Novelist Joygopal Podder has one obsession: to see his books in the new arrival display shelves of bookstores. In the past two years, his novels have always found place in that coveted display space. And how does he manage that? By publishing a new book every second month. In fact, Gurgaon-based Podder is one of Indias most prolific authors. His name even figures in the latest edition of Limca Book of Records for publishing the most number of crime novels in the shortest time-five books in nine months.
So far, the 52-year-old has 11 books to his credit in 21 months. His next book, Merchants of Dreams, is slated for release later this month.
I generally finish writing a book in four weeks flat. I have to work with multiple publishers as none is willing to publish books from the same author every second month. I can't wait to start work on another book the moment I finish one, says Podder, who works as director of fundraising with an international NGO.
Podder says one of the reasons why he is writing at such a breakneck pace is to make up for the lost time. Which is no wonder considering that the chapter of his life as a writer began only in 2010 when he was already 50. Born in London where his father worked as a surgeon, and a gold medalist in law from Delhi University, he worked as a marketer for 17 years before turning to the social sector in 2000. The turning point in my life came when my wife, an interior designer, had a close brush with death and lost her kidneys. I then realised that life is very fragile and one should not delay pursuing one's true passion in life. So, I had decided to renew my childhood passion for writing. I finished writing my first novel just before my 50th birthday, says Podder, whose first book, Deceivers, was released in September 2010, and the second, The Inheritance, in October 2010.
The plots of his racy novels sizzle with action, most of which takes place in Delhi and Gurgaon: women found strangled on the hills lining the Gurgaon-Faridabad road, conspiracies to blow up Metro trains by using bombs disguised as pen drives, murders in Metro trains, murky corporate plots in the glass-and-steel towers of Gurgaon, gunbattles in the basement parking of Ambience Mall, stabbings in Leisure Valley
One of his books, Millennium City, is set in Gurgaon. A story of serial killings that terrified the citys residents for decades, this page-turner traces the transition of Gurgaon from a sleepy small town to an ultra-modern city. I am basically a writer of alternative urban legends, and Delhi provides perfect fodder for my fiction. It is an enormous theatre that boasts of dramatic characters, explosive situations, convoluted destinies, intrigue
It has as much potential to make and break destinies as any other great city of the world, says Podder, adding, As a writer of crime thriller, I am a very keen observer of the city and its people. Delhi is the Capital, but there are many gaps in the citys security system.
Podder says he gets ideas from newspapers, where crime stories pop out of every page in most gory details. In his forthcoming Merchants of Dreams, there is an assassin who blows up a car using a magnet bomb. The scene, he says, was inspired by an attempt on the life of an Israeli diplomat in Delhi a few months ago. In fact, while writing a book, if some big crime takes place in the city, I incorporate it in the story. Since I get ideas from newspapers, my stories reflect present realities, says Podder, whose favourite authors include James Hadley Chase, Erle Stanley Gardner, Agatha Christie, John Grisham, and Jeffrey Archer.
He takes pride not just in the fact that he is the fastest published writer of crime fiction in India, but also that he writes crime thrillers. Indians generally do not write crime fiction. They mostly write on love, romance, their college and professional lives, he says, sitting in his Hauz Khas Enclave office.
The average length of Podders novels is not less than 45,000 words, and he writes about 1,000 to 2,000 words every day without fail on his laptop. I generally write at home after 9pm for one-two hours. Every day, I email whatever I write to my wife and two daughters. Earlier they used to give suggestions, but not anymore, as they say they cannot keep pace with the text flow," laughs Podder. But does not he ever face the writer's block? I do not know what that is. A novelist is like God. He has the freedom to create whatever he wants using his imagination, says Podder.
Podder actively monitors the distribution of his books, though he does not care about reviews in newspapers, and unlike the many new tech-savvy breed of writers, does not believe in using the social media to promote his books. I have been a marketer and treat books as fast moving consumer goods. They have to be displayed prominently to sell well. I ensure that all my books are available in bookstores and displayed well too, he says.
He now wants to create a Guinness record for publishing the maximum number of books in a year. For that I need to write 55 books in 55 weeks. I am quite confident of achieving the feat. It takes focus, imagination and command over the language to write so fast. My writing is getting faster and smoother with every manuscript. What drives me is the readers positive response, says Podder, his eyes brimming with confidence and determination.