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An exclusive Q&A with Anita Sivakumaran, author of Cold Sun

We sat down with Anita Sivakumaran, author of the stunning thriller Cold Sun to find out more about the inspiration for the book, life as an author and of course favourite crime reads.

  1. Tell us a bit about Cold Sun and what inspired you to write it?

I moved to Leicester 11 years ago and met and learned about the Gujarati and Punjabi diasporas from East Africa who’d settled here since the 60s and 70s. Particularly the huge Gujarati community, expelled from Uganda by Idi Amin in 1972. I also re-read V.S.Naipaul’s Area of Darkness and was struck by the idea of an utter foreigner to a country in all but name and skin colour, repeatedly mistaken for a local. I found irresistible, the idea of Naipaul arriving in India, looking around, and for the first time in his life, all the people he sees look like him.

So I thought it would be very interesting to have such a figure as a Scotland Yard Detective, for, you know, the world over, people only think of a white man as a Scotland Yard detective. You think, Sherlock Holmes, Watson, etc. I’m sorry, I think ‘the Metropolitan police’ sounds a bit meh.

Where did you first get the idea for the book?

The idea for the actual character of Vijay Patel sparked off from the first Gujarati origin British man I met, only a few days after I arrived in Leicester. A young, dapper, bookish gentleman. My optician! He took great care testing my eyes, and the whole time, chatted about the novels he was reading. So Patel started off mild-mannered and bookish, but, in the subsequent drafts, acquired cricketing fame, serious Bourne-Bond skills and a complicated personal history.

Where do you write?

I write in my study that also doubles as a guest bedroom at the top of my house. So I have a desk, a chair and a double bed. Sometimes I have a mid-morning ‘think’ on the bed. Erm.

Are there any writers who have inspired your work?

I have a lot of influences from Thomas Harris to Kate Atkinson. I like to think I have more gags in my book though. I like the comedy arising from the clash of strong characters and cultures.

What are your top 3 books that you read again and again?

Henderson the Rain-king by Saul Bellow

Sick Puppy by Carl Hiassen

Mrs Dalloway by Virginia Woolf

Do you have a favourite crime novel?

It’s got to be The Silence of the Lambs, hasn’t it? I also like the hard-boiled, but very funny, A Rage in Harlem, by Chester Himes. Highly recommended.

Order your copy of Cold Sun here