I have a new interview for Triskele Reviews readers today, with author Ace Varkey. Ace submitted his book The Girl Who Went Missing to me for review, and it’s on my TBR list, so be sure to look out for the forthcoming review. In the meantime, hear what Ace himself has to say about his book, his writing process, and more. This is an interview exclusively for Triskele Reviews, but feel free to share if you like it (just remember to list the source!).
Justine: Hi Ace, how are you today?
Ace: I’ve just had a delicious breakfast of toast, avocado and egg, and my cat, Kitty O, is curled up next to me, so it’s a great start to the day.
Justine: Great! Happy to hear it! Well, let’s get started. Tell me all about The Girl Who Went Missing!
Ace: My book is a mystery that is set in Mumbai, India, a city which might not be familiar to many readers. I hope they will enjoy steeping themselves in the aromas and colors of that amazing and varied city. The novel begins when Thalia, who is a Fulbright student in Mumbai, does not come to the airport to meet her sister, June, who has just flown in from Berkeley, California. June’s desperate search for Thalia takes her down many different paths. June is helped by Mumbai’s own Commissioner Oscar D’Costa, who is to be a recurring character, as I plan to write a series set in India.
Justine: I love books that are set in different places. It’s so interesting to immerse yourself in another culture. Sometimes the cultures are so different from our own that it seems like entering another world! Since this is such a drastically different culture that you’re writing about, what was the seed that sparked the idea for your book?
Ace: I wanted to wed the fast-paced plot of a mystery with a socially relevant topic. For “The girl who went missing,” I chose to highlight human trafficking. I knew about young girls being sold in Nepal, as well as girls sent off to the Middle East. As much as I wanted my readers to enjoy the book, I wanted to take this opportunity to make them aware of what is going on in the world right now. I enjoy learning when I read and hoped my readers would feel the same way. That being said, the novel does not have a teaching tone to it at all. It’s truly a mystery and it makes the readers guess as to what has happened to Thalia.
Justine: Mystery is one of my favorite genres, so I can’t wait to read it. They must be a lot of work to construct, though. So many twists and turns! I really do admire all that work that goes into it. I feel like everyone has a different method for their writing. When did you do your best work? Do you have a kind of schedule or method that works best for you?
Ace: I do my best work when I have an idea for a scene or character late at night and then I wake up in the morning ready to write. When that does not happen, I go back to my old pattern, which is to read everything I have written so far. I either end up editing a section, or I elaborate on a scene. I can’t write to music and the only setting I need is some place quiet. Oh, I don’t mind my cat snoring next to me! This would be Kitty O, who is the main character in my weekly blog, “Cat got my tongue.”
Justine: I love the name Kitty O. It’s so great that you set up your blog that way! Well, since we know you were mostly distraction free, how long did it take you to write your book, not including editing and such?
Ace: I started The Girl Who Went Missing decades ago, when India wasn’t as much in the media as it is today. Ditto human trafficking. The setting and the theme made many agents uncomfortable, so I put it aside. When I re-visited to the novel two years ago, it was a matter of bringing it to the present, and therefore it went rather quickly. It took me about nine months total.
Justine: Well, sorry those agents delayed your book, but I’m glad you were able to re-visit it and get it up to date. That’s the downer about going any route other than self-publishing. Speaking of, how did you feel when the writing was finally done? What was the scariest part of the upcoming steps you needed to take, like editing, publishing, and promoting?
Ace: I did not mind the editing because the suggested change made me rethink what I had written and this either meant I improved the novel or was certain of the choice I had made the first time around. I totally feared the promoting aspect! There is so much one can do these days and it overwhelmed me to such a degree I got catatonic. Honestly. Besides, I felt it took away from my writing time. I started my second mystery, “While the children slept,” as soon as I was done with the first one. I would much rather write than promote, that’s for sure.
Justine: I think that promoting is probably the most common thing authors dread, if they don’t have a publisher that does it for them. Since you’d rather write than promote, do you write every day, or are you more inclined to write only when there’s inspiration?
Ace: I try and write every day, even if it is for an hour or less. There were times, however, when I would stare at the screen and my fingers would rest on the keys. I have learned that when nothing happens, it means I am to do something else, like watch a movie, go for a walk, clean the house….all of which clears my mind and then guilt takes over so I get back to writing.
Justine: Ah yes, the guilt all authors feel when they neglect their work for too long. Sometimes a little break is necessary, though. How have things worked out for you since you finished your book? Do you feel like it’s been a positive thing in your life?
Ace: It’s really lovely to finally let people know that yes, after all these years of wanting to be a published writer and grumbling about the process, they can now buy my novel.
Justine: And so can everyone else, which is great! You’re planning on writing at least one other book, right?
Ace: Like I noted in an earlier question, I have written the second novel in my Detective Oscar D’Costa series entitled While the Children Slept. It felt quite wonderful to get back to D’Costa and put him into another situation. He’s now like a friend….except, of course, that I get to control him!
Justine: Imaginary friends can sometimes make the best friends! So, now that Book One is published, and Book Two has been finished, can we expect a third mystery from you?
Ace: Absolutely! Now that I have the second book just about done, I have the basic plot about the third mystery. I’m very excited about this one, partly because it is new and unwritten (new things are so much more enticing) and partly because we get to see a young D’Costa.
Justine: Awesome, I’m looking forward to reading The Girl Who Went Missing! Thanks for doing the interview, and keep in touch!
Here are the images for The Girl Who Went Missing: