A tête-à-tête with the desi Agatha Christie: Manjiri Prabhu
Manjiri Prabhu, who began with two books- Symphony of Hearts and Silver in the Mist published by the Rupa Publications in 1994-95, says finding a publisher was the biggest challenge for her.pune Updated: Jun 21, 2017 23:11 IST
At the age of seven her tryst with suspense began with volumes of Agatha Christie and Enid Blyton classics. Dr Manjiri Prabhu chose to write her investigative stories in English too. Now counted among well-known Indian woman suspense writers, she has already published nine books with various international publishers, and has successfully entered the Pune International Literary festival. While promoting her new book, The Trail of Four, she spoke about a transformed writer in these transformed times when, “being just a writer is not enough, you have to be much more than that.”
Journey through jagged roads
Manjiri Prabhu,who began with two books- Symphony of Hearts and Silver in the Mist published by the Rupa Publications in 1994-95, said that finding a publisher was the biggest challenge for her.
“Over the years, I have struggled to find publishers, first for my two books and then for Cosmic Clues, even though it had a unique combination of astrology with a detective plot. I was lucky to eventually get an international publishing giant, Random House USA, to publish it. They also published my book Astral Alibi (2006). Although, this gave me confidence and I felt that there would be no looking back but with Cavansite Conspiracy, I faced the same hurdles. It was then that I realised that things had changed and it wasn’t enough to be just a writer,” she said.
Today’s writer has to be good with both words and numbers, said Manjiri, who thinks that there has been a transition in the way books are published and marketed now.
“The writing scene has changed totally. There are more number of writers than readers, and so you have to now market and promote your book, you can’t just sit back and write. Otherwise, no one would know you or your book. It’s no more just the publisher’s job and so I trained myself to do it and not feel shy about it,” she added.
However, in addition to this, she thinks the writing style, opportunities and overall approach has changed,rendering a fertile ground for debut writers to flourish. “Today with so many publishing houses, and so many writers, opportunities have grown and the style of writing has changed. Now books are more personal, they talk about experiences,for instance campus love stories have emerged. Also, self publishing has come up,” said Manjiri.
Manjiri believes that due to literature festivals across the country, access to publishers has increased for debut writers. “Earlier you had to write them mails, wait for months,maybe years to be noticed. Now, literature festivals have changed this, as you can directly approach the publishers, connect with them, and sometimes stand a chance to get published if your book is good,” she said.
Prabhu’s recent book, the Trail of Four,is a historical thriller based in Salzburg, Austria with Schloss Leopoldskron in the background. She has started a competition to promote the book, which will begin in August. Winners will be declared at the Pune literature festival and they will stand a chance to get a free trip to Salzburg.