He calls it the Tale of Techies, and paints an inner world of IT workspaces. Sundip Gorai’s debut novel ‘Hickory Dickory Shock’ releasing in December is a “high octane drama – a fusion of mystery, cipher trail, corporate war, romance and satire, painted against the backdrop of the Indian IT Industry.” IIT graduate Gorai has held a number of senior positions in the tech sector.
Techgoss (TG): Sundip, Please give us a basic run on your profile please: Your home town, family, education, career, and current location and occupation
Sundip Gorai (SG): I graduated in Industrial Engineer from IIT, Kharagpur, and did my MBA from IMT, Ghaziabad. I was born and brought up in Ranchi. I worked in India for nearly a decade before I moved to the US. I reside in Atlanta. My family consists of my wife Sudha, and daughters Aanya and Pearl. I currently head the North America operations for the Business Intelligence and Analytics division of Hexaware Technologies, prior to this; I managed the risk analytics business of Oracle Financial Corporation for Latin America and the Caribbean.
TG: How is that a technology person decided to write a book?
SG: I carried a nascent desire to weave an intricately plotted thriller around multiple genres, namely, mystery, romance, satire and action, but wanted to set it against the backdrop of a modern milieu – the rapidly changing dynamics of Indian IT Industry. It was around 2007 that I embarked on this project.
TG: What is your book all about?
SG: HICKORY DICKORY SHOCK! fuses a corporate drama against the backdrop of a gigantic accounting fraud (of course, inspired by the world’s largest technology scam),powering it with classic whodunit, espionage, conspiracy theories, but attempting to maintain the rhythm of a light read by using props of romance, humor, satire, ciphers, Indian historic monuments, puzzles, and more. It is a cat and mouse run that takes the protagonist on a ‘Dan Brown’ style treasure trail, where he is in hunt of a proverbial holy grail – a cutting edge IT innovation that has been sabotaged and stolen.
TG: Does it have any characters in the IT, BPO and KPO world?
SG: The characters have various shades and hues – you will find techies, geeks, nerds, IT visionaries, corporate honchos, sentimental moms, ruffians, romantic femme fatales, conniving rogues, puzzle makers, and more. During the process of penning my novel I was acutely conscious that a story has to be told such that an non IT reader, a seasoned IT pro, or even an fresh IT recruit find joy in turning pages and finds value for his buck. A testimony of this fusion can be tasted by reading the preview at the book’s website. In summary, at the heart of it, HICKORY DICKORY SHOCK! is a fast paced thriller that uses the classic tropes of Victorian detective fiction, modern day high octane thrillers, but laced around Indian sensibilities.
TG: Congratulations on writing the first IT Thriller in India, Have you been writing for long?
SG: I used to write during my college days at IIT, but never aspired to write a complete book. I have been a big fan of various detective story genres, and it was desire to create a new age rocking detective, hitherto absent in the Indian fiction space. Ironically, when I started conceiving my novel, my sole aim to create a new age detective story, but the canvas kept expanding, I brought in plot devices from other genres to maintain the chapter velocity and inject momentum to the pace of the novel. Initially, I aspired to create a detective who could be a serious contender to detective from yore – Holmes, Poirot, Feludas, Byomkesh Bakshis, Karamchand,CID et al , but the end product has much more in store. You could say my hero is a “bhelpuri” of Ethan Hunt (Mission Impossible), Mitch (The Firm), Robert Langdon (Da Vinci Code), Dupin (Edgar Allan Poe), Sherlock Holmes, Hercule Poirot, and Karamchand.
TG: How long did you take to write this book?
SG: My core story was sketched in my head in lonely musings at airports, planes, or hotels (My job entails a lot of travel). This was then coarsely put on paper around three years ago. This was followed by a long bout of deep research on all those aspects my book touches upon – various genres of detective fiction, classic thrillers, pure burlesque, comedy, the macro nature of the Indian IT industry, conspiracy theories, scams and, more. Finally, the amorphous thoughts were chiseled by the long arduous process of slowly honing the art of writing, and learning in the process that having a story to tell, and telling a story are altogether different things.
TG: Your topic is a hot one, did you have to do a lot of research or did you draw upon your experience?
SG: It took me four years to complete my work. The first novel has definite autobiographical shades – my journey at grad and post grad school, IT Industry, Banking Software’s, my experience of being part of teams that envisioned cutting edge IT product innovations from India.
TG: What response do you think the IT industry will give on this book? Are they your target audience?
SG: The readers from the IT industry will of course find a lot of their lives in the book, but my book is for a broader audience base. I believe that an audience base that relishes campus novels, chick lit, corporate fiction, thrillers, romantic comedy, murder mysteries, and Dan Brown style cipher trails will have a lot of fun reading my book.
TG: What are your memories of India?
SG: Though I live thousands of miles from my country, I am an Indian at heart and soul. I take pride in the fact that where advanced economies are grappling with the challenges of recession, unemployment, and social unrest, India is growing at a scotching pace, despite its myriad challenges.
TG: What computing hard ware/software have you worked with? What is the nature of your current IT job?
SG: My current job content requires a combination of business, functional and technical knowledge. I have spent fifteen years in data analytics, data mining, and business intelligence with focus on global Financial Markets. Fortunately, the nature of my job gave me an opportunity to globe trot across thirty countries. This has been a very enriching and humbling experience. My current role entails chasing large analytic pursuits, assisting value articulation for customers, solution architecting, managing alliances, sales channels and liaison with my delivery counterparts to deliver analytics and data warehousing projects. My specialty is helping analytics in the area of banking risk, banking financial performance, customer analytics, HR analytics, airlines analytics, among others.
TG: Who are your favorite authors?
SG: Fyodor Dostoevsky, Edgar Allan Poe, Munshi Premchand, Rabindranath Tagore, O Henry, Agatha Christie, Ellery Queen, Raymond Chandler, Arthur Conan Doyle, Jules Verne, H G Wells, P G Wodehouse, Sidney Sheldon, Alexander Pushkin, Anton Chekhov, Saki, Dashiell Hammett, Premendra Mitra, Oscar Wilde, Sarath Chandra among various others.
TG: What do you think of Bhagat and his book ‘One Night in a Call Centre?
SG: Chetan Bhagat has been able to capture the Indian sensibilities in his own signature style. It is an undeniable fact that in the last few years he is the biggest thing that has taken Indian writing by storm. He had broken the established bastions of writing, carving a niche for hitherto dormant reader segment – the new age Gen X/Gen Y readers.
On a side note, in one way I too am fortunate that Rupa & Co (Chetan’s publisher) is publishing my book – Rupa’s reach is immense and I hope to leverage their huge distribution network that penetrates into the deep pockets of the country. We all know that the lives of techies reverberate around the bigger cities, but in smaller towns there always is a curiosity about the lives of techies, for many like me in the IT Industry has their roots in smaller towns. Though, my book has no intent to preach anything about the IT Industry, it only aspires that readers get their thrills, frills and chills, but I am sure readers will see definite vibes of techies and their lives in the book.
TG: Next step?
SG: Finishing a full length novel, amidst a hectic job schedule, has taken quite a toll on personal commitment with my family. I will give writing a break, at least for some time now. The impetuous mind has been enticing me to weave a yarn again; bit I am holding on to this temptation and hope will be able to do so for some time. There are also talks with a leading Bollywood director for writing a screenplay for my book, but all these are early stages.
TG: Anything else you would care to comment on?
SG: In the macrocosm of time and space, we are here for a blip of a nanosecond and occupy micron of a space. It is important that we never lose the zest of life, despite however trying times are, and at the same time believing in the amazing grace of the Lord above. I am grateful to friends the writing community; for it was with many a helping hand my book is what it turned out finally. I would like to thank friends, family and authors, namely, Karan Bajaj, Neeraj Chhibba, Neeraj Pandey, Aabid Surti, Ashwin Sanghi, Mukul Deva, Bhavna Chauhan, Ravi Subramaniam, among various others who have extended their help in this journey.