one has eliminated the impossible, whatever remains, however improbable, has to be the truth”.
Features in The Sign Of Four by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle.
|One thing that you wish you could change in Indian publishing?
|I would suggest an overhaul in the distribution system, especially for tier 2 and tier 3 cities. The distribution system is very slow and there is a lot of lead time before the book reaches the stores and the end-user. I am facing exactly the same issue with my own book.
|As a debut author, what would be your one must-do advice for aspiring writers?
|As a debut author, I felt that writing the book was the easiest part of the process compared to the challenges of having it published and subsequent marketing of the book. There were times I seriously wondered whether I had wasted 19 months of my life while writing my book, for I struggled to find a publisher for nearly seven months.
My advice to aspiring writers is that if you believe that you have a good story worth sharing with the world, hang in there and don’t give up. Keep knocking on the doors of the publishers, ultimately one of them will open and recognize your worth.
|A quote that never fails to inspire you?
|“A man’s own self is his friend. A man’s own self is his enemy.” From The Bhagavad Gita
|Any new writing projects that you are currently working on?
|I have completed the first draft of my second book which consists of four novellas. One is a thriller with dark overtones while the other three are of the paranormal/supernatural genre. I have formed the genesis of a third book as well, which would be a novel and thriller.
Of course, if Mr. Rudradeep Ray makes a mark in The Dead Don't Talk and there is a demand for further adventures of his, more will follow.
Buy a copy of Sumit Ghosal’s The Dead Don’t Talk using the link below.