Interview with Indrani Talukdar, author of The Sonata of Secrets

26th October 2021
Booknerds Team

About the Author

Indrani Talukdar has a Masters’ degree in Communications’ Studies from RMIT University in Melbourne (Australia). Currently employed as Senior Editor at the Institute of Rural Management Anand (IRMA), she has worked as a journalist in India and Australia. She won First Prize at the Greater Dandenong Short Story Writing Competition in Australia as well as a Rotary Exchange Fellowship to Argentina besides penning three novels, a novelette, and a book of short stories for children, one of which was selected for publication by the Rajasthan State Board. Her poem, THE RIOT, was ranked Number 1 Star Finalist in the Voices. Net International Poetry Contest in 2012 and her short story “The Dowry” figured in the long list of the 2019 OWT Short Fiction Prize.

The author’s first novel, WHEN THE LAMPS WERE LIT (2008) appeared as an e-book based in San Jose, California.  Her second novel, THE SOUND OF SECRECY, was published in print by LiFi Publishers (New Delhi) in 2016, while her third novel, THE COLOUR OF POPLARS, was published by Spring Books (New Delhi) in 2019. The author's third novel, THE SONATA OF SECRETS, was placed in the Editor’s Choice column by Pothi.com.

About the Book
The book is a musical thriller, a crime-based story whose protagonist is a professor of Music at a local college. Plagued by disturbing memories and a hostile neighbourhood, she finds herself in the midst of a murder mystery that gets resolved through clues provided by classical music.

Here is our interview with the author.

Booknerds: The book uses the elements of music to tell the story of a mystery. What motivated you to use these two concepts together and was it difficult to strike that balance?
Indrani Talukdar: I grew up steeped in classical music. I always saw the connectedness of music to life, always saw it pictorially in a sense. Tampering with a perfect composition, triggers a kind of contradiction - as though something is missing in the picture. It is this missing element that gives rise to the mystery. Its clue lies in locating the missing element.

Booknerds: The book also brings up the concept of harassment and bullying, especially in the workplace, and the ineffective handling of such cases. Do you think such problems have improved with time, or is there still a long way to go?
Indrani Talukdar: Sexual harassment is almost a given - especially in feminine existence. The vulnerability of women - both social and physical - leaves them open to exploitation. I would like to think that recent laws have empowered women to a greater degree than before, yet the change is slow. Very often, it is the women who go all out to denigrate complainants - as I have demonstrated in THE SONATA OF SECRETS. Allegations of "fake feminism" is a case in point.

Booknerds: The book brings up issues of identity and belongingness. What will be your advice to readers struggling with identity issues?
Indrani Talukdar: I do not believe that I have the authority to advise anyone with regard to their individual struggles. What I do know is that it is important to hold your head high, no matter how vicious your opponents are, or how censorious the opinions of others.

Booknerds: The location for the book, a serene Indian town, is an unconventional choice for a mystery thriller. What made you choose the same?
Indrani Talukdar: If you've read Agatha Christie's novels, especially the Miss Marple variety, you will know what I am talking about. But seriously, there are many ripples beneath a calm surface. And that is the element of surprise that I like to exploit in my novels. Nothing is ever what it appears to be, is my take on life. Frankly speaking, I was thinking of Dehradun, or what it used to be before becoming a state capital, as my location. Interestings things happen here as well!

Booknerds: What is next for the budding female characters of the book, especially Rose, who seems to be on the brink of a new chapter?
Indrani Talukdar: I have left it open-ended for readers to interpret Rose's final decision. I haven't decided on a sequel yet.
Booknerds: Rose is always looking out for Koel and vice versa, but in their attempt to protect each other they withhold information. Is that the right approach to a healthy relationship? What are your views?

Indrani Talukdar: I do not know about right or wrong. Rose and Koel are half-sisters who have the same father. They have no one other than themselves to look out for. Both share a dubious history that leaves them open to social censure. That is the reason each one is protective of the other. 

You can get a copy of the book on Amazon here.

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