It seemed like Kulpreet Yadav had a long day ahead. It was 2006 and he was at Howrah station, on his way from Kolkata to Haldia for his job as the Coast Guard Commandant — and his train was more than 10 hours late.
Out of sheer boredom — and fuelled by the maacher jhol-bhaat he had had in the morning — he bought himself a writing pad and a pen, pulled up a chair in the waiting room and started writing.
"I wrote for more than seven hours that day," Yadav recalls. And those first, furious 10,000 words transformed beautifully into his first thriller, The Bet. It was published in 2009 by Frog Books, a thriller revolving around love, lust, greed, ambition, crime and repentance.
And Yadav, now a resident of Mahagun Mansion Phase II, Indirapuram, has not stopped since.
"By the time I quit my job as Commandant of the Coast Guard in 2014, I had already developed a zeal for writing,” Yadav says. “But it was difficult to find the time to write with the job. I used to take time off on weekends and write my heart out. That's when I decided to become a full-time novelist. It was the biggest step I’ve ever taken. And the best.”
While originally from Haryana, Yadav was born in Chennai. The author feels fortunate to have been born in a family with a defence background. While his father was in the Indian Air Force, his brother holds the rank of Colonel in the Indian Army.
Yadav launched his own literary and cultural online magazine named Open Road Review in 2012. The quarterly includes literary reviews, short fiction, non-fiction, poetry and artwork. It is now recognised as one of South Asia's leading literary and cultural magazines. And Yadav now has a collection of four thriller novels and a collection of short stories to his name. The most recent addition to the list is The Girl Who Loved a Pirate (2015), a heady cocktail of pirates, spies, romance, adventure and drugs. It is pegged as India’s first thriller based on marine hijacking.
In the novel, Yadav put his experiences in the Indian Coast Guard to good use. The novel is set in the backdrop of the tussle between pirates and Indian defence forces. "Many of us in India are unaware of this, but pirates in Indian waters are a very real threat," Yadav says. "The modern-day pirate does not come with eye patches, arm hooks and wooden legs — he hides in plain sight, masquerading as one of us. They may live far from our realities, with their own set of beliefs and codes, but they are here."
Apart from being a novelist and a writer, Yadav is also a motivational speaker, offering lectures to corporate houses, on mostly psychological resilience in high-pressure work environments. He is also the co-founder of the Ahmedabad Literature Festival, a two-day event to be held on November 12 and 13. "It will focus on storytelling, poetry, entrepreneurship and self-development," Yadav says. "It is unlike other literary festivals in Gujarat, as it will be centred mostly on writings in English."
Some of the prominent speakers at the festival will include Shri Hitesh Bhai Pandya, Tushar Shukla, Kiran Manral and Sujata Parashar.
"Looking back," Yadav says, smiling. "That day when my train was 10 hours late doesn't seem so bad."