Published: 13th June 2018
Meet the 'desi detective' who is straight out of Zac O'Yeah's Hari Majestic Series
A Swedish man writing detective novels in and around Majestic area in Bengaluru is unheard of. Author Zac O'Yeah speaks about his love for Bengaluru and his detective trilogy, Hari Majestic Series
Would you disagree if we say that the lifeline of Bengaluru city is the Bangalore Metropolitan Transport Corporation (BMTC) buses that connect each and every corner of the city to its hub in Kempegowda Bus Station, popularly known as Majestic? Twenty-five years ago, a Swedish man happened to visit this bus stand. He got off the train, checked-in into a cheap hotel and that was all he knew. He instantly fell in love with Majestic and the life surrounding it. Zac O’Yeah, the author of the 'Mr Majestic Trilogy', a detective series set in and around Majestic, talks to us about his love for Majestic, his novels and his other works. Excerpts:
Could you tell us something about yourself and about your work?
I used to work in a theatre in Sweden as a designer and I also toured with a pop group. Before that, I was washing dishes in a pizzeria for a living and cooking hamburgers in a fast-food restaurant.
I started writing because I wanted to do something for myself. I followed my instinct, which led me to travel writing and detective novels, and it clicked with the readers.
Latest addition: Tropical Detective is the latest book in the Hari Majestic Series. Released in December 2017, Hari is on a mission to track down a robber who mysteriously made his way into an ATM
What is your relationship with Bengaluru?
Bengaluru is an interesting city to walk around. I usually go for a stroll every day after finishing my quota of writing. In the city, one can experience vivid contrasts between old and new. Also, the way the city grows without restraint or apparent planning challenges the mind and can be a superb source of inspiration.
In my detective novels, I decided to make the hero a vada-sambar eating filter-coffee drinking sleuth. I thought it would be more interesting to explore the possibilities of a local character. It was also important to me that he shouldn’t be superficial. I wanted him to be a recognisable type and yet extremely unusual. I thought it would be fun to write about such a person, but it was a bit of a gamble, as I wasn’t sure if it could be pulled off. But the fact that I’ve received two movie offers, both from Sandalwood and Bollywood, already suggests that people think it works.
Multi-faceted: An avid traveller, Zac has been around the world. Prior to establishing himself as a writer, he has toured Europe with a band. He currently takes creative writing lessons at Shoonya
When did you decide that Majestic was going to be the backdrop for your detective series?
It is a vibrant and endlessly fascinating place. The whole area around Majestic Bus Station is full of curious shops, exciting restaurants and people from all over India come here. I liked it instantaneously. But I didn’t really know that I was going to write a series of books about it then. It was more a case of liking the vibe there. It took another fifteen years of spending time there until it dawned on me that this is an area that needs its own place on the bookshelves.
Have you ever come across any other place that you think can be interesting for your next book?
This is a really difficult question because there are so many interesting places in both India and the world that it would make sense to write about. My travel writing has actually taken me to all parts of the world – from Los Angeles to Melbourne, from Beijing to Harare, from Stockholm to Bengaluru – and I’ve met fascinating people, so once in a while, I am trying to write about all those places and people. But to write novels I think one needs to spend a lot of time in a place so that one gets to know it sufficiently, so it is a bit tricky to write about just any place.
That being said, what are your future plans and will we see more such interesting writings from you?
It would be nice to visit a different planet just to see what it is like, but I guess I’m not really cut out for the astronaut’s job, so I guess I have to stay on this planet. Though maybe I can write a story set in outer space someday since lots of people have asked me to write more sci-fi. Currently, however, I’m working on a book about world history which keeps me busy and I’ve also just written a children’s book, a cyber-thriller for toddlers, which should be out soon.
Also, I always have a few movie projects on the cards, but cinema is a very difficult business as compared to writing and it involves so many different factors and all kinds of crazy people, so as of now all the films are merely in their development stages. But someday I might take the step into Bollywood cinema, or Sandalwood, or Tollywood, or Kollywood.