Debarshi Kanjilal knows how to write a page-turner psychological thriller. His recent novel is a much-talked about book owing to the darkness it uncovers with the protagonist Anurag Sanyal.
He spoke to News World Inc about psychological thrillers, inspiration, and his favorite recent read.
NWI: How was writing a psychological thriller different from writing some other genre books such as romance, adventure, and so on?
DK: It was interesting. I have always been intrigued by the psychological thriller genre in movies and in literature. So, in hindsight, it was perhaps a natural fit. One of the things that I didn’t account for when I started writing Based on Lies was that I would actually need to do extensive research on clinical psychology in order to weave a story around it. But all said and done, it was a fun experience and it seems like readers are enjoying it too.
NWI: How did the idea for this psychological thriller come to you? How did it evolve as you were writing?
DK: It’s funny, really. “Based on Lies” didn’t start out destined to be a book. For a brief period of time, I was obsessed with the story of the notorious American serial killer – Ted Bundy. I was reading about his history, expert opinions about him, and a whole bunch of his interviews. One night, I wondered, ‘what if a character as messed up in the head as that lived an everyday life like the rest of us?’ That made me want to write a short story with that premise. I did. It was the first chapter of the book. Once I was done, I shared it with some friends who had myriad questions and opinions. That’s when I realized that I had more to say about these characters. And it became a story of its own, completely unrelated to Bundy or his life.
NWI: Your novel uses alternating chapters in several different points of view to reveal the truth about a twisted character. Do you tend to envision the story from one perspective first, or do all of these perspectives come to you along the way?
DK: I always wanted to provide all the different key perspectives, but the initial idea was to focus on Anurag’s perspective in Part One and his wife’s perspective in Part Two. However, while writing the second part I realized that I wasn’t fully equipped to tell the story from the female lead’s perspective. I just wasn’t going to be able to cover the gamut of experiences that a woman in those circumstances may go through. This led to changing the narrative slightly in the second part and making the storytelling more discovery-based.
NWI: In your opinion, what makes a great psychological thriller? What are some of your favorites?
DK: An exploration of the psyche of the main characters, an ability to keep the reader constantly interested in wanting to know more about the people and the world depicted in the story, and the creation of eerie environments. Of course, these are things that appeal to me in a psychological thriller and another reader may want something else altogether.
NWI: What does a typical writing day look like for you?
DK: I try to do two-hour sprints of writing, hopefully a couple of times each day. I am not a morning person so my writing sessions often go late into the night. I personally don’t edit while I write. I prefer finishing writing the story I set out to write over a number of days. Once done, the next several days would comprise reading what I wrote and editing like a mad man.
NWI: What books or authors has been your greatest influence?
DK: My reading list is quite diverse. My favorite authors are Marquez and Camus but in recent times, my favorite Indian fiction is GhacharGhochar by Vivek Shanbhag and I think that book has had an influence on my writing as well. Another lesser known book that really stuck with me is Aimee Bender’s ‘The Particular Sadness of Lemon Cake’. It is so weird and whimsical.
NWI: What’s the best thing you’ve read recently?
DK: I mentioned GhacharGhochar already. I am reading The Silent Patient right now and it is such a fantastic book so far. The Guest List is next on my wish list.
NWI: What are you working on next?
DK: SuperBu: Homecoming, my next novella, is in its edit phase right now. The book is due for release on Amazon on August 15. It is a family drama revolving around a pet dog. Another project in the works is called Government – it will be a graphic novella. That’s all I am at liberty to share about that at the moment.
Connect with Debarshi Kanjilal: FB: https://www.facebook.com/dekanjilal Instagram: dkiswriting Website: https://www.dkiswriting.com