My first novel The Death of Mr Love is largely set in Bombay, which is my home town and was a great place to be a kid.
My father was an Indian naval officer, my mother, who was English, was a writer. I grew up surrounded by books and had the privilege of knowing many literary figures, including the novelist Mulk Raj Anand, who encouraged me to write, and to whom The Death of Mr Love is dedicated.
After schools in England and India, and a degree in English Literature at Cambridge, I failed to persuade the BBC to let me make documentaries, and instead got a job as an advertising copywriter. I was lucky enough to work in some of the most exciting creative departments in London, including the unique Collett Dickenson Pearce. After ad hoc forays into translation (Kama Sutra, 1980) and non-fiction (Tantra, 1993) I left advertising to be a proper writer. The Cybergypsies, an idiosyncratic memoir of the stone-age of the net, saw light in 1999 and The Death of Mr Love in 2002.
In 1994, I wrote an appeal in The Guardian asking for funds to start a free clinic for the still-suffering survivors of the Union Carbide gas disaster in Bhopal. The generous response enabled us to found the Bhopal Medical Appeal. The clinic opened in 1996 and has won international awards for the quality of its work.
Animal’s People, published in March 2007, is set in an Indian town called Khaufpur. Lucy Beresford, reviewing for the New Statesman, astutely wrote: “The clue is in the name. “Khauf” is an Urdu word meaning “fear”. My sense is that Khaufpur is fictional, a place of terror and dread. Its real-life counterpart is Bhopal.”