In Conversation with Hrishikesh Joshi – Author of Checkmate

Hrishikesh Joshi is the author of the book Checkmate that deals with a very sensitive topic involving the terrorist activities to weaken the internal security of India. Along with writing, he is pursuing his engineering studies and is in the final year.  He is also a Taekwondo Black Belter & a National Referee.

meTell us a little about yourself and your background?

I am Hrishikesh Joshi, the author of Checkmate. I am a halfhearted engineering student, studying in my last year. I have also completed 2 psychology courses and I am an avid trekker having a soft spot for Himalayan treks. I am also a Taekwondo black belt and a national referee. I have a hyperactive Germaan Shepherd and my room is generally untidy.

What inspired you to write a book?

In Paulo Coelho’s words, “It began with a glimpse of passing thought and ended up in an obsession.” I was on Srinagar airport three years ago and had a moment of inspiration when I saw a placard proclaiming the number of VIPs exempted from security frisking. I spotted a flaw in the airport security system and started developing a plot involving a plane hijack. A year later I started writing and the story developed into a suspenseful plot.

Tell us something about your book.

Checkmate is a work of fiction, belonging to the espionage or suspense thriller genre. Checkmate is a story of aero plane hijack, and the battle between the terrorists and the Indian Intelligence. Though not based on a true story, it is similar to the hijack of flight IC 814 which happened in 1999. Checkmate is pacey and a relatively small book and hence suitable for the light readers and beginners as well.

Checkmate points out a real flaw in the airport security of our country, and I do hope that the concerned authorities will make a note and act accordingly. Checkmate has a a few raunchy sexual content, which I am sure will be enjoyed by the young readers; not that the senior citizens wouldn’t enjoy it as well.

Checkmate, also has undertones that strongly warn against the horrors of misguided passions and religious fanaticism. Through the nuances of its characters, this novel professes a prolonged argument for the freedom of thought, tolerance and the courage to follow one’s dreams, revealing the beautiful vistas that lie upon following the passions of one’s heart. I sincerely hope you enjoyed reading Checkmate, as much as I enjoyed writing it.

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What is the greatest challenge in writing a book?

There’s a reason why writing is so hard… and yet so naturally simple. And one cannot hope to have an inkling of that reason unless one tries to write something. Writing is one of the most intimate forms of candid self-expression. I was compelled to pick up the pen to create a world of my own. I became myself when I wrote. Writing ‘Checkmate’ has been a turbulent and soul churning journey. Travelling down this virgin territory, I discovered hitherto unknown, unraveled places inside my own head lying dormant for long… beautiful and profound, yet tinged with a hint of melancholia.

Literature, particularly fiction, is a delicate art of building a bridge between imagination and reality. The story must seem realistic and at the same time should be very interesting and entertaining. And it is very crucial and difficult to strike that balance. A proper research is necessary before writing a book.

Writing a story is kind of like proving complicated theorems… there are a hundred different ways to reach your destined conclusion, but you must pick the perfect one.

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What are your ambitions for your writing career?

I am currently exploring the options of creative writing fellowships and other creative writing degrees in the USA to pursue after engineering. I have also begun with my next novel.

You have handled a very sensitive subject in the book. How much research did you do before writing the book?

I had to do plenty of research before writing. For instance, the make and the names of pistols & weapons used. Research about Indian Intelligence agencies like RAW and IB and their hierarchy. I also had to read about important international events and the various terrorist organizations. I also watched the documentary about 1999 Kandahar plane hijack. I also had to do research about the details of flying a plane.

Anything you would like to share with aspiring authors?

Seeing as I was an aspiring author myself barely six months ago, I am not sure if I have enough experience to impart wisdom to aspiring authors. But I will say this, always focus on improving your writing than your sales. Be glad that you have found your passion of writing. Never take no for an answer when it comes to things you love. Everything else is just noise.

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