Archit Taneja is the author of the Superlative Supersleuths series. The new book in the series, The Case of the Careless Aliens, was recently published.
He has been interviewed by Imran Batra. Imran is a fifteen-year-old nihilist who loves to read comic books and write poems. He had read The Case of the Candy Bandits when he was younger and more optimistic.
IB: Overall, I adored the book, and maybe even liked more than The Case of the Candy Bandit. It’s a perfect blend of knowledge and playfulness, that I absolutely love.
AT: Really glad you feel that way!
IB: Arti seems to be more mature and calm than most children her age. Who was the inspiration for her character?
AT: Hehe, I didn’t intend her to be adult like! But yeah, she does act a bit more mature than usual in this book. Aarti has been more or less fictional. I’d like to think of her as Mabel Pines from the cartoon Gravity Falls, or any other character who have a wacky side to them, but can also rise to the occasion when the situation asks for it.
IB: Have you ever had a pet like Pigeon?
AT: I did! In fact, her name was Pigeon too, and she acted a lot like Pigeon from the book. She ran away a few years back because I didn’t do a good job replacing the cat litter. I’m quite confident she’s sailing on a yacht somewhere in the Mediterranean Sea, with her cat lover pouring her a chilled glass of milk.
IB: Which character would you compare yourself to? Which character is your favourite?
AT: I’d say I’m closest to Vipul because I was a nerd during school. Although, I didn’t talk as much as him, neither did I get the highest in maths. I don’t know if I have a favourite character, but I really enjoy writing Aarti’s parts the most. That’s mainly because her character doesn’t have any mental barriers, which makes her both a bit nuts, and as you said before, make her seem more mature than other children.
IB: Have you ever been bullied like Vipul as a child? If yes, how did you react? If no, how did you create the character and his personality?
AT: I did get bullied once a while by seniors in the back of the school bus. I don’t have any strong memories associated to being bullied. So, I guess it wasn’t that bad for me as it was for others. I generally didn’t confront the bullies, because that led to more bullying. I do remember getting annoyed by them later, and re-running the encounters in my head, but with me beating them up, or making them cry with a really cool comeback. It’s hard to say if I took my experiences to write Vipul getting bullied. We have so much bullying shown in pop-culture today that it isn’t hard to take cues from it.
IB: Perhaps the most complex character in the book is Ashwin. He often suppresses his emotions and hides his true self to try and be ‘cool’. Did you ever do this as a child? If so, did you also ‘evolve’ into a butterfly from a caterpillar?
AT: You sound like a psychologist with your personality questions :p.
Suppressing emotions and pretending to be cool isn’t something that stops once you grow up. In fact, Time magazine said it’s the #1 adult activity! Or maybe I read that on Readers’ Digest, or was it the GoodFood magazine?
Although, I do think that a lot of the kids (including me) act like that around adolescence. I don’t think it’s always a bad thing, especially when your cool quotient is measured by how many Pokemon cards you have. You may have hated Pokemon, but had to collect them because everyone else was doing it. Eventually, you see what all the fuss is about, and you fall in love with Pokemon and wonder how your life would have been without it.
IB: Now, this last question isn’t much of a question, but I decided to include it anyway.
An issue concerning counterfeit money comes up at a certain point in the book. Was this merely a coincidence, or was it purposely made to coincide with the… well… let’s say “money problems” the nation’s going through?
AT: It wasn’t coincidence, I kinda knew this would happen even before I started writing the book more than a year back. I put counterfeit money in the plot because I knew that the book launch would match the timelines when the “money problems” began. I’m hoping it would help with the book sales. Maybe financial experts on TV shows can quote it when they quarrel with one another. I have to give a lot of credit to my publishers at Duckbill who made sure that the book was ready around the same time.
IB: I loved reading the book. I feel that it’s one that doesn’t really have an age group.
Anyone can enjoy it- from Rachita or Vipul to even Grandma or Sub-inspector Kishore.
I hope you continue to write many more books in the series.
AT: Thanks a lot! I really enjoyed the questions :). Hope to see you at one of
the events in the future.