22 Apr 2015


Author Interview / Ace Varkey

Ace Original Cover(1)
When June Warner arrives in India to visit her sister Thalia, a trip to take her mind off her jilted engagement, she is greeted by the bright hot chaos of Mumbai but not her sister.
She goes to the YMCA where Thalia is staying, only to find that she is not there.

Convinced that Thalia’s no-show is a sign that she is in danger, June begins a desperate search for her younger sister.

Police Commissioner Oscar D'Costa, scarred by the tragedies of his past, swears he will never again ignore his gut instinct when it comes to a missing girl. And with more and more dead foreign women being found in his precinct, he becomes convinced a conspiracy is at play.

Through the two worlds of American naiveté and Indian chaos, they must find the girl who went missing.
I adore travel and adventure and have lived, for years at a time, in both India and America, as well as other countries. I always wanted to be a writer, and was inspired by Helen MacInnes, who wrote spy thrillers set in various European countries. It sounded like such a marvelous life; travel during the summer to a new country, then spend the year writing about an adventure set in that country. I decided to use my knowledge of India to create stories filled with the colors and sounds of that magical country. But I also wanted my writing to have meaning, and so I decided to write a mystery series featuring Commissioner Oscar D’Costa, with each novel highlighting a pressing social issue. I want my readers to enjoy the read, but I also want them to learn something new.
  1. If you could work with any other author, who would it be and why?
Writing for me, by definition, is a solitary act. So if I had to choose an author to work with, I would want someone not to write with, but to write alongside of. I would choose someone who would make me laugh and who would be willing to let me bounce ideas off him/her. Shakespeare would have me howling and I would learn a lot by watching him pen so much in so little a time. More realistically, Arundhati Roy. She is an amazing writer, she knows India, and she fights for the rights of others. All of which makes her a good companion when the writing isn't going well.
  1. What would be a typical working day for you? When and where do you write?
I typically write in the mornings, in my office at home. I am a stay-at-home Mom and my children come first, which means I write while they are at school. I always set a target when I sit down at the computer. I start with 500 words and for 'The girl who went missing,' I gradually increased that to 1000 words per day. One banner day had me writing 2000 words. I make sure to have paper and pen handy in case I get an idea when I am out and about. I recall making notes about temple dancers while I was shopping. I later incorporated that into "The girl who went missing."
  1. What is the hardest part of the writing for you?
The hardest part is when I am stuck in the story, ie, when something does not feel true,or when I have no idea how to go on. My aim is to write an honest story in the way that Aristotle noted, so long ago, that 'drama is more probable than history.' I want readers to think that my story could happen. In 'The girl who went missing,' I grappled a bit with the character of June. I wanted to show her searching for her sister, yet being overwhelmed by India and all the setbacks she faced. It took me a while to achieve that balance; at least I hope I got it right. I got a bit stuck with the William angle; he wasn't that easy to weave into the story.
  1. When and why did your first start writing.
I wanted to write from a very young age, but kept postponing it by telling myself I had to study more, read more, etc. One day a friend told me: "Stop talking about writing and just do it." I admit I was rather shocked by my friend, but the advice resonated. I also got very sick and decided there was no time like the present because it is, really, a present, a gift. I sat down at my computer, looked at the blank screen and told myself that whatever I wrote would be mine, that no one else would have written that sentence before, or after, for that matter. For some reason that got me very excited. To this day I love the unfilled screen of my computer because it makes me feel both excited and responsible.
  1. How did you come up with the idea for your book?
I have lived in India and was aware of the abuse perpetrated on women. Let me add that while it does happen, it does not define the people or the country. I have traveled a fair amount and I liked the idea of an ordinary young woman arriving in India and then, unexpectedly, having to do something extraordinary. We humans often do amazing things in our daily lives; I simply pushed that to the extreme. I also wanted to highlight the horrible fact of human trafficking. When I am being perfectly hopeful and whimsical, I imagine someone reading my book and, when they are done, feeling they know more about both India and human trafficking.
  1. Are you a big reader? If so, what are you reading now?
I was the sort of reader who left books all over the house. I used to drive my father crazy because he could not fathom how I could read 4 books at one time. I dreamed of a bathroom with a bookcase, of a two-level house where the wall against the staircase was lined with books so I could grab one as I went up and down. Right now I am reading "The Ocean at the end of the Lane" so I can discuss it with my children.
  1. Do you have any advice for other aspiring writers?
I think writing is as subjective as reading. I would feel very awkward imparting any advice to someone else. But if you really want me to say something, I would repeat an edited version of  what my friend told me: Write.