Author Naben Ruthnum
Naben Ruthnum recently published "Find You In The Dark" under the pen name Nathan Ripley. Naben Ruthnum

Martin Reese, the main character of the new thriller “Find You In The Dark,” has a secret. He likes to secretly purchase police files and then does his own independent investigations into serial killers.

Written by the author Naben Ruthnum under the pen name Nathan Ripley, “Find You In The Dark” was praised for being both “intriguing” and “creepy” by Publishers Weekly.

We had the chance to ask Ruthnum about his debut novel, the world of mysteries and thrillers and the limitations many in publishing place on writers of South Asian descent.

TTM: In “Find You In The Dark” readers meet Martin Reese, a rich retired guy who spends untold hours investigating the victims of serial killers on his own before then anonymously delivering his finding to the police. How did you come up with this storyline?

NR: I came to the idea because I’ve long been an ardent reader of true crime, and once you’ve encountered enough of these stories, it’s striking how often the bodies of many victims are never recovered. Combining a genuinely philanthropic and helpful notion of recovering victims with the disturbed psychology of a narrator with dark impulses seemed like a natural fit.

TTM: Have you always been a fan of mysteries and thrillers? What authors do you like and did any of them influence your style as you were writing this book?

NR: I have, yes. I read widely across genres, but crime and thriller novels have always struck me as genre books that can achieve much of the same psychological depth that you get from the best literature.

TTM: Your first book was titled “Curry: Eating, Reading, and Race” and was about food. Did you find it to be a jump to switch from writing about food to crime and murder?

NR: It was actually one long essay that deals with food, writing, and identity, and the struggle to carve out a place in the market to write exactly what you want to write, when you want to write it. In an odd way, the books complemented each other. And with publishing schedules being what they are, I of course ended up feverishly editing both of them at the same time.

TTM: You are a Canadian of South Asian descent whose parents are from Mauritius. What made you decide to set “Find You In The Dark” in the United States?

NR: I lived in British Columbia when I first started writing the novel, and as many of the historical crimes I was hinting at without ever directly mentioning took place in and around Seattle, I decided that it made sense to set the book there. I did some research trips and made use of the landscape parallels that exist all along the Pacific Northwest coast.

TTM: Building off of that last question, you obviously have a personal connection to several countries around the world. You recently tweeted that someone asked you why you didn’t write mysteries set in India. How do you deal with the often-limited boxes people want to put South Asian writers in?

NR: My first book talks about this a lot — “Curry: Eating, Reading, and Race.” I haven’t found the ultimate solution to this, other than calling it out. It remains a fact that editors and publishers looking for high literary fiction from SA writers tend to want stories or novels that deal with generational disconnect, refugee or immigrant experiences, and other subjects that are vital and true to the experience of many SA writers, but not all. I find that calling this out, as well as building different careers under different names, has helped me to write what I want to write.

TTM: Finally, are you working on any other projects you want to let us know about?

NR: Finishing another thriller and working on screenplays! And I usually have a short story or two on the go.

You can order your copy of “Find You In The Dark” here.

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