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Posts Tagged ‘Novel’

Chick lit meets crime fic, with a dash of fun

Normally I’m a little sceptical about this whole new chick-lit-meets-crime-fic genre that seems to have mushroomed recently. It either winds up being really angsty (tough female heroine has never found love and is treated badly) or really cliché (she is saved in the nick of time by her handsome, studly supervisor) or just unable to stick to a genre (skipping wildly from here to there in the attempts to be Agatha Christie meets Marian Keyes.) Anything that is ‘something meets something’ is usually a book you should avoid. Remember that advice. It’ll come in handy someday.

But, I’m always happy to change my mind. (Isn’t that one of the very fun prerogatives of being a woman?) And so when Piggies On The Railway landed on my bedside reading pile, I picked it up with interest, but not much hope. And boy, was I wrong. This book made me eat my words….Read the rest of it.

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And as I write this heading above, the chicklit writer in me can’t resist adding: Which means fabulous. Okay so I also feel exhausted from too much exercise, faint from too little food, asphyxiated from too many cigarettes…but I’m thin. As the wise Kate Moss said, articulating what women worldwide know to be the gospel truth, “Nothing tastes as good as skinny feels.”

However, that is not what this post is about. Earlier this week I felt that that Piggies’ publicity needed another push. So I logged into Gmail, opened the chat window and wrote to my PR person (henceforth known as AT).

I began the conversation with my usual, I’m not feeling the love. Which I think it’s a cute opening salvo. AT, however, complains, saying she feels I’m doing diva act. The whole I’m-throwing-a-tantrum-because-I’m feeling-ignored which, frankly, is as far from the truth as John Abraham is from making it to the A list.

I am not a diva. I don’t demand round the clock attendance. Okay, so she can call me once a day and affirm to me that my books are selling like hot cakes and that I’m the best there is. And occasionally, just occasionally, like once a day, she can send me a compilation of press clippings also affirming the same.

Oh dear. In my defence, I said I’m not a diva. I didn’t say I’m not a neurotic writer.

Anyway, coming back to the Piggies publicity push, I mean it was topping all bestseller lists and everything but that’s precisely why I felt we needed to prod it along NOW. “Stoke the fire while it’s burning and all that, old girl,” I said.

I was taken aback when she agreed. “Quelle surprise,” I said, jumping across the English channels, if only linguistically.

She said that she had already contacted numerous publications and arranged for me to comment on a host of issues for various publications. Then she logged out of chat and called me on my cell. “Hold on,” she said. “D just called me. She’s on the other line. I’ll conference you.”

“Hey, D,” she said after a while. “So as I was saying why don’t you get Smita’s views on Handy Investment Tips for Housewives?”

Now AT had either forgotten to tell D she had conferenced me, or she’d told her, but had also encouraged her to be free with her opinion about me. Fire the gun from someone else’s shoulder and all that. I’m leaning towards the latter.

“Smita Jain? But she’s a…chicklit writer!” The way D said the last sentence, with a pause after a as though she was looking for the right word, and a kind of squealy emphasis on the word chicklit, left me in no doubt that she didn’t exactly mean it was like asking Einstein to comment on high school physics.

Derision. From a journo who’d just last week written that the French Open final was played between Rafael Nadal and Roland Garros! This was almost too much to bear.

I was left fuming. As Kasthuri says in Chapter One, “if (s)he thought (s)he was dealing with a brainless twit (s)he had another think coming. It was on the tip of my tongue to tell him(her)  about my excellent, eighty-percent-plus-all-the-way academic record, and multiple degrees in economics and finance just to drive home the point.”

But of course I didn’t. I didn’t want to upset D. I didn’t want her writing Smita Jain’s latest novel Piggies on the Railway is based on a popular nursery rhyme, did I?

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Private investigator Kasthuri Kumar, the narrator of Smita Jain’s Piggies on the Railway, is a kick-ass heroine. She does interior monologues in the style of Philip Marlowe and other hardboiled detectives in 1930s crime fiction. But this being a book that – improbably but successfully – combines a detective story with chick-lit, Kasthuri (also known as Katie) has more on her mind than just solving the kidnapping case assigned to her…Read more

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Nonchalantly Insolent

ALAS! Lady-detectives, Indian lady-detectives are elusive literary creatures. Despite the plethora of contemporary characters that the modern Indian writer has cajoled out of the mighty pen, this earthling has failed to evolve.

But wait a minute. Here comes one waltzing in on her wannabe “black Fendi peep toes”—and six inches high no less!

Enter Kasthuri Kumar aka Katie, detective with a buzz and two bumbling feet. And ‘seasoned’ chick-lit writer Smita Jain pulls her off with elan. Smita knows what she is getting into. Her successful debut novel ‘Kkrishnaa’s Konfessions’ is compounding nto a screenplay for a Bollywood film and as she herself says: “I know I can write a decent murder mystery.” Smita is also curious, “Did you guess who the killer is?” she asks fervently. And I must confess I did not. I was on the wrong railway track all along (much to this author’s delight!) and I certainly enjoyed the bumping ride!

Read the rest of the review

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I’m currently in Delhi, on a book “promotion tour” (God, I’ve alway wanted to say that!) and am having a total blast. My publishers publicity person is the nicest girl around, who, in spite of being some eleven months pregnant, is looking after me grandly. She is being so solicitous that I feel like a rock star…well, except for the good stuff like drugs and alcohol 🙂

The first launch went off well. Everybody kept telling me I’m looking hot, so, come to think of it, it went off great. The venue was nice and cosy with a fine view of the monuments of Lutyen’s Delhi. The Park Hotel had gone out of their way to cater for the event and had prepared a delicious array of sumptuous snacks and finger foods. A special mention to Anushree Banrejee and Urvashi Malik of the Park Hotel for handling the event with such enthusiasm.

Then, yesterday the whole day was spent talking to media. It was a packed day, tiring as hell and as much fun! The highlight of the day was me in my halter neck dress bringing the traffic at Parliament Street to a complete halt. I’m not joking. The dress which doesn’t garner a second glance from my bhaji wala in Bombay wreaked complete havoc in babu Delhi. It was hilarious!

And now I have to leave. Some more interviews lined up, plus have to prepare for tomorrow’s launch at Gurgaon. I’ll blog about everything a little later when I have more time. Ciao!

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Preface

My name is Kasthuri Kumar and I am twenty-eight years old—or thereabouts anyway. For reasons that many Thirumalas, Tilotammas and Bisheshwaris will understand, I like to be addressed either by my surname or my self-shortened moniker, Katie.

Contrary to what my first name might suggest, my ancestry is north Indian. My parents were both sensible, middle-class bureaucrats, the choice of my name being their one rash act. When they were posted in Kerala, my mother had patronised a local eponymous artist and recklessly promised her that she would name her daughter after her. And she did.

I recently (voluntarily) resigned my commission from the Indian Police Service (IPS) following some (minor) medical problems. After my retirement I came to Bombay with a vague but strong desire to do something creative, exciting even. Not as in adrenaline pumping-dodging-Maoists’-bullets exciting, but something stimulating. And if it involved a bit of fame and glamour, well, so much the better.

In Bombay, I camped out with my best friend, Marie Banerjee, while I figured out what to do with my life. It was Marie who inadvertently got me started on my present career. While I was shacked up with her, one of her uncles had some procedural problems renewing his arms licence. I, having wielded a weapon all my professional life, and having routinely dealt with such issues, was able to help him out.

Which gave Marie the idea that that’s what I could do with my life—and incidentally put my experience in the police to good use—private detecting. Now, that’s not exactly what I had in mind, but it would have to do till I figured out what it was that I actually wanted to do.

Actually, I think I wanted to be a famous doctor, or a scientist. Although it is probably too late for either, I still have fantasies about receiving the Nobel Prize. I’m not sure what the breakthrough discovery is, other than the hazy notion that it might be in the field of astrophysics. Perhaps some advanced work on string theory? What I am pretty sure about, is that I’m wearing a shimmering red gown by Valentino with black Fendi peep toes.

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