Interview with Adite Banerjie, Author, “No Safe Zone”
In an exclusive interview with Business Views, writer Adite Banerjie discusses her latest novel “No Safe Zone” and reflects on the work’s origin and evolution. Excerpts...
Your previous 2 books were romance novels. What inspired you to write No Safe Zone, which is a romantic-thriller?
I love reading thrillers and I have always wanted to write one. However, the thought of writing a full blown thriller was a bit daunting and combining it with romance seemed more do-able. Besides, there was a news item that I had come across and it sparked an idea that would not go away. It had the potential of an exciting crime thriller with a big dose of romance.
Tell us more about how you developed the idea of No Safe Zone
I came across a news story about an Indian woman who was adopted and taken to the U.S., but after her adoptive mother dies without registering her adoption papers, she is deported back to India. The story fascinated me and I started writing it first as a screenplay. But the story was turning out to be a bit too dark for my liking. So I put it away for a while and continued to do more research on the subject of adoptions. That’s when I read a news article about child trafficking and baby bazars. I went back to my story and started reworking it as a novel. I began to develop the characters of Qiara Rana, the lawyer-activist who works with an NGO and her love interest, the intelligence officer KabirShorey. They have a personal history and trust is really not one of their strong points. Their personal backstory ties into the overall themes of trust, betrayal and loyalty that the book explores.
Do you feel that authors should have a social responsibility towards society? Or do you believe that messages impinge on the entertainment factor?
Most writers who write fiction deal with societal issues in different ways. For instance, even a successful mainstream series like Harry Potter which is targeted at adolescents has a very dark theme running through it: death. There are other themes of friendship, power and bigotry that run through the series but they don’t overwhelm the entertainment appeal. To tell a story without any underlying theme would make it vacuous. But to overdo the ‘message’ would make it preachy. Striking the right balance between ‘message’ and ‘entertainment’ is perhaps one of the big challenges of writing mainstream fiction.
Do share a small excerpt from your book for our readers
Nothing about their relationship had ever been tame. Not then and not now. It was almost as if they drew out the most intense emotions in each other. When she had first met Kabir it had all been about hate at first sight which had quickly morphed into attraction and love. And finally heartache. Somewhere in that equation, trust had not come into the picture. She felt ashamed she’d been the one with so little trust. In herself.In Kabir. In their fragile first love.
Even now, she was conflicted when it came to her feelings for Kabir. She couldn’t deny they share a sensational chemistry and she was a heartbeat away from falling in love with him all over again. What future was there for a relationship that had already been snuffed out once, thanks to the interference of her father? Was it fair on her part to reel him in to help her piece together the fractured picture of her past? Why was everything such a mess, she wondered glumly.
Lost in her thoughts, she found herself standing in front of the tattoo shop. Should she make another attempt at coaxing some info out of the shop owners? Chances were he wouldn’t reveal anything more than what he already had. At best, he would shoo her off.
Before she could change her mind, she stepped inside. The man who had rescued her was nowhere to be seen.
A young boy of about eight was sitting in a corner copying an intricate sketch on a pad.
He glanced up. “Uncle is inside working with a client. You’ll have to wait.”
She sank into a plastic seat that was the only other chair available. After a long wait, the curtain to the inner room was brushed aside and a heavily tattooed man left the shop.
The boy continued to draw as he yelled out.
“Chachaji, there is a Madam waiting for you.”
The curtain rustled once more and the shop owner appeared. On seeing her, his smile disappeared.
“Madam, why have you come? I told you whatever I know. Please go.”
Qiara got up from the seat and eyeballed him.
“Why did you tell me? Did you think you could make some quick money?”
The man was taken aback at her vehemence.
She wasn’t ready to back off. Not yet.
“How much do you want?”
Discarding his dismissive tone, he pleaded, “Please understand, it’s not about money. If they find out, I’ll be in deep trouble.”
“Who is this ‘they’ you keep talking of? The cops, goons, who? Don’t you get it? I need to find out why I have the exact same tattoo.”
“I’m sorry. Please.”
“Being sorry doesn’t change anything. The damage has been done.” She glared at him. “I’ll pay you ten thousand rupees. Just take me to the place where you found out about the tattoo. I won’t bother you after that.”
She saw the uncertainty in his eyes and charged on.
“But if you lead me up the garden path, I will send the cops after you.”
The man was now agitated. His gaze darted around, avoiding her eyes.
She went for the jugular. “Did you see the man who came to get me earlier? He is a cop and I promise you, you will be in so much trouble…”
Her words galvanized him into action. Grabbing a pen and a notepad he scribbled something on it and thrust the piece of paper at her.
“Madam, I don’t want any trouble. Not from cops and not from the gang. Please, I don’t need your money. Just leave me alone.”
She glanced at the words he had written: Garima Nursing Home, Phulera.
“Hospital?” She looked at him.
“It’s about fifty kilometres from Jaipur. You should go there tonight. You will see for yourself.”
“I don’t understand.”
“You don’t believe me, right? Go and see for yourself what happens. Now please leave.”
Turning away from her, he walked back into the inner room. She noticed the boy looking at her curiously. The sketch on his pad was nearly finished.
Fear stabbed at her heart as she recognized the drawing on the pad. It was her butterfly tattoo.
No Safe Zone by AditeBanerjie is published by Harlequin, an imprint of Harper Collins India and is available at all book stores and on Amazon.in and Flipkart.com