Journalist Shobha Nihalani explores her love for archaeology in her novel The Silent Monument

Lately the trend has shown that anyone who has anything to do with the written word is authoring a book. Shobha Nihalani, who has authored two books, has another quartet in the pipeline. The call is always the same — the need to do something more creative. “I wrote several short stories and joined writer groups and became as involved in the field as I could,” says Shobha whose first book “Karmic Blues” was translated into Danish.

Shobha, who was in town for the launch of her second book, “The Silent Monument” says about how the book was born, “I was fascinated by Indian monuments and symbols of our culture. Conspiracy theories excite me, and I love reading thrillers.”

Based in Hong Kong, Shobha's research demanded that she visit the sites and do thorough research from history books and reference books. “A lot of it was also my own personal perception of the monuments,” she says.

Shobha denies any autobiographical elements or influences in her characters, “But I do include interests of mine. For instance I enjoy classical dance and so there is a character that reflects this interest of mine. Even my interest in archaeology is brought out in another character,” she says, her eyes shining as she talks about archaeology and how it brings history to life.

“Being a journalist I have always maintained a discipline when it comes to deadlines. I obviously have lesser time for my articles now that I spend the better half of my time with my books, but I have made sure I maintain a balance between the two.”

Writing fiction was a welcome change for Shobha, “My books allow me to explore what my imagination is capable of, and when it is structure versus imagination and creativity, it is a refreshing change to do the latter. I try and complete my first draft in about nine months and then keep going back to it and making changes and editing and fixing it.”

“My travels have definitely contributed to my book. I have met different people, different cultures, visited different ancient sites and created quite an impression on my mind,” says Shobha who has lived in several countries before she settled down in Hong Kong two decades ago. While Shobha took much longer to write “Karmic Blues”, which she claims was also because it was her first novel, she says, “I have evolved so to speak, and I notice the changes when I re-read by own work.”

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