"The landscape is changing. Indian thriller authors are gaining momentum."
When we think thriller authors, the likes of Ian Fleming and Robert Ludlum come to mind.
A dashing James Bond takes down his eccentric villains to save the world from a deadly attack; a rugged Jason Bourne avenges himself in a high-speed chase through the narrow streets and jagged rooftops of Tangier.
But the landscape is changing. Indian thriller authors are gaining momentum. They are creating a range of riveting literature in English with an Indian twist.
DESIblitz handpicks our top 5 Indian authors whose thriller creativity rivals those in the West.
His works play a key role in propelling Indian thriller novels into the mainstream.
Sanghi explores the themes of Indian history and ancient mythology – from the Mauryan history in Chanakya’s Chants to Jesus’ crucifixion in The Rozabal Line.
As he aims to ‘enlighten and entertain’, it is no wonder Sanghi has been dubbed ‘India’s answer to Dan Brown’.
He recently collaborated with international best-selling author James Patterson to create Private India, which will be released in the USA in 2015.
His best-selling Lashkar series have stunned and seduced readers with detailed descriptions of military weapons and realistic accounts of operations.
Such authenticity is rare and can only come from personal experience. Deva served in the Indian army for 15 years and executed operations at home and abroad.
His bank of insider knowledge and front-line encounters translate into action-packed thriller novels.
Deva uses his characters to bring out topics that will turn heads and trigger debates – terrorism and politics.
While Lashkar centres on a string of events set off by state corruption, Tanzeem follows an engineer who seeks revenge for his late wife killed by terrorists.
Bhattacharya believes one should “take flights of fancy that lead you to roads you would never have dreamed you’d take.”
Her incredible imagination has resulted in the critically-acclaimed The Masala Murder and Dead In A Mumbai Minute.
Starring private investigator Reema Ray, both novels unveil her investigative journey into crimes relating to marital infidelity.
As a former television journalist, Bhasin covered the insurgencies in Kashmir. He was up close and personal with military operations, wrecked villages and victims of violent attacks.
These striking experiences have prompted Bhasin to explore the themes of fanaticism and terrorism in The Terrorist and The Avenger.
Bhasin stands out from his peers by highlighting current affairs in India in a fictional context.
He also sets himself apart by penning fascinating characters and convincing stories with meticulous details. Most are drawn from his numerous field visits and military debriefing sessions on the fighting ground.
He has lived in Nigeria and India, and received education in both countries. He is a strong believer in conspiracy theories and is intrigued by the paranormal.
Initially rejected by literary agents and publishers, his debut Baramulla Bomber saw the light of day through Amazon’s Createspace – a free self-publishing and distribution online tool for writers.
Having garnered over 11,000 Facebook followers, Baramulla Bomber was subsequently given a print-run and launch in 2013.
A trilogy is work in progress, but Prasad’s lips are sealed on the details to keep his readers in suspense.
So what are the opportunities for Indian authors of other genres?
Uday Satpathy, whose debut thriller novel Brutal was picked up for print publication by Westland last month, tells DESIblitz:
“The market for fantasy is growing big with a lot of new authors jumping in. I think a couple of blockbusters will decide where this sub-genre goes.
“For horror, I believe the market is quite under-served as of now. One more genre, which has a lot of potential, is spy fiction novels covering Indian geo-political issues. Having said that, if a story and writing is good, it should hold its own amid the competition.”
But competition is not the only thing that worries up and coming authors in India. As Satpathy explains:
“Dealing with a traditional publisher in India is often like dealing with a black box. Unless the author is a renowned one, has the backing of a literary agent or has strong marketability, traditional publishers barely take a second look at a newbie’s manuscript.”
“Even if they do, the process takes many, many months with hardly any communication from the publication. I believe these inefficiencies have led to the rise of exciting ventures like BloodyGoodBook.com and other self-publishing avenues.”
In a market far from reaching saturation, the advancement in education, literacy and technology will continue to bring readers and writers closer together.
“The Indian reader is hungry for things to read,” says Urvashi Butalia, co-founder of publisher Kali for Women. Budding writers, are you ready to make waves?