19 October, 2017

#GuestPost :: Thriller Writing and its Growth by Aparna Sinha

About the Book:

"You have to dethrone a powerful man to become the most powerful. I was itching to defeat the single most powerful person, but there wasn't any. I was left with only one choice — to create one."

Little does Ashwin Jamwal know that the last twenty-five years of his life have been controlled by a master manipulator, who wanted to make him the most powerful man on earth, though for a reason! Ashwin steps up to take oath as the youngest Prime Minister of India and is unknowingly thrown into a vortex of power and authority as the entire world is threatened by a faceless enemy — Hades.
The world starts to look up to Ashwin as the savior, but he was just a pawn, reared only to be sacrificed in the end.
A story of greed, lies, deceptions, manipulations and corruption, Ashvamedha is a thriller revolving around the infamous game of power in a maddening bid to seek absolute control.

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Thriller Writing and its Growth

-         F Paul Wilson

Thriller continues to be the most popular genre after romance. Due to the element of realism, the adrenaline rush from the suspense, the strong character portrayal and simple narration, thriller/mystery genre takes fair share of fiction market, across globe. 

Thriller has come a long way, with the scholars putting Odyssey- an epic poem by Homer, and Mahabharata, in the category of earliest known thrillers, owing to the adventure and action narrated in both the epics. Traditional and mythological text aside, first noted thriller could very well be fairy tales like Little Red Riding Hood or many folk tales from all over the world, which were able to bring in element of suspense in their stories. The story of Plipka (Byelorussian folk tale about a young boy who was able to get out from trap of a witch using his intelligence and wit) or some popular stories from Arabian nights are well crafted thrillers. 

From mythological stories to folk tales and even plays by Shakespeare like Hamlet and Macbeth qualify as thriller. The classic The Count of Monte Cristo- set up during Bourbon restoration period is a tale of revenge and adventure, is also a thriller novel

However, famous Welsh author Ken Follett had called The Riddle of the Sands: A Record of Secret Service, published in 1903, as first modern thriller novel. The inclination towards thriller writing started taking shape from early twentieth century, because of the change in the global dynamics and political systems due to World War I & II.  The scene changed completely after WWII and the thriller books became more intense and robust in nature. Espionage thrillers were incepted and were on the rise during that time; prominent one being James bond by Ian Fleming. However it was the cold war era that gave us the premise of modern thrillers as we know it today. Robert Ludlum’s Bourne Identity was the first such popular novel; it had changed the thriller genre completely from what it was earlier. The settings and characterizations started to become more realistic, the stories and narration became vivid and strong and were capable of hooking a reader from start to end.

While many prominent names started emerging post WWII, thriller remained a male dominated genre for a long time, with female playing very small (sometimes insignificant) part in the story. The original story of A Riddle of the Sands had no female character, whatsoever; Erskine Childer the author of the book, however later added the character after his publisher pushed him to do so. Things started changing after advent of second wave feminism and Vietnam War (post 1975). It was only when the threat of conscription lessened that major female characters and female writers were allowed into the thriller field. This time period also coincided with dwindling numbers of male readers of novels of any kind. So it probably had a marketability side, as well. Whatever be the reason, thriller genre has seen a significant gender shift in readership- many recent surveys now suggest that the female readership of thriller genre is much more than the male. This lead to the rise in female thriller authors across globe; besides introduction of various subgenres helped the writers in connecting with the female readers better; appealing to the female readers who might not be interested in the war or political thrillers but had penchant for  psychological suspense. Due to increasing popularity of thriller genre in female reader, some new subgenres also took shape, one such subgenre is that which deals with the action taking place at home or workplace; Author Julia Crouch coined Domestic Noir for this category. Gillian Flynn’s Gone Girl established itself as most popular book of the genre, being the 25th bestselling book of all time.

While Thriller across the globe is evolving rapidly; thriller writing in India is still growing at very small pace. The fiction scene in India is predominated by romance and mythological/historical fiction. Besides ‘Readers in India read authors and not necessarily the books’  While Indian Writers in English (IWE) are favored choice when it comes to pop/romance fiction; for thrillers, readers prefer to invest in foreign authors, because of this characteristic of Indian readers not many authors venture into thriller writing. Having said that many authors like Ravi Subramanian, Mukul Deva, Ashwin Sanghi, Vish Dhamija- were able to make a significant impact on Indian readers

However the prospect of Indian Thriller writing looks good; debut authors are willing to take risk and tell a story which has action and excitement. Many have shifted from pure romance and drama to fast paced romantic thrillers which cater to the need of both readers of romance and thriller.  IWE, as we know today, rose to new heights only after 2004. It would be unfair to expect a change so fast, but as days will pass and new sub genres will be added, the acceptability of thriller genre among readers will increase as they will allow debut authors to flourish. I am hopeful as the days will go by Indian thriller will establish itself as prominent genre in India

Yes thriller has come a long way and I am sure it will go further.

About the Author:

Aparna Sinha wrote her first poem when she was seven, which she recited on All India Radio.  Since then, her literary work and industry specific articles have been published in various mediums, including reputed business magazines across Asia.
Equipped with a Master’s in management, when she was forced to quit her lucrative job because of a chronic disease, she focused on her sole passion – writing.

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