I’ve got a really interesting guest post to share with you today from author of Murder at the Mela, Leela Soma. The book features Scotland’s first Asian DI, Alok Patel, and the author was part of this year’s Bloody Scotland Crime in the Spotlight line-up. Here she tells us about something odd which happened on Twitter and muses about whether she fell foul of some strange algorithm!
Twittered and Trumped
My new novel, ‘Murder at the Mela’ was launched on November the fourth, with host Zoe Strachan, author, and lecturer at Glasgow University. Published by Ringwood Publisher a small indie publisher, I was promoting a great Diwali offer of my book on Twitter. I tweeted and retweeted the offer on November 13th, the day before Diwali which was Nov 14th. To my big surprise my Twitter account was blocked, and I disappeared from Twitter on the most important day of the offer. My immediate reaction was somebody had hacked my Twitter account, so I tried changing my password. Nothing happened. I looked for Twitter support and sent them an email asking why my account has disappeared. I got a reply a few hours later saying that I had broken Twitter rules. No explanation just this: https://help.twitter.com/en/rules-and-policies/twitter-rules
I agonised over which rules I had broken. It occurred to me, late at night that perhaps that word ‘Murder’ in the title of my book may have transgressed their Violence rules and with the word Mela perhaps even the Hate crime rule. This must have been picked up by their AI and algorithms. I emailed them late that night saying that it is the TITLE of my book and I had not planned on murdering anyone in any place like the Mela! The account was restored in the morning, no apology, but I had to go through some steps to get it reinstated.
Well, as a writer of colour should I self-censor and make sure I don’t use certain words ? Was I Trumped by an inanimate algorithm? Do all writers go through such censorship by computer bots? The future is bleak if machines take over. Just be careful!
You can order a copy of the book here: murder-at-the-mela
From the back of the book
Newly appointed as Glasgow’s first Asian DI, Alok Patel’s first assignment is the investigation of the brutal murder of Nadia, an Asian woman. Her body was discovered in the aftermath of the Mela festival in Kelvingrove Park. During the Mela, a small fight erupted between a BNP group and an Asian gang, but was quickly quelled by police.
When Nadia is accused of having an affair with a local man, even more questions about her death arise. Was her murder a crime of passion, or was it racially motivated? Could it be an honour killing? The deep-rooted tensions within Glasgow’s Asian communities bubble to the surface as DI Patel struggles with his parents, who disapprove of his relationship with his Muslim partner, Usma.
As DI Patel struggles to gain any help from the Asian community, another body is discovered in the West End- the body of a white man. Is this new murder fuelled by revenge? Killed by an Asian gang? As the list of murder suspects grows, DI Patel finds himself grappling with the pressures of his new rank, including the racism of at least one fellow officer.
This novel peels away the layers of Glasgow’s Asian communities, while exploring the complicated relationships between Asian people and the city.
It is also an entertaining crime story in its own right, and adds an exciting new author to the ranks of Tartan Noir, and a fascinating new Detective to the fictional pantheon of Scottish police investigators.
About the author
Leela Soma was born in Madras, India and now lives in Glasgow, Scotland. She was a Principal Teacher of Modern Studies before deciding to write full time. Her poetry and short stories have been published in a number of anthologies and publications most recently, Issue 5 of Gutter magazine. She won the Margaret Thomson Davis Trophy for Best New Writer 2007 for her then unpublished novel Twice Born which was later published on YouWriteOn. She is on the Committee of the Milngavie Book & Art Festival and the Scottish Writer’s Centre. Her writings reflect her experiences as a first generation Indo-Scot.