Interview: Ritu Sethi

Welcome Ritu Sethi, author of the Chief Inspector Gray James Detective Murder Mysteries!

Tell us about your book.

His Hand In the Storm, Book 1 of the Chief Inspector Gray James Detective Murder Mystery Series, is available for free download. It has been on the Kindle free top 100 list for the last three weeks and has had over 55,000 downloads in that time. Book 2, Kill Me Why, was published on Jan 14.

Gray is coping any way he can after having had a hand in his small son’s accidental death. He’s called in to investigate a faceless corpse hanging by the river, and this leads him into Montreal’s glamorous tech world.

A parent-child theme runs throughout this book. I wondered: life is hard enough as it is; how does someone who faces the ultimate tragedy cope? Some people would lose themselves in grief. But I wanted to create a hero who finds a meditative peace that lies beyond pain — a calm which coexists with his inner darkness and obsessions. As many of us know,  life exists in grays. That’s why I named my inspector Gray James.

What I love about my protagonist is how he has been able to achieve a nonreactive relationship to experiences. That’s why in both books, I push him past what is reasonable, to where he must react. And then, I want him to find his way back to peace. With each testing experience, he becomes a better man than he was before.

What made you interested in writing this particular story?

As an avid mystery reader, I was searching for a book with a protagonist like Gray James. And the three years I spent living in Montreal inspired the setting for Book 1. The scenes where Gray visits cafes, bistros, walks along the choppy St. Lawrence — I did all of those things. I did my best to capture the character of a unique and culturally-complex city.

Tell us about your main character.

I’m fascinated by CI Gray James. He’s had a tough life and made some harsh choices, which he’s going to pay for. I would say he’s a mashup of Adam Dalgliesh, James Bond, and Hercule Poirot!

All in all, I trust him, and the reader does too. He’s also gorgeous, rich, and has a dimple in an interesting place. Why not?

Would Gray James like you for a friend? Dish the details here.

I hope so because I’m a little in love with him, and I suspect more than one reader will be, too.

Although the poor guy has such bad luck, any sensible woman would be afraid to be his girlfriend. They might end up as a murder victim.

The character I speak through in the book is wry and somewhat inappropriate Forensic Pathologist John Seymour. Every cheeky thing that comes to my mind, I say through him. And I get to solve murder cases alongside Gray. Of course, there’s a lot of me in Gray as well. For better or worse, I seem to be one of those women who can easily access her masculine side 🙂

Which books/authors inspired or influenced you the most:

I would say PD James, Christie, and Colin Dexter. Recently, I took a ten-day master writing class (in Tuscany!) with Elizabeth George. Talk about a dream come true.

About the marketing thing—love it, hate it?

Although I didn’t choose it as a profession, business is in my blood. My dad had a chain of jean stores while I was growing up. I began working there after school, on the weekends, and full-time in the summers at age twelve. By fourteen, I was managing a staff of ten in the flagship store during my off-school hours.

Self-publishing is perfect for me because both my left and right brain get exercised. When I’m writing, I drift into ‘relaxed-Ritu’ mode: she lives on a beach in Hawaii and the plot, the characters, and the scenes come together in between swims, coffee, and lightness.

The times I spend in business mode anchor me. Which I really need. Plus, I enjoy deciding how the cover should look; choosing a blurb.

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