Mona Verma, the recipient of the Uttarakhand Ratna award, 2014 started the session by talking about Lady Macbeth, the character from Shakespeare’s Macbeth. After goading Macbeth into committing regicide, she becomes Queen of Scotland, but later suffers pangs of guilt for her part in the crime. She dies off-stage in the last act. Mona counts this as the origin of crime fiction.

Manju Jaidka, a professor and former Chairperson of the English Department at Punjab University told several stories from her books. She spoke about the character Icarus from Greek mythology, who had wings of wax. Though he was asked not to fly too high, he did. As a result, his wings melted and he landed into the sea. One of Jaidka’s books also talks about a similar character who wanted success at any cost but finally has to pay the price for what he has done.

Dr. Manjiri Prabhu, who has published 8 books till date, says that astrology has been a part of her house as her mother was an astrologer. A lot of people visited her mother with their problems. Once, it was a Bollywood person who visited her with his horoscope asking the time when he will be blessed with a son. Her mom looked his horoscope well and told that to his surprise that he already has a son but he can’t claim it. The reason was the son being an illegitimate. This incidence gave Prabhu a new vision to solve crime through horoscopes. That’s how she started her journey.

Sharath Komarraju, a Bangalore-based author says he always had an interest in mythology. Though his first three books were murder mysteries, later he became popular with his Hastinapur series.

Zac O’Yeah, the Indo-Swedish author of popular comic thrillers, Once Upon a Time in Scandinavistan (2010) and Mr. Majestic (2013) and eleven other books started out at a very young age by reading detective fiction like the Sherlock Holmes or James Bond books. He also tried emulating their authors’ writing. But later, to become serious, as his friends suggested he become, he started reading “boring books by important writers” he said, in his mocking tone. He later started writing boring books, too. However, finally he switched genres to crime fiction to fulfill his dreams.

By Vishal Anand