Kiran Manral’s ‘Missing, Presumed Dead’.

I had met Kiran Manral years ago at Just Books Library. I was attending a talk about her book ‘A face at the window’. Today I am writing about her recently published ‘Missing, Presumed dead. How the time flies! And our beloved author makes the most of every second. 

I have always been inspired by her and I someday hope to write as effortlessly as she does. Words flow out of her pen and she fills the paper with raw emotions. How beautiful a mind must she possess!

I jumped at the chance of an interview with her and her simple yet powerful answers only increased my love for her words. 

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                                                        A little about her 

A TEDx speaker, columnist, mentor with Vital Voices Global Mentoring Walk 2017 and festival curator, Kiran Manral published her first book, The Reluctant Detective, in 2011. Since then, she has published eight books across genres till date. Her books include romance and chicklit with Once Upon A Crush, All Aboard, Saving Maya; horror with The Face at the Window and nonfiction with Karmic Kids, A Boy’s Guide to Growing Up and True Love Stories. Her short stories have been published on Juggernaut, in magazines like Verve and Cosmopolitan, and have been part of anthologies like Chicken Soup for the Soul, Have a Safe Journey and Boo. 

She was shortlisted for the Femina Women Awards 2017 for Literary Contribution. The Indian Council of UN Relations (ICUNR) supported by the Ministry for Women and Child Development, Government of India, awarded her the International Women’s Day Award 2018 for excellence in the field of writing. Her novella, Saving Maya, was long listed for the Saboteur Awards 2018, UK, supported by the Arts Council England. Two of her books, The Face at the Window and Missing, Presumed Dead, were long listed for the JIO MAMI Word to Screen.

Make a cup of tea and get a piece of paper. Author Kiran Manral is here to talk about her book and leave you in awe. 

1) Congratulations on your new book ‘Missing, Presumed Dead!’ What inspired you to write it in the first place?
Thank you. I think a lot of conversations with women around me, friends, acquaintances, in their late 30s to mid-40s led to this book. Many of the women were dealing with a mid-life crisis, body image issues, marriages that are floundering or basically dead, just hanging on ‘for the sake of the children.’ And there was a woman I heard about through the grapevine who just upped and left her marriage and her two children, and never came back. I kept wondering why would she have done something like that, what would have compelled her to go away without her children, everything about the marriage seemed perfect from the outside. I think these stories and these conversations all coagulated into the primary protagonist, Aisha. 
2) Are the characters in this book based on real-life people? If not, how did you come up with them?
I would think every character is a composite of many people one knows and is acquainted with. And also, the job of a writer is to imagine. Imagination is one of the most powerful tools a writer has. It would be sad if one didn’t use it. 
3) What was the thought process that went behind this book?
I don’t think I ever have a thought process behind any book I write, I just tell stories. The stories are the key, the protagonist is the key, everything else just falls into place around these two factors.
4) What makes this book different from the ones you have written earlier?
Well, the most obvious one is the genre, this is a psychological thriller, something I haven’t written before and is a first for me. 
5) The cover of your book is extremely catchy. Do you think the cover is equally important as the story?
Absolutely, I firmly believe in the power of a cover. This cover was designed by Mishta Roy of Drawater who has done my covers for The Reluctant Detective, The Face at the Window and Once Upon A Crush. She and I work well together, and she gets my books. I owe her greatly for all the fabulous covers she’s done for me. 
6) Did you face a writer’s block while writing this one? How do you get through days when your mind is a blank slate?
Writer’s block is for amateurs. If you are a writer, you just write. Every single day.
7) Why do you think this book should be on every shelf? What makes it irresistible?
That is a difficult question and very presumptuous for me to answer. But I think I speak of things that need to be spoken about. Body image issues, postpartum depression, mental illness, dysfunctional marriages, a woman’s sexual needs. These are real, burning issues that women need voiced. 
8) A lot of budding authors look up to you! Would you like to give them a golden advice?
Not golden, but plain and simple advice would be to read a lot. To write every single day. To pay heed to grammar and spelling. And to put in their hours of daily writing practice before they expect something even halfway good to emerge in their writing. Very often writers just want to tell a story, but writing is much more than that. It is plot, narrative, structure, grammar, syntax, character arcs. Reading is the only way to develop that skill. 
Her answers prove what a humble and warm soul she is!
Read the blurb about her book and embark on a new journey! She knows how to keep the reader hooked till the very last word. 

In a dysfunctional marriage, it may seem convenient when the wife commits suicide, but things aren’t always what they seem…

Battling both a fractured marriage and the monsters in her cranium, Aisha leads a sequestered life on the outskirts of a bustling tourist town in the hills of North India. She struggles to stay functional, and tries to wean herself off the pills that keep her from tipping over the edge. Prithvi, the husband she loved once, seems as eager to be rid of her, as she is to flee from him. Only her children keep her tethered to her hearth.

One rainy afternoon, the last thing Aisha expects to see is a younger version of herself at the door. It is Aisha’s half sister, Heer, her father’s illegitimate daughter from another woman. Despite her misgivings, Aisha lets her into the house, and she stays over. Two days later, Aisha goes into town and never returns. Seemingly unperturbed, Heer slips into her missing sister’s shoes effortlessly, taking charge of the house, the kids, and even Prithvi, who responds to her overtures willingly.

 A note found in Aisha’s wallet states that she has taken her own life, though strange happenings leave plenty of room for doubt. But, if she is not dead, where is Aisha? Is she really dead? Did she commit suicide as the note found in her wallet states? Has she been abducted, run away or in hiding? Why does Prithvi not grieve for his deceased wife? And why does Heer walk out of the house one fine day, leaving no forwarding address?

As it examines the destruction a dystopian marriage and mental illness leave in their wake, Missing, Presumed Dead brings us face to face with the fragility of relationships, the ugly truths about love and death, and the horrifying loss of everything we hold dear, including ourselves.

 

I honestly have goosebumps on my skin!! I’m sure you are wondering what happens to Aisha. Here is the link to the book. Order it right now. This is one story you wouldn’t want to miss!

missingpresumeddeadfrontcover (1)

https://www.amazon.in/Missing-Presumed-Dead-Kiran-Manral/dp/9387383687/ref=sr_1_2?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1531658238&sr=1-2

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