Thriller writer shares trade secrets (and names favourite reads)
GN Bureau | December 17, 2020
The first mystery about the mystery writer R Giridharan is this: how does he manage to accomplish much in the same 24 hours? He, as the publishers’ note says, “churns out murder mysteries both in the form of books and screenplays”. This, while holding a daytime job as a general manager with the Reserve Bank of India, in Mumbai now. Then, the fifty-one-year-old is also an international sports commentator with All India Radio and an expert panellist on Doordarshan; he has covered many Test matches and ODIs, including World Cup matches.
With the publication of his debut mystery, Right Under Your Nose (Rupa, 248 pages, Rs 250), Giridharan answers some questions from Governance Now:
Mr Giridharan, congratulations on the publication of the latest mystery. With a fulltime job and also other engagements, how do you manage to write long fiction? What is your typical day like?
I am always at something. Even, when I commute to office I keep thinking. I always alternate between my different passions. In the hectic cricket season, commentary and panel discussions takes precedence. In the off season, it is writing and voice over. Work and training goes on all the time. Since I religiously wrote for two hours a day for months, even with gaps of several months, I completed the book.
My typical day has pranayama and walking as exercise. While my office timings are 9:30 AM to 5:30 PM, I travel an hour both ways. So, 8:30 AM to 9:30 AM and 5:45 PM to 6:45 PM, I make my creative juices flow, so I am charged up to write or do any creative work as soon as I reach home. This has helped me write in a flow. I drink lots of green tea.
Does your daytime job – with the country’s central bank – in any way inform your fiction?
I meet people, lots of them. So, when I observe their mannerisms, they become some (minor) characters in the book. In fact, I found more information in sports broadcasting and in training programmes, because people communicate more freely and openly in this milieu.
Will you share your list of five most favourite works in the mystery/thriller segment?
Salvation of a Saint by Keigo Higashino
Devotion of Suspect X by Keigo Higashino
Coma by Robin Cook
Hound of the Baskerville by Arthur Conan Doyle
Parthiban Kanavu by Kalki (The title means ‘Parthiban’s Dream’. It’s a historical thriller in Tamil by the legendary author.)
What would be your advice to a budding mystery writer?
A. Do field work: I spent days with a snake charmer, visited morgues, talked to microbiological researchers etc. to add gravities and a cutting edge to the story.
B. Murder mysteries comprise of the following elements:
(iv) Field Work
(v) Red Herring
(vi) Weaving all in a realistic setting.
The proportion of each of the above six elements is different in every murder mystery. Choose your strengths among the aforesaid six elements and construct your thriller.
C. Try not to copy. Once you bring your own originality, your book will come out better as you are a unique individual and the world needs your individual stamp.
D. Patience is bitter, but it fruits are sweeter.
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