Archana Pathak

the author of The Indian Emerald

Date:

The Indian Emerald by Archana PathakAuthor Archana Pathak is based in Pune, though she hails from Lucknow. She has done a Master’s in English Literature from Lucknow University. She has been an educationist and taught English for a decade and a half.

Archana Pathak is a voracious reader and loves to read books related to various genres, but her preferred genre is mystery fiction. The romanticism of literature and historically rich culture of Lucknow with a dash of intrigue, have been the inspiration behind her love for writing.

Footsteps in Time’, her debut novel, was published in November 2020. ‘The Indian Emerald’, a historical mystery, is her second novel. She aims to be a full-time writer and is planning to write a series as well.

Author Archana Pathak wrote blogs at awordtoadd.blogspot.in. She has also written some short stories on her Instagram handle a_tale_so_arcane. She is an ardent traveller, has a keen ear for music and loves to cook Mughlai cuisine.

 

TBE: Congratulations for another feather in your cap. Having read and liked your previous book, Footsteps in Time, I was quite excited about your latest book. I loved The Indian Emerald and the characters you’ve created for the book. Can Tell us about something about ‘The Indian Emerald’ that isn’t in the blurb?

Archana Pathak: The book portrays the era of colonial Lucknow, its culture and life style of the British, their outlook and political orientations. The book gives a lot of history relating to Lucknow and its glorious architecture with short introduction of the patrons of the architectural marvels. It also gives a small peak into London and its suburbs.

 

TBE: How did you first come up with the storyline for The Indian Emerald?

Author Archana Pathak: I was always fascinated by the colonial history of Lucknow. Having been brought up in a city that has such rich history, was bound to interest me enough to write about it. I grew up listening to the anecdotes of the colonial Lucknow related by my father, who had seen some part of it. The first freedom struggle was a momentous historical event in the history of Lucknow so the idea of the story came easily.

 

TBE: Adeline and Ava are very different from one another. What was it like writing about two very different women from two very different times?

Author Archana Pathak: Adeline and Ava represent the women of their respective eras. Adeline is traditional and conventional as was the wont of that era. It was a bit challenging writing about her character but then the human emotions and mind set remain the same through the ages across the globe. I guess I had seen my grandmother and could relate a lot with the women of that era. Also, a lot was learnt by reading about the traditional women characters of that era.

Writing about Ava was easier as I am living in the present era and her character resonates with today’s educated modern woman. Ava is fiercely independent and doesn’t shy away from doing what she deems fit. She knows her mind and is determined to follow her own path.

I enjoyed writing both the characters as they challenged me.

 

TBE: One of my favorite qualities in your novel is the way each character is presented with a certain love in terms of their mannerisms and motivations. Characters are developed as whole people rather than one-dimensional caricatures. Do you use people in your own life as models?

Author Archana Pathak: While doing my Master’s I came across a line, that the key to write convincing characters is   to be able to make the audience relate themselves to the characters on the stage, only then the playwright can capture their attention. The characters have to mirror the emotions, ambitions and all that is predominantly human in order to be engaging.

I simply put myself in the shoes of the characters I am writing and I guess that’s what makes them relatable.

 

TBE: Much of the novel is based on historic events. What was your process for research versus writing? How did you stop yourself from falling down endless rabbit holes when researching? And how did this research process differ from your last book ‘Footsteps in Time’?

Archana Pathak: The research was extensive and time consuming as I did not want to falter when it came to the historical events, places and time lines.  So, I simply divided my time between writing and research. Before I started writing the book, I read quite a few books related to the event by the eminent historians. I wanted to get the causes, order and time line of the events clearly. I made notes as I went along my research. It was tempting to lose myself into the history but I strictly kept my focus on my requirement.

There was research involved for my first book ‘Footsteps in Time’, but it was more relating to the culture and socio-economic condition of that era. The places used in the book exist in reality and had been visited by me, so writing about them was easier but still there were many things for which I had to depend upon the research. However, it was not very challenging as the book is mainly a romantic mystery.

 

TBE: During your research for the book, what has been your most treasured find? What factual or historical piece most surprised you while writing this book?

Archana Pathak: A very good question indeed. I came to know some very interesting facts about some old monuments which I was not aware of earlier. Basically, I am more aware of the history of Lucknow than what I was earlier.

When I first decided to write the book, I placed the events in the present cantonment of Lucknow, not knowing that it came into being much later. Only after I started reading the book on the rebellion by a historian, I realised that the original British cantonment was somewhere else and does not exist any longer. It really came as a surprise, since I had visited the present cantonment as a child, and with its colonial bungalows and churches I took it to be the cantonment where the events of 1857 took place. The present cantonment was built in the aftermath of the first battle of independence.

 

TBE: From India’ s first revolt against British rule in 1857 to recent times in London, what’s the key to creating convincing atmosphere?

Archana Pathak: It again took lot of research to get familiar with that particular ear.   I read extensively in order to know the socio-economic condition, life style and the prevailing customs and traditions of nineteenth century India. I could only visualise the atmosphere of that era through the research.

As far as London is concerned, again the books gave a very clear picture for that time period. Writing about the present England was easy as I happened to visit England a few years back.

 

TBE: l’Esmé, an antique pendant, plays such an important role in the story. Did you have a personal connection or interest in antiques before writing this book? Did you know how important you wanted the idea of this pendant to become and what it would represent?

Archana Pathak: My mother did have some family heirlooms that dated back to nineteenth century. But then I love anything that is antiquated; be it jewellery, buildings or places.

Yes, I was very sure about the role the pendant would play in the book. It romanticised the core concept of the book. The pieces of jewellery are passed down through the generations and in the process, they collect the history of the people, places and events. The entire history in the book unfolds through the pendant.

 

TBE: Is there more pressure when you’re writing historical fiction? How is the research process different from other genres?

Archana Pathak: Definitely. One cannot go wrong while citing the historical events. One simply cannot meddle with the factual dates and events. Things that actually happened in the past cannot be changed or rewritten. The story can revolve around the actual facts without altering any details and that’s what makes it challenging.

I must have checked the dates and the order of the events innumerable times before I submitted my manuscript to the publisher.

 

TBE: Is there anything you are currently working on that may intrigue the interest of your readers?

Archana Pathak: Currently I am working on a book that might be a part of a series.

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