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Friday, June 12, 2015

Author Interview : Vikrant R Utekar, author of ‘The Shivputra Chronicles : Tripurantaka' (Part 2)

Here is more to this Interview. Here, he explains how the book is different from the usual mythological series, how and why he feels closest to the protagonist, and a little about his next book in 'The Shivputra Chronicles', titled 'Rudra'. Meanwhile you can, You can read up my Review right here and Buy the Book here, as well.

What according to you is different about your book?

Well, unlike many mythological fictions that are based in the past, this is a modern day mythological fiction.

How did you come up with the core idea and develop it? 

As I said earlier, it was owing to the fact that I come from a family of Shiva devouts. Also, and I think you might have guessed this that I'm a huge Rick Riordan fan.

How would you relate the book and its characters to day to day lives?

CK to me, is the man I would want to be. A man, who is not perfect (as only God can be perfect and not man), a man with flaws like you and I. But a man, always striving to be good.

He is someone who is a warrior and wishes for peace. Other characters of the book are based on the people who are near and dear, to me.

Which particular character did you feel most close to? Why?

As I said, CK is and always will be the man I would strive to become.

Could you tell the readers about your past experiences and how it was related to what you wrote?

Well, I come from a very humble background. I was born and bought up in a Chawl in Mumbai. It was only due to the grace of God and the hard work of my father that he became the successful businessman that he is today.

Today, my family wants for nothing, but we still strive to be humble and ever ready to help a fellow man. Hopefully, it shows in my writing as well.

What is the most fulfilling part of writing a book?

Writing a story that you know generations will read and enjoy even long after you are gone from this world.

Vikrant R Utekar
What is the next book that you have planned? When do you see it released?

It is the sequel to this book, "Rudra". It is a work in progress and it will be released sometime before the end of this year.

Who was it that told you that you could become the author, you are today?

I always had good grades in my AS & A levels (11th and 12th grades) English. But it was my father who, after reading some of my creative writing works, suggested I should write a book.

Who are your favourite authors and why?

I like stories that are simple, elemental and yet strong. My favourite authors are JK Rowling and Rick Riordan, although I do enjoy the occasional, Mario Puzo.

Which book are you currently reading?

What do you do on a daily basis?

Well, I am recently married, so I am currently enjoying my married life. I work with my father in the family business as well and also, I focus on my writing.

Wednesday, June 10, 2015

Author Interview : Vikrant R Utekar, author of ‘The Shivputra Chronicles : Tripurantaka' (Part 1)

Vikrant R Utekar
'The Shivputra Chronicles : Tripurantaka' was something, I did not really expect, but it was a surprise.

Modernism mixed with mythology is a new topic, and though I have read it before, I think this is the first of a kind story in Lord Shiva's mythology. 

So, here is the first part of the Interview; and am guessing it is almost as short as the book. :) You can read up the Review right here and Buy the Book here, as well.

How did ‘Tripurantaka’ happen?
Well, to answer your question, I come from a long line of Shiva's devotees, so my fascination about the lore of Lord Shiva came easily. But it was this fascination about the God, which my entire family worships, that led me to delve deeper into the mythology behind Shiva.
And then I was fascinated all the more. So, when I decided to pursue my passion for writing, it was only natural that I write on this subject matter.
How do you plan to put ‘The Shivaputra Chronicles’ across?
Right now, I am working on the second SC book, which I have named "Rudra". This time around, I will work on all the constructive criticism, I have received.
I will also try to delve more into the land of mythology and also, am trying to incorporate chapters from the perspective of many old and new characters.
My aim is merely to write a story that fascinates me and then let the people decide whether they enjoy this world or not.
What kind of research did you put into the writing of the book?
Well, to be honest, it takes a lot of research in writing mythological fiction because you cannot afford to get your mythology, incorrect. I have tried to best explain mythology in a way that people can understand, as mythological stories tend to change from region to region.
For example, there are two sets of stories related to the original Tripura lore, one being that the bow was the great Pinaka and the arrow was the famed Pashupat.
There is also one other story that states that the body of the bow was the great Mount Mandar, the string was the great snake king, Vasuki and that Vishnu himself took the form of the arrow that destroyed the three cities.
Mythology is relative from person to person and so, one must know all that he can about the story in question before writing about it as it can be a very sensitive topic for some.

Monday, June 08, 2015

Book Review : ‘Tempestatem’ by Nishant Muralidharan

Tempestatem’ by Nishant Muralidharan, is an odd book. When I started reading it, I expected something else, but was disappointed. Okay, let me start off by saying that I have read enough Harry Potters and LOTRs, to give me some clue and I know something of mythology, too. (I don’t mean just Indian.)

So, this book starts off with Gale, a 19 year old, of half Indian and half British origin. How and why he disappeared, one night when he was out partying with his friends; all starts off with a phone call. (Kind of like Matrix, wouldn’t you say?)

He finds himself knocking at his doorstep, and his father not noticing him. Neither does his mother. His death is known only to himself; he has ceased to exist for his parents and friends.

So, Gale finds himself commissioned by Aaron Heart, who is one of the Three Swords. And, here it begins. If you did not understand, what just took place, I would not blame you. So, Gale is with Aaron Heart, who is one of the Three Swords and a whole load of mysterious creatures of mythology. And he finds himself in the middle of a war, between these creatures.

So, you have Shade, Lurker, the Observer, Raven, Sean, etc to deal with. Am sorry, if you thought that I am not making too much sense, but this is how I felt during the reading. I did not understand it.

The mythology and war are present and one can understand that a war is taking place. The author’s love for the genre and understanding of mythology is definitely there but, I really hope that the book could have made more sense. Starting off with Gael’s death and whatever happens after, are all parts of the book which have been put together, I felt a little too clumsily.

Honestly, I did not understand why and how he disappeared completely. And his tryst with mythology cannot really be understood. I hope this could have been a better review, because I felt that this book could have been so much more, if the parts in the book were better explained. Am sorry, but with the knowledge of mythology, the plot could have been, so much better.

Friday, June 05, 2015

Author Interview : Anita Shirodkar, author of ‘Nights in Pink Satin' (Part 2)

Read up, the Second Part of the Interview with Anita Shirodkar. She goes on to tell us, what the most challenging parts of writing the book were and the most fulfilling parts too. She also reveals her favourite books and her most loved authors, Folks...

You can read the Review here and the First Part of this Interview here, as well...

What was the most challenging part about writing ‘Nights in Pink Satin’? 

Keeping it short and tight! There is always the temptation to delve deeper into the psyche of the characters, because in my head I know them inside out! 

It is difficult to curb the instinct to get more descriptive, because that would be against the nature of the genre. By and large, I think the more challenging part is selling the book;
Anita Shirodkar
writing is a piece of cake in comparison!

What are the most fulfilling parts in your book?

I would say that it is most gratifying when the various threads in the story come together seamlessly in one all-encompassing conclusion. I’ve always like loose ends tied up, and am the quintessential happy ending type of person! 

When a book or a movie has an inconclusive ending, or something too esoteric to be properly interpreted, I feel quite cheated, as if there is no closure. 

Which particular character did you feel most close to? Why?

Simran would be the ideal choice, since she is the protagonist of the book. But I have to say that I feel close to each of the characters, the reason being pretty simple; I put a lot of thought and love into developing each one of them. 
Simran’s mother wise and practical Purnima, her dubious father Arun, her flamboyant agent, Karan (who, I particularly enjoyed writing!) and of course her cool, cool husband Sid.

To me, the best part of writing is creating the characters. They become real live people, who behave a certain way all on their own, sometimes quite unexpectedly!

Who was it that told you that you could become the author, you are today?

No one, really. I’ve always enjoyed writing, so I just decided one day that should write a novel. I called my sister Madhuri and said, what do you think, should I do it? And of course she said, go for it!

So there I was, without a clue about what I was doing, but in the end, my first book ‘Secrets and Second Chances’ was published last year. Madhuri was a big support. 

When I sent the manuscript to a few friends to read, the response was so positive that I began to think about approaching a publisher. I guess at the end of the day you have to one, believe in yourself, and two, have a passion for what you are doing.

When will you next book be out?

I’m still working on it, so hopefully by early next year! It’s set in the art world and moves from Mumbai to Italy and back.

Which book are you currently reading?

I’ve just finished the last book in the Ken Follett’s ‘Century Trilogy’. It’s called the ‘Edge of Eternity’. The three books together were 3,000 pages plus, so as I said, I do read tomes occasionally!

I enjoyed the first two very much; being a history buff, I found the fictionalised version of WW1 and 2 riveting. The last one, I thought, was tedious and contrived. But having started it, I decided to finish it. I’ve read everything practically Ken Follett has written.

Georgette Heyer (Wikipedia)
Who are your favourite authors and why?

Arthur Hailey (great storyteller), Georgette Heyer (charming writing style), Agatha Christie (no one did murder like she did), Jeffrey Archer (another fantastic storyteller), Tom Clancy (superb detailing), David Baldacci (fascinating plots),  Jane Austen (what can I say; I’ve read all of them over and over!) Ken Follet and  Michael Crichton.

I read a lot of spiritual non-fiction books as well, mainly by Indian gurus - Swami Rama, Muktananda, Gurmayi Chidvilasananda, Osho. These constitute the majority of my reading.

What else do you do on a daily basis?

I divide my time between two homes, one in Dubai and one in Mumbai, and travel up and down every two weeks. I am a graphic designer as well, and I work as a consultant for my husband’s company, Tamarind.

They are into destination management and events, and I manage all he design and content writing for them. Apart from that I help manage a water company in Dubai. So that’s design, writing, marketing and running two homes! 

I enjoy cooking and am very interested in world cuisine, so I spend a fair amount of time in the kitchen… largely because we have a lot of friends whom my husband loves to entertain!

What advice do you have for the young writers of today?

I don’t know that I’m in a position to give advice, but I will say this: persevere and follow your passion. And I’m assuming that good writing is a given, so you really need to focus on making yourself a brand, that is the name of, the game today.  

As I said earlier, the writing is the easy part, to make a success of your work you have to learn to sell it well.