By Hailey O’Connor
If it were not for Kanika Batra’s bubbly persona, the Miss Universe 2019 finalist would be the perfect femme fatale. Her striking looks are comparable to her acute mind and seemingly endless talents. Not only is she the diamond of Australia’s pageant season, she is an influencer, model, actress, coloratura operatic singer, and, first and foremost, author. Kanika’s fervent passion for literature motivated her to finish her first novel by 16, and read a book a day in quarantine. Her published debut novel Honeytrap presents the femme fatale of Kanika’s wildest fantasies, accompanied by another villain as notorious and deadly — Ted Bundy. The dichotomy of a trophied pageant girl and a gritty debut novel shows that there is more to Kanika — and women — than meets the eye: an idea that is fully explored in Honeytrap.
Extremely Wicked, Shockingly Evil & Vile
The story of Ted Bundy is nearly as legendary as it is terrifying. To Kanika, an expert on the serial killer, there is nobody more interesting. “I love to psychoanalyze people, particularly enigmas. That’s what caught my eye about Ted Bundy, I just couldn’t understand him.” This state of unknowing drove the author’s fascination. “I spent hundreds of hours listening to recorded tapes and reading from Bundy’s perspective. That was like a treasure trove to me — I finally began to unravel him,” admitted Kanika. Within these primary sources, she realized that it was Bundy’s view on feminism and female objectification that bred his enmity toward his victims. Knowing that Bundy’s crimes stemmed from gender relationships of the 70s, Kanika decided it was time to turn the tables. Honeytrap took two years of research and five years to write, particularly so as to have every detail historically accurate.
Two Serial Killers
Maris, the main character of Kanika’s first book, is the female parallel of Bundy. “I wanted to dive into the psyche of female killers, and found inspiration in Jodi Arias, Katherine Knight, and Keli Lane.” Maris’ first-person perspective is both intriguing and chilling; the thoughts of her abnormal psyche, spiral the reader down the rabbit hole of her multiple plots. The horror-filled thriller is “not for the lighthearted,” says Kanika. Honeytrap stands out among its Dan Brown and James Patterson peers not because of Ted Bundy’s presence — instead, it’s because a female author has written about a female serial killer. Kanika is proud to “write a novel that follows a dark and complex female character, instead of a ‘damsel in distress.’”
What’s Next: Jeffery Epstein
In between castings and modeling shoots, Kanika completed her novel as a genuine representation of Ted Bundy as a criminal, and as a person. “A lot of media tends to overly romanticize Ted. They always try and cast the most attractive actors of that time period — cue Zac Efron — and portray him as an exceedingly attractive, cunning man, when this wasn’t really the case. Ted wasn’t outsmarting cops; he actually got pretty sloppy with his kills.” Kanika now has her sights set on Miss Universe 2021 — a tall order for somebody who entered the pageant world at 22, but her résumé speaks for itself: very little is too ambitious for this modern-day Renaissance woman. In the meantime, Kanika is already working on her next novel that features another infamous crime figure: Jeffery Epstein.
Follow her on Instagram @kanikabatra