From the author of NINE trilogy (Penguin India), Unresolved – A psychological thriller (Hachette India), The Silent Monument (Tara Press) and Trikon – a medical sci-fi thriller comes another page-turner ‘The Blue Jade’. Shobha Nihalani’s The Blue Jade is a thriller woven around the smuggling of artifacts that we see often see being reported especially from the Asian and SE Asian region.
Here in a candid Interview Shobha Nihalani talks about her new book and the future plans.
Q : Tell us about your book Blue Jade and what does it deal with?
A : The book is about a rare pendant believed to have been given as a gift to Mirabai. It is the most sought after piece of relic, smugglers have been hunting for it for years. It ends up with Neelam, the protagonist, and she has to return the blue jade to its place of origin. The adventure starts in Hong Kong and ends in India. It’s a fast-paced chase story which is also part spiritual.
Q : What prompted you to write story on the smuggling of antiques ? Did you do some research on it before writing ?
A : Antiques are evidence of history. These are tangible objects that give context to a historical location. When they are ruthlessly ripped from their places of origin, it ruins the cultural and historical beauty of that place. I did some online course on fraud and smuggling of art and artefacts, to enable me to write the Blue Jade.
Q : What is the message you want to send across to the readers with this book ?
A : Value your roots. Do not desecrate historical sites and monuments. Respect these ancient sites that were so lovingly built by our ancestors. They represent our culture and we should be proud of our rich heritage.
Q : How serious is the smuggling of antiques today ? . And what needs to be done to protect them from being looted.
A: As early as last month, INTERPOL, with collaboration of inter-agencies, caught a large haul of smuggled artefacts. It is happening even today but authorities are catching these crooks. According to INTERPOL, trafficking in cultural property is a low-risk, high-profit business for criminals with links to organized crime. Through interagency cooperation there is greater control on illicit trafficking of cultural property. These agencies are calling out to countries to take appropriate steps to prevent the trade in stolen cultural property, and specifically to use INTERPOL’s global policing capabilities, such as its Stolen Works of Art database.
Q : You are a prolific writer , this your 10th If I am right, which one is your favourite. One you enjoyed writing the most ?
A : At different stages in my life, they have been my favorites. All have been wonderful to write, and the various books taught me so much about the writing process. But the one that I enjoyed writing the most was ‘Unresolved’.
Q : How has life changed as whole due to COVID-19 and the lockdown. What will be the new normal ahead ?
A : Lifestyles have changed drastically. No one can take anything for granted anymore. The new normal is that everyone will value their health, their loved ones, and appreciate what they have. People will realise that either they will have to adjust to the new times ahead, or they will suffer from mental health issues.
Q : Critics have loved The Blue Jade . So what next in the pipeline?
A: I am working on a non-fiction book for now. I will wait till inspiration strikes for a novel.
Q : Any favourite author whose writing you like and why?
A: It’s difficult to select a single one. I would say, Dying to be Me by Anita Moorjani, is currently a favourite. She shares on how we are often too hard on ourselves to please others. The book helps to understand that we should value our own existence and respect our own emotional needs.
Q : Any interesting book you have read recently and found engrossing ?
A : The Subtle Art of Not Giving a Fxck by Mark Manson has been a very refreshing read. We take our lives and ourselves too seriously, it’s time to realise that we are nothing more than a tiny speck in the universe.
Q : What sort of story excites you to write – Crime, action, thriller , fiction or non- fiction ?
A : I would say any story where the characters struggle and face many challenges in life, and be able to overcome them. Those kinds of stories define the value of the human spirit.