Everybody loves a good murder mystery! And when the mystery is set in the backdrop of political turmoil in a small Indian town, a thrilling culmination is guaranteed. This is the promise made by Fawaz Jaleel in his latest book titled ‘Nobody Likes an Outsider’, where he introduces a new policeman detective called Yohan Tytler. Published by Kalamos Literary Services in 2021, this political potboiler has earned itself a 4.5-star rating on Amazon.
Having grown up in Bahrain, Jaleel moved to Chennai to pursue his graduation from Madras Christian College. He then did his post-graduation from Azim Premji University and worked in the public health sector. Jaleel also enjoyed a stint as a branding and communications consultant for the Government of India, and as a senior brand manager for a few fintech and edtech firms. His varied professional choices provided exposure to different avenues and aspects of life, which he creatively uses as inspiration for his stories. He began his writing career with three short stories called ‘From the Land of Palaces’, ‘The Legend of Birbal’s Bull’ and ‘Inspiring Indians’, which paved the way for his first novel —‘Nobody Likes an Outsider’.
“I first discovered my love of writing during my school days. However, it was my university years that gave me the correct perspective to pursue this art. When I was working, I had the opportunity to travel and interact with people ranging from metro cities to the interiors of this country. These experiences shaped my opinion on the realities of on-ground issues. I have never received any formal training in writing, but I feel a journey to the soul of India is the best training that any writer can get!” he quips.
Jaleel has always been fascinated with Indian politics and admits that he enjoys reading books that discuss political theory and tomes on contemporary Indian politics. His work experience in this sector further heightened this interest. He says, “In this book, I touch on an aspect that hasn’t really been spoken about in mainstream literature. I can’t reveal it for fear of giving out spoilers, but I urge readers to pick it up and attempt to solve the mystery! I also feel the subject of ‘outsiders’ is very relatable for a large section of readers.”
When asked about his writing process, Jaleel shares that he creates an outline of the story and spends the next couple of months researching the context, history, place, and everything pertinent to the subject. However, the twists and important breakthroughs emerge while he is writing as he enjoys surprising himself.
‘Nobody Likes an Outsider’ took around four months to research and three months to write—quite a feat for a first-time novelist! But then, it was an idea that had made its presence felt quite strongly for Jaleel. “This idea hit me on one of my trips to Uttar Pradesh. However, my book is set in Bihar—a place I have never visited, so I depended a lot on research papers, conversations with people and scholars in the region, and my wonderful friends,” he explains.
He also credits his friends as being his first readers who gave brutal and honest feedback. The book has received several awards including one for being the ‘Best Political Thriller’ by Firebox. The success of the book led to the publisher signing a contract with Jaleel for two more books.
He astutely shares, “While I love writing, I also believe that it is important to focus on getting the return on investment (ROI) for the publisher and I feel happy to have achieved that. Writing is as much a commercial venture as it is an art and I have always focused on creating ROI-centric marketing strategies to ensure that commercial expectations are met.”
Hence, he is already working on the second Yohan Tytler mystery and another crime thriller set in West Bengal. He ends with, “Now a Bollywood production house has acquired the option rights for the novel. All this is wonderful, but the greatest feeling is when readers email me with their thoughts and critique.”
‘Nobody Likes an Outsider’ is available on Amazon, Flipkart, and other e-commerce sites and bookstores.