Stony Brook University graduate student Ameya Kale reading from his novel, “Sacrifice.” He published his sci-fi novel in 2016. ALEEZA KAZMI/THE STATESMAN

Long before Ameya Kale, a graduate student at Stony Brook University, started writing characters with philosophical problems, it was the simple picture books that his mother would give him that sparked his interest in reading. This hobby became a passion that followed him into his early teens as he discovered the mystery genre.

Kale published his debut novel, “Sacrifice,” in 2016 before he arrived to America two years ago from Pune, India, to work on his master’s in mechanical engineering at SBU. He hopes to continue to work in engineering and build a literary career in New York.

The plot in “Sacrifice” surrounds the protagonist, Henry Ashford, who is a scientist living happily with his wife. Due to a series of incidents, Ashford finds himself in a spiral of history, philosophy and physics and soon he begins to unravel secrets about the human race.  

“It all comes down to a decision the protagonist has to make,” Kale said. “The only way to save mankind is to destroy it first.”

“Sacrifice,” which turned out to be 298 pages and approximately 65,000 words, started out as an idea that Kale posted on his Facebook for discussion. He noticed that, as the posts became longer, people were losing interest in the post after looking at the “read more” icon under the Facebook status. Thus, he began his first book.

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“The core idea was the same, but many different concepts came together and I had a plot out of nowhere,” Kale said.

“Sacrifice” doesn’t only have a sci-fi audience; its gained readers from SBU’s engineering department, including students and faculty.

“Engineering is an art … you take these rigorous courses, you learn the material and it’s very rote and you don’t get the chance to exercise your creativity,” Jon Longtin, a mechanical engineering professor at SBU and one of Kale’s readers, said. “Even a little taste of things creative I think would be an incredible experience for them.”

While Enid Blyton, author of teen adventure novels like “Famous Five,” paved the way for Kale’s curiosity, authors like Dan Brown and Steve Berry introduced him to the mystery genre that kept him tossing and turning at night. Kale couldn’t get enough of their plots, in which he sought secret societies and treasure hunts.

Among all the authors that Kale has read, he said that Ayn Rand influenced him the most.

“That just hit me,” Kale said regarding the mark “Atlas Shrugged” by Rand left on him. Kale recently moved on from mysteries and thrillers to more philosophical fiction.

Engineers working as artists are fairly common in India, Kale said. He pointed to artists like author Chetan Bhagat and actors Sushant Singh Rajput, Kriti Sanon and Vicky Kaushal who all pursued their choice of art only after they received their college degrees in engineering.

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“It’s a general demographic in India,” Kale said. “If you have a hobby that isn’t supposed to earn you big money, your parents won’t give you the freedom to pursue it.”

Abhilash Kulkarni, an SBU alumnus and a friend of Kale, said Kale is as interested in engineering as much as reading and writing. But being a full-time student and a writer adds a twist to Kale’s social life.

“He carries his laptop around,” Kulkarni said. “We can be having a conversation while he edits and writes … he’s always busy.”

For now, Kale plans on graduating in May with his mechanical engineering degree and finding a job within the field. As for writing, he plans on staying just as busy as he continues working on his short story series, “Chronicles of Death” which focuses on the conversations that take place between Death (an entity in a human-like figure) and the deceased humans as Death leads them to the underworld.   

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