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Friday, October 17, 2014

Author Interview : Anuja Chandramouli, author of 'Kamadeva - The God of Desire'

Kamadeva - The God of Desire’ was an excellent read, partly due to the fact that I had not read enough of Kama and Rati. Anuja Chandrmouli seemed to come along and pick out my favourite comic books (as in ACK) and just make it her job to write them into a proper story.

There is nothing more I could ask for than this. So, you could read My Review of it and also read Anuja Chandramouli's take on the whys and hows of it...

Could you describe the journey of ‘Kamadeva - The God of Desire’? How did it begin? What kind of research was put into it?

This particular journey has been absolutely exhilarating to say the least! I was wrestling with a wicked bout of writer’s block after my first book, ‘Arjuna : Saga of a Pandava Warrior Prince’ and it was around that time, I succumbed to the charm and seductive lure of Kama. Before I knew it, a happy obsession with the enigmatic wielder of the Sugarcane bow and flower - tipped arrows took over my life.

Not that I am complaining. His is a fascinating story and it was a wonderful experience to gather together every precious nugget of information pertaining to him by scouring the familiar and happy hunting ground that is the wondrous world of Indian mythology.

It was even more fun to fill in the initially frustrating gaps in the narrative which no amount of research could plug with my imagination and educated guesses! So, in my book you will find that fact (if you can consider recorded myths as such!) and fiction blend harmoniously to create what one of my favourite writers – Kalki (of Ponniyin Selvan fame) referred to as faction!

Why did you choose Kamadeva, exactly?

What drew me to Kama was that he was such a mystery despite his name being such a constant fixture in our collective psyche. There was little I knew beyond the fact that he pissed off Shiva and was incinerated by the three – eyed God before he was reborn as Krishna’s son, Pradyumna.

All this was stuff which every Amar Chitra Katha crazed fan girl who has read their illustrated rendition of Pradyumna’s tale could tell you and I wanted to know more about this hugely intriguing character.

How would you relate the lives of Kamadeva, Rati, Shiva and Indra, to the lives today? Any similarities?

Surprisingly, it is possible to draw a lot of parallels between the mythical world where my story is set and our present day lives. This is particularly true in light of the power struggles between various nations that is covered by the media, the family dramas which is the actual backbone of our society and the emotional upheavals that is so typical when two people are in a relationship.

The celestials seem to have gone through exactly the same stuff!

How do you think your book is different from everyone else’s?

I really have not done an in-depth study or a thorough analysis of how my book compares to others in the same genre because it is not how I look at things.

All I can say is that my Kama is very special because it is the first time anybody has attempted to get past the cobwebs of myth and legend to get to the core of one of the lesser known and misunderstood characters ever. Kamadeva: The God of Desire’ is a strange little mythical romance adventure with a hint of the erotic and enough blood and gore to sate even the most hardened lovers of lurid pulp fiction.

Above all else, it is a tribute to every troubled, tempestuous, stormy and turbulent romantic relationship that ever was, is, and will be. Plus there is a lot of wit, obscure Puranic lore that makes for fascinating reading for laymen and scholars alike and emotion soaked drama that makes it a ripping good yarn!

Between your storyline and your characters, which takes precedence?

Both the storyline and characters are equally important. My characters are very dear to me and soon we grow so close that they insist on making my job easier by going ahead and telling their own story and I just go along for the ride!

What was the most challenging part of writing this book?

Gathering research for this book was extremely gruelling and an arduous process but I managed because I love wading through the waters of Indian mythology!

It is always a challenge to juggle familial commitments and writing but again, it wasn’t too bad, because walking on a tight rope is something an adrenaline junkie like me thrives on.

When would your next book be out?

My Publishers (Rupa Publications) and I are working hard to get the book out towards the latter half of 2015. We are all hugely excited about it because it is going to be truly special!

What book is coming from your desk, next?

My next book is about a beloved and mysterious Goddess and I hope my readers are beside themselves with excitement! All I can say at this point is that it will blow your minds for nothing like this has been written about this particular Goddess ever before!

Did you think that you would become as successful as you have become today? Especially with Arjuna and now this?

While I enjoy the occasional daydream that features me as an international bestseller who has also won every Literary award there is for the taking and made a fortune, I try not to dwell too much on that sort of thing because it would mean putting a lot of unnecessary pressure on myself and sucking the joy out of something I love and revere.

In my book, I will always remain a storyteller who spins a whole lot of 
rollicking yarns both for her satisfaction and that of her readers.
Terry Brooks

Who are your favourite authors and why?

Agatha Christie, George RR Martin and Terry Brooks are among my favourites. Bill Watterson is someone I truly respect. Margaret Atwood is brilliant.

Closer home, I enjoy reading Kalki Krishnamurthy and Baradwaj Rangan.

Who is you inspiration?

I draw inspiration from a lot of people and things. If you look around, there is so much that is testament to the amazing resilience of the human spirit. My parents are a huge source of inspiration as are my husband and two daughters.

Only recently, I discovered that Beethoven went deaf while still in his twenties 
but that did not deter him from churning out his finest work and forging such an incredible legacy for himself. He is a huge inspiration, to be sure.

Rafael Nadal is a great favourite of mine because he is such a gritty player and he managed to stop the Swiss Juggernaut with the superhuman powers who goes by the name of Roger Federer.

Which book are you currently reading?

Jo Nesbo
I just finished reviewing books by this year’s Man Booker Prize nominees – Richard Flanagan, Karen Joy Fowler and Neel Mukherjee for the New Indian Express. It was great fun and I think all three have done some amazing stuff. 

Currently, I am reading Jo Nesbo’s 'Nemesis'.

Anything else you would like to share with the readers?

Writing is an extremely lonely job and it has been known to induce extremely high levels of stress and anxiety. It is the readers who take the edge off it and make it all incredibly worthwhile when they take time out from their busy lives to connect with you via email or other social media platforms to say sweet things about your work. 

Just for that, I owe every single one of my readers a massive debt of gratitude.
Twitter handle: @anujamouli

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