Raj Tilak Roushan, a budding poet, an IITian and an IPS officer, is a proud father of a little daughter. Born in a remote village in Bihar, he was trained as an engineer at the Indian Institute of Technology (IIT) Kharagpur, where he received his B. Tech. and M. Tech. degrees. In 2013, Raj qualified for the prestigious Indian Police Service to serve the nation. He currently is an IPS officer in the Maharashtra cadre.
Raj has been awarded numerous accolades, including the Union Home Minister’s Medal for Excellence in Investigation, the FICCI Award for Smart Policing and the IIT KGP Young Alumni Achiever’s Award. A meticulous and methodical police officer, he strives to maintain the human touch with a citizen-centric approach to policing.
TBE: We always like to start with a somewhat open-ended, “tell us about yourself” question. What two or three things do you feel people need to know in order to understand who you are?
Raj Tilak Roushan: I am serving passionately as an IPS (Indian Police Service) officer, currently posted as Superintendent of Police, Osmanabad (a scenic place famous for its quality goats and Gulab Jamun). I am an IITian and served in the corporate sector for a considerable time before heeding my inner call to serve my country as a civil servant. I am a cinephile and musicophile. And I love to play tennis and cricket in my spare time other than reading and writing.
I have worked with keenness and solicitude in the field of missing children cases and designed a SOP for scientific investigation which is being followed by many others in police. So far I have served as IPS officer in Vasai-Virar (Mumbai), Nagpur, Parbhani and Osmanabad in Maharashtra. To me, incorporating human touch and scientific temperament in policing appeals a great deal.
TBE: Tell us about your book ‘The Good, the Bad and the Unknown‘ can you share with us something about the book that isn’t in the blurb?
Raj Tilak Roushan: The book is a culmination of sustained efforts over four years and draws heavily from my experiences. It was very difficult to find time from my hectic schedule but my love for writing kept me going. If you had asked me an year ago I wasn’t even sure if it would be published; a world renowned publisher like Bloomsbury was a very distant dream on the horizon.
I am thankful to the encouragement by some close ones that this book could see the light of the day. The book is grounded in reality, blossoming with visual appeal and ready made for a visual adaptation for the discerning eyes. I wish it be made into a web series or movies. People will enjoy a different perspective. While it’s a gripping literary fiction, it could easily act as a study material for an open eyed criminology student as well.
TBE: What’s the significance of the title?
Raj Tilak Roushan: Title is the binding factor that defines the collective soul for the eighteen short stories of this book. People or a group of people are often judged and categorized into watertight compartments of GOOD and BAD based on various criteria that has been forced and planted into our collective psyche time and again, the invisible masks that people wear not helping either. However, deep down people harbour chameleonic traits of different shades out of which one at a time is dominant and visible while others are subdued, depending on the situation. Difficult times lay bare the innermost traits hidden in the darkest alleys of their hearts while the times of normalcy keep the innermost UNKNOWN traits camouflaged.
Same holds for various events happening around us. We may have been hammered with one particular narrative to categorise it into good and bad but dig a bit deeper and the world will open up for you to the perspectives UNKNOWN so far.
The short stories of ‘The Good, the Bad and the Unknown’ are set to launch you for exploration or deep diving, depending on how you like to savour your experience, onto that plane where your perspectives will be shredded and redefined especially if you are habituated to witness one-dimensional narratives, especially of Indian society. The book is deep rooted in real contemporary Indian society the threads of which are laid bare one by one through the characters knocking doors of police seeking justice. Notwithstanding the strait jacketed definition of justice the difference between the GOOD and the BAD will keep blurring into UNKNOWN dimensions left open for the reader to decipher.
The book has something of value waiting to be discovered for all kind of readers.
TBE: Should be place your book in True Crime genre or it’s Crime Fiction?
Raj Tilak Roushan: It’s a mix, a new genre. You might call it a True Fiction genre.
TBE: Why crime fiction (or True Crime)? What is the appeal of mysteries for you, rather than say romance or science fiction?
Raj Tilak Roushan: Every kind of good literature appeals to me that can keep me glued, ecstatic and inspired. I feel that categorisation into genres itself is unrealistic. For instance, a science fiction novel can be a mystery novel as well.
TBE: What was your writing process for this book?
Raj Tilak Roushan: I kept on scribbling whenever I got time. Sometimes just a few lines, another time a paragraph or a bunch of them. It was going on in bits and pieces much like journal entries until I organized everything in a systematic way only very later on when I had a feel that it has ample standard worth sharing with an audience. It might as well have ended just as my journal entries. Fortunately it has not, thanks to the encouragement by some insanely positive people in my life.
TBE: What do you find to be the most fun and/or the most difficult part of the writing process—first draft, editing, researching?
Raj Tilak Roushan: The fun part was scribbling my heart out during the initial phase when I really hadn’t given a thought to publishing. The most difficult part was editing. My experience as an IPS officer itself was my research as the nature of my work requires me to deal with all kind of people and every strata of society at one time or another, routinely in the most unconventional and bizarre circumstances one can’t even imagine as an outsider. There is no definition of comfort zone at all when you are dealing at the cutting edge level of human psyche. As they say, all the magic happens outside the comfort zone.
TBE: How did you celebrate the publishing of your first book?
Raj Tilak Roushan: The pre-order release date of ‘The Good, the Bad and the Unknown’ coincided with my birthday – 29th December. My wife and little daughter surprised me by gifting a cake printed with book cover. There was another icing on the cake.
In the second week of January, All India Marathi Literature Festival was scheduled in Osmanabad, the district where I am posted as Superintendent of Police. I was invited for the launch of my book in this literature festival. My family including my proud parents were present. I don’t think it happens often that an author’s book is released and a literature festival gets scheduled in his own town ready to launch his book. It was a surreal feeling.
TBE: Do you read much and if so, who are your favorite authors?
Raj Tilak Roushan: I usually take longer time to finish a book because I read them in installments of time, more so because my nature of work only rarely permits continuous stretches of free time. But I always have my hands on some book at a time. There are favorite authors but most of the time I go by my interest aroused in the topic of the book. Some authors whom I immensely like for the expressiveness and visual appeal they generate in their writing are William Dalrymple, Gabriel Garcia Marquez, Salman Rushdie, RK Narayan, Dharmavir Bharati, Shrilal Shukla etc.
TBE: Did you ever have a rough patch in writing, where nothing in the story seemed to fit or make sense?
Raj Tilak Roushan: Yes, I had in a particular short story. At that time my perception about it was that it is not worth its salt. I improvised on it in the later stages of editing. Guess what, now I adore and drool over that particular one as the finest creation within my book. No disrespect intended to other stories of my book.
TBE: In your opinion, what is the most important thing about any book?
Raj Tilak Roushan: The power to grip the reader and keep him interested till the end is what makes a book endearing. Every word must be worth its weight.
TBE: What was one of the most surprising things you learned during creation of your book? (CL)
Raj Tilak Roushan: I realised the importance of time management, setting priorities and winning over procrastination. A start and a little passionate effort in the right direction everyday can invisibly handhold you to near your dreams no matter how far it may seen today. I realised fulfilment of one of my dreams when my creation was published from Bloomsbury, a world renowned publisher.
TBE: Is there anything you are currently working on that may intrigue the interest of your readers?
Raj Tilak Roushan: Currently I am working on a collection of poems and a sequel to The Good, the Bad and the Unknown.