Tanushree Podder - The Master of Indian Thrillers
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Tanushree Podder is undoubtedly one of the best thriller writers in India. It is definitely a Herculean task to pull off a stellar thriller and Tanushree has done so with quite a few thrillers in her kitty. Her penchant for little dreamy mountain towns and the murders happening there is very interesting. We had a great conversation with her during the release of her latest thriller Before You Breathe.
Tell us about your latest novel ‘Before You Breathe’ and what inspired the plot?
Before You Breathe is a racy murder mystery set in a small Himalayan town called Ramsar. The idyllic town, with its salubrious air and laid-back attitude of locals, happens to be a pensioner’s paradise. Among the many pensioners residing in the town is a retired army officer, Colonel Arjun Acharya, who is an amateur detective.
Things are peaceful until the town is jolted out of its languid pace by two mysterious break-ins on two consecutive days at two different locations. The first break-in takes place in a doctor’s clinic, and the next one at the lavish bungalow of a businessman known as Shekhar Sharma.
And then there is a murder. Joining forces with the local police, Colonel Acharya sets out to investigate the incidents and bring the culprits to light.
I was inspired to write this book by a couple of real incidents that took place in various parts of the country.
Colonel Arjun H Acharya is an amateur sleuth who first made an appearance in A Closetful of Skeletons & now in Before you Breathe. Tell us more about him.
Dashing, sophisticated and intelligent, Colonel Arjun H. Acharya is a skillful raconteur, a charming flirt and a witty conversationalist. He is proud of his sleuthing skills and a limp that he acquired during an encounter in Kashmir has failed to dampen his adventurous spirit. An avid reader, his vocabulary is often interspersed with words from foreign languages. He is also a bit of a show-off and is not above bragging about his achievement. Apart from sleuthing, nothing pleases him more than a good game of golf and bridge. In short, he is an interesting and quirky character.
You have written on #dreams #dictators #soldiers #history #love #life and now #murder. Authors usually stick to a single ‘successful’ genre, so what is it that has you exploring different subjects?
I hate being tied to a specific genre of writing. In fact, I get bored after writing a few books in a particular genre. Variety is interesting and increases one’s knowledge about different expanses of life. Besides, I love challenges and stepping out of one’s comfort zone is always challenging. That, perhaps, is the reason I have written books in different genres. History interests me, so I ended up writing a couple of books set in Mughal era. The army books were written because of my close proximity and knowledge of army life.
As far as detective genre is concerned, I wanted to write a murder mystery because I love reading them. The idea of curling up with a good mystery and a cup of coffee on a rainy day is immensely satisfying. Plus, the crime books required substantial research, clever plotting and a deft handling of the subject. All this added up to a very satisfying experience.
What was it like to write “Middles” for the English Dailies? What is the one lesson you could share with us about writing in a newspaper?
Writing for newspapers is a different ball game altogether, and writing middles requires a specific approach since they are limited by word count. Writing middles taught me the art of completing a story within the scope of five hundred words. These stories have to be timely and to the point.
You are passionate about traveling and writing. What role do you feel does traveling have to make one to be a better writer?
There is no doubt that travelling broadens a person’s horizon. It takes a person through a gamut of experiences that help him understand the values, cultures, and customs of people in various parts of the world. It also enriches one’s vocabulary and awareness. One is able to observe the behaviour and thought processes of different populaces and gain from it. For a writer, travelling is of great importance since the experiences gleaned from it help him flesh out the characters and plots.
Many of us are toiling away at corporate jobs. When did you know that it was time to quit the corporate world and move into writing full time?
I believe that everyone has a story to tell. It is the urge to tell those stories that made me quit my job in the corporate world and take up writing. It is unfortunate that there is not much money in writing. Frankly, it is difficult to make a living on the money one earns through writing. One does need a steady job to take care of the financial aspects. I quit when I could do without the trappings provided by my job. It wasn’t an easy decision to make. Ultimately, it was my love for writing that decided the future for me.
Any tips for aspiring writers?
Aspiring writers would do well to remember that writing is an exhausting, and often heart-breaking business. Writing takes the wind out of your sails. It also requires one to learn the art of taking rejection in the stride. There are many ups and downs; sometimes more downs than ups. Discipline and consistency are essential for a writer.
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