Aye Write Getting to Know the Authors: Abir Mukherjee
The countdown to Aye Write 2017 is well and truly underway so I am teaming up with the lovely Liz from Liz Loves Books to introduce a few of the authors who will be entertaining us this year.
First up with me is Abir Mukherjee.
Abir grew up in Hamilton and Bothwell, while I am from Motherwell. Local geographers will know that we were separated by a big park, Abir on the posh “South” side while I was on the less glam “North” side. When he appears at Aye Write in March, Abir and I will be separated by a big road. He will be in Glasgow’s gorgeous Mitchell Library, I will be in the building across the street (at my desk for the day job) frantically getting my work finished so I can come along to hear him speak.
Here is Abir chatting with Liz…
Tell us a little about your current novel, what readers can expect from it.
Well there’s a dead Scotsman on page one and it sort of carries on from there.
Seriously though, it’s called A RISING MAN and it’s set in Calcutta in 1919 and tells the story of Captain Sam Wyndham, an ex-Scotland Yard detective, who’s come to India after surviving the Great War. Within a fortnight of arriving in the city, he’s faced with his first case – a high ranking British official found with his throat slit and note stuffed in his mouth warning the British to quit India. In addition to solving this apparent assassination, Wyndham and his officers have to investigate the death of a railway guard, murdered during an attack on a train where nothing was stolen.
Where did you grow up and what was family life like?
I grew up just down the road from here in Hamilton and Bothwell. Deepest, darkest, Lanarkshire, they call it. Family life was…odd but fun. At the time, I think we were the only Asian family in the village and so we were always considered somewhat exotic – at least by Uddingston standards. Still, I can’t think of a better place to grow up than the West of Scotland.
I must have done something pretty bad in a previous life though, as nowadays I live in London.
Academic or creative at school?
I’m Asian. What do you think?
First job you *really* wanted to do?
Mum tried to brainwash me into becoming a doctor, but that never really appealed to me (and I don’t think she’s ever forgiven me). The sad truth is that at the age of twelve or thirteen, I watched a film called The Secret of My Success. It starred Michael J Fox as a 23 year-old financial whizz kid. Of course he gets the girl, the fancy job and all the trimmings. From that day on I wanted a career in finance. It was only when I was in my twenties and working in mergers and acquisitions that I realized that like ain’t like the movies.
Do you remember the moment you first wanted to write?
I can’t recall the exact moment. I’ve always had a hankering to write for as long as I can remember. What I can tell you is the moment when I decided not to write (at least not for a long while). It was in my sixth form English class (I was the only student in our school who did sixth year studies English that year) and I got on really well with my English teacher. I still remember him telling me not to do a degree in English at university, as I’d only end up teaching snotty kids in a school somewhere. So I did economics instead and wasted twenty years of my life.
Who are your real life heroes?
Difficult one. I’ve not really thought about it. Probably, Gandhi, Roger Federer and Pat and Greg Kane from the band, Hue & Cry.
Funniest or most embarrassing situation you’ve found yourself in?
Recently? Having to explain the difference between ‘haggis’ and ‘Huggies’ to a shop assistant in Waitrose, Canary Wharf, making it clear that I didn’t want to eat nappies.
DIY expert or phone a friend?
Definitely DIY expert. I have two power drills and so much other DIY equipment gathering dust. What normally happens is that I’ll attempt to fix something, like a leaking sink, and then be forced to call a plumber when the kitchen explodes.
Sun worshipper or night owl?
Nights out in a hot climate.
A book that had you in tears.
I can’t actually think of one. Alas I come from a generation of emotionally stunted Glaswegian men who can’t cry about anything other than the football.
In terms of a book that had the greatest emotional impact on me, I’d say The Namesake by Jhumpa Lahiri. It tells the story of a Bengali family who emigrate to the United States. There were so many parallels between that family’s experiences and my own that it just floored me. It was the first book I read that encapsulated the experiences of my life.
I’m tempted to say, ‘How to be Really Interesting’ by Steve Davis. I was given it as a present when I was fourteen, but it’s still funny.
In terms of proper books, it would have to be Douglas Adams’ ‘Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy’.
One piece of life advice you give everyone
Don’t listen to me. If I knew what I was doing, I’d be sitting on a beach right now, sipping Margaritas.
You can catch Abir at Aye Write on and tickets are available through this link:
A RISING MAN
Captain Sam Wyndham, former Scotland Yard detective, is a new arrival to Calcutta. Desperately seeking a fresh start after his experiences during the Great War, Wyndham has been recruited to head up a new post in the police force. But with barely a moment to acclimatise to his new life or to deal with the ghosts which still haunt him, Wyndham is caught up in a murder investigation that will take him into the dark underbelly of the British Raj.
A senior official has been murdered, and a note left in his mouth warns the British to quit India: or else. With rising political dissent and the stability of the Raj under threat, Wyndham and his two new colleagues – arrogant Inspector Digby and British-educated, but Indian-born Sergeant Banerjee, one of the few Indians to be recruited into the new CID – embark on an investigation that will take them from the luxurious parlours of wealthy British traders to the seedy opium dens of the city.
The start of an atmospheric and enticing new historical crime series.
You can order A Rising Man here