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Weaving an engaging plot

Excerpts from an interview:

Tell us about 'Switch in Time'.

'Switch in Time' is a crime thriller set in the hospitality industry. It is at first glance a corporate battle between two titans of the industry. But it is the story of two women, two daughters each trying to prove a point to their fathers, but in very different ways.

Inspector Bushra Khokar, your protagonist, is a strong female character. What inspired you to draw up such a character?

Over the years, I found myself repeatedly describing the women I knew as feisty, strong, badass, no-nonsense and so on. There came a point where I realised that they cannot all be special and that the problem was me. I was consistently underestimating what they could do and then getting impressed by what they achieved.

Bushra Khokhar is my acknowledgement of that epiphany, that there is nothing amazing about the fact that women can do amazing things. She embodies traits I admire the most in people. She is tenacious, direct, relentless but also compassionate and pragmatic.

How long did it take for you to write this book?

'Switch in Time' took me three years to write from the first idea to the time I had a draft I was comfortable taking it to the world. The first draft was an unwieldy, lumbering mess but it helped me understand the milieu and my characters better.

What are the ingredients for a good story?

I can speak for the genre that I personally love the most and the one that I have written in as well, which is the crime thriller. A story is good at two different levels – it should be interesting, and it should be engaging. By interesting, I mean that the story should be a fresh take on the premise. Through imagination and research, the author should create situations and dynamics which have not been seen before.

But the second aspect is that it should be engaging and that means that reading the book should be an immersive experience for the reader. The reader should feel as challenged as the characters themselves in a given situation and should find herself rooting for or hating the characters as if she knew them and was affected personally.

What's next for you? Can we expect more of Damayanti Parida books soon?

I have two Bushra Khokhar stories that I am developing. I expect to start on one of them soon. Damayanti Parida was my first protagonist and will always be special. I would like to explore her further in a novel but probably only after I am done with Bushra Khokhar.

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