Manuscript help, book reviews and author interviews
Anuja Chandramouli is a bestselling Indian author. Her highly acclaimed debut novel, Arjuna: Saga of a Pandava Warrior-Prince, was named by Amazon India as one of the top 5 books in the Indian Writing category for the year 2013. Kamadeva: The God of Desire and Shakti: The Divine Feminine are her other bestsellers. Currently all three books are being translated into Hindi, Marathi, Gujarathi and Bengali, a real achievement for one so young.Here we talk to Anuja about her brand new fantasy book Yama’s Lieutenant.
tgbc: What inspired you to write Yama’s Lieutenant?
AC: My third book – Shakti: The Divine Feminine was an intense and emotionally draining experience in addition to being a tough act to follow. I thought long and hard before deciding on book 4. A reader suggested I write a book on Yama and the idea intrigued me but I wanted to do something different and challenging. As a fan of the fantasy genre, I decided to set the plot against a fantastical backdrop and incorporate mythic elements as well as horror. The rest fell into place and Yama’s Lieutenant happened.
tgbc : Who is your favorite character in the book and why?
AC: I love all my characters. Yama’s Lieutenant, Agni is really brave, irreverent and funny and I have a massive soft corner for him. The antagonist, Naganara, the necromancer is badass. I loved how scary and layered his character turned out to be. All the ladies in Yama’s Lieutenant – Minothi, Dharami and Taravarsha are really special and they have bailed out Agni more often than he cares to remember. Even the nightmarish Narakamayas rocked my world and they were so terrifying, I scared myself!
tgbc: Who are your favorite authors?
AC : Tolkien, George R. R Martin, Terry Brooks, Stephen King are all kinds of awesome. Perennial favourites of mine are Agatha Christie, Jane Austen, Oscar Wilde and Enid Blyton. I also love me some Haruki Murakami, Bill Watterson and Margaret Atwood.
tgbc: What book do you wish you had written?
AC: JK Rowling’s Harry Potter. The lady did one hell of a job with the boy who lived as every Potter maniac knows but there are entire sections I would have rewritten, instead of tweeting or giving interviews about major plot points and character arcs that did not make it into the book.
tgbc: What do you do when you have a writer’s block?
AC: I have a multi – pronged and sure-fire approach to bust through writer’s block for which the patent is pending. It involves tearing out my hair in frustration, distracting myself with books, television shows or yoga, bingeing on pizza, chocolate and ice cream (I don’t recommend this for weight – watchers), and dancing on the roof with peacocks during a thunderstorm to appease the Gods of creativity (true story). Mostly though, I do the sensible thing by giving myself a rousing speech on faith before powering through my writer’s block relying entirely on hard work and stubborn determination.
tgbc: You delve into Indian mythology to create your books. Do other culture mythologies also appeal to you? If yes which ones, and if no, why?
AC : I love Greek and Roman mythology. Devouring the likes of Homer, Virgil, Ovid, Sophocles, Aeschylus and Euripides is one of my favourite pastimes. I also visit Egyptian and Norse mythology every once in a while and have sampled the Arabian Nights, The Song of Roland and the Nibelungenlied.
tgbc: What kind of research did you do for Yama’s Lieutenant? How long did it take you to write the book?
AC: I read up on Yama and it was a lot of fun sifting through Puranic material for interesting titbits on him. My imagination did a lot of grunt work as well. The actual writing process took the better part of a year.
tgbc: What are you working on next?
AC : A sequel to Yama’s Lieutenant.
tgbc : How do you unwind?
AC : My husband and my daughters, Veda and Varna help me relax and unwind. They triple teamed and strong – armed me into getting over my Cynophobia and adopting our Labradors, Simba and Nala who provide rejuvenating doses of puppy love when they are not being bullies. Reading, classical dance and Yoga are my hobbies and all are responsible for keeping me out of a padded cell with restraints when writer’s block threatens to push me over the edge.
tgbc : Your favorite quote?
AC : Everything in moderation, including moderation. ~ Oscar Wilde