“I wanted to create a new age rocking detective.”

A quick read with an out-of-the-ordinary plot that’s based within an Indian IT firm – that’s Sundip Gorai’s Hickory Dickory Shock!. It’s readable across all age groups and can be swallowed in a day! The story is peppy and the characters are fun. Sundip’s writing style is unfussy and streamlined. Check out an email interview of his with IBR.

– Shana Susan Ninan

IBR – You’ve just given us India’s first IT thriller. What gives Hickory Dickory Shock the one-of-a-kind feel?

Sundip Gorai – Yes, there are a few firsts – It is the first Indian novel that
1. covers the macro dynamics of the Indian IT industry
2. explores various variants of locked room mysteries – a sub-genre of detective fiction where a crime is committed in a hermetically sealed locked room and the culprit vanishes from inside the room
3. leverages the knowledge from rich historic artifacts from Indian history to create the build-up leading to the thriller climax.
4. leverages intriguing math puzzles (inspired from Vedic Math, Euler – the French mathematician, Sam Loyd – American puzzle maker, Fibonacci sequence and others) to pace the Thriller
5. has a protagonist who has a numeric name (210 – Tuten, as he was born at 2:10 a.m.)
6. uses intricate cipher techniques based on the work of Vatsayana (creator of ‘Kamasutra’)
7. leverages social networks like Facebook, Twitter etc to build the suspense (I have attempted a new way of recasting the Baker Street Irregulars – the street urchins in Sherlock Holmes stories who served as conduit of information for Sherlock Holmes and Dr Watson)
8. showcases the culprits as mysterious web-chatters – HICKORY and DICKORY

IBR – The character you enjoyed most creating? Why?

S.G. – a. The protagonist 210 Chatterjee – My whole idea was to take a rookie software engineer and embellish him with traits from the detective thriller fiction and movies. The inspiration came from various fictional characters created by Agatha Christie, Conan Doyle, Edgar Allan Poe, P. G. Wodehouse and various others from movies, including Peter Sellers (Pink Panther) and Ethan Hunt (Mission Impossible). In my book, 210 is blessed with a natural acumen to sniff pattern in numbers, and is thus able to quickly discern the accounting fraud going on in his IT company.

b. Gurpreet Chatterjee, 210’s mother – a funny uncouth character who does all the wrong things in the wrong places but gets things right. The character was inspired by the character of Henry Jones (Sean Connery) from the movie, Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade.

(A taste of 210 and Gurpreet can be had by reading the four preview chapters at www.hickorydickoryshock.com )

IBR – I’ve passed Hickory Dickory Shock to my teen and pre-teen friends, and they’ve thoroughly enjoyed it. Was it a conscious choice to keep that age group in mind while writing this book?

S.G. – The book is intended for varied target segments – mystery story lovers, thriller readers, Indian IT Industry workforce, Dan Brown-style puzzle cracking thriller fans, and finally, people who like pure burlesque and farcical comedy (read Bollywood potboilers).

IBR – Some novels – debuts especially – don’t stick to one genre: there’s mystery, romance, science, and others all in one plot. What is the advantage that the author derives from this?

S.G. – I feel time is ripe for more experimentation. The newly evolving readers have to be fed richer content, as they are getting smarter and more mature with access to multiple mediums – books, movies, internet and social networks. Readers who have loved Chetan Anand and Abbas Mastan Movies, or have bet their buck on thrillers, detective fictions, corporate drama and pure comedy are my reader base.

IBR – HDS spans two countries and has scope to be read and appreciated by a foreign audience. Do you plan to market it abroad?

S.G. – Yes, as of now the book is released by my publisher (Rupa & Co) only in the Indian subcontinent – the plan is to take it to a global audience.

IBR – You’ve liberally drawn names from other authors’ works for your chapter headlines. How does that contest against ones that are newly thought-up by you?

S.G. – Yes, that was the fun element. There are numerous instances where I have tried to embed names of books, movies, songs in either the chapter name or within the dialogues. This was to create some kind of vicarious thrill for the discerning reader. A few examples of phrases inspired from movies that are used in the book – Fistful of Dollars, For a Few Dollars More, All is Well, Mission Impossible, Indecent Proposal, Usual Suspects. Most of the chapter names are inspired by works of famous detective fiction, for example, – 4:50 from Paddington, Death Comes in the End, Towards Zero (Agatha Christie), Final Problem (Arthur Conan Doyle).

Finally, the very name of the book HICKORY DICKORY SHOCK! was inspired by the Agatha Christie classic HICKORY DICKORY DOCK. However, the similarities end there – In my book HICKORY and DICKORY are two mysterious web chatters – a propelling force of the mystery is to figure out who HICKORY and DICKORY are.

IBR – Name a fictitious character in mystery that has appealed to you a lot, and explain why.

S.G. – It is hard to name one, but there are many, and each has his or her typical trait: Peter Sellers – Pink Panther (cool, unassuming), Auguste Dupin by Edgar Allan Poe (Analytical), Father Brown (Psychology reading detective), Poirot, Inspector Battle and Miss Marple (they exemplify the signature Christie style), Ellery Queen, Continental Op, Sam Spade, Phillip Marlowe, Dick Tracy, Perry Mason (‘hard boiled’ American detective fiction), William of Baskerville (Umberto Eco), John Dickinson Carr (Locked room mysteries), Byomkesh Bakshi, Feluda, Nanha Jasoos Babloo, Bahadur, Ram Rahim 00 ½ (Indian – Thriller/Detective), finally Sherlock Homes, of course.

IBR – Do you plan to try your hand at other genres in your future writing?

S.G. – I wrote mainly because I wanted to create a new age rocking detective – I feel the detectives in Indian fiction have not been very cerebral or have handled very simple ‘whodunnit’ with a standard formula – murder, five suspects and one culprit. I wanted to create a story that wove multiple genres, and hopefully, I have succeeded in that. As of now, I am giving writing a break – work has got me very busy (I am answering these interview questions sitting in a plane), but yes, I have some cool ideas for a new story – an Oscar Wilde/Wodehouse style comedy, and an Alien driven conspiracy theory woven against the backdrop of the Indian Corporate world. Hopefully next time I can serve a bigger feast for the reader with more chills, frills and thrills.

VN:F [1.9.20_1166]
Rating: 8.0/10 (6 votes cast)
“I wanted to create a new age rocking detective.”, 8.0 out of 10 based on 6 ratings

enjoyed this post? share with others:

twitter stumble upon digg

This entry was posted on Tuesday, April 12th, 2011 at 11:05 pm and is filed under Fiction, Interview, Thriller. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed.

leave a comment