Short Stories, Irish literature, Classics, Modern Fiction, Contemporary Literary Fiction, The Japanese Novel, Post Colonial Asian Fiction, The Legacy of the Austro-Hungarian Empire and quality Historical Novels are Among my Interests

Wednesday, October 21, 2015

A Guest Post. -- "How India and Elephants Inspired a Crime Novel" byVaseem Khan author of The Unexpected Inheritance of Inspector Chopra

People often wonder how a first time novelist got inspired.  Today I am honored to share with my readers Vaseem Khan's answer to that question. 

Not long ago I had the great pleasure of reading the debut novel of Vaseem Khan, The Unexpected Inheritance of Inspector Chopra.   

I loved it and hope it is the first of many to come.   The subtitle of the book is A Baby Ganesh Agency Investigation, gives me hope it is the first in a long series of works centering on retired Mumbai Police Inspector Chopra, his wife Poppy and Baby Ganesh, a four hundred pound baby elephant he unexpectedly inherited from an uncle.

Vaseem Khan is from Mumbai and he totally brought the sprawling mega-city of twenty million to life, as seen though the eyes of a veteran police inspector, a head officer of a police station.  As portrayed police officers of all ranks are very tempted to fall into corruption.  The pay is not huge and giving into graft can bring riches.  Inspector Chopa in his thirty year career has never given in.  He is fifty and has recently had a heart attack and is being forced into early retirement.  He and his wife Poppy have no children, they live in a good  high rise community.  He worries what he will do once he retires, his wife wants him to just relax but he really has few outside interests.

On the last day at work there is a nice party for him.  He also gets a very unexpected gift, a baby elephant.  He names him  "Ganesh" and takes him home and chains him up out front of the building.  Needless to say, Poppy is not real thrilled.  Near his last day a woman came into the station saying her son has been murdered but because he is from a poor family know one will really investigate his death.  Chopa is bothered by this and from that feeling the story unfolds.  

Poppy is a great cook and foodies will relish all the meals she cooks.

About this author

You should have a look at his very interesting webpage

Vaseem Khan is the author of 'The Unexpected Inheritance of Inspector Chopra', first in the Baby Ganesh Detective Agency series set in India and featuring a baby elephant! He first saw an elephant lumbering down the middle of the road in 1997 when he arrived in the city of Mumbai, India to work as a management consultant. It was the most unusual sight he had ever encountered and served as the inspiration behind his light-hearted crime novels. Vaseem was born in London in 1973, went on to gain a Bachelors degree in Accounting and Finance from the London School of Economics, before spending a decade on the subcontinent helping one of India's premier hotel groups establish a chain of five-star environmentally friendly 'ecotels' around the country. He returned to the UK in 2006 and has since worked at University College London for the Department of Security and Crime Science. Elephants are third on his list of passions, first and second being great literature and cricket, not always in that order. - from Goodreads.

How India and elephants inspired a crime novel

By Vaseem Khan

Following the release of my debut novel The Unexpected Inheritance of Inspector Chopra, which follows a Mumbai police inspector forced into early retirement who cannot let go of the final case of his career – the death of a poor local boy – whilst simultaneously faced with the outlandish dilemma of taking in a baby elephant sent to him by his enigmatic uncle, I have been asked by readers why I chose India as a location for a crime novel and why I picked an elephant as a sidekick to the lead character, both rather unusual choices in the often constrained world of crime fiction. 

Firstly, it was perhaps inevitable that I would choose the subcontinent as a setting for my debut novel. Although I grew up in England later spent ten incredible years in India, at a time when she was transforming into the global powerhouse that she is today. When I returned to the concrete urbanscapeof London’s East End, the kaleidoscope of fond memories that returned with me demanded an Indian canvas. With this book I wanted to take readers on a journey with me to the heart of modern India.
In particular I wished to showcase the city of Mumbai – once Bombay – where I was based. Mumbai is one of the world’s great metropolises, often called the city of dreams. People come to Mumbai to make their fortune, to become famous on the sets of the world’s most prolific movie industry, to start micro-businesses in the city’s slums. But where there are dreams there are also nightmares, and Mumbai suffers from high rates of crime, as well as many other social problems. Like most Indian metropolises the city is facing a cultural onslaught from westernisation – which brings both good and bad, as I describe in my novel. 
Inspector Chopra stands on the shadow line between old and new India. Old India is tradition, religion, the caste system, ubiquitous poverty; new India is wealth, skyscrapers and western sensibilities eroding the ancient way of life. The sights, sounds, smells, and even tastes of this modern India flesh out my canvas as Chopra and little Ganesha, his elephant sidekick, pursue an exotic gallery of villains and evildoers over the course of my series.

As for an elephant as a sidekick . . . Aside from the fact that I am passionate about these incredible creatures, there are some very practical reasons why an elephant makes perfect sense as a crime fighter.
Firstlyelephants are supremely intelligent creatures, one of just a few who are legitimately classified as being ‘self-aware’. They also possess excellent memories, a trait that has been amply employed by such renowned detectives as Inspector Morse – elephants really do not forget. Elephants are also known for their complex social interactions and ability to feel empathy. As a writer this emotional range is important to me – part of the charm of my series (as readers have expressed to me) lies in the relationship that gradually develops between the somewhat rigid Chopra and the, at first, despondent infant elephant that has been vouchsafed to his care. 
Of course, we mustn’t forget that Ganesha is a child and like all children is endowed with an unbridled sense of curiosity. As we shall see, this occasionally leads him into trouble, at which point his other singular and endearing quality will stand him in good stead – courage. 
Besides, humans, in my experience, feel an immediate kinship with these magnificent creatures. Their size awes us. Their gentle natures inspire in us a sense of warmth and affection. After all, elephants and humans have worked together in many arenas – industry, the circus, pageantry, transport, and war. When you think about it, it is not beyond reason that an elephant might partner with a private investigator.

As I apply the finishing touches to the second book in the series – The Perplexing Theft of the Jewel in the Crown – about the theft of the legendary Koh-i-Noor diamond from the Crown Jewels which are being exhibited in India – I am pleased to see the relationship between Chopra and Ganesha grow and strengthen, and even more pleased to showcase more of the incredible country for which I retain a lifelong fondness and where such things are not entirely beyond the realm of possibility. After all, of all places in the world, India is where the impossible becomes merely improbable. 

The book is available now on Amazon and with a great special offer from the Book People
To find out more:
Or follow me on Twitter @VaseemKhanUK or 

End of guest post

My great thanks to Vaseem Khan for taking the time to share this with us.  It is great to hear his second novel will be out soon.

Mel u

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