Ajay Chowdhury Crime Thriller Author

Ajay Chowdhury is a tech entrepreneur with a knack for storytelling and innovation. Ajay kicked off his journey in the literary world with his children’s book, ‘Ayesha and the Firefish,’ back in 2016. But it’s his crime fiction that’s really making waves. Starting with ‘The Waiter’ in 2021, which not only snagged a Sunday Times crime book of the month title but it has also been optioned for television.

The fourth book in his Kamil Rahman seriesThe Spy,’ was published on April 4, 2024

On the business front, Ajay has been the founder or CEO of several startups, including Shazam (sold to Apple), Seatwave (sold to Ticketmaster) and LineOne (sold to Tiscali). He has served on the boards of Lionhead, Department of Culture Media and Sport, Arts Council London, Royal Academy of Dramatic Art (RADA), and Historic Royal Palaces amongst others.

He is currently a Managing Director and Senior Partner at BCG Digital Ventures, globally responsible for their ‘deep tech’ businesses, and Chair of Cambridge Enterprise, Cambridge University’s spinout arm. He is a Trustee of the renowned Cheek by Jowl Theatre Company and is a board member of Enacte – a San Francisco based South Asian Theatre Company.

He was selected to be part of the Asian Power 100 – the 100 most influential and powerful Asians in the UK and was selected as one of 2016’s Sunday Times top 100 BAME business leaders in the UK.

Ajay has been honest and outspoken about his embracing Artifical Intelligence as a fiction writer. He’s been invited on several television shows on the BBC discussing the use of AI in Crime Writing. And even debated the legendary debating thriller author, Frederick Forsyth on the use of AI in writing. So I was delighted Ajay accepted my invitation to be on ‘Meet the Thriller Author’ to discuss his crime trillers, writing process, and about AI for writers, which is a contentious subject in the writer and publishing community.

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Show notes and Transcript

In this episode…

  • Ajay Chaudry discusses his writing process, including how his background in technology influences his crime novels.
  • He talks about using artificial intelligence (AI) as a writing tool and the controversy surrounding AI in writing and publishing.
  • Ajay emphasizes that AI is used as an editor on demand and for generating ideas, but not for actual writing due to its limitations in character development.
  • The conversation touches on the evolving role of AI in the publishing industry, potential copyright issues, and the impact on voiceover artists and translators.
  • Ajay shares insights on his crime novel series featuring Detective Kamil Rahman, his writing process, and the themes he explores in his books.
  • He mentions upcoming projects, including a book titled “The Shadow” with ghost story elements set in Bombay.
  • Advice for aspiring writers includes entering competitions, not editing while writing, using writing tools like Scrivener, ProWritingAid, and ChatGPT, and focusing on plot, pace, prose, place, and person in writing.
  • Ajay stresses the importance of persistence, creativity, and the unique experience of crafting stories as a writer.


Ajay debating Frederick Forsyth about the use of AI in writing on TalkTV


Click here for full transcript
Disclaimer: This transcript was machine generated and subsequently reviewed and edited minimally by a human, Alan, for accuracy. Please be aware that there may still be errors and typos.

[00:00:01.100] – Alan Petersen
You are listening to Meet the Thriller Author, the podcast where I interview writers of mysteries, thrillers, and suspense books. I’m Alan Petersen, an author of mysteries and thrillers myself, and it’s been a privilege to interview amazing authors in the genre that I love to write and read. Before we dive into this latest episode, a quick reminder, you can explore a treasure trove of past interviews full of insights and inspirations from some of the best minds in our genre over at thrillerauthors. Com. While you’re there, don’t forget to sign up for the Thrilling Reads newsletter to snatch up the best deals on mystery and thriller titles that’ll keep you hooked.

[00:00:38.260] – Alan Petersen
In this episode, number 201, you’ll be meeting Ajay Chowdhury, who is a tech entrepreneur and crime fiction author living in London. Stay tuned as we talk about his writing process, about his latest release, The Fourth Installment in the Detective Kamil Rahman series, which hit shelves on April fourth. Plus, we’ll also delve into a topic that’s steering up the literary world. It’s the role of artificial intelligence in writing and publishing. Ajay has been a founder or CEO of several startups, including Shazam, which was sold to Apple, and Seatwave, which was sold to Ticketmaster. He’s really able to offer some great insight here on emerging technology like AI and how he’s using it as a thriller writer. All right, that’s all coming right up.

[00:01:24.400] – Alan Petersen
Hey, everyone. This is Alan Petersen with Meet the Thriller Author. Today, I have Ajay Chaudry, who is a tech entrepreneur, a writer, a theater director. His first crime novel in the Camille Rahman series, The Waiter, was published in 2021, and it was named the Sunday Times Crime Book of the Month, and has been optioned for television. The next book in that series, The Spy, is due to be published on April fourth. I’m really excited to have Ajay here on the podcast. Welcome.

[00:01:51.730] – Ajay Chowdhury
Hey, Alan. Great to be here.

[00:01:53.130] – Alan Petersen
One thing I wanted to let you know right off the bat, though. I was reading your bio and I see that you were founder and CEO of several tech startups, including Shazam. I remember way back when, that was one of the first apps that I was like, This is like magic. How does it know the songs?

[00:02:09.910] – Ajay Chowdhury
I was one of the first investor in Shazam, and then I was chair there Chairman there for a while. It was very early days before the iPhone, and we got lucky. But it was a terrific app, and it’s wonderful to be part of a team that’s created a verb, to Shazam.

[00:02:28.540] – Alan Petersen
I remember people the bars or whatever with their phones, trying to figure out the song.

[00:02:35.870] – Ajay Chowdhury

[00:02:38.190] – Alan Petersen
I’m curious, too, now. So how has your background, obviously, in technology, has that influenced your writing process and the themes that you choose for your crime novels?

[00:02:49.000] – Ajay Chowdhury
Yeah, pretty much. I was a tech entrepreneur, as you said. Then I only got into crime writing about five or six years ago, where I was lucky enough to win a competition for a first-time crime writer. So I entered it, and to my surprise, the waiter won. I’d only written three chapters, and I had to write the whole damn thing. That’s great. But what I find is it’s influenced me in two ways. One is the third book in the series, The Detective, is actually about a startup where the founders start getting murdered one by one. And it’s an AI startup. They’re doing some really interesting stuff in the field of AI. Ai has been an area I’ve been pretty interested in. So the other area that I guess has been interesting to me is the fact that when ChatGPT came out a couple of years ago, the heads on my neck, back of my neck stood up, and I thought, this is going to change everything. So I started experimenting with it to see how it can be a writing companion as well. And that’s been a fascinating journey. It’s just the beginning of the journey.

[00:03:47.700] – Alan Petersen
You’ve been very open on embracing AI for writers, and that’s a controversial topic, to say the least. And I even saw you on the peers of Morgan’s show, you were debating the legendary Frederick Foresight. That’s right. It had been surreal.

[00:04:04.590] – Ajay Chowdhury
It was. He’s been one of my heroes ever since I read The Day of the Jackal. It was fascinating to have a conversation with him about it.

[00:04:13.970] – Alan Petersen
Yeah, I think I understand that people are very fearful of it, but I think there’s a lot of confusion of it, too, of people just cranking out AI-generated books and just upload it to Amazon versus using it as a tool. Can you tell us a little bit about that and how when you first When you started to using it, how you started seeing, Oh, this can really help me a lot with my crime books, my fiction books?

[00:04:35.650] – Ajay Chowdhury
Yeah, look, I think of it in two or three different ways. The first is the copyright issues have to be sorted out. I completely believe the fact that all these models have been trained on copyrighted material and copyrighted books is a serious problem. I think the Open AIs and the Googles and the Amazons of the world have to figure out how do they compensate writers and artists and photographers if they’ve trained this on their books, and that needs to be sorted out. So let’s put that to one side and say they’ve got to sort the copyright out. I use AI very much as a tool, so I don’t use it to write my books because I actually don’t think it’s a very good writer, particularly for fiction. It produces stuff that’s pretty mediocre. And the reality is when people read crime, when they read sci-fi, the best fiction, genre fiction they read is because they fall in love with the characters. They empathize with the characters. They want to know what motivates these characters to do what they do. In my Common Roman series, the guy is an ex-cop from Calcada. He got thrown out of the police force for corruption.

[00:05:36.690] – Ajay Chowdhury
He ends up as a waiter in a small restaurant in London, totally embittered. He falls in love with the manager of the restaurant. The relationships form That’s the key part of it. Ai can never do relationships particularly well. If you ask it to write any of our relationships, it comes up with stuff that’s completely cliched and mediocre. But where it can be very good is the way I use it, which is as an editor on demand. If I get stuck somewhere, it’s really cool to go to ChatGPT and say, Hey, listen, I’ve got this idea. My hero is stuck in this area. Give me four or five ways that they could get out of this jam. It’ll come up with four or five ideas. I may not use any of them, but they will spark other ideas for me. That’s exactly the conversation I might have with my wife, or I might have with my editor, or I might have with some friends. That stuff, I think it’s very, very good at. It’s also good at things like structuring. I very much plot my books before I write them. So it’s very interesting to put a structure into ChatGPT and say, Hey, listen, there’s a structure I’m thinking about, and it might come back with some other ideas.

[00:06:41.140] – Ajay Chowdhury
So that stuff, I think it’s very good. And I think people are going to be using this. A year from now, Alan, people are going to be thinking, Why were they having this conversation at all? It’s like moving from typing to a word processor. Nobody said, Oh, you need to use it. You should use a typewriter to be a real writer now.

[00:06:57.440] – Alan Petersen
Yeah, and I remember that my first year in college was 1987. And so none of us had personal computers. Exactly. I had to do papers on typewriter, and then we moved to the computer lab at the campus. And there were some professors who were worried about that. They were suspicious of it. Like, Oh, is it writing it for you? Kind of like now with people think that you hit a button and AI is going to write this incredible book or whatever, and that’s just not the case. That’s what I’ve seen.

[00:07:22.570] – Ajay Chowdhury
Not at all. And certainly not for fiction. I think for non-conviction, if you’re writing an academic paper or something, maybe it’ll get you 50% of the way there. I don’t know. That’s not what I write, but certainly not for the stuff that I do.

[00:07:34.850] – Alan Petersen
I know people say, Well, just give it a year, give it a month. But who knows what’s going to happen in that time anyway?

[00:07:42.980] – Ajay Chowdhury
I mean, that’s a really interesting question. It’s something that I do grapple with because it is getting better and better all the time. No question about that. But the thing is, because it’s been trained on existing stuff, it will always move towards an average. I think if you’re average writer and a not very good writer, perhaps, who doesn’t write so much about characters and so on, but it’s focused mainly on plot and what happens, then I think it could well be a threat to you. But ultimately, it’s going to be the publishers who decide Because ultimately, the publishers control what gets released to the public in a mass way. I mean, yes, people do self-publish. And they’ll decide. If they say, Listen, this AI is good enough and I’m going to publish it, I believe they will have to say and should say, This is written by AI. And then a reader can then make the decision of, Do I care or don’t I care? But I think good writers who write about character who really go above the average will always thrive.

[00:08:42.610] – Alan Petersen
Yeah, I noticed that with the AI for audiobooks on Amazon now, if you use their tool, it says AI Virtual Voice audiobooks, people know. And those have been pretty incredible, some of those audiobooks. They’re not that bad.

[00:08:58.530] – Ajay Chowdhury
No, they aren’t. And it’s what What’s scary is, I think OpenAI last week announced that they’ve created this new tool which can clone anybody’s voice, which is a terrifying thought. So you can get an audiobook read by Taylor Swift. You can get an audiobook read by Morgan Freeman, but it’ll be the AI doing it. But again, it’s the publishers will have to decide, and obviously, Taylor Swift and Morgan Freeman will have to give their permission. But it’s going to happen. I think it’s a concern for voiceover artists. It’s a concern for illustration readers, people translators. The AI can translate books now. And I think it is a real concern for people like that to decide how do we make sure that we stay ahead of the curve in terms of what the AI is doing.

[00:09:43.040] – Alan Petersen
I also see it as, especially for independent publishing, self-published, especially with Amazon, it’s such a big field now. And it does even the feel a little bit, though, because translations, audiobooks, development and editing, that’s just so expensive. I could see why some people don’t like it, but it makes it a little bit more fair. I don’t know, because they could afford all these people to do it for them.

[00:10:08.080] – Ajay Chowdhury
Except they’re the ones who are going to be using it to cut costs, which I think is a bit of a problem. But that’s the other problem is I think you’re going to get so much stuff out there because that’s going to be AI generated. People are generating 30, 40, 50 books using AI now. They’re generating all kinds of music using AI. I read an article about this guy who records songs. He does about 500 songs a day. And in the song, he’ll put a person’s name. It’ll be the same song. But in one song, it was Alan Peterson, another song, it’ll say Ajay Chaudry. And he figures that if Alan gets hold of it and tells his friends, Hey, listen to this song, he’ll get 20 streams on Spotify. That’s it. But if he’s doing thousands of them, they’re all going to add up.

[00:10:47.300] – Alan Petersen
Oh, wow.

[00:10:48.840] – Ajay Chowdhury
So there’s some weird stuff going on everywhere now.

[00:10:52.020] – Alan Petersen
Yeah. Well, I guess that’s always the technology, right? When there’s a new technology, people are going to try to exploit it and find loopholes and use it in weird ways. So I guess it’s-Exactly right.

[00:11:00.300] – Ajay Chowdhury
You’re in the Bay Area, so I guess you see a lot of it happening there anyway.

[00:11:04.890] – Alan Petersen
Yeah, there was an AI conference here last month. It was more for tech stuff, but I went because I was curious. And some people did some incredible things there here in the Bay I hear you. It’s excited because OpenAI and all these companies are based here in San Francisco, at least their headquarters.

[00:11:22.390] – Ajay Chowdhury
Absolutely. But look, good readers are going to be good readers. I don’t think computers are going to be writing good readers anytime soon. I mean, everyone reads Lee Child. It’s weird because Lee Child, I think, is a fantastic writer, but his books are pretty much the same. But there’s no way, in my view, a computer could actually write those because there’s something in it that keeps reading and keeps you wanting to see more here at all. Jack Reacher is just such a fantastic character. You just want to want more and more of him. I think those are the kinds of things that will really thrive.

[00:11:56.750] – Alan Petersen
One other question I had in this field for you, especially since we were talking a a little bit, you’ve been so public about you using it. How has been the backlash? Because I know writers, friends who’ve been kicked out of Facebook groups because they said that they’re using AI as a tool. Are you worried about getting bad reviews just for spite?

[00:12:13.080] – Ajay Chowdhury
Look, it may well happen. I’ve certainly had a lot of author friends of mine come to me and say, Hey, what are you doing? It’s not like I’m publicizing it. I mean, this stuff is out there. I’m just being honest about the fact that, listen, I think everyone’s going to be using this in a year’s time. You can bury your head in the sand as much as you want, but it’s there. And there have been all kinds of tools around. Things like Grammarly and Prowriting Aid are things all writers use, and it’s helping you with your grammar, it’s helping you with your spelling, it’s helping see whether you’ve used many clichés in your writing. This is just the It’s the evolution of that.

[00:12:46.910] – Alan Petersen
Yeah, I think that was good when you were talking in a TV show with Frederick Foresight, was I think there’s the understanding that you’re not using it to write it. It’s just a tool. And I remember reading about Ken Follett who had as a researcher on higher as a staff who does all his research for him and puts all these binders together. That’s the way I see it, more like an assistant than anything else.

[00:13:09.320] – Ajay Chowdhury
I think that’s exactly right. I think that’s exactly right. The other weird thing is people like Wilber Smith and Robert Ludlum and Ian Fleming, they died a long time ago. But James Bond books and Poireau books and Beaune books, they’re still coming out. It’s got Wilber Smith in big letters and then small letters and so and so who wrote the actual book. So these big names have become brands in themselves, and people are buying the brand because they know that’s what they’re getting. And I’m pretty sure at some point, the publishers are going to say, Well, maybe I’m going to try and get AI to write this thing. As I said, it’s going to be the publishers who make this happen or don’t make this happen.

[00:13:48.810] – Alan Petersen
So I’m almost curious, you mentioned that you started writing fiction, the readers about five, six years ago. Were you a fan of the genre as a reader before you started to write these? How did you get into it?

[00:13:58.130] – Ajay Chowdhury
Oh, absolutely. So I’ve been a fan of the genre since I grew up in India. And in India, Sherlock Holmes and Agatha Christie, people like that, are absolutely huge. I grew up on Holmes and Christie a little bit more, and also a bit of Ram Chandler and stuff like that. I’ve been a massive fan of it, but it was weird. It’s only till a few years ago that you started seeing Asian and South Asian detectors in fiction. It’s a relatively recent phenomenon, maybe last nine or 10 years. In the West, in India, there’s always been lots of detective stories for the last 100 years. But it’s only really in West that in the last 9 or 10 years where I think publishers have said, Actually, there’s a market for this. I was always keen to write this idea, as I said, of this policeman who gets thrown out of the force and ends up as a waiter and then has to climb his way back to the top again. I wanted him to be a Muslim detective because there are very few Muslim detectives, if any, I don’t think there are any, actually, that I found in crime fiction.

[00:14:58.700] – Ajay Chowdhury
I thought that would be quite an interesting thing to explore. Bringing my background, I grew up in Calcutta, I grew up in India, and I’ve been living in England for the last 35, 40 years, and bringing them together was a lot of fun. It’s a bit of a fish out of water story, which always was funny and fun. He’s got to learn the ropes over here. Then he gets enmeshed in a pretty interesting mystery where he’s catering a multimillionaire’s birthday party and a millionaire is found dead. Then he’s going to help solve the crime, even though he’s just a waiter. That’s fun.

[00:15:31.050] – Alan Petersen
The Spy, that’s the latest one in the series? Yeah.

[00:15:35.160] – Ajay Chowdhury
The Spy comes out tomorrow, which is the fourth, which is very exciting. It’s a change of pace. In the first book, the Waiter, Carmel’s a Waiter, and the second one, the Cook, that’s what he becomes a cook. In the third one, he actually joins the police in London again and becomes a detective. But in the fourth one, in the Waiter, in the Spy, he’s asked to infiltrate a terrorist group, an Islamic terrorist group that’s planning a horrific action in the UK. What I find interesting about it is he starts to believe in what they’re doing, a bit like Stockholm syndrome in a way. His deliverer then becomes, I actually believe in what these guys are trying to do because a lot of what’s happening in India, Muslims, is pretty horrific. Then he goes to Kashmir, and he sees for himself how horrible things are there for them, and given what’s happening in Israel, Palestine now, et cetera. He suddenly starts saying, Well, actually, I believe in what these guys are doing, but he’s there to stop them. That, I think, makes for a very interesting dilemma. Does his cop, a brain take over or does his heart take over?

[00:16:42.160] – Ajay Chowdhury
This comes back to empathy and comes back to really identifying with the characters.

[00:16:46.730] – Alan Petersen
Yeah, that sounds great. It reminds me of Donnie Brasco when he starts liking the characters that he’s in there with. Yeah, I like that.

[00:16:53.960] – Ajay Chowdhury
I never thought of that. I haven’t seen that for many years, but you’re absolutely right. I haven’t thought of that for ages.

[00:16:59.920] – Alan Petersen
With regards to your writing process, too, just curious now, you said you plot and you outline. Can you walk us through about? You get the story and what’s your process before you start to write it?

[00:17:10.980] – Ajay Chowdhury
I’m very much a plotter. They call them the Plotters and the Panthers, so I I certainly don’t write by the seat of my pants. It’s very, very plotted out. I’ve got to really know what’s happening. I tend to start… First of all, it’s important that there’s a theme or an idea that I’m interested in exploring. In The Waiter, it’s police corruption. In The Cook, it’s the homeless people who are being killed. I just got intrigued by the idea, if homeless people get murdered, does anybody even know or care? In The Detective, as I said, it was AI and what could AI do? But The Detective also had a second theme which I found really interesting, which is the East End of London, which has now become a big tech hub. A hundred years ago, Jewish entrepreneurs from Eastern Europe came and set up their factories there, and they were different types of entrepreneurs. The Detective has two story lines. One is of a Jewish family that got killed a hundred years ago, and the second is of entrepreneurs were being murdered today. I was interested in contrasting the different types of entrepreneurship then. That was the theme then.

[00:18:14.760] – Ajay Chowdhury
In the Spy, it really what interested me was what was happening in Kashmir, what was happening in minorities, as I said, reading what was happening in Israel. Palestine is pretty awful now. First of all, I find a theme that interests me. Once I’ve got that theme, Then I’ve got to find a way into it, and that tends to start with the crime. I would have to start with, so who killed who and why did they kill that person? Then starting with that crime, I work backwards and say, Okay, so this murder happened because of this reason, now let’s work backwards and see what they got wrong when they tried to cover it up. Then the detective gets involved. That’s the base idea. I plot it out. I’m pretty, I got to write 90,000 words. My first draft ends to be 30, 40,000 words where I’ll just put the story down. I don’t try and make it pretty or do anything fancy with it. I just want to get the story down. Then once I’ve got that down and I think it’s working, that’s when I bring in what I call the five P’s. It sounds very grand.

[00:19:21.930] – Ajay Chowdhury
Then I read it for these five things, which is the five P’s. The first is plot. It’s got to have a good plot. You’ve got to want people to turn the page and what happens, what happens next. The minute people get bored or the minute I get bored with it, it’s not working. The second is a person, people. You’ve got to be interested in the people. It’s got to really come from their hearts. You’ve got to be interested in their lives. You want to know what happens to them. The third is pace. These are detective stories, they’re readers. They’ve got to be pacey. You’ve got to want people at the end of a chapter not be able to shut the light off at night because they want us to the next chapter. Then the fourth for me that’s important is place, which is my books tend to be set in the East end of London or part of the spice set in Kashmir. I really want to bring the place to life. The fifth, if I can get there, is prose. I want to write well. There are a lot of fantastic writers who are great at plot and great at pace, but they just don’t write particularly well.

[00:20:23.720] – Ajay Chowdhury
And that’s okay. I mean, Lee Child, again, who I like a lot, he does all five. He’s great with people. Reacher is an amazing character. His plots are fantastic. His space is incredible. He really brings place to life because it’s always in a different small town in America. I actually think his prose is really interesting. And the books are like Reacher. They’re very spare, they’re very simple. That’s my process. I’ll plot it out, I’ll write the first 40,000 words, then I’ll try and flesh it out with these five things, and then I’ll give it to my wife to read and she’ll tear it apart. Then we’ll start again. And create a better book at the end of it.

[00:21:02.230] – Alan Petersen
What do you use to write your books? Do you use that word or some other software?

[00:21:05.280] – Ajay Chowdhury
No, I use Scrivener for the first draft because it’s really good to be able to write different chapters and add bits of research and so on. Then I use this It’s a fantastic piece of software called Prowriting Aid, which is like an AI software in the sense that it does the spelling and the grammar checks and so on. But it also does some really cool things like it tells you you’re repeating this word too many times. Sometimes when you do some writing, you say, Well, this person’s used this word three times in the last two paragraphs. It helps you even that out. It’s got a lot of other bits that really improve your writing. It does a whole critique of the writing for you. As I said, it’s like an editor on demand. Then occasionally, as I said, nowadays I’ll go into ChatGPT and play around with it, or I even go into things like Midjourney. If I’ve got an idea for them, for characters in a certain place, I’ll put it into Midjourney, see what comes out, and then see if that sparks off anything in me that might excite the reader.

[00:22:06.350] – Alan Petersen
Yeah, I’d like doing that, too. Getting the image with these tools. It really inspires you. Like, Okay, there’s the cabin I was envisioning.

[00:22:15.210] – Ajay Chowdhury
Exactly. No, it really does. And it’s so easy to do now. It’s wonderful. I think all these tools can be really, really helpful.

[00:22:23.730] – Alan Petersen
And when you’re actually writing a novel, do you set the word count goals? Goals? Do you write every day? What about your process?

[00:22:32.590] – Ajay Chowdhury
Yeah, I absolutely set the word count goals. And I said, I’m a little finicky. So my books tend to be about 90,000 words. I like the chapters to be relatively short. So I try and aim for a couple of thousand words per chapter, maybe 45 chapters in the book. And then I’ll plot out right from the beginning, Okay, this is the plot. This is what happens in this chapter. This is what happens in this chapter. So I might write a two, three-line précis of maybe half the chapters or 50%, 60% of the chapters. Then I’ll start writing a couple of thousand words. I try and write every day for about 2, 3 hours a day. If I can get 2,000 words a day, that’s fantastic. But as I said, I don’t worry about them being particularly good words. I just want to get it out there. I know a lot of writers who go back and they’ll polish and edit while they’re writing. I think that’s a real problem because for me, it’s about getting the story down and then all that polishing can come later on. It takes a long time. It’ll be over a year between getting in, starting to write, and then the book actually coming out.

[00:23:38.450] – Ajay Chowdhury
It’s a long process. I do a book a year. At any one time, I’m typically writing a book, editing the last one and marketing the one before that.

[00:23:48.490] – Alan Petersen
Yeah, so that’s a good process, too, because then, like you said, you’re always working on one, and then… That way, you’re not always stuck in one world the whole time. You’re editing, so it lets you reset a little bit in your mind.

[00:24:03.850] – Ajay Chowdhury
It does. The other thing that it does, which has been fantastic for me, is because I’m editing the last book when I’m writing the current one. It allows me, and I’ve done this in virtually all the books, to go back and put a few Easter eggs in the previous book that are going to relate to the crime in the book I’m writing right now. That’s a lot of fun to do now. I bet nobody picks up on them, but it’s a lot of fun to me. The The murderer in the second book actually gets a fleeting mention in the first book, which nobody will ever pick up on. That stuff is a lot of fun. I like recurring characters. I really like bringing characters back. In the spy, one key character from the first book comes back in the spy and becomes a key character in the fourth book, and you never expected them to come back. And stuff like that is great because it’s creating a world. I love these books that create complete worlds out there over multiple books.

[00:25:01.150] – Alan Petersen
Yeah, I have seen a lot of resurgence here in the United States of British English crime readers. So it’s exciting to see that to you. You mentioned before earlier that crime thriller books has been a popular genre in India for a long time. Can I think of the Norwegian type? Is that like they’re writing in the language? Yes, so they’ve been both.

[00:25:25.620] – Ajay Chowdhury
A bunch of them were written in English, but a bunch of them were written in local Indian languages, whether it’s Bengali, or Hindi, or Gujarat. In fact, a very good book has just come out, which is a two-volume book called the Hachet Book of Indian Crime Short Stories, in which I contributed a story. But it’s a fabulous book because it looks at crime writing in India for the last 100 odd years, from a lot of the earlier books which were written in translation to completely new stories. It’s a fantastic overview of what’s been happening there.

[00:25:59.240] – Alan Petersen
I’ll have to check that out. And so what are you working on now?

[00:26:04.220] – Ajay Chowdhury
Yes, I’m working on the next book. I’m editing the next book that’s out coming out next April. It’s called The Shadow. It’s another Kamal Rahman book. And it’s a slight change of pace for me because it’s got some ghost story elements to it, which is fun. It’s about a guy who’s a young guy, and he sees someone dying in 1947 and doesn’t help them. And this person curses him saying that he and all his kids will die on their 47th birthdays. Sure enough, that starts happening. And Carmel has to figure out what’s going on here because it’s been going on for the last 50, 60 years. That’s a really fun one to do that. That entire book is set in Bombay, which is also a lot of fun because I grew up there as well.

[00:26:53.690] – Alan Petersen
How much of research do you put it into them? Do you go out to Bombay to check it out?

[00:26:57.670] – Ajay Chowdhury
Yeah, absolutely. I was in Bombay in I spent 10 days there going to all the places I was going to be writing about and some really interesting places. I mean, a big chunk of the book takes place in one of the biggest slums in the world. It’s a slum called Dharavi, which I don’t know if you saw the film Slumdog Millionaire, but that was based in that slum. Me and my wife, I forced my wife to go and go there and look at it. But then another part of the book takes place in this massive mansion, old mansion. A friend of mine I had a friend who lived in one of these old mansions. You go there and there’s these huge chandeliers and these wonderful sofas from 100 years ago. It was great fun to go and see all of this. I do quite a bit of research for the books.

[00:27:47.200] – Alan Petersen
For the listeners, I have listeners who are aspiring writers, and so I always ask my guests about advice for them, and especially with the AI tools and everything. Could you give us a little bit of advice for somebody who’s listening to this and trying to figure things out?

[00:28:00.450] – Ajay Chowdhury
Absolutely. So first of all, don’t give up. It can be extremely frustrating. I got lucky because I entered a competition, so keep your eyes out for competitions. Go into competitions. It really does work. It really worked for me. The second thing would be, as I said, don’t edit while you write. I think it’s extremely important to get things done on paper because one problem is people never finish their book because they’re trying to get it perfect. Don’t try and get it perfect. Get it finished and then start working on it. And use these tools. I think Scrivener, Prowriting it, ChatGPT, they’re all fabulous tools to use. You shouldn’t rely on them. It shouldn’t become a crutch, but it should definitely be a tool that you can use to make your writing better. And if the five P’s helps you, go ahead. As I said, it’s plot, it’s space, it’s prose, it’s place, and it’s person. And I think any Any good book has those five things in it. If you can crack all five, you get the jackpot. But listen, it’s the most wonderful thing in the world, I’ll tell you, this idea that you have an idea for a ghost story that I’m writing now, and then maybe in a year, two years time, tens of thousands of people will have read it.

[00:29:23.390] – Ajay Chowdhury
They might hate it, they might love it, who knows? But there’s nothing like it. It’s so weird. There’s just 26 letters in the English language. But you, as a writer, are writing something that in millions of years, nobody has ever written before. And that’s a pretty amazing thing. That’s a pretty amazing thing.

[00:29:44.800] – Alan Petersen
Yeah, that is wild. And I think it’s also good advice that you… It’s just like you stick with ChatGPT, for example, because there’s so many tools coming out now that you could get overwhelmed, and probably half of them will be gone, right? It’s a startup world, you know this.

[00:29:59.230] – Ajay Chowdhury
Absolutely. I mean, and some of them, a lot of them are just not very good. But you’ve got to figure out how to use it. What I recommend with things like ChatGPT is spend four, five, six hours with it, not just for writing, just for anything. Because I think if you do that, you get a bit of a revelation where you go, Oh, my God, this is A, amazing, and B, terrifying, and C, I could use it. But you got to spend your time with it. It’s strange because how you ask it questions matters. I find I like to be polite to it, not to be rude. And weirdly, if I ask the same question, being slightly polite and slightly rude, I’ll get two completely different responses.

[00:30:45.340] – Alan Petersen
I’m at, Please, can you please do this?

[00:30:47.570] – Ajay Chowdhury
Exactly, which is so strange. But actually, you do get a different response.

[00:30:53.770] – Alan Petersen
All right, Ajay, that was fantastic. Thank you so much for talking to us about your writing and AI and all these tools. It was a pleasure talking with you.

[00:31:01.980] – Ajay Chowdhury
Fantastic. Thank you so much for having me.

[00:31:03.660] – Alan Petersen
Thank you for listening to Meet the Thriller author. If you enjoy the show, please take a moment to rate and review it on your preferred podcast platform. Your feedback makes all the difference in connecting with fellow Thriller and mystery fans, and it helps them find this podcast on the podcasting apps like Apple and Spotify. For show notes, transcripts, and archives of hundreds of author interviews, please go to thrillingreads. Com. From there, don’t forget to sign up for the Thrilling Reads newsletter for exclusive access to giveaways, discounts, and astounding thriller and mystery book recommendations and reviews. Check out my thriller books on my website alanpetersen.com remember, that’s Petersen with an E, not a no. Until next time, keep the pages turning and keep the mysteries unraveling.

About the Author
I write thriller and crime fiction novels and host the Meet the Thriller Author podcast where I interview authors of mystery, thriller, and suspense books.

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