Tuesday, 6 December 2016

Author Interview - The Body in the Bath: A Chupplejeep Mystery

We’re all excited about The Body in the Bath the latest book in the Chupplejeep Mystery Series. What’s this one about? 

The body of an actress is found in a bath of a boutique hotel in rural Goa. The death appears to be a suicide, but closer inspection suggests foul play! Detective Chupplejeep is called to investigate and in doing so unearths a plethora of secrets from the troubled actress’s past. Suspects are rounded up  and motives are aplenty. It’s a complicated case with a sinister twist.

The first book in the series, Under the Coconut Tree, introduced us to the main characters and a mysterious case for Detective Chupplejeep and Officer Pankaj to solve. Will readers have to have read Under the Coconut Tree before they read The Body in the Bath?

Absolutely not! Although the Body in the Bath is part of a series and you can see the main characters develop through the novels, each book is stand alone and so they don’t have to be read in sequence.

Did you always want to write a cosy crime series?

I never set out to write one, but the idea came to me while I was visiting my father’s ancestral home in rural Goa and it was too good an idea to pass up. The exotic charm of rural Goa, the flavours, the sounds and the sights inspired me while I was there and it was too good an opportunity to pass up.  The Chupplejeep series is written in a similar vein of the No. 1 Ladies Detective agency by Alexander McCall Smith. I’m glad that I went down this route – although writing a series does have its challenges!

Can you tell us a little more about the challenges of writing a series?

Continuity can be a problem, and once a book has been published you can’t go back to make big changes to main characters or continuing story lines the characters have. You have to work with the back stories and locations you have given your characters at the outset. However, on saying that there is something magical about writing a series. Through the various scenarios your main characters find themselves in you begin to learn more about them, they really develop as people and you get attached to them (a little like imaginary friends for grown-ups!).

You grew up in Goa. How have your experiences influenced your writing?

The Chupplejeep Mysteries are set in modern day Goa, but they often refer to things from my past such as Star TV, which is still available but on Tata Sky. Chicklets, another little addition – I’m not sure if you get this chewing gum there anymore, but you certainly did when I was growing up. I like adding little touches like that which are personal to me and from a time when I was growing up in Goa. I still try to visit Goa once a year so I have seen it change over the years. There has recently  been a resurgence in the rural villages and people are moving away from the hustle and bustle of the beaches. The village which inspired the series is definitely rural but development is now dominant. There is talk of a hotel and an art school in neighbouring villages (the idea of which influenced Advani’s art school in The Body in the Bath). I have tried to capture the old and the new Goa in my books.

I love the characters in the Chupplejeep Mysteries. Who is your favourite character and why?

In The Body in the Bath my favourite character is Advani, the flamboyant artist with a dark secret. He is eccentric and can be described as a bit brutal to his art students and the people he works with. However, there is a loving side to him – he has just hidden it well. I won’t say too much though as I don’t want to anything away!

I know you said one character, but I have to mention Christabel, Chupplejeep’s girlfriend, because she is also a favourite and features in both books.  She has definitely developed over the two books and has come into her own. She has the usual insecurities many of us women have, albeit a little exaggerated, and she has the biggest heart. She also loves her food and has dreams she is determined to make happen! I love her spirit and her sometimes sneaky ways. 

What next?

I am working on the third book in the Chupplejeep Mysteries. The working title is Jackpot Jetty. Chupplejeep takes a well deserved break and visits a lake house for a bit of R&R, but his peaceful stay quickly comes to an end when a body is discovered in a wooden boat on the lake.  I’m also working on a thriller called Splinter which is set in England.

The Body in the Bath is available now in e-book and in paperback. Marissa de Luna is an author with a passion for travel and adventure. The Body in the Bath  is her fifth novel. For more information see www.marissadeluna.com

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