My time living in New Delhi was the inspiration for my latest Totally Five Star novel, Kismet. India is such a vibrant and colourful country, rich with history and traditions and so culturally diverse that it provided a fabulous backdrop for a story. Life there was never dull! One day one would see a local elephant wandering down our street, the next, the suburb would be bombarded by monkeys, causing havoc and bedlam until someone would call in what the locals term the "monkey man" to move them on. The streets teem with people, cars, bikes, auto rickshaws and food vendors. Women attired in brightly coloured sarees toil alongside the men on constructions sites and squat in front of burning embers on which they roast cobs of corn to sell to passers by. The markets bustle with activity. Animals such as goats, chickens and geese add to the din as people rush around shouting and haggling to the scent of baskets filled to the brim with spices, lentils and rice. I did suffer my fair share of frustration, however. Bureaucracy and processes are a matter of course in India and subsequently tasks that should generally have taken only a few minutes to complete, took on mammoth proportions.
In Kismet, I take the reader through the streets of New Delhi and to Agra, home to the Taj Mahal. I thought it fitting to include this beautiful monument, designed and constructed out of the fierce love that Shah Jahan held for his favorite wife, Mumtaz Mahal (Chosen One of the Palace). The Taj Mahal and its surrounding gardens is a stunning memorial and very poignantly romantic.
When I first thought about writing Kismet I did question the suitability of setting an erotic novel in India. After all, Indian society is known for its relatively conservative attitudes. I therefore strove to keep the erotic aspect realistic to the setting. The BDSM components in Kismet are lighter than some of my other books and I focussed more on the development of a BDSM relationship and the establishment and testing of limits. When I lived in New Delhi I remember becoming quite frustrated when whole sections of movies were cut out due to the appearance of a naked butt and clinical terms such as vagina and penis were bleeped out of television programs.
Now, however, India's media has reported an increased interest in more sexually explicit subjects. With the publication of novels such as the Fifty Shades trilogy (which, according to The Times of India, "crossed over 100,000 copies in terms of sales in India") and India's own Sangeeta Bandyopadhyay's Panty, the Indian reader has begun to explore erotic subject matter and the country that gave us the Karma Sutra has started to embrace more 'colourful' and less orthodox reading material. I think it's fair to say that the sweet and fluffy romance novel has had to move over on the shelf to make room for the sexier and more "mature" reads.