Murder, she wrote
Kiran Manral takes a humorous look at the claws behind kitty parties through this murder mystery
There’s drama, there’s intrigue, there are factions, there’s infighting. It is an entire microcosm of life. The Kitty Party Murder revolves around Kanan Mehra, a.k.a. Kay, who is bored to the gills with mommyhood, when her detective friend Runa asks her to help in a suicide investigation.
Kay infiltrates a ladies’ kitty group and tries to unearth their deepest, darkest secrets. As Kay and Runa try to get to the truth behind the suicide, the building complex is shaken by another mysterious death. The answers they seek lie buried under fancy meals, designer dresses and serious bling. “And apart from that there is the section of women I most identify with — women who have had fruitful professional careers but have dropped out of the workforce after they had a child. I think I try to explore through humour and intrigue how a woman who is now out of the professional workforce tries to find purpose and inspiration in her life,” says author Kiran Manral.
Kiran says she has always been fascinated by the intricacies behind a gated residential community in the metros and that was the inspiration for this book. “I live in a complex of six towers and when we moved in and I began going down to the park, accompanying my son who was quite young then, I learnt that there were many different kitty groups within the complex itself — the younger married women who met at restaurants, the older ladies who did monthly bhajans or had housie evenings through their kitty groups — and it fascinated me,” Kiran shares. “I haven’t personally been part of any kitty group, but have heard acquaintances and friends talking about their kitty meet ups and I found it the perfect situation to put into a story about women,” she explains.
Women have always been the protagonists of Kiran’s books. “A retired school teacher. A divorcee. A middleaged woman with mental health issues. A 30-something school-gate mom with a midlife crisis. I talk about women who are relegated to the fringes of our attention. I think I discuss body issues women face, financial independence, dependency, mar
riage, motherhood, I would like to hazard a guess that I tend to put issues that women grapple with in the forefront in most of my works, and delve deep into them,” says the author.
Elaborating on her writing routine, she says, “There’s a
first draft and then there are many re-drafts and edits. My writing process is very scattered. It is character-led, so I must see where I need to take the character and what I need her to achieve through the entire trajectory of the book. This book is more comic mystery than true crime, so while there are murders, there are also plenty of laughs.”
Even the most creative fiction writing tends to be rooted to some degree in real world events, and to accurately capture those events, an author must conduct research. “It completely depends on the kind of book. For me, in fiction specifically, research can entail speaking with people in that situation. It differs for each kind of book. For a book like Missing Presumed Dead, it was those suffering from mental illnesses, their caregivers, psychiatrists. For The Kitty Party Murder research was limited to speaking with friends and acquaintances about how this entire institution of the kitty group functions,” says Kiran, who is also a TEDx speaker and columnist.