Anuja Chauhan: I’m terrified of being cast into a certain formula
“My daughter has been posting pictures from Sunder Nursery, and I see those and crave to visit Delhi since the city looks lovely in spring,” says author Anuja Chauhan, who has been living in Bengaluru for around six years now, and adds, “My son is going to his college here, and I still have a house in Gurugram. But, when I read about the rising pollution, I feel it’s better to see Delhi from afar!”
Although she might choose to view and romance Delhi from a distance, she still weaves plots and creates characters that are deeply rooted in the heart of the Capital. And, well, what’s the dearth of inspiration when it comes to a setting a story in the midst of Lutyens’ Delhi? So, Chauhan’s new book, Club You To Death, opens with one Dogra family, and references to the beauty of Shantipath during the spring – the time that is now, and one that’s also quite a favourite with the author.
Known for her fantastic conjuring of romance, in almost all her previous writings, Chauhan has attempted a whodunnit in her recently released work. Ask her why, and pat comes the reply: “People expect a certain sort of book from me, and I’m terrified of being cast into a certain formula because then you get boxed and then it’s death! What I found challenging about writing Club You To Death was that I really wanted to see if I could pull the character of a killer successfully. I was very excited to do it! In earlier books, the romances, a boy and a girl coming together was the propulsive thrust. In this one, it’s the mystery being solved. This one is also definitely a romantic book in a way, but I’m going beyond the happily ever after and exploring the element of mystery.”
Like most writers, she too seeks inspiration from her real life to fabricate fictional figures. “I always draw characters from my life, but I disguise them of course,” says Chauhan, as one wonders if it’s the lockdown last year that made her switch gears and write this thriller? “No, actually, I wrote something else then,” says Chauhan, who like most of the writers found the lockdown as an opportunity to write with more intensity. She recalls, “I started writing a new book last January and finished it in June! When the pandemic hit, I found my world narrowed down. The situation was so ghastly that writing the book was my escape. When I had started writing, I didn’t know what the scope would be; at a deeper level there were existential questions, and things going around - such as the news of migrant labourers moving back to their home towns - might have crept in. But nothing defined or formally referring to the pandemic is there in that book.”
Affected by the pandemic or no, her writings are usually quite vivid, and Chauhan credits her background in advertisement for her works to get adapted for the screen. She admits that she’s already receiving “queries for this book” from interested directors. But, alongside, the thought that she harbours is to delve deeper into this genre. “If this book does well, I’ll write another one with ACP Bhavani (protagonist in this book)!”
Author tweets @HennaRakheja