Archit Taneja is the author of The Case of the Candy Bandit, the first book in the Superlative Supersleuths series, which will be in bookshops in early June. He is interviewed by Pavithra Sankaran, the author of Something Fishy.
PS: Hi Archit. There is a trail of what looks like jam, but could be anything, on my counter. How can I find out if my kitchen has been the scene of a gruesome fruit crime or not?
AT: An amateur detective would have tasted the jam trail, but we’re too cool for that. Open the windows, and let the fruit flies in, let them do the nasty stuff for us.
PS: That sounds very scientific. Are you a, umm, nerd?
AT: No, I am not, unfortunately. Only the really cool peeps who meditate and balance inner forces can get glimpses of the higher dimension nerdosphere realm. The rest of us are generally a mixture of nerd, dork, goof, hipster and geek. Different people have different proportions of it. I won’t tell you what my proportions are, it’s like a top secret KFC recipe
PS: Okay. That sounds all mysterious. But we are curious about Rachita’s dreams: do all detectives dream of rebellious sheep?
AT: Detectives generally prefer not to dream, because it annoys them to be irrational. They are very stuck up when it comes to these things. So, when they do fall asleep, their dreams have rebellious sheep, who are angry to be in the dream in the first place. You know, because they’d rather be doing detective stuff.
PS: That makes sense. But do sheep make good detectives? I know dogs who would be very annoyed at the competition.
AT: Well, I think dogs are generally awesome at sniffing out crimes and getting hunches. They start off their detective careers really well, but when they get a taste of success, they become a bit arrogant. I think sheep are good detectives because they are humble.
PS: Does Rachita have pets? What do they think of her friendship with all these sheep?
AT: Rachita has a pet cat named Pigeon. She likes to drop Pigeon from elevated places and study how she balances in mid air before hitting the ground.
Well, this book has no supernatural/superpower stuff. Pigeon can’t do telepathy or something to get into Rachita’s head. So, she has no idea about her obsession with sheep
PS: Do you know any cat psychiatrists? Pigeon sounds like she might need one.
AT: I’m not aware of any. But I think Pigeon is okay with Rachita’s gravity experiments. Pigeon pities Rachita in such situations, because it thinks she has malfunctioning limbs.
PS: We notice Rachita is very orderly and thorough. Does she eat her oranges if they aren’t perfectly spherical?
AT: Oranges aren’t perfectly spherical, is that a trick question?
AT: Ah. Well, I don’t think Rachita would make a fuss about eating different shaped oranges.
But I do imagine her making a graph plotting the tastiness of an orange versus it’s spherical-ness and tell her parents what’s the best shape to buy, or something like that.
PS: We’d be interested in knowing what she thinks of grapefruit, but that’s a question for later. However, we suspect Aarti would just laugh at her graphs and eat the oranges anyway.
AT: Yes, Aarti doesn’t like to find logic in things that don’t need it. She’s the more chilled out one. She is a good friend though, so she’d probably add little doodles in the graphs to make them less dull-looking.
PS: We love Rachita, but we like Aarti, too. If we gave both of them gift vouchers, what do you think they would buy?
AT: Aarti is a bit against big corporations. She would probably sell the voucher at 80% the cost, and go to some local market and get what she needs. She would make a list of all the things she wants to buy, bookmark the pages, hide the voucher in a secret place and then forget about it.
Rachita would probably get some sleuth stuff. She is more interested in trying out the product to find faults in it, and write negative online reviews so that people don’t buy it.
PS: What tips would Rachita have for a beginner detective?
AT: Rachita would give you these tips:
– Have a sidekick who agrees with you most of the time.
– If you feel you aren’t able to figure out the crime. Take a break, have some lemonade, and then get back to it.
– Keep crime solving as a high priority, don’t let things like homework or chores come in between.
– She has more tips, but she’s lazy to tell you about them right now.
PS: What about tools and methods? Is Rachita’s approach–of making notes, drawing diagrams, keep strict track of clues and suspects–they best or only way? Can sloppy, forgetful people like me also be detectives?
AT: I don’t think they can, sorry. They might make a good side-kick though.
PS: Sigh, alright, we’ll just have to live with that. Is there such a thing as a perfect crime? One that even Rachita can’t solve?
AT: Well, Rachita would have walked out of the interview if you had asked her that question.
I suppose there are such crimes. One can’t be completely sure, right? They might get solved a couple of generations later. So it’s best to assume that all crimes are solvable and keep sleuthing on them. But make sure to take lemonade breaks in between.
PS: So you aren’t going to give us tips on how to commit the perfect, absolutely unsolvable candy banditry ever?
AT: Like, Oh My Glob! Are you asking me how to become a better criminal? Even if knew (or heard) of an answer to that, I couldn’t tell you.
PS: Oh well, we tried. But we’ve got lots of great ideas from you, especially about the role of lemonade in sleuthing. Is there something special about lemons that makes them the ideal detective drink?
AT: Well, they aren’t perfect spheres, for starters. I think it’s just a very refreshing beverage. I don’t think it does something special for detectives. Sleuthing is a lot like other professions. It’s got similar challenges. It’s just way cooler, that’s all.
PS: So detectives don’t need a special diet? That’s good to know. I was worried you might suggest a diet rich in cabbages. Or something.
AT: Nah. Rachita eats tons of crazy things; you’ll hear about her world’s best sandwich in the book—it’s very unhealthy.
PS: Thanks for all the cool facts on sleuthing, Archit! We look forward to Rachita and Aarti solving many more mysteries.
AT: You’re welcome. However, all the sleuthing tips are opinions of Rachita and Aarti and not of my own. So please don’t sue me if something doesn’t work.