Growing up in Mumbai, as a shy kid, Deepika Murthy wanted nothing more than to read books, Enid Blytons mostly. She would also write poems and short stories. Deepika went on to do her MA in Psychology from Mumbai University and worked in the Human Resource divisions of companies like Tata Motors and Hewlett-Packard for 8 years before she finally started writing books for children.

Her first book Little Indians: Stories from across the Country was published in 2013 and she has recently written The Adventures of Shrilok Homeless which is admittedly a ‘desi take’ on the adventures of the eponymous detective Sherlock Holmes – in the cities of Mumbai no less.

“I had taken a break from work when she was born. Spending time with her helped me to reconnect with my childhood and my dream of wanting to be a writer.”

It was, in fact, her daughter Ananya who inspired her to write for children. She says, “I had taken a break from work when she was born. Spending time with her helped me to reconnect with my childhood and my dream of wanting to be a writer.

I am a big fan of mysteries and thrillers. While conducting creative writing workshops for children I realized it is a very popular genre among children, and decided to give it a try. The idea was to create a detective who could be pitched as the greatest teen detective in the country. He would solve crimes using logic and deductions – a method made famous by Sherlock Holmes. And so Shrilok Homeless was born.”

The author feels that to write for kids one has to think like kids. How they will react to a situation, how they talk. For example, friends are very important to them. The biggest challenge is that kids don’t have much patience. Therefore, one has to get their attention from the first paragraph and sustain that interest throughout. Does associating one’s work with the veteran Arthur Conan Doyle inadvertently puts a pressure to be a sort of unputdownable mystery author?

“Sherlock Holmes is such a popular character that there have been countless direct and indirect adaptations in movies, television, and books. Re-imagining the fictional detective as a teenage chaiwallah from Mumbai was exciting and something that had not been done before.”

She adds, “Sherlock Holmes is such a popular character that there have been countless direct and indirect adaptations in movies, television, and books. Re-imagining the fictional detective as a teenage chaiwallah from Mumbai was exciting and something that had not been done before. It was a bit of a risk, but when Penguin Random House agreed to publish it, I knew I had got it right. ”

Another interesting fact about the author is that she uses her favourite childhood name as a pseudonym for her books – Pika Nani.

Another interesting fact about the author is that she uses her favourite childhood name as a pseudonym for her books – Pika Nani. Does she think it helps children to relate to her books better?

“It is a childhood name for a childhood dream. But being Pika Nani also helps to focus and gives me a creative space to write. The feedback from children has been very positive, probably because it is a fun and easy to remember the name.”

As of now, Deepika Murthy who also loves reading and traveling has no plans to write for adults. She wants to focus on creating interesting and relatable content for Indian children. And of course more adventures of Shrilok Homeless.

Also Read: Challenges of Writing Detective Fiction By Manjiri Prabhu

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