Today, we got a chance to interview the author of the three books, Kartikeya, Padmavati, and Prithviraj Chauhan, Anuja Chandramouli.
- Tell us about your upcoming books – Kartikeya, Padmavati and Prithviraj Chauhan in brief.
Kartikeya is beloved to a lot of us hailing from Tamil Nadu. We grew up listening to beautiful devotional songs composed in his honor that was so much more fun than regular Carnatic music which takes a little getting used to because they are so peppy, energetic and made you feel amazing. I suppose it was only a matter of time before I got down to writing his story. It has been a wonderful journey and I am sure my readers will love getting to know this mysterious yet charming God.
I have had a bit of a soft spot for Prithviraj Chauhan ever since I read his story in grade III. It has been an enormous pleasure to research and write this book based on his remarkable life and achievements. Modern Indians will be able to relive and relish this recaptured slice of history.
Padmavati is a timeless tale of love and valor. It is a story that deserves to be told and I am delighted that I got to narrate it.
- How did you start writing in this genre? Did it just happen to you or it was well thought?
I write about the things I care about. It is that simple. In real life, I am in my head too much and I think as well as analyze to the point of catatonia. However, my writing space is sacred simply because I feel it is safe to be as free as I please. Hence I try not to ponder over things too much and am content to just go along. It is easy enough to come up with ideas for a book though they don’t always pan out which is why I am grateful for every book of mine which ‘just happened’.
- Who is the real inspiration behind you writing on this genre? What first fascinated you to write in this genre?
I guess that would be Veda Vyasa. The Mahabharata is my favorite story and I love its timelessness, how relevant it still is and always will be. It is amazing that you can devote your entire life towards reading it and still not come close to unearthing all of its secrets. It is why my first book – Arjuna: Saga of a Pandava Warrior – Prince is dedicated to Veda Vyasa. I just wanted to be a part of the great storytelling tradition that is such an enormous part of our nation’s history and culture.
“The Mahabharata is my favorite story and I love its timelessness, how relevant it still is and always will be. It is amazing that you can devote your entire life towards reading it and still not come close to unearthing all of its secrets.”
- At what age you started writing? Can you share your best piece of writing with us?
I have been a reader for practically forever and began writing around the age of 12. Unlike my friends, I though essay writing assignments were fun and tended not to groan and complain my way through it. My teachers used to single out my work for praise and it made me feel like this was something I was actually good at. Soon, I was reading and writing all the time and both became an integral part of my life. In fact, I did not consider writing as a career option simply because it did not feel like work!
As for my best piece of writing that is not something I can ever make up my mind about. But actually, I think my best work will be in the near future.
“Padmavati is a timeless tale of love and valor. It is a story that deserves to be told and I am delighted that I got to narrate it.”
- How do you conduct research about the history and the characters you include in your books?
I enjoy doing research for my books – poring over books, documents, and taking handwritten notes. It is amazing how much there is to be discovered even on a subject you consider yourself well – versed in. Even more interesting is how you may occasionally unearth a nugget of information or insight that is useful in terms of dealing with personal crap in your life. Hence I take my time with research and continue with it even as I write. Again, in this regard, I am grateful to every single person out there who expended valuable time, effort and resources to preserve their research in bulky tomes to light the way for those of us who came after.
- How much time on an average you take to write a book (including research, developing a plot, finishing the first draft etc)?
It varies from book to book. Some are more demanding than others. But usually, it takes me anywhere from six months to a year.
- Who are all your favorite authors?
I already mentioned Veda Vyasa. My other favorites are Agatha Christie, Enid Blyton, and Bill Watterson. But there are so many authors whose writing I love it would be impossible to put them all down.
- Are you planning to pitch any of your books for a movie?
If it happens it happens! I have mixed feelings on this though since I am somewhat possessive where my characters are concerned and in these massive projects it is hard to iron out creative differences. That said, I think my fantasy series – Yama’s Lieutenant and its sequel featuring the Stone Witch would work great on the big screen. So fingers and toes crossed!
- Best feedback you received from a reader?
I love receiving feedback from readers. Over the years they have been so generous with compliments and encouragement, comparing me to the likes of C. Rajagopalachari and Arundhati Roy, in short making me feel all warm and gooey inside. The narcissist in me just can’t get enough of their compliments. So it is very hard to pick just one. In fact, I don’t mind criticism either as long as it doesn’t get personal. In a way, it is an indicator that your writing provoked strong sentiments and it is hard to take umbrage at that.
- What are the genres you love the most?
I love mythology, history, crime, psychological thrillers, and horror.
- What would you like to suggest to potential/upcoming writers?
Potential writers would do well to never ever give up even if their story is taking forever to tell. I’d also tell them to enjoy the creative process and not allow it to become an exercise in frustration and bitterness. Don’t have impossibly high expectations of winning fame and fortune either for art will always be its own reward.
- Tell us your journey as a writer (in brief) after you finished the book and before it went for publishing.
The first one – Arjuna in many ways was the easiest and the hardest. It was hard enough to get over the crushing fear of failure as well as other starting troubles before sitting down to the painstaking process of writing. Once that’s was done, I heaved a sigh of relief, prematurely as it turned out since I was to spend the next year being relentlessly rejected, left hanging or ignored. Fortunately, before my literary aspirations could perform hara-kiri, I got an acceptance email and I could do the happy dance. Again the celebrations were premature because it was to be another year before the editing could be completed and the book hit the stands. Thankfully, the Arjuna went on to become a bestseller and I decided to stick it out for the long haul.
What followed wasn’t always a picnic. There were good, bad and ugly moments I wouldn’t trade any of it for the world. Unless of course, we are discussing a multi-million dollar Hollywood deal.
About the Author:
Chandramouli is a bestselling Indian author and widely regarded as one of the finest writers in mythological fiction and fantasy. She followed up her highly acclaimed debut novel, Arjuna: Saga of a Pandava Warrior-Prince, which was named as one of the top 5 sellers in the Indian writing category for the year 2012 by Amazon India with Kamadeva: The God of Desire, Shakti: The Divine Feminine,Yama’s Lieutenant and its sequel, Yama’s Lieutenant and the Stone Witch. Her articles, short stories, and book reviews appear in various publications like The New Indian Express, The Hindu, and Femina. Her latest books are Kartikeya: The Destroyer’s Son, Prithviraj Chauhan: The Emperor of Hearts and Padmavati: The Burning Queen.
An accomplished orator and storyteller, Chandramouli regularly conducts workshops on creative writing, mythology, and empowerment in schools and colleges across the country. This happily married mother of two little girls credits caffeine and cake for her writing prowess.
Twitter handle: @anujamouli