An international communication adviser by profession and a musician by heart, Victor Ghoshe is an Amazon bestselling author and a successful Life coach. He holds two master degrees in Social Studies and in English; he also holds a PG Diploma in Communication Design. Victor has been responsible for developing mass communication strategies in more than five countries. He now works with BBC India, as a Senior Adviser and lives in New Delhi with his wife, Juthika, and son Shivank.
This interview was conducted over email.
Open Road Review (ORR): Tell us about your mystery thriller The Job Charnock Riddle?
Victor Ghoshe (VG): For me – The Job Charnock Riddle is a Historical Thriller set in the three-hundred-year-old Kolkata, Eastern India and also in the present time.
A cross-country treasure hunt, with a secret cult after a religious relic, and an ancient riddle to decipher.
Job Charnock – A senior Officer of the East India Company, after his conflict with Shayesta Khan, who was the governor of Bengal in 1686, loots the Mughal treasury and buried it over 300 years back.
In present day Kolkata, hints of the treasure surfaces in the form of a riddle. Meantime, Jennifer, a British scholar researching on Charnock is kidnapped from Kolkata. Former archaeologist Eric Roy, who is now a secret operative, along with cousin Aurin in a race against time to rescue her and an ancient mystery stands in their way. Unknown to them, a ninth century secret cult is at work, ready to go to any length to procure what they are after—a sacred relic.
ORR: Have you always been interested in adventures and mystery thrillers? If yes, who are your biggest influences?
VG: I’ll answer this one with a quote from one of my favourite authors, he said, ‘I believe that what we become, depends on what our fathers teach us at odd moments when they aren’t trying to teach us. We are formed by little scraps of wisdom.’ That’s Umberto Eco.
Well, my father took me to movies since when I was six and that was the time when adventure and mystery thrillers became my lifeline.
2-3 years later when I started reading , I was intrigued and inspired by the works of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle and Allan Poe. Umberto Eco happened at a much later stage. I also enjoyed novels from Clive Cusler, Satyajit Ray, Saradindu Bandyopadhyay and recently by Dan Brown.
Umberto Eco’s and Dan Brown’s work truly inspire me. I love all of Umberto Eco’s works including The Name of the Rose which is a postmodern murder mystery set in a Benedictine monastery in medieval Italy.
ORR: Tell us about your writing routine.
VG: I have always believed, writers are performers. So, as musicians and actors, writers also need to practice and rehearse. In my case – I talk to a lot of common people on the roads and visit places for my stories; I spend time in that environment and do something different – I’ll come to it…. but talking about a routine – I do not write every day… I allow the idea to sink in my mind and then I allow that moment of creation to happen. I have seen it often happens when I am doing other things like making tea for myself, driving my car or taking a stroll – suddenly the unseen connects or a twist jumps out from the chaos. That’s the moment I always wait for; I cherish… and that’s the moment which leaves me humble and thankful to the universe for allowing me to be a writer.
Coming back to what I do differently for my writing… like many authors the sense of place for me is as important as my characters – I need to get to know that character well enough. I want my places to be exciting to me first as I want them to be exciting for my readers.
Now the ‘different’ part – I visit that historical place, that small town, that graveyard –I want to write about. I sit at a corner and try to capture the pace in my sketchbook… for a typical small-town or a cityscape I draw the lanes and by-lanes, walls, the posters on it, the bus shade, the tree lines. And then I come back and I write about them.
I believe the visual details of the places which I write about in my books is one of my tools to make them real and believable for my readers.
If I follow any routine for my writing – this is it.
ORR: How do you juggle your ‘communication work’ pressure with your writing?
VG: I am an ‘International Public Health Communication Professional’ attached with BBC Media, dealing with Maternal Health, Child health, adolescent health issues of the Indian subcontinent and of many the developing parts of the world.
I develop ‘Health Communication Strategies’ & ‘Advocacy strategies’ for community behaviour change and for ‘Health policy reforms’. It’s a very serious vertical of the Social Sector you can see… and thus I use my writing as the window to a different world—to escape to—a whole new world of adventure which keeps calling me through the day or days when I am not writing… and then I steal time through some week evenings and weekend nights and get myself immersed into that other world—and write. Generally by this time (when I get the chance to write) the storyline is already so much in my mind—I actually finish 2-3 chapters at one go.
ORR: What are you writing at the moment?
VG: As TJCR has become a best-selling book on Amazon and more and more readers are writing to me, about the next book; about their expectations from it, I feel humble and at the same time I feel the pressure to make it right the next time as well.
The good thing is—I already had the sequel idea in my mind when I was writing TJCR, and also had some research content organised. I started working on my next book in last April, four months post the launch of TJCR. Presently it looks like—the historical research is going good and I can see it reaching somewhere.
I do not know—if I should talk about the topic at this development stage… but for Open Road Review I think I can…. my next thriller would take my readers on a quest through the 6000-year-old Sumerian Civilization to unearth its mysterious link with the Harappan Civilization of the north-western India.
ORR: How good an idea it is for a novel to be adapted into a film? Have you ever felt a novel to be compelling enough to be captured on the celluloid? Or do you think the adaptation dilutes the story?
VG: Yes! Film adaptation of a novel is a good idea no doubt, but I think It should happen after a certain time—when the novel is been exposed enough to its audience; been read enough and been talked about well. To me, that is the time when a novel should be adapted into a film… after receiving its dues as a ‘novel’.
As a communication professional, I believe the film is another media of communication like books and theaters and they all tell stories in different ways… some people are comfortable with books some are with films and theaters. I know many readers who love to read the book in its true form and then if there is a film version they watch it to validate it in their minds.
For The Job Charnock Riddle, there are already a couple of leading directors of India who have shown interest and one eminent director with huge hits on his credit is reading it right now.
There are too many compelling sequences in TJCR which are almost written as scenes. Some of them are breathtaking geographical regions; some of them are architectural wonders, some of them are hard-core action sequences and some of them are dark-Gothic labyrinth sequences.
The possibilities are high. But truly speaking I have not thought about cinema yet. For me this is a very important juncture in my life when I have done my bit – have developed a creative product… and have given my story to a large group of people to read; to make the journey; to own the story and to spread the good word… now as it has already happened and people are liking my work – in some more time I might start thinking about things like cinema.