Former scientist Ajinkya Bhasme wrote India’s first psychological horror book titled As Death Stared Back to create an awareness of Capgras Delusion and mental illness in India.
“The book draws its inspiration from the real world. The story is about the survival of a mother and son after the father suddenly comes back to life 10 years after his death. While everyone believes the miracle, the mother and son knows that the man is a fake. As the man is continually trying to kill the son, it is up to the mother to save her son and prove that the man is an imposter. Although it is written for all the readers, this book will appeal the most to the horror, thriller and mystery lovers,” says Ajinkya.
The author came across a strange degenerative mental illness while he was studying schizophrenia for his previous book. Did you know if the symptoms of schizophrenia are not controlled well, it may turn catatonic? This means your muscles will freeze in place for as long as 20 mins and you wouldn't even realise it. “And in rare cases, it turns into Capgras Delusion. During my research, I came across someone who got stuck with it and it was heartbreaking. I gathered information from many psychiatrists and psychologists, I visited a few mental asylums to study patient behaviours and only when I knew I was confident to write this story giving it a treatment it deserves did I write the very first word. After 1.5 years of research on psychiatry, and patients, I finished writing the book,” he says about the book As Death Stared Back.
The young author feels that people need to be educated and made aware of mental health in detail. Through the book, he wanted to create awareness. When asked about his writing process, he tells, “I work in the mornings and then write at night. When I have long holidays at work, I write in a stretch. I am a method writer. I don't write about characters — I study them first, then I become them and then write. Although it comes with a price. While writing the climax scene, I was so engrossed into it that I didn't realise I had not seen sunshine for three days surrounding myself with dark material and when I finally stepped out, I was completely disoriented and felt everything my main character felt!”
In the book, there is frequent mention of stages of some elaborate plan that will keep the readers guessing what this means. The book runs in multiple time-stamps but all words are interlinked.
So a reader should know that every word written in the book has a purpose and will all connect towards the end. “My favourite quotes from the book are the very first — ‘What is the truth but a perception of reality. And when the reality is blurred, your eyes will bleed before you see the absolute truth’ and the very last “The starlit sky revealed its biggest secret that some of its brightest lights hold the darkest stories,” says Ajinkya.
His intent is to take readers into those unexplored depths of the ocean of a deviant human mind and educate them about that darkness and show them its beauty. “And let them gasp for breaths as they get accustomed to the dark,” he notes.