Investment banker and poker enthusiast Prateek Shukla’s “Gamble of Love” weaves a spy story with a spiritual connotation

Investment banker and poker enthusiast Prateek Shukla’s book weaves a spy story with spiritual overtones

The second book from investment banker and poker enthusiast Prateek Shukla The bet of love (Buddha’s house of mirrors is his first book) is a spy thriller, but it’s more than that. Immerse yourself in it and discover that the author looks at the life and internal conflicts of Millennials through a spiritual lens. You think it’s a lot of layering, but then you find out that poker fiction in the young adult thriller genre weaves parallel stories of two orphans – Alia and Suhana – poker prodigies and explosives science. The quick tale has poetic nuggets with a witty undertone in a suspenseful spy story.

London-based Prateek (his pen name Shuklaji echoes what his friends and family refer to him), was born in Varanasi to a line of spiritual masters and teachers. “The scribbles of the past stuck with me,” he says to explain his fascination with storytelling, despite a career in finance. From his childhood he wrote stories, poems and ghazals, which gradually turned into blogs and articles.

Prateek believes being spontaneous helps him straddle both banking and writing. Through all the changes and its multiple interests, poker has remained a constant, he says. So it’s no surprise Bet… combines elements of spirituality and mythology with the thrill of a poker game. Poker was added as an element in his book due to the evolution of the gambling narrative in India from a sport of gambling to a sport of skill. “As a poker enthusiast, I wanted to help express my support for the game with the prominent voices in the poker community who provided reviews for the book.”

In an email interview, Prateek Shukla shares his inspirations and the role of spirituality in his writing. Excerpts from the interview.

book cover

How is The bet of love lift-off?

“The dots just connect when I look back,” paraphrasing Steve Jobs, “that’s good for me. I have always debated spirituality, mythology and history with my parents who encouraged me to create rather than criticize. Since I had the story structure in mind, it took a month for the first draft. Millennials have opened the discussion around consciousness and spirituality more than the previous generation because we are more connected as the world gets smaller; combine that with my enthusiasm for poker and you will realize my love for writing.

Have the characters and the worlds they inhabit been inspired by real life?

The setup was inspired by my first book The Buddha House of Mirrors. Alia speaks with a Buddha to make sense of her anger towards the divine for making her an orphan, but with a gift of numbers. Any spiritual quest is a self-examination of identity. The different character arcs in the book are inspired by spiritual threads. The questions these characters raise, the subsequent solutions, and the abstract analysis of their decisions are inspired by actual conversations with spiritual masters and readings of translated versions of the Vedas and philosophical and religious schools of thought.

My goal was to make sure the characters match their age, but to explore their mature side, to become responsible for their choices, and to introspect different emotions as they enter the adult world.

Were you skeptical that millennials would connect with the spiritual tone of the book?

Spiritual theories and thoughts are always open to debate and embrace diverse opinions, so the ease or difficulty of their application depends on understanding their contextual depth. Reading the Gita and the Vedas, the Buddhist theories and principles behind Vedanta, listening to speeches and spiritual stories, you have to take the time to do some soul-searching and this is something that I see millennials doing with ease. . We see dialogues around self-awareness with debates about religion, atheism, mythology – with intriguing questions about identity.

The language of the book is simple and the short, quick narration contains poetic excerpts and ghazals. I am confident to keep readers hooked.

Stories that weave history and spirituality with the thrill of a game like poker and a spy story in a young adult genre have managed to gain millennial approval, especially considering the rise of OTT platforms.

Can you explain how you tried to balance various elements – poker game, spy thriller, spirituality and more – in the book?

I worked a lot on developing four characters to give them their individual journey to a central plot, which helped shape a balanced narrative. As Alia opens the story by speaking to a Buddha, emphasizing the spiritual narrative, Suhana brings out elements of the mythology. Jackie and Karan help pace the thriller’s narrative around a criminal ring and the introduction of a spy ring to dismantle it.

Your two books have a spiritual tone. Are you leading a spiritual life?

Experimentally, yes! I have always been open to learning about spiritual and religious schools of thought and experiencing their application in life. Nonetheless, as a human I also go through ups and downs with different emotions and make mistakes, but the tools of meditative awareness and observation through a spiritual lens help me to go faster and to work to create something that is mine – two books and many more to come!

(Author’s channel “Gamble of Love”, ₹ 259)

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