Hello bookworms! I was lucky enough to join Digital Reads Blog Tours for August and get to interview the author of Tied to Deceit, Neena H. Brar! Check it out!
BR: What inspired Tied to Deceit?
NHB: The famous British mysteries: they made me fall in love with them so much so that I decided to write one set in India.
BR: When did you first start writing and what made you keep it up over the years?
NHB: The very first time I wrote, I was in elementary school. it was a short poem in Punjabi and it got published in our regional newspaper. During my childhood, I wrote short stories for my brother who loved them. But Tied to Deceit is my very first book. It was in the summer of 2015 when I started working on it. It was constant nagging on my family, especially, my dad and sister’s part that made me keep writing and complete it.
BR: What is your writing process like?
NHB: I usually write while my kids are at school. I have a small desk in our bedroom next to a large window overlooking a ravine and woods beyond. I love sitting there and write on my laptop during days. At nights, I like to write in bed. I use notepad to write down ideas but hardly ever use anything from it later on. I’m not a person who follows a disciplined routine. There were times when I didn’t write a single word for months and at other times, I wrote like a maniac while working on the first draft of Tied to Deceit. I can write anywhere if I’m in the mood and have my laptop at hand. I’ve written while waiting in the car to pick kids from school, at their swimming lessons, dance classes, and other activities, and sitting in front of the TV and talking to my husband. If alone at home, I usually put an old movie on TV and write.
BR: What made you want to write a mystery?
NHB: After I moved to Canada I got introduced to British detective fiction and fell in love with mysteries. I realized no Indian writer had written a good character-driven mystery. I decided to write my own then.
BR: What was the most difficult part of writing Tied to Deceit?
NHB: The part where I had to figure out ‘the how’ and ‘the why’ in the plot, how to put everything together, and write a convincing ending. But more than that, it was the endless editing that made me tired.
BR: What was the scene you enjoyed writing the most and why?
NHB: Anywhere I got to get into characters’ heads and think for them, I loved it. But there is this hilarious scene that I enjoyed quite a bit while writing:
“Apparently, Gajanand babu’s unusual telephone call had made Mrs. Gajanand and her family anxious about his wellbeing. All the women in the house had rushed to accompany Mrs. Gajanand leaving Jaimala halfway, their favourite program on Vividh Bharati Radio.
Sharma imagined a troop of saree clad, fat women, trying to walk and talk simultaneously as fast as they could, arriving at the neighbour’s house gasping for breath. Instead of answering his wife’s questions, probably knowing he did not have enough time on his hands to calm her down, Gajanand babu passed the receiver to Sharma, who patiently explained who he was and got the information about Dr. Rudra Bhardwaj despite the commotion of chaotic female voices still inquiring about damad babu’s wellbeing.”
BR: Did you base the characters or the setting on any real-life person or place? Who? Where?
NHB: There is this incident of suicide of a young girl that I took from real life. I gave it a fictional version. The setting, the situations are consciously created. And when it comes to writing about feelings, emotions or people’s psyche my extensive reading as a hard-core reader has influenced my writing. So, it is mostly fiction.
BR: Which character in Tied to Deceit did you personally connect with the most and why?
NHB: Nandini! She’s like me in many ways; she loves reading and reads every day; she likes solitude and enjoys her own company; she is an excellent cook and good housekeeper, but there are times when her house is shambles while she’s too engrossed in a book or busy daydreaming. The only exception is her soft-spoken personality. That’s my sister. I’m not a soft-spoken person at all.
BR: How long did it take you to get from the first draft to the book being published?
NHB: Two and a half-year from the time I penned down the very first paragraph; it took 18 months for me to finish my first draft and then another year to do full edits and get the final copy in my hands.
BR: How do you deal with self-doubt or writer’s block when writing?
NHB: Self-doubt often creeps up; there are times when this whole writing thing starts looking futile from the publication point of view. Talking to my family, especially my husband, sister, and mom always helps. Fortunately, I don’t have writer’s block. Just delays as I figure out how my plot is going to move forward. Reading helps at a time like that.
On a drizzly August morning, the inhabitants of the hill town of Sanover, Himachal Pradesh, wake up to the shocking news of the murder of the exquisite, secretive, malicious, and thoroughly immoral Devika Singh.
As Superintendent of Police Vishwanath Sharma begins to sift through the hidden secrets of Devika Singh’s life, it becomes evident that everyone who knew her seems to have a clear-cut motive for killing her.
Faced with the investigation of a crime that appears to have as many suspects as there are motives, Vishwanath Sharma probes the sinister web spun around a tangle of lies and deception.
Praise for Tied to Deceit:
“A remarkable whodunit that’s as sharp as it is concise.
Brar enhances her taut murder mystery with an engaging setting that effectively incorporates the local culture. The smart, believable denouement will have readers looking forward to Brar’s next endeavor.”
“A literary mystery saga that includes far more depth and psychological and cultural insights than your typical murder mystery’s scenario.”
-D. Donovan, Midwest Book Review
Short Excerpt from Tied to Deceit:
Dr. Rajinder Bhardwaj, the owner and the head physician at Lifeline Hospital, Sanover, had showered after his brisk morning walk and joined his wife for an early morning tea. Gayatri Bhardwaj sat with her second cup of ginger tea on her favourite old, worn, woven chair on the verandah which overlooked their front garden: a tapestry of blooming carnations, marigolds, roses, and chrysanthemums. She longed for a clear, bright day and the dazzling blue sky of summer.
It was her favourite spot to sit in the mornings; a place from where she could witness the brilliant dawn streaking half of the sky coral; raindrops soaking everything wet during the monsoon; specks of silvery snow falling from the sky during winter. She could take in everything from the serene mountain peaks and the forest to their house—its roof, windowpanes, and the pebbled driveway that snaked its way criss-cross toward the outside big iron gate. She would sit there until Dr. Bhardwaj joined her after his daily ritual of a brisk morning walk.
They had done this for years despite the changing seasons and the changing equation of their marital relationship. They had spent endless mornings of their initial married years there, when their hearts were still giddy with the feeling of young love, and they would talk about everything and nothing. She’d been a bride at barely twenty, young and naive. He’d been ten years her senior, already on the way to establishing himself as a successful physician, the younger son of a landlord aristocratic family with old wealth. He had swept her off her feet then, and was all charm and charisma but then the magic slowly diminished and finally died due to his secret betrayals over time. Thousands of little resentments had replaced the early warmth. But their hearts, although heavy with bitterness and anger at the failed expectations, had gotten used to the solace of each other’s company that often comes with years of living together, and they never stopped performing this morning ritual of their married life.
Neena H. Brar lives in Edmonton, Canada with her husband, two children, a highly energetic German Shepherd, and a lifetime collection of her favorite books.
A hermit at heart, she’s a permissive mother, a reluctant housekeeper, a superb cook, and a hard-core reader.
Tied to Deceit is her debut novel.
Author Contact Details:
Make sure you check out the other blogs on the tour too: