Jewel Heists – the Crown Jewels of Crime Fiction

In my latest novel The Perplexing Theft of the Jewel in the Crown, book 2 in the Baby Ganesh Detective Agency series, Inspector Ashwin Chopra (Retd) is on the trail of the legendary Koh-i-noor diamond, aided by his sidekick, one-year-old baby elephant Ganesha.

Alongside the paperback publication of the novel I wrote a piece for the Shots Crime and Thriller E-Zine looking at how jewel heists have featured in fiction over the years. You can read the article by clicking here

In the meantime the books are conspicuously visible in Waterstones and WHSmiths across the land …

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Literary festivals – my trip to the Emirates Lit Fest in Dubai

 

Literary festivals are an important part of every author’s life. Since being published two years ago, I have spoken at many such festivals, and, all in all, have enjoyed them immensely. I love the interaction with readers, and, because I am comfortable speaking publicly, I also feel the audience gets something out of my colourful descriptions of life in India and the back story behind my books. Recently I attended the Emirates Literary Festival in Dubai. Click here to read a piece I wrote for their blog describing a very special event.

Competition to find Newham’s next writing star

Bestselling authors Vaseem Khan, Barbara Nadel, and Abir Mukherjee are looking for Newham’s next writing star. Newham resident Vaseem Khan waited 23 years for his first book to be published. The Unexpected Inheritance of Inspector Chopra – a charming crime novel set in India and featuring a baby elephant – went on to become a 2015 Times bestseller, and launched Vaseem to the front ranks of British crime fiction. Working with Newham’s Manor Park Library he is inviting budding authors, young and old, to enter a writing competition. “Publishing has long suffered from being a closed shop,” says Vaseem, who is published by Hodder, one of the world’s biggest publishers. ‘But things are changing fast. There is increased room for diverse new voices. People living in communities such as Newham bring colour and stories from all over the world – there is a new appetite in the publishing industry for this sort of work.”

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Barbara Nadel, author of 28 novels and the bestselling Cetin Ikmen series set in Turkey, will be judging entries and presenting the winners at Manor Park Library on the 25th of April at 6pm (put the date in your diary!). She says “My own career shows that anyone from any kind of background can get published and build a strong, loyal readership”. Her latest book The House of Four marks the nineteenth in the Ikmen series.

Abir Mukherjee, whose first book A Rising Man was named The Sunday Times Crime Book of the Month, has been helping Vaseem run a creative writing course at Manor Park library. His journey to publishing is particularly apt. He won the Telegraph Harvill Secker Crime Writing Competition 2014. “I’d always wanted to write a book but never had the confidence,’ says Abir. “Then one morning I saw an interview with Lee Child where he talked about how, at the age of forty, he started writing, and I thought why not? I didn’t expect to win, so it was a complete surprise when I was told that my book was going to be published.”

All three authors explore foreign cultures in their work, but at the same time are rooted to the region in which they grew up. Now they want to encourage other local residents to take the next step. Happy writing!

How to enter

The competition is open to all residents of Newham, London

There are two categories of entry: Adult fiction and Young adult/Children’s fiction

Prizes: £50 to the winner of each category plus a book bundle

Entries can be short stories or the first chapter(s) in a novel

Maximum word limit: 3000 words

Format of entry will be: Computer typed PDF document, double spaced, stating the title of your work, your name, and contact details including email address on the first page.

All entries should be emailed to: CN.Manorpark@newham.gov.uk

Deadline for entries is: 31st March 2017

A hello to my German readers … in German!

An Alle Leser von “Ein Elefant für Inspector Chopra…”

Erst einmal möchte ich mich entschuldigen, da ich leider kein Deutsch spreche und ich habe deshalb meinen Freund gebeten, die folgenden Worte für mich zu übersetzen: german-cover

Ich bin sehr erfreut, dass Ullstein Buchverlage mein Buch auf Deutsch veröffentlicht hat. Mein Buch wurde bisher in vielen Sprachen übersetzt und ich frage mich immer, wie unterschiedlich das Buch in den verschiedenen Ländern ankommt.

Ich hoffe sehr, dass euch das Lesen genau so viel Spass bereitet hat wie mir das Schreiben. Mein Ziel war es den Leser auf eine Reise ins Herz des modernen Indiens zu führen, um ihnen einen Einblick zu gewähren – wie Indien aussieht, wonach es sich anhört, riecht oder sogar schmeckt. Ich habe in Indien zehn wundervolle Jahre verbracht – die besten meines Lebens – und ich kann sagen, dass Indien ein Land der vielen Gegensätze ist. Es gibt das alte Indien mit seinen Tausenden von Jahren Geschichte, angefangen von der alten Indus-Tal-Zivilisation über das Mogul-Reich bis hin zum britischen Raj. Da ist aber auch das moderne und globale Indien mit seinen luxuriösen Einkaufszentren und der glamourösen Bollywood Filmindustrie.

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Indien hat sich schnell entwickelt, trotzdem leidet es jedoch immer noch an alten Problemen, wie z.B. Armut oder Korruption. In meiner Buchserie  habe ich versucht, diese farbenfrohe Kulisse von “altes versus neues Indien” zum Leben zu bringen. Gleichzeitig handelt dieses Buch von einem Mann und seinen Elefanten. Inspektor Chopra erbt einen kleinen Elefanten und muss herausfinden, wie er sich sich in einer belebten, überfüllten Stadt wie Mumbai, die eine Bevölkerung von zwanzig Millionen hat, um den Elefanten kümmern kann. Zur gleichen Zeit muss er einen mysteriösen Fall lösen – den Mord an einen armen Jungen – welchen niemand gelöst haben möchte.

Ich weiss nicht viel über Elefanten in Deutschland, aber ich vermute, dass sie dort genau so populär sind wie überall sonst auf der Welt. Ich habe eine Leidenschaft für diese unglaublichen Lebewesen und so dachte ich, dass es interessant wäre, einen Elefanten in den Fall miteinzubeziehen. In vielerlei Hinsicht besitzen Elefanten alle Qualitäten der besten Detektive. Sie sind sehr intelligent, und haben ein erstaunliches Gedächtnis – das ist sogar wissenschaftlich belegt – Elefanten vergessen wirklich nichts! Sie verfügen auch über sehr viele Emotionen, was für mich wichtig ist, weil ein großer Teil des Humors in meinem Buch aus der Beziehung zwischen Inspektor Chopra, einem sehr ernsten Polizisten und dem Baby-Elefanten kommt, um den er sich kümmern muss. Als ich noch ein Junge war, las ich Emil und die Detektive, eines meiner ersten Krimis und Bücher über Deutschland. Ich frage mich, wie Emil es gefunden hätte, einen kleinen Elefanten zu haben, der ihm dabei hilft sein gestohlenes Geld zurückzuholen!

Ich wünsche Ihnen alles Gute!

Mit freundlichen Grüßen,

Vaseem, London

An Elephant in the Desert

In March 2017 I will travel to Dubai to participate in my first international literary festival. It’s the first time I have been to Dubai, and I am looking forward to it tremendously. However, the agenda is packed, and I am expected to participate on panels, solo talks, reader events, news interviews, blogs, and even a talk at a local school. All of which is exciting and worthwhile, both in terms of promoting my books but also simply as someone who loves connecting with new cultures, new people, especially those who love the written word. This festival – the Emirates Airline Literature Festival – is one of the best funded, and most well-organised such events in the world. I am delighted to be invited, and hope to deliver some terrific talks. Click here to read a blog piece I wrote for the festival – An Elephant in the Desert

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Genesis: where do book ideas come from?

The most frequently asked question of any published author is: where did you get the idea for your novel? The answer, alas, is not as easy to pin down. Very rarely do authors claim that a single eureka moment delivered unto them the idea that became the kernel of their “bestseller”. Sure, it happens, but rarely. In his wonderful Discworld series Sir Terry Pratchett once wrounknownte that wild ideas were constantly sleeting through the cosmos looking for the right mind to fall into. The right idea in the right mind would come to life: who knows where that might lead? I have always loved this image, a metaphor which has sustained me through periods of writerly drought, times of staring blankly at my screen (or the wall) waiting for lightning to strike.

And then there’s Thomas Edison’s famous saying: “Genius is 1% inspiration and 99% perspiration”. This is closer to the truth.

Most successful novelists will tell you that the ideas that powered their work have gestated over a period of time, have ultimately arrived not in one rapturous message from the heavens but in a steady drip drip of illChopra book pileuminating moments. For instance, the ideas behind my bestselling novel The Unexpected Inheritance of Inspector Chopra – a murder mystery set in India and featuring the eponymous Chopra in pursuit of a killer, accompanied by his unusual sidekick, baby elephant Ganesha – came over the ten years that I spent living and working in India during my twenties. I could not have written this novel without those ten years of incredible experiences, which settled into my consciousness so that when it came to creating the book memories simply unwound from my fingertips onto the printed page. And yet, in truth, I also benefited from those ‘illuminating moments’ I so readily dismissed above: seeing an elephant lumbering along the middle of road on my first day in India, awaking one morning with the first line of the novel – “On the day that he was due to retire Inspector Ashwin Chopra discovered that he had inherited an elephant” – fully formed inside my head. So I suppose the answer is this: all great novels begin life as an idea, and those ideas can arrive from a variety of sources: painstaking research, attentiveness to the world around us, and even the wild, untamed landscape of our dreams.

My bookish secrets …

My bookish confessions

Having been tagged by Crime Thriller Girl @crimthrillgirl – after I basically bullied her into tagging me – here are my bookish secrets:

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Books I’ve had for a VERY long time. The very definition of well looked after …

 

Have you ever damaged a book?

I am a clean book sociopath. I would gladly murder people who turn the corners of books (sorry, Crime Thriller Girl). When I was young I would put my favourite books into plastic covers to protect them. I still have 20 year old copies of Michael Crichton’s Jurassic Park and Arthur C Clarke’s A Space Odyssey in pristine condition.

Have you ever damaged a borrowed book?

Just once. I fell down whilst reading a book a friend had lent me, tore the corner of the front cover right off. Couldn’t sleep for a week trying to think of how to break it to her. Bought her a new copy, naturally. And then she told me she really didn’t give a damn!

How long does it take you to read a book?

3-4 days. But currently reading last year’s breakout literary sensation A Little Life by Hanya Yanigahara. All 700+ dense pages. No way am I finishing that beast in 3 days.

Books you haven’t finished?

I’m also a book masochist. Once I’ve started I will ALWAYS finish, even if I have to skim read to do it. And then I’ll stew for a week, building up an elemental rage at how hours have been taken out of my life by this drivel. Yep. I told you. Sociopath.

Hyped/Popular books you didn’t like?

Naked Lunch by William Burroughs. Supposedly a great novel of the century. Utter puerile rubbish. And I’ve said so before. Publicly.

Is there a book you wouldn’t tell anyone you were reading?

The next Game of Thrones novel, if George R.R. Martin sent me the only advance copy in the world. Because I wouldn’t want a million crazed Thrones fans breaking down my door, carrying my bruised and battered body to a pyre, then dancing Lord of the Flies fashion around my burning corpse.

Are you a fast/slow reader?

Fast.

Do you like to buddy read?

What the hell is a buddy read? Sounds seriously creepy, and a bit pervy. So, no. (And I’d probably like to stamp it out, whatever it is.)

Do you read better in your head/out loud?

In my head. Reading aloud should only be done by Sir Patrick Stewart or Sir Ian McKellen. Or maybe Sean Connery if you want every possible written accent converted to Scottish.

If you were only allowed to own one book, what would it be and why?

The Silence of the Lambs by Thomas Harris. The ultimate crime novel. If you want to know how to write the perfect crime book, this is it. Memorable characters, a can’t put this down plot, and written to a literary standard. And, of course, Hannibal Lector.

Now it’s my turn to tag some people so I pick: Abir Mukherjee, A.A. Dhand and David Mark.

And while they’re putting together their confessions, be sure to check out what others in the chain such as @crimethrillgirl have already confessed to …

https://crimethrillergirl.com/2016/09/04/ctgs-bookish-confessions-amreading/

BTW … Since you’re here, why don’t you check out my new THE READING ELEPHANT BOOK CLUB for exclusive content, competitions, reading recommendations and much more.