When June Warner arrives in India to visit her sister Thalia, a trip to take her mind off her jilted engagement, she is greeted by the bright hot chaos of Mumbai but not her sister. She goes to the YMCA where Thalia is staying, only to find that she is not there.
ABOUT THE BOOK
Convinced that Thalia’s no-show is a sign that she is in danger, June begins a desperate search for her younger sister.
Police Commissioner Oscar D'Costa, scarred by the tragedies of his past, swears he will never again ignore his gut instinct when it comes to a missing girl. And with more and more dead foreign women being found in his precinct, he becomes convinced a conspiracy is at play.
Through the two worlds of American naiveté and Indian chaos, they must find the girl who went missing.
Ace, tell us about your latest book.
INTERVIEW WITH ACE VARKEY
It’s a sister’s worst nightmare. June flies to India to be with her sister Thalia, who is there on a Fulbright, only to find her missing. I have traveled widely and have two sisters I adore, part of the reason I wrote this novel. I also thought it would be fun to unravel a story in India.
How did you get started writing and when did you become an “author?”
I decided to become a writer when I was 11 years old but took the loooong road! Instead of taking a class or two, I read widely and kept a journal for all the new words I was learning. That became a habit, and suddenly I was in graduate school and I hadn’t written anything. So I asked myself the following question: If I were to die in a year, would I rather have a book published or write a dissertation? The answer was a book, so I started writing. But, alas, as many writers have learned, it is a difficult path to traverse. I wrote a version of this mystery years and years ago, then life interfered, and I finally went back to it and voila! It’s done and anyone can download it if they so choose.
What's your favorite thing about the writing process?
When I read a section days after I wrote it and like it! It always gives me a high.
How long is your to-be-read list?
It’s never ending because new books are always being added.
Can you share some of your marketing strategies with us?
I’m very new to the enormity of the e-world but, as always, am happy to share what little I know. I used a publicist, and I started reaching out to bloggers. It’s hard work, you often never hear back, but when you do, and someone gives the novel a good review, it is a great, great feeling.
How do you feel about Facebook?
It’s a great way to connect with old, lost friends. I haven’t yet figured out how to use it for publicizing the novel.
For what would you like to be remembered?
For loving my children. For being a good person. For always trying to do the right thing. For being kind to animals in particular, but everyone in general.
What scares you the most?
Losing my mind and being immobile.
YouTube is . . .
Something I have yet to figure out . . . but I understand from others that everything is on it. Who knows? I might find myself on it one day.
What five things would you never want to live without?
All the people I love, cats, books, lemons, and good health.
Who would you want to narrate a film about your life?
My niece. She has the softest voice I have ever heard and always reminds me of King Lear’s description of Cordelia: Her voice was ever soft, gentle and low, an excellent thing in woman.
3D movies are . . .
Difficult to watch for me. They hurt my eyes, so I close them, which defeats the purpose.
If you had a swear jar, would it be full?
It would be almost empty. I find that most swear words don’t say what I really mean. I recall years ago a fellow student, who was angry with our professor, saying, “F*#k him.” I looked at her and said, “Isn’t that the last thing you want to do with him?”
Excellent! Are you an introvert or an extrovert?
I’m that oddity, an introvert who likes to talk to the people I like. Then I hardly ever shut up.
What's your relationship with your TV remote?
We are not friends because I don’t watch TV.
Do you spend more on clothes or food?
Food. It’s one of my favorite four letter F words. Right up there with Free.
What's your favorite treat for movie night?
Anything with chocolate; ice cream, cookies, brownies, all yum.
What's the biggest lie you ever told?
When I was very young I convinced a classmate that I had escaped from a circus and told her I could ride horses, tame tigers, and tightrope walk. She believed me . . . Looking back I realize my lie was a form of writing. The trick is to do it well enough to have others believe you.
That's a really good lie! Besides joining the circus :), what is the most daring thing you've done?
The most daring is hard to come up with, but I remember learning how to ski in Zermatt, Switzerland. It was the first time I had seen snow, the first time I was in such high mountains, the first time I had put on skis and down I went . . . more on my bottom than standing up. I was black and blue for days.
What is the stupidest thing you've ever done?
Eating rare horse meat. It was stupid because I did not want to do it and I allowed the others at the table to push me into taking a bite. To this day I regret it.
What is your most embarrassing moment?
I was wearing very high heels and was at the top of a curving staircase. You guessed it: I slipped and bumped down a few steps. What you might not guess is that the room below was filled with people. Did I ever slink out of there!!!
What choices in life would you like to have a redo on?
All the opportunities I didn’t take because I thought they would come around again, from the pair of pants I didn’t buy in Turkey to the free Wimbledon ticket. The list is long. Very long.
What’s one of your favorite quotes?
TS Eliot: "The only wisdom we can hope to acquire is the wisdom of humility: Humility is endless."
What would your main character say about you?
Commissioner Oscar D’Costa would say I quote poetry too often, even for him! And he quotes Eliot in the novel.
Where is your favorite library, and what do you love about it?
Kenwood House in Hampstead Heath. The library is a gorgeous room with a great aspect.
You can be any character for one day. Who would you be?
God. I would be able to remove hunger, pain, sadness, illness, poverty . . .
Who would you invite to a dinner party if you could invite anyone in the world?
The Dalia Lama. He seems incredibly wise and kind. I feel I would learn a lot from him.
What's your relationship with your cell phone?
I hardly use it.
How many hours of sleep do you get a night?
About eight, unless, for some reason I can’t get to sleep and then I lay in bed tossing and turning and trying to convince myself that resting is almost as good as sleeping.
What is your favorite movie?
I have quite a few because I relax by watching movies.
Do you have a favorite book?
Too many to name since my favorite book depends on my mood. Do I feel classical? Then it’s Antony and Cleopatra. Do I feel like traveling? Then it’s West With The Night. Do I feel like learning about another culture? Then it’s Little Bee . . .
Do you sweat the small stuff?
Sometimes, and when I do, it drives me crazy because I know it’s the small stuff and yet I can’t shake the sweat.
If you had to choose a cliche about life, what would it be?
Take one step at a time.
What are you working on now?
The next Commissioner Oscar D’Costa mystery, tentatively titled The Children Who Went Missing.
Cake or frosting? Cake, definitely. Hate frosting.
Laptop or desktop? Laptop. Can’t live without it these days, sad to say.
Chevy Chase or Bill Murray? Neither. Not my type.
Emailing or texting? Email. I hardly ever use my cell phone.
Indoors or outdoors? Now that depends on the weather.
Tea: sweet or unsweet? Green (I’m difficult.)
Plane, train, or automobile? Feet. I prefer walking to any other mode of transportation.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Ace always wanted to be a writer and was inspired by Helen MacInnes, who wrote spy thrillers set in various European countries. It sounded like such a marvelous life; travel during the summer to a new country, then spend the year writing about an adventure set in that country. I decided to use my knowledge of India to create stories filled with the colors and sounds of that magical country. But I also wanted my writing to have meaning, and so I decided to write a mystery series featuring Commissioner Oscar D’Costa, with each novel highlighting a pressing social issue. I want my readers to enjoy the read, but I also want them to learn something new.
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