Uday Satpathy calls himself a ‘reader’ kind of author. A true fan of the thriller genre, he voraciously reads adrenaline packed page-turners, experimenting with authors. Brutal, his debut novel, is an ode to this genre. Things which add little to his prowess as a writer are facts that he is an electrical engineer by qualification and has done an MBA from one of India’s top B-schools. He works in the Indian IT industry for clients in the Pharmaceutical and Healthcare domain. An avid watcher of the game of Cricket, he loves cooking and quizzing as well.
Vinita Kinra: Welcome to Global Asian Times, Uday. What draws you to the world of crime thrillers?
Uday Satpathy: I have been a thriller junkie since childhood. I even watch a lot of movies of this genre. Maybe that has stuffed the ingredients for creating a crime story in my mind.
Vinita Kinra: Tell us about the time when your heart said to you, “I want to be a writer.”
Uday Satpathy: You won’t believe it, but every time I read a superb book, I make that statement to myself. Awesome writing fills me with awe and jealousy at the same time.
Vinita Kinra: Will you be exploring other genres or do you intend to be diehard thriller novelist?
Uday Satpathy: I am inherently a thriller storyteller. Mystery, suspense and to some extent action are core parts of any plot I think up. So I believe my next 3-4 books will be thrillers. Having said that, if I come across a good romantic story, I will definitely give it a try.
Vinita Kinra: What triggered the idea for your debut thriller novel, Brutal?
Uday Satpathy: I got the story of Brutal from a series of shocking real life stories which never got reported widely. Without throwing up spoilers, I can say that my book dabbles with international geopolitics and some conspiracy theories that are more real than they appear to be.
Vinita Kinra: Share with us your publishing journey.
Uday Satpathy: I completed the manuscript for Brutal around two years back and then sent it to a lot of Indian publishers. When my wait for any response from them started getting longer, I decided to submit my work at BloodyGoodBook.com (BGB). It was a new, exciting publishing venture started by Rashmi Bansal (one of the most widely read non-fiction authors of India) which operated with the principle of crowd-curation. They chose what to publish based on open reviews of manuscripts by readers and critics. After around half a year of exposure to the open world, Brutal was selected for publication based on extremely positive reviews.
Vinita Kinra: Does your Information Technology background inform your writing, or are these two vocations totally divorced from each other?
Uday Satpathy: The world of IT Services is quite different from the creative realm. The former is more about process, repeatability and consistency. Creative thinking, on the contrary, is more about keeping things as far from a formula as possible. So, I often have to turn my “IT mode” off while writing. However, IT does inculcate a sense of discipline into writing which is essential for an author.
Vinita Kinra: Does your main protagonist resemble, in any faint way, somebody you have known?
Uday Satpathy: I have tried hard to keep my protagonists different from the people I see in my daily life. Brutal is my first novel, so I guess I had it easy this time. As I write more and more books, you will surely find resemblances with people I know.
Vinita Kinra: Who has been your biggest mentor through your writing journey?
Uday Satpathy: My wife has been a constant source of strength for me throughout. She has seen Brutal from the moment it was unpalatable, and critiqued it again and again to help it reach its real potential. I don’t think I could have become an author without her encouragement.
Vinita Kinra: What is the biggest challenge for a crime fiction writer?
Uday Satpathy: For me, the biggest challenge is to cook up a plot twist readers never see coming. Mind you, readers are extremely intelligent, and often come across more books in the same genre than authors do. So, to give them a jolt is a herculean task.
Vinita Kinra: What are your future projects?
Uday Satpathy: One of my future projects is a sequel to Brutal. My protagonists are journalists, so it should not be a surprise if they find themselves in another mess. Besides, I have in mind a political thriller as well.
Uday Satpathy: I would like to present an extract from the Prologue of Brutal:
Bandhavgarh National Park
In pitch darkness, Kunal Chaubey dashed through the thick foliage, ignoring the branches and twigs clawing into his flesh. Webs of overhanging roots kept getting in his way, lacerating his face like barbed wires. Yet, he ran like a mad man. He didn’t know where he was going. He just wanted to get out of this damned forest.
For the last half an hour, his legs had been charging through the dense shrubbery, unmindful of the rodents crawling beneath. His skin was itching and stinging at odd places, with insects swarming all over. Some of them could be poisonous, he knew. But right now, what terrified him more was the realization that his body was tiring.
Even though he was a young man, all his vitals were running on overdrive. He was wheezing, with lungs on fire and legs quivering with muscular cramps. If things continued this way, he knew he would fatigue himself to death. Still a better way to die than falling into the hands of the monsters, he thought, his hands tightening around the handle of the axe he was holding. His palm was sweating and fingers trembling, but his grip on the weapon didn’t budge one bit. It was his saviour. The only thing that stood between him and the predators.
For now, he had stolen a lead on his pursuers. They were in shock. They hadn’t expected him to resist, much less fight back. But fight he did, surprising even his own instincts, for he had been a spineless wimp throughout his life. His aggression, however, was only momentary. It had come and gone like a flash of light. He was no longer a warrior, but a man running terrified.
Since his childhood, he had been afraid of the dark. And it was not some bullshit phobia psychiatrists called by weird names. It was real. Far too scary to be explained to people. He had seen things in his life people would prefer not seeing even in nightmares. Things lurking in the black shadows, slithering through the branches of trees. Like a cloud of soot that has life.
His parents had taught him to deal with these sinister entities. ‘Just ignore them’, they said. ‘It’s all in your mind, these creatures from hell. They can’t touch you. They can’t harm you.’
How wrong were Mom and Dad? They could not fathom how close they were to their own harrowing deaths. Two years ago, the demons took them away, leaving behind a contorted mass of blood and burnt flesh. Looking no different from the twisted metal they were entangled with.
People called it a gruesome car accident. Sheer ignorance, again.
Vinita Kinra is a Toronto-based author, editor, speaker and activist, best known for her short story collection, Pavitra in Paris, launched to critical acclaim in 2013. She is also a contributor for India’s largest English daily, The Times of India.