Called the John Grisham of banking thrillers, Ravi Subramanian has taken a different route altogether with his new book, In The Name of God, where he deviates from banking and writes about thefts at a temple in south India. He tells Ananaya Banerjee that treading the unknown path might be the way forward for him. Edited excerpts:
This is your second book that deviates from banking. Have you had enough of banking thrillers, or is In The Name of God an experiment?
My last book, The Bestseller She Wrote, was not a banking thriller, but the characters were still bankers. But In The Name of God is my first contemporary, mainstream thriller and I have written it because, one, I personally feel that any author who does not challenge himself by writing in newer genres is not doing justice to his craft. And, if you wait for a few months, there is yet another experiment in the pipeline. I write because I am passionate about it. And if you’re passionate about something, you should experiment, try to push new boundaries. Some may work, some might not. But at least you tried. This is going to be my approach going forward. I like writing thrillers, and will continue doing that, but I will be pushing new boundaries for sure.
You had tried to reach a global audience with your last banking thriller, setting it in the USA, but your latest book is about religion and temples in India. What is the thought behind this?
I will not give you the typical response that India is a huge market and we should focus on India first and then go overseas. There is no author in India who does not want to be sold internationally. But there are different dynamics at play because the way Indian authors write is very different from the way the world reads.
Setting the book in a particular geography does not give you surety of success, you have to understand that geography, be there. The world, on the other side, is looking at India. There is a better market for people wanting to read about what is going on in the interiors of India rather than in Delhi and Mumbai. If you go back and look at international authors who have written books about India, they have largely set books in deep-rooted rural India, semi-urban smaller towns, etc. So if selling is the only incentive, it gives me better chances, right?
But that is not the thing, I wrote this book because I was really interested in whatever is happening at that temple. So I thought it was a brilliant backdrop for a thriller.
What do you have to say about the recent theft of diamonds at the Padmanabha temple, where your book is set?
It is appalling that people are stealing from the temple. It is shocking that diamonds were stolen from the main idol, which is not a small one placed in a corner, that, too, with so much of security and CCTV cameras.
Is it helping generate a buzz around your book and helping sales?
(Laughs) I did not steal those diamonds. I guess, you get the benefit when you include the name of God in the title of your book; God conspires to make you successful. And I have had three books with ‘God’ in the title, so he has been good to me. So maybe, this heist is God’s own way of making people look at the book. I’m sure the people who have stolen the diamonds will get caught. However, it is unfortunate that something like this happened and I would rather not draw attention to the book through this incident. I would rather somebody say it is a good thriller and a good book.