Author Interview

Gurucharan Singh Gandhi

the author of The Tattoo Trail

The Tattoo Trail by Gurucharan Singh GandhiGurucharan Singh Gandhi, in his own words, is a ‘full time corporate wallah’ and a part time writer. His debut book, ‘Kabeer in Korporates’ (2016) published in English and thereafter translated to Hindi and Marathi, was a national bestseller and won the ‘Best Debut Manuscript in Non-Fiction’ at ‘Lit-O-Fest’. His second book was ‘Echoes of Gasping Souls’ (2021). Born and raised in Jhinkpani, a dusty hamlet in Jharkhand, his writings have the sensibilities of small-town India coupled with its inescapable complexes.

TBE: Can you tell us about your inspiration for writing ‘The Tattoo Trail’?

Gurucharan Singh Gandhi: I am not sure there was any one specific inspiration – but I have always been intrigued about how human beings respond to the subject of love. There are many shades of love around us, some which are easy to understand and some which defy labels, some which are unfortunate to be fulfilled and some which are blessed to remain unrequited. The murder mystery was the vehicle to explore all such shades.

TBE: How did you come up with the idea of combining a murder mystery with the theme of a scam?

Gurucharan Singh Gandhi: I wanted to explore two things in particular – the anatomy of scams in general and bringing the unknown tribal districts of Jharkhand into mainstream story telling. I come from such a small block called Jhinkpani in the southern tip of Jharkhand and over time I have found that not too many know about the tribal hinterland, their people and customs. In many ways this book is my homage to that area.

TBE: Could you walk us through your creative process while writing this book?

Gurucharan Singh Gandhi: Difficult to put the creative process in words – but broadly I relied on two things – research and emotional connectedness. The description of the scam and the tribal customs were research based. However the story of the characters, getting deep under their skin, exploration of their drives was very intuitive. I asked myself ‘what would I feel if I was him or her, or how would this hurt me’. The characters took over from me thereafter.

TBE: The main characters in your book, Keshav Kumar and Sumitra Devi, are quite distinct from each other. How did you develop them?

Gurucharan Singh Gandhi: Keshav is the culmination of many men I would have interacted during my childhood – exceptionally wise, brilliant and driven but rough, uncouth and edgy. He was easy to fathom as I have known such people who do not get their due because they are not sophisticated and anglicised. Sumitra was more difficult to develop. She is seeking an acceptance for what is good at amidst all odds of deep rooted patriarchy and feudalistic tendencies.

TBE: Can you talk about any particular challenges you faced while writing this book?

Gurucharan Singh Gandhi: There are three love stories in a way that are peppered in the book. I wanted them to sound different from each other even though they are all love stories essentially. The challenge was to highlight their differences and point out to the readers that no all love is the same.

Second was the treatment of the peculiar relationship between Vishnukant and Parth because this was one of the most unusual relationship one can imagine. It defied all societal norms that we know of. You will have to read the book to understand what I mean.

TBE: Your previous book, ‘Kabeer in Korporates’, was a non-fiction bestseller. How was the experience of writing fiction different from non-fiction for you?

Gurucharan Singh Gandhi: I never imagined that I would write a fiction till the time I did. I am very nervous about fiction. It takes far more from me to be able to build characters and tell their stories. Each such story drains me. However I must confess, fiction is far more satisfying. I hope I have more such stories in me in the future.

TBE: What message do you hope readers take away from ‘The Tattoo Trail’?

Gurucharan Singh Gandhi: Be hopeful. Love like there is no tomorrow. Move on when life wants you to.. Enjoy the camaraderie and even attraction between people. Believe in the essential goodness of human beings.

TBE: Your writing has been praised for its depiction of small-town India. How do you ensure that your work remains authentic and representative of the culture you write about?

Gurucharan Singh Gandhi: I am a product of small town India and its inescapable complexes. I don’t write what I think of the places and people. I just describe them as much as I describe myself honestly.

TBE: How was your publishing experience with Leadstart?

Gurucharan Singh Gandhi: This is my third book with Leadstart. It has been a long 8 year relationship. I think they have been honest and true partners in their journey. They advise and correct me in equal measures.

TBE: Can you give us a sneak peek into any future projects you’re working on?

Gurucharan Singh Gandhi: There are two book ideas that are currently being sketched at very early stages. One is a non fiction and one is a book of short stories.


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