With intent to abscond

I have spent the last few days busy with other activities (yes, I don’t even remember which was the last film I saw—which says a lot!) I have been busy giving interviews, getting photographed—ugh—and rehearsing reading aloud with getting jittery and breathless.
For those of you not in the know, this is all because I’m on the verge of the launch of my first novel, The Englishman’s Cameo.

The Englishman's Cameo by Madhulika Liddle

The Englishman’s Cameo is a detective novel set in the Delhi of 1656. The hero, Muzaffar Jang, is a somewhat maverick nobleman who willy-nilly ends up investigating a series of murders, the first of which has been attributed to a friend of Muzaffar’s. His quest for the real culprit takes Muzaffar across town and into the paths of a varied collection of characters: a wily eunuch, an eccentric Venetian physician, a beautiful and mysterious courtesan—and, of course, an Englishman whose cameo portrait may be a vital clue.

So that’s why dustedoff.wordpress.com will be abandoned for a little over a week. The book, published by Hachette India, will be formally launched in Delhi on 7th October, followed by a book tour consisting of events in Kolkata (9th October), Mumbai (10th October), Chennai (13th October) and Bangalore (14th October). If any of you would like to be there, do leave a comment below this post, and I’ll be glad to send you an invite.

The book, by the way, will be available in leading bookstores across the Indian subcontinent by mid-October. It’ll also be available on Amazon starting December 2009.

And with that last little unashamed bit of self-promotion, it’s bye-bye for now. I’ll be back soon, and hopefully not torn apart by the critics…


49 thoughts on “With intent to abscond

  1. Congrats! Love the cover art. I cant wait to get my hands on it – have been checking rediff off and on, with no success so far!

    All the best for your book tour. I am sure it will be a success! Wish I could be in India to attend at least one of your book tour appearances.


  2. A Mughal-era Marcus Didius Falco? Sounds fabulous :-) Will definitely look out for it on my next trip to “desh”. All the very best.


  3. A detective story set in 17th century India?! That’s too awesome for words! Congratulations, dustedoff! I’m officially in awe of you now and can’t wait to get hold of your book.


  4. Thank you so much, pacifist, bollyviewer, Suhan and Shalini – it’s the support of people like you that keeps me going! (and much needed support too: I’m seriously getting the jitters.)

    pacifist: Thank you! That’s sweet of you. :-)

    bollyviewer: Yeah… oddly enough, it’s not yet made an appearance on rediff, but it’s there on Amazon, including Amazon’s global sites. I suppose rediff and oxfordbookstore will put in online once the book hits the stalls.

    Suhan: Ah, I wish I could write as well as Lindsey Davis – Falco & Co.’s adventures are so wittily done, they always make me wish I could write like that!

    Shalini: In awe of me? No, no… I’m not worthy of that. I’m in awe of you for having unearthed Sochke yeh gagan jhoome – I haven’t even been able to find that film anywhere, let alone that song, not even as an mp3. :-(


    • Congratulations on your 1st book, I presume. I hope it has been successful, and you will come out with many more.
      I can send you ‘Sochke yeh, gagan jhoome’. It’s a beautiful song, one of the best from Sachinda.


      • Thanks so much, both for the congratulations, and for the offer. In fact, my second book is out, and my third one is due for release in June this year, so things are looking up.

        Incidentally, I have been able to get hold of Sochke yeh gagan jhoome since I wrote this post. Lovely song, and I agree that it’s one of SD Burman’s best.


  5. Hey, many-many congrats, Madhulika! And dont worry about the critics, I’m sure the novel will be a success! Many-many congrats again! :) Way to go! Way to go!

    P.S.- A novel set in 1956- you needed not say that; kind of obvious, the year had to be bordering between the 50s and the 60s! :)


  6. See, I knew you were some sort of a writer! :)

    BTW, just saw your website (madhulikaliddle.com). I didn’t know about all the writing you’ve been doing apart from dustedoff (just read ‘A Morning Swim’; AMAZING!

    Going to read the rest now. :)


  7. bawa: Thank you! I’ve been through a round of interviews today, so am getting clued in to the questions everybody asks (they end up being mostly the same)… so am hoping nobody drops a bomb on me tomorrow! ;-)

    The Count: Thank you, I’m really glad you liked A Morning Swim – and I hope you like the rest too!

    P.S. Nah, the novel’s not set in 1956. Read again. 1656. I’m obsessed with the past! :-))


  8. Aaaieeeeee!!!! Finally! I cannot wait to get my hands on it :) Mubarak ho my friend. Enjoy the book tour and interviews—don’t worry about jitters, they are cute. Just have FUN.


  9. Thank you! :-D

    Yes, it’s finally happened, and from what I’ve been told by the journos I met today (and by the person who’ll be in conversation with me tomorrow at the party), it seems they’re liking it. Hallelujah! Now if only the readers like it too… not everybody will, I know, but I’m keeping my fingers crossed.

    And I’m going to Pondicherry in January for a month’s residency, to work on my next book!


  10. Hey Madhu, So thrilled for you, and glad to get a peek at the cover….cant get the book from where i am right now, but will be picking it up as soon as i get back!

    Congrats, and just enjoy the cocktails, the rest will be easy to handle…believe me, the journos are usually as clueless as anyone else. :-)


  11. Congratulations Dusted off, all the best with the launch and i’ll definitely be getting a copy of that book, who knows it could even find itself being made into a bollywood movie someday, i can see a director willing to masalify a wily eunuch, an eccentric Venetian physician, a beautiful and mysterious courtesan—and an Englishman onto the big screen ;0)
    Lots of Pyar


  12. Thank you so much! Right now I can do with all the pyaar and support I can get. :-)

    Somebody told me yesterday that it would make an entertaining film, and whom would I want to cast in it? Hypothetical question, of course, but it’s got me thinking. I wish…!

    I like the cover too: it’s kinda eye-catching. It’s even better in hard copy, because the title, the daggers and the splotches of blood are all glossy while the rest is matte.


  13. I’m looking forward to reading it, but have to wait till December for that!
    If all goes well, I’llg et it before my tript o Florence and then I can read it on train.

    Your first step towards literary success.
    Looking forward to your comeback on the blog. A week is a very long time!


  14. Ah, you’ll be going to Florence? How lovely – and I hope you enjoy the book!

    I’m looking forward to a little peace and quiet (and enough time to watch a film!) once all this tamasha is over. ;-)


  15. Hey, congratulations! This is a surprise to me (I’m afraid I wasn’t at all in the know…). I would love to be there at one of your book tour events, but I don’t think that will be possible. I hope I will have a chance to read your novel sometime! (The setting alone looks fascinating to me – but of course it would. ;)

    By the way, I understand the need to rehearse for readings… “Jittery and breathless” would be an understatement in describing how I have gotten at times in the past when I was supposed to be reading my stuff aloud (and never at the level of getting publicity and photographs and that sort of thing!).

    And you know, I used to write some “genre fiction” myself, though only short stories published in small places, never could stick with a novel (and all the credit to you for doing that)… A while back I wrote science fiction and then I wrote horror. So I know how much fun it is to write about a dead body once in a while – though the bodies that I wrote about way-back-when got up and walked around. :)


  16. wowwwww… that is so cool!

    I have always (99%) bought second-hand books from PVR stalls… this has got to be my first first-hand book!

    I can’t wait. Good luck Madhulika… I seem a little late to find out about all this… but that’s ok.

    I am sure to know a bestseller author P.E.R.S.O.N.A.L.L.Y!


  17. Richard: I need to get hold of some of your work and read it! I’ve always been a short story writer myself – I find it difficult to control a novel: my characters keep running away, my plot goes haywire, and I can never manage to get the amount of detail right at the first go!
    Fortunately, the “breathless and jittery” didn’t happen: I guess I’ve come a long way since my first interview. I hate being photographed et al, but at least I don’t usually make a fool of myself any more.
    Science fiction? Horror? Oh wow, that’s right up my street – where can I read, please? Are any of your stories online? Would love to read!

    DG: Thank you!

    Kshitij: Thanks! But let’s see whether it makes it into the best-seller lists… keeping my fingers crossed.


  18. Congratulations!!!! As a person who loves reading fiction and loves murder mysteries I’m twice happy – one is for you since writing a novel is such a great thing to do and the other one is for me since I plan on reading it and very prepared to like it!


  19. Eliza Bennet: Thank you! I do hope you like it whenever you get around to reading it.

    himsingz: Thanks so much – and yes, it did involve a lot of research, but I enjoyed that, since I’m so nuts about history! Interestingly enough, in all the book launch events – in Delhi, Kolkata, Mumbai, Chennai and Bangalore, people who’d already read the book ended up saying that it would probably make a great film. Amit Varma, who was in conversation with me in Mumbai, said he was almost playing out the screenplay in his head as he read it. Am keeping my fingers crossed that someone actually likes it enough to do a film with it. Maybe not with 10 songs, though!


  20. Make the film yourself. As you are such an avid and involved film watcher + critic + fiction writer you are more likely to do a good job. The bollywood types (even the arty ones) will ruin it. Their movie making processes lack integrity. None of the recent hindi/hinglish movies I have seen (last 3-4 years) are able to get me to suspend my disbelief.


  21. Dustedoff, thanks for the interest. But it’s been a while since I wrote much science fiction and horror (hence the phrase “used to”)…
    I peaked in this area about 15 years ago, when I was writing a lot of somewhat experimental science fiction, published and commented on in small press(es). But I also liked writing a more story-telling kind of horror (which also appeared in small magazines). One of my favorites was a ghost-filled suspense story in which the arch villain was an evil landlord!

    In the late ‘90s into 2000s, I spent more time writing pop music reviews and amateur sociology. Right now, I’m looking at copy for a small book I co-wrote that’s being published by a good alternative press. It’s about seeking ideal democratic process in collectives… Not far from science fiction, but not as much fun. :-)

    Unfortunately, my stories aren’t online, though the titles are in places. I’ll send more info over e-mail if you’re really curious. I’ve already written enough about me in comments that should be congratulating you! I would love the chance to read some of your fiction… We know about your novel now; maybe you can send me (or us) to some of your short stories too?


  22. himsingz: Just the thought of making my own film is mind-boggling! Maybe I’ll live with someone giving me a million dollars or something for the film rights… LOL. BTW, have e-mailed you my phone number: would like to meet up, certainly.

    Richard: The range of subjects on which you’ve written is very impressive. Science fiction? Horror? Pop music? Amateur sociology? Indian cinema (and not even just Hindi). Wow. I would love to know more about your stories – have sent you an e-mail, so you can respond any time you have time. Will be looking forward to learning more!

    Some of my short stories are online: you can read them at my site, http://www.madhulikaliddle.com. It’s currently in the process of being revamped, so looks patchy in places, but the stories are there, all right.


  23. What I meant was….. get a producer type whom you can persuade to allow you to direct. Or, better, persuade the producer to let you ghost-direct, so you can get by with ‘the director ruined my story’ if the film doesn’t do well :-). I am sure you’re dying to direct the film.


  24. “I am sure you’re dying to direct the film.”

    Not me!! I know what I’m good at, and what I’m not. And directing is something that’s never been my cup of tea – I guess I’m too impatient; I’d probably end up antagonising everybody on the set within the first 5 minutes.

    And I’m no good at persuading anybody to do anything. Sigh. All I can do is hope someone in the film world likes this story and decides they want to make a film out of it. :-)


  25. Dustedoff, you are too kind. :) What I haven’t been able to do is write things that really helped me to earn a living. (I did use my English language skills more indirectly to earn living wages, until those jobs ran out.) But I have seen from your biography on your site that you, on the other hand, have manged to write a lot of different and creative things and still write stuff that could bring in good wages. Now, that, from my perspective, is more remarkable!

    Anyway, thanks for letting me/us know about your other site. I’ll be getting back to that!


  26. P.S. One of the English language-related skills that I was able to use to earn wages was proofreading. But work has gotten scarce and, as you can see from the message above, I’m getting a bit rusty. :)


  27. Richard, I don’t think your proofing skills are getting rusty. Compared to a number of other blogs I’ve seen, yours is extremely well written (and I don’t mean just insightful; also grammatically correct, correctly spelled, etc).

    I suppose I was lucky to be able to get jobs that allowed me to use my writing skills. I worked in the hospitality industry – doing pretty boring work in the Materials Management Department – for 4 years at the start of my career. By the end of that, I was so utterly sick of hotels and restaurants that I decided I wanted to confine myself to what I really wanted to do, write. Even though my next job was as a client executive in advertising, my boss (who owned the agency) soon realised I could write, so I took over copy writing when the copywriter quit. After that, there was no looking back – India still has such a dearth of people who can write passable English that I didn’t have a problem. :-)


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.