Writers Tend to Mine Their Memories and Observations to Populate Their Narratives Says The Author of A Murderous Family, Manish Dubey.
Manish Dubey is a policy analyst, political columnist and author of his latest Thriller A Murderous Family published by Juggernaut books in September 2017 and he also wrote the best-selling thriller novel A Murder In Gurgaon with Srishti Publishers in 2016. We had an exclusive interview session with him last week, here it is what he had to say about his new novella, life, writing and much more.
Q. So, how is the response of your latest thriller ‘A Murderous Family’ (AMF)?
Ans. Encouraging. A Murder In Gurgaon (AMIG), my first, was a racy-pacy murder mystery with an unconventional narrative style and most readers expected my next to be in the same space. So, I was a little apprehensive about how AMF – which is more in the noir domain and more layered yet straightforward in its telling – would be accepted. Happy to share then that readers are assessing AMF on its own merit – and liking it.
Q. Tell us something about AMF. What made you choose the subject and what is its USP?
Ans. Too often, we over-estimate the power of love and shared memories and circumstances, and under-estimate the role of little lies and stratagems, in maintaining domestic equilibriums and facades of normalcy.
AMF, in a sense, is an attempt to correct the balance. It recounts five days in the lives of a seemingly normal family – a homemaker, her businessman husband and their precocious boy – and underlines the fragility of the domestic equilibrium. These are normal people doing normal things and yet it is easy to spot the deep-seated resentments and propensity for machination that lies within each of them. Dare I say, we, all those of us who think of ourselves as normal, have felt and acted similarly at some point in our lives.
AMF’s uniqueness, I think, lies in its accent on the suffocation and intrigues that occur in the enclosures of domesticity.
Q. Why did you choose to release AMF only on the digital platform?
Ans. The publishers took the call. If I had my way, there would be a print version too (laughs).
Q. Why set your story in Gurgaon again? ‘Gurgaon thrillers’ have become a sub-genre in themselves. Your take?
Ans. Gurgaon is the city I call home. I am familiar with her rhythms and eccentricities and find it easy to imagine my characters living, loving, working, scheming and dying here. As for the ‘Gurgaon thriller’ sub-genre, it has come about because the city offers all that a thriller needs in terms of setting. It is wretched and shiny, aspirational and bitter, naïve and brutalized – all at the same time.
Q, How much are your stories inspired by your own life?
Ans. Writers tend to mine their memories and observations to populate their narratives. I do too. Having said that, the story itself is birthed and raised in the head, and these experiences come in handy mainly when it comes to nuancing the characters.
Q. How is your experience so far of working with Juggernaut Books?
Ans. Smooth, professional. I am particularly happy with their turnaround time.
Q. The best reaction you have received to AMF so far?
Ans. The ones where readers have found AMF wickedly funny. As a writer, it is thrilling to find readers connecting with the less obvious current running through your story.
Q. What’s next? Already weaving ideas for a new book?
Ans. Currently, there are three stories – all from different genres – arguing amongst themselves in my head. I am hoping they will come to a settlement soon.
Q. Tell us something about your personal life. Is it thrilling like your books?
Ans. Oh, yes! Primarily because I have a thing for spotting odd, quirky stuff. Just yesterday, I heard a posh-looking, diamond-laden woman, perhaps not even thirty, call someone kulta over the phone. One thought only Lalita Pawar and TV soap vamps said kulta.
And a few days ago, it took me half an hour to pick ghunghroos. The shop attendant called the owner to find the applicable GST rate, the owner called his CA to find the GST rate and by the time the CA came back to the owner and the owner came back to the shop attendant, a woman had engaged the shop attendant to research which instrument brands use animal hide. As to why I was out picking ghunghroos, that’s another story.
Q. Any message for readers and budding writers?
Ans. For readers: Read AMF now (smiles)! For budding writers, two things. One: Put your ass on the chair and your hands on the keyboard and write. Your magnum opus isn’t going to write itself. Two: Don’t agonize over whether you will find a publisher. If you have written something coherent and interesting, you will find one.