BENGALURU: Anuja Chauhan has penned many books but her latest one has left her feeling equal parts nervous and thrilled. Her maiden murder mystery is called Club You To Death (HarperCollins, `319). The city-based writer speaks to CE about the genre, what drew her to it, the plot, inspiration behind the lead protagonist ACP Bhavani Singh, and more. Edited
excerpts from an interview:
The book is set in Delhi.
Although you have been living in Bengaluru for a while now, your love affair with Delhi continues through your book. What is it about Delhi that makes it a muse for your books?
This is my third book which is based in Delhi, after The Zoya Factor and The Pricey Thakur Girls. But there are so many other books which are not set in Delhi.
What was the most challenging thing about writing the book?
I usually have some amount of the plot in my head. Initially you start with characters, figuring out who they are, but as it proceeds, you follow the plot and by the end it’s all about the plot.
Are you a fan of whodunits?
I read across all genres but I also love whodunits. I love the old-school whodunits which have a lot of suspense, psychological insight and back stories. I don’t like the grimmer ones. I like Rebecca by Dame Daphne du Maurier.
Was there any real-life inspiration for your character ACP Bhavani Singh?
All my characters are usually based on reality. ACP Bhavani to me is a very North Indian uncle-ji kind of policeman. My grandfather was a policeman and so was his brother who was very gentlemanly. They were not glamorous as in the movies, like you see with alcohol addiction or dark past. The are fairly simple men doing their job in the best possible way.
Did the lockdown help create the right mood to finish the book?
I started writing in January, when there was no lockdown. I had sent my children away, and my husband and I were living the empty nest life. So I thought I would have long spells of just writing. But due to the lockdown my children were back. But somehow, it didn’t interrupt my writing at all. Writing was like an escape to normalcy where people didn’t wear masks and you can have lemonade lunches on the lawn of some club.
Do you still feel the same excitement you did the first time you published a book?
Yeah, of course. It does not grow old for anyone. I am as nervous, as anxious and as eager to get feedback on a new book as I was for the first book. You always want to know what people think and as you get older as a writer, you get paranoid about people lying to you.
Do you think your books get well-translated on screen?
I don’t write movies, I write books. Maybe because of my advertising training, I have a writing style where you can imagine the book like a movie. I don’t know if that translates to an easier adaption of a movie or not.
What’s next for you?
I am working on a couple of movie screenplays that I have been commissioned to write. I am going to write another book based on the same detective character because he seems to be doing well and I also am quite fond of him.