The second book of her trilogy is a thriller and author Manreet Someshwar feels it was best to market it like a film
In the first book of the Mehrunisa trilogy, The Taj Conspiracy, Mughal scholar and Renaissance historian Mehrunisa Khosa finds herself tangled in a web of conspiracy that threatens the very existence of Taj Mahal. The monument has become a bone of contention for religion and politics. The history thriller gets murkier in the second book, The Hunt For Kohinoor (Westland; Rs. 295) as Mehrunisa has the task of helping prevent a deadly terror attack on the nation. Author Manreet Someshwar answers a few questions on the series and aggressive promotions for the new book. Excerpts:
‘The Hunt for Kohinoor’ is almost being promoted like a movie, with teasers, characters, digital motion poster and a trailer. How important are these promotions?
The first readers of The Hunt For Kohinoor had this to say: “It reads like a film.” The book is atmospheric, with action hurtling from icy Himalayas to snow-clad Hindukush, from the secret corridors of a military hospital to the labyrinth of rugged Afghan-Pakistan, with a 96-hour countdown built into the chase. All these ingredients convinced us that we needed to give a flavour of the thriller-ish action to the audience. We settled on a video format (now on view at http://bit.ly/ManreetYoutube) to provide sneak peeks which would whet their appetite for the book. Promotions have become increasingly important in the marketing mix for books. Also, promotions help cut through the noise to reach readers who are otherwise engaged on social networking forums.
What went into the designing of the poster and trailer? Were you a part of the creative team?
A lot of effort, teamwork and caffeine. I am working with an excellent team of young people who are creative, committed and into social media. Our strategy is to stay true to the spirit of the book, which is a spy-historical-action thriller, and bring readers closer to the main characters by exposing them to their unique strengths and flaws, and the challenge that each character faces in this race against time to commit/prevent the mother-of-all terror attacks on India.
‘The Taj Conspiracy’ has its own set of readers who look forward to the sequel. Many liked the first book and a few were critical. Did the feedback help you in writing the second book?
I write a novel over several years sustained by my vision for the story I want to tell. Feedback is good because it means readers are engaging with the story. Does it influence my writing? No.
Mehrunisa and R.P Singh have a tough task ahead of them, of thwarting one of the deadliest terror attacks on the country and in the process, saving the Taj. Do we see the series take on a more adventurous path?
The Hunt For Kohinoor is definitely higher on adrenaline. However, the two books are standalone adventures which feature a common protagonist Mehrunisa Khosa, a Mughal scholar with a knack for finding herself in the midst of mysteries which need a deep understanding of history’s secrets to solve.
Book 3, The Peacock Throne Prophecy, is a work-in-progress. What is common to the three books is that Indian history is woven into the narrative and is intricately linked to the plot and its mysterious core.
Going by the trailer, will we see a shift towards politics and law and order, apart from history, in the sequel?
History is an integral part of the narrative in all books of the Mehrunisa Trilogy. And history is always linked to the politics of the land.
The second book is set in the tangled triangle of India-Afghan-Pakistan against the backdrop of both the shared Mughal history of the region as well as our recent history of Indo-Pak wars. The legend of the Kohinoor runs as a leitmotif through the novel.
You have researched extensively on the functioning of the police force and anti-terrorist squad. To what extent could you keep the characters and functioning of police force real?
Very real. I strive for verisimilitude in my writing, for that appearance of reality.
I research hard to ensure that history as portrayed in my books is authentic, which is one reason why my books take time.
The research is not wikipedia-dump but involves field work, talking to experts, and extensive reading.
There’s always a fair amount of pressure that comes with writing a sequel. Did ‘the curse of the sequel’ bother you?
Not particularly. I write only when a story or idea seizes me and thankfully, this book had me by the throat early on.
Do you see a potential to develop this into a series than a trilogy?
‘The Mehrunisa Trilogy’ is three books, for sure.
Whether Mehrunisa and I will venture into a fourth adventure or more, who knows?