Wednesday, October 19, 2016

Author Interview & Giveaway - Ten Days in October by Ashish Malpani

Ten Days in October
by Ashish Malpani
GENRE: Fiction: Crime

'5 a.m. phone call broke Police Inspector Shivaji Chavan’s sleep informing him that local jeweler Anil Kokate, was found hanging from a tree on the banks of Pravara River in a small town of rural India. Although the signs point to an open and shut case of suicide, Chavan suspects foul play. While trying to find the missing pieces of the story he finds more hidden skeletons and comes across astonishing & cruel past of the victim. What begins as a routine investigation quickly turns darker, ruthless and pressing. Can Chavan handle the pressure of his superiors, local media and frightened masses? Can he navigate the system to reach the killer? Can he solve the moral dilemma when he comes face to face with the killer?

Inspector Shivaji Chavan then looked at Amol, the victim’s son, and said, “As soon as the doctor completes the examination, I will hand the body over to you. Please wait for few minutes more.” Then he opened the main door. The smell of rotted flesh mixed with Formaldehyde forced him to hold his breath. Gayakwad was standing inside holding a handkerchief on his nose. The postmortem room was well lit with a white tiled platform in the middle of the room for the examination. Dr. Sheikh was done with the autopsy. He had a couple of assistants with him. Seeing Chavan, Dr.Sheikh stopped what he was doing. He took off his gloves and washed his hands in the nearby sink. He grabbed his notepad and walked over to Chavan. 

“I am almost done with the examination; I can quickly review the results with you and release the body to your custody.”

“Sure, go ahead,” said Chavan.

“Stitch it up,” Dr. Sheikh instructed the assistants and quickly flipped through his notes. “Sahib, in my opinion, the cause of death is asphyxia due to hanging. There is about four cm wide ligature marks running from the midline around the thyroid cartilage, symmetrically upward on both sides of the neck. The mark matches with the rope that was brought in with the body. I also think that it was a simple knot and running noose. The hyoid bone is fractured as well, which is not a surprise given the age of the victim? Microscopic examination of the thyroid gland and salivary gland shows focal interstitial hemorrhage which is consistent with antemortem nature of hanging. I won’t rule out suicide altogether, but I have a couple of other interesting things to report. There is light ligature mark around the wrists that would suggest that the wrists were tied together at some point. Also, all five fingers of the right hand are swollen, and the X-ray revealed that the fingers were broken. And my guess is that this injury was antemortem too. Also, it appears that there was some cloth stuffed in his mouth. I found some traces of fabric in his tract. Finally, looks like he had broken ribs a while back. ”

“How is that possible? How could someone break their fingers and then commit suicide?”

“That is something I can’t explain either,” Dr. Sheikh replied. “On the face of it, it does look like that force was applied to break the bones, so I don’t think Kokate did it himself. Maybe he got into a fight, and then something else triggered the suicide.”

“That is one possible explanation. Can you say for sure that this is a suicide and not homicide?”

 “If you discount the broken bones, it does looks like a suicide case.”   

Talking with author Ashish Malpani
What is your writing environment?
>> I get the inspiration and energy to write from those around me. I can never picture myself locked in a cabin and writing for days. I need human interaction to foster creativity. After a day full of interactions, as the clock ticks past 9 p.m. together with some music in my earphones and a warm cup of coffee is the perfect setup for my fingers to start beating the keyboard. That is the reason why I have not missed any social engagements throughout the process. I do believe that this has influenced my characters and exploring their social behavior has definitely made them more alive.

Who is your perfect hero/heroine and why?
>> Given that ‘Ten Days in October’ is based in India, I think it will be hard to include Hollywood actors in leading roles. That said, it may be a good opportunity to look at Bollywood for help. I think Ajay Devgan, Akshay Kumar and/ or Nawazuddin Siddiqui may be fit for the lead roles. I see them as bold, willing to experiment and someone who I can relate to when thinking about Shivaji Chavan, the protagonist of ‘Ten Days in October.’

What authors have caught your interest lately and why?
>> To be honest, I haven’t started reading a new book but there is a long list of books on my list. Over the years, I have read many books and liked quite a few. I like to read anything that is interesting from management & economics to fiction, no subject/ genre is binding. I want to read the ‘Girl on the Train’ and understand why it made such a big hit.

What type of book have you always wanted to write?
>> I always wanted to write a crime fiction and travelogue. As I started writing ‘Ten Days in October’, I realized what an enjoyable experience it was to create a story that keeps the reader on the edge of the chair and I love to travel so definitely I want to share my experiences there.

Top 3 things on your bucket list?
>> Even after traveling to forty countries and exploring different cultures I do think that there is so much more to explore in this world. It is hard but I think I can narrow it down to top three that I want to do. 
  • Hike to Everest base camp: This is one of my childhood dreams and I definitely want to try my best to hike up there. I believe the adventure, the sense of accomplishment and the excitement will be unparalleled.
  • Brave the cold in Antarctica: I want to definitely visit Antarctica and survive the cold there to test my resolve.
  • Experience the northern lights: I want to spend some time soaking in the northern lights and capturing the phenomenon in my camera.

How did you get the idea for this particular novel?
>> The story of this novel unfolds over ten days in October, but that is not the reason behind the title. The ten days have great significance not only from mythological and religious perspective but also for the plot. The first nine days of the story line happen over Hindu festival of Navratri, which literally means ‘nine-days’. Navratri is the celebration of feminine divinity in the form of universal mother, Devi (Goddess). The first three days celebrate the Devi in the form of Durga, second set of three days honor the Devi as Lakshmi, and final three days are dedicated to Saraswati. Riding a lion, armed with weapons of Gods Goddess Durga is destroyer of evil and epitomizes valor. Lakshmi is goddess of wealth and prosperity. Not just material but also spiritual wealth and purpose are the blessings of this form. Saraswati is celebration of knowledge and wisdom. She is often depicted sitting on a rock, symbolizing the knowledge that stays with us always. Following the nine days of rituals and worship, the 10th day is celebrated as Dussehra, which is also known as Vijaya- Dashmi. It is celebrated to mark the victory of Lord Rama over the demon, Ravana.

Even when so much emphasis and respect is given to the mother form of God, India is still trying to combat the growth in crime against women from female feticide and infanticide to harassment and dowry deaths. With just 10% women representation in government and parliament the laws that deem everyone equal don’t always do justice and fall short. The perpetrators get away because of lack of political and enforcement will power, misuse of power and corruption.  

The novel is inspired by one of the dark incidents that happened around my home town in India and highlights the social issues while staying in the genre. That is why I believe the novel is worth reading.

What is your favorite scene in your new release?
>> The scene where the protagonist faces the killer and the dialogue exchange between the two is my favorite one.

What are you working on now and when can we expect it to be available?
>> I definitely want to continue writing but I don’t want to be defined by a genre. Against the conventional wisdom and marketing benefits, I think I want to write in the format, the genre that is best suited for the story in my mind.  

That said, I have started research on couple of ideas and may be yet another crime fiction is taking shape. ‘Ten Days in October’ makes commentary on one of the glaring social issues we face today and I am ready to take on another one.

What do you like to do when you are not writing?
>> I love to travel, observe different cultures and photograph. If I am sitting on a plane for eight hours, I think it is better that I know somethings about the person sitting next to me. During my travels, I have met interesting people and had interesting conversations that have influenced my characters. The character of Dr. Sheikh, the chief medical examiner was highly influenced by a confident young doctor who I met in one of my trips.

What is one interesting fact about you that readers don’t know?
>> I do like mystic music especially the Sufi music even though largely I consider myself as Hindu atheist. It does present an interesting contradiction of psyche. When I look at a larger picture though, I believe that such contradictions exist in each and every one of us and we have to find a way to deal with them. I have challenged my characters with such questions and immersed myself in their psyche to find the answers. The protagonist Shivaji Chavan in ‘Ten Days in October’ has to navigate through such contradictions and formulate his own philosophy of life.

AUTHOR Bio and Links:
Ashish Malpani is an Indian-American freelancer and blogger. Born in Sangamner, a small town in rural India, he spent much of his adult life in Austin, Texas. A technology product marketer by trade, Ashish earned his MSE from Purdue University and MBA from the University of Texas.
 Ashish fell in love with reading and traveling at a young age. As a kid he had two dreams in life: to write a novel and to travel around the world. Thirty eight countries and counting, Ashish has explored various cultures and captured the world through the lens of his camera with his wife Samta and son Ayan.
Author website:

Buying Links:
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E-Book (Kindle Edition WW $5.99):
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Ashish Malpani will be awarding $10 Amazon or Barnes and Noble GC to a randomly drawn winner via rafflecopter during the tour.