Thursday, November 14, 2013
Author Interview: Anuja Chandramouli, author of 'Arjuna - Saga of a Warrior Prince'
This had to be an interview, which had me smiling throughout. Just as Anuja Chandramouli says that her book, ‘Arjuna - Saga of a Warrior Prince’ is humorous, she herself is one for a sense of humour.
When I began reading and reviewing ‘Arjuna’, I noticed the similarities, it had with most of the stories, I had already read. Still, it had something, which I had always wanted to see. She managed to put the Mahabharata together, in solid sentences. I remember reading it as a child in the comic book format, but here it was, in story book format.
And guess what? Her next book is based on Kama, somebody who I am quite curious about, since I have read nothing about him, ever! A spinner of yarns, this one is.
So, let us be led on by Arjuna, in this one…
How did ‘Arjuna’ happen? What kind of research did you put into it?
‘Arjuna’ happened when I was wrestling with a writer’s block. Conventional wisdom has it that authors do their best work when they write about the things they know really well. And from that point of view, ‘Arjuna’ was the logical choice, because I have known him nearly all my life.
There was considerable research involved of course, but the foundation was already in place for this venture because I have been greedily devouring any and all things related to the Mahabharata from my youngest days.
Why did you choose Arjuna, considering the numbers of mythological characters and stories open to you?
Arjuna has a very special place in my heart because other swashbuckling historical characters may come and go, but he is forever.
How do you think your book is different from everyone else’s?
I think my book is very passionate and humorous. Enough said! I’d rather not do odious comparisons, because I am sure everyone who has written on the Mahabharata has left their special stamp on it and I applaud them for that.
Who was it that told you that you could become the storyteller, you are?
I think the credit goes to my grandmother who forced every one of her visitors to listen to her precocious granddaughter’s rendition of Krishna’s tale, while preening with pride and urging them to ‘ooh’ and ‘aah’ over my brilliant storytelling abilities.
My buddies in school were also firm believers in my storytelling skills and would even beg the teachers, to let me narrate one of my stories if a free period presented itself. Their fondness for my stories made my heart sing although I usually feigned reluctance to spin them a yarn :), just to get them to plead with me.
How would you relate the life of Arjuna to the lives today? Any similarities?
Certainly! One of Arjuna’s most enduring qualities is that he is eternally relevant. While it is true that he had divine origins and he hobnobbed with divinity, unlike mere mortals his life was not a bed of roses. What we can learn from him is that in good times and bad, he never stopped believing in himself and worked hard to achieve his aims.
Then as it is now, life sucks on most days. Like him we need to believe in ourselves and be unafraid of good, old fashioned labour to make the most of our existence on this planet.
Who is your inspiration?
There are lots of people who inspire me. Mostly, I adore those who are amazing at what they do and I have always wanted to be included in their ranks.
I was supposed to be working on this interview, but got distracted watching Rafael Nadal thrash Roger Federer at the semi-final round of the ATP World Tour Final. Nadal is a huge source of inspiration because he simply refuses to give up whether he is battling his gifted contemporaries or debilitating physical injuries. Either way, he is a fighter and I want to be like him.
Any advice to writers that would like to be published today? How tough is it to be published in India?
It is not easy to be published in India or anywhere else for that matter. Aspiring writers just need to roll up their sleeves and get cracking on their novels, before steeling themselves against rejection, shoring up on patience as well as persistence and never giving up on what they have so painstakingly created. The rest will take care of itself.
Who are your favourite authors and why?
Veda Vyasa, Agatha Christie, George R RMartin, Terry Brooks, Jane Austen and Stephen King. As for the why, if you have read these guys, there is no need for an explanation and if you haven’t, what are you waiting for? Go read them… ASAP.
Which book are you currently reading?
A collection of short stories, edited by Alfred Hitchcock called, ‘Alfred Hitchcock’s
What book is coming from your stable, next? When do you see it released?
My next book is about Kama, the God of Desire. It will be released in 2014.
What else do you do on a day to day basis?
I raise my kids, grumble about household chores, work out and attend my classical dance classes religiously, dream endlessly, read and write.