Kaushal Patel is a father to two beautiful daughters, best friend to his wife, and a decent enough son. He fared poorly in accountancy and maths, studied branding in MBA, but he has been a banker for over 18 years – other than that he has good control over his life. This is his first novel so he has no writing achievements to gloat over until the next book unless one counts the innumerable action packed office emails. Please beware, for he is determined to write more books! Kaushal grew up and lives in Mumbai with his family and his sense of humour.
TBE: Congratulations on writing Never Say Never. It’s a terrifying excursion into the world of money and manipulation. Could you please tell us more about your book that isn’t in blurb, its overall plot, and the main characters in it?
Kaushal Patel: While Never Say Never is primarily a suspense thriller, it’s also a coming-of-age story. The lead character, Sutra, sort of stumbles upon detective work and by the time he solves the mystery, he realizes that this adrenaline filled high is his true calling. He relishes the experience of being a detective and doing investigative work. He starts yearning for more.
I also wanted to differentiate the narrative a bit and therefore the story is narrated in first-person, by Sutra. Since Sutra’s character is cynical and witty, I was able to add a touch of dry humour to the narrative which is getting appreciated a lot. There’s a teeny-weeny romantic angle between Sutra and the female lead – Shivya. However, its unattainable category (for Sutra) since Shivya is already engaged to someone. So, it’s one way, at least in this story.
My whole idea, that is if the book does well and the characters are appreciated, is to develop it into a series where Sutra and Shivya solve more cases.
TBE: How this story first came to be. Did it start with an image, a voice, a concept, a dilemma or something else? Did you know how it’s going to end when you started writing?
Kaushal Patel: The nucleus of the story – the crime itself was in my mind for 2-3 years. Initially, I started writing it as father- daughter story where the teenage daughter is missing. In fact, I had written 2-3 chapters of it. But somehow it didn’t progress creatively to my liking. Besides, I wanted to develop a character that could continue as a series. Hence, I put the skeleton of the characters in place and weaved the crime around it.
Well, I sort of knew how the story would end but the development of the plot was completely intuitive. The nuances pertaining to character development were conceived on the fly. The fact that I was writing the novel instead of typing sort of helped the process.
TBE: You sent a laid-off banker to solve the mystery of missing girl. What was it in him that made you think that he, instead of detective or police or any professional, can solve this mystery?
Kaushal Patel: As I mentioned earlier, it’s a coming-of-age story also. I wanted the character to use basic intelligence and common sense to solve the crime instead of depending on heavy duty forensics. Therefore, I chose a character who’s new to this work; he gets entangled into this. This also gave me an opportunity to make it a bit humorous.
However, I must point out that I have built a reasonable back story to it – of the banker’s father being a crime branch officer and his grandfather being a consulting detective. So even if he is a banker, he has the genetic advantage, if you can call it like that. As he solves more cases in future, he would become more and more professional. This would obviously be matched with the cases themselves getting more and more complicated.
TBE: What about the thriller/mystery genre interests you? Which mystery and suspense writers do you draw inspiration from? What are your favourite books from same genre?
Kaushal Patel: I have been reading mystery and suspense books since my childhood; the Famous Fives and Hardy Boys of the world. As I grew up, I moved onto Sherlock Holmes. I am a huge fan of the character. It has had most influence on me. Besides, I regularly read books written by Michael Connelly, Nelson Demille, Robert Galbraith, David Baldacci etc. Hence this genre is ingrained in my memory. I also love to read spy novels.
TBE: What do you think are some of the key qualities that are needed for a well-crafted mystery thriller?
Kaushal Patel: Well, I can’t really claim to be an expert in the art given that it’s my first novel. However, there was one thing I was very clear about – the end of the novel, when the suspense is revealed or mystery is solved, should satiate the reader. The reader should turn over the last page feeling thrilled; the story should stay with him long after it’s over. I have read so many books that pique your interest so beautifully but when the novel ends, I have felt let down by the suspense itself – the core of the story.
TBE: What do you hope readers take away from the story?
Kaushal Patel: I hope the readers love Sutra and his personality. They find him relatable and funny. I also hope readers enjoy the twists and turns of the events as they unfold. I am also hopeful they like my writing style. Lastly, as I mentioned before, I hope the readers find the suspense itself believable and thrilling.
TBE: How was your publishing experience with Leadstart?
Kaushal Patel: The experience with Leadstart was obviously very good. It became an ideal partner for my debut novel. The team is professional and transparent and that’s something I really valued about Leadstart. The production experience was excellent.
TBE: Is there anything you are currently working on that may intrigue the interest of your readers?
Kaushal Patel: I am writing the next novel in the Sutra series. I have the suspense and crime worked out to my absolute satisfaction. Now the writing needs to be completed. I can assure the readers that it will be more thrilling than the first novel.