M N Krish holds a BTech degree from IIT and Masters’ degrees from MIT. He has lived in India, US and Asia and has spent a good part of his life teasing stories out of numbers to do anything from scheduling planes to selling insurance (not simultaneously). He is currently back in his hometown Chennai and works at an analytics consulting firm. His debut novel THE STERADIAN TRAIL: Book #0 of the Infinity Cycle was published to international acclaim. Visit him here.
NAW- Tell us about your book, THE STERADIAN TRAIL. How did you get the idea for it? What is it about?
THE STERADIAN TRAIL is a mystery-thriller, set mostly in India and partly in the US. The plot involves an unimaginable crime that is underpinned by some strange, complex connections between religion and culture and science. We usually hear about clashes between science and religion in history, some of which continue even today, but that’s not the only relationship between them. A lot of scientific developments have stemmed from religion, culture and superstition. Especially in India. I was really blown away by the irony when I first learnt about it and that’s where the idea for the story comes from. In some sense I believe the book is an East-meets-West thriller that has not been done before.
NAW- How long did you take to finish the book? How did you decide the title?
I have been working on the series for over ten years. THE STERADIAN TRAIL took about 9 drafts and took about four to five years to complete.
The title represents a turning point in the story. The story has many twists and turns but there comes a point where it takes a major turn and that’s where the title comes from. It is the culmination of a scientific idea, religious symbolism and a locale that holds the key to the mystery. The mystery begins to unravel from that point onwards.
NAW- Tell us about the character of Joshua. How did you develop the character?
Joshua is a computer scientist at MIT. He was born in India and maintains a keen interest in the country and comes travelling fairly often. He is highly cosmopolitan, he knows when to kiss, when to bow and when to shake hands. He is kind of hitting midlife. He is winding up a long trip to India when the story begins.
Joshua is based on some of the American academics I have encountered from time to time. I have worked at a university myself, so used some of that experience as well in shaping the character.
NAW- What can a novice reader expect from THE STERADIAN TRAIL?
A fast-paced thriller with a distinct international flavour and entertainment of a high order. Readers can expect that at the very least. They will find an original exploration of a unique theme generally not given much attention in other novels, meet with many colourful characters, visit some fascinating, ancient locales in India, learn about a huge crime that could be happening everyday behind the scenes. They’ll also likely pick up a new thing or two about the world we live in. Some readers have also written back saying they enjoyed the brisk, lively writing laced with tongue-in-cheek humor and the light-hearted way in which some heavy themes are explored.
NAW- Tell us about your publishing journey. How did THE STERADIAN TRAIL find its publisher?
THE STERADIAN TRAIL was initially intended to be one-off novel. So once I felt a little confident that it was ready to go out, I started querying agents in London and New York. A handful of agents asked to read the full manuscript. I signed up with one of them and he suggested that we should turn this into a series. This called for a complete rejig of the story and the characters. When I started working on the follow-ons I realized that a lot more had to be done to ensure consistency and continuity between the stories and to get the rhyme and rhythm together. STERADIAN took the most work, being the series starter. After the ninth draft we signed up with a top publisher in India: Westland.
NAW- Tell us about yourself. What do you do when you are not writing?
Been bit of a nomad. Lived and worked in India, US and Asia. I’m back in India for about a year now, in Chennai, my hometown. I work full-time at an analytics consulting company here, using math to solve business problems of clients. That and my family and reading pretty take up all my time.
NAW- Please name your favourite writers. Are there any who you’d like to name as an inspiration?
Too many to list. I love Wodehouse for his humour and magic with words. Apostolos Doxiadis for the way he humanizes mathematicians and philosophers. Trevanian and Umberto Eco for brilliantly blending thrillers with philosophy and satire. Neal Stephenson for the way he marries geekiness with mind-blowing plots and humour. Boris Akunin, Tana French and Arnaldur Indridasson who use the crime-mystery-thriller format to achieve so much more. I’m not sure about inspiration, but I’m surely influenced by all these writers and so many more.
NAW-What are you currently reading?
Just started on one from Boris Akunin’s Fandorin series which has been on my reading list for long: SHE LOVER OF DEATH.
NAW- What will you be working on next?
I will be continuing with THE INFINITY CYCLE, moving on to Book #1 in the series. Some of the characters from THE STERADIAN TRAIL will be going on a new adventure.