He took a mythological character who has always been promoted as evil and wrong, and presented him to us as another regular person - with his strength and the reasons for his vices. His book ASURA made us fall in love with, and respect Ravana. His new book, AJAYA, which will put the Kauravas in a fresh perspective. Here I am, in conversation with Anand Neelakantan, one of the top contenders for the Crossword Popular Award 2013 final list of five.
Congratulation on ASURA being such a raving success. Did you expect it to be so well-received?
It is a dream come true to any author. When I was toiling for 6 years and was doubting about my skills about telling a good story over the pile of rejection letters I used to get, in my wildest imaginations, I had not thought about a success like this.
When you wrote ASURA, not many authors were writing about mythology as there are now. Was this genre a conscious choice?
I wanted to tell the story of Ravana. I did not worry about which genre is popular and which would sell. One cannot write a book depending on the market.
Writing about mythology must involve more research than imagination. Must be very difficult, right? Does it take more to research, than to write, at times?
Yes, it involves more research. I am a trained Engineer and have an analytical mind. Creativity is a bonus. No task is difficult if one has passion for it.
You next book, AJAYA is due for launch on December 1. Please tell your readers a bit about the plot.
Ajaya again is about the power of perspective. What if the defeated have a story to tell. Ajaya looks Mahabharata from the view point of Kauravas and especially the Crown Prince Suydohana (damned as Duryodhana in popular telling) who was cheated out of his inheritance. It will have multiple heroes like Ekalavya, Karna and Aswathama
When we read ASURA, we were introduced to Ravana in a while new light. Would AJAYA do the same for the Kauravas?
I hope so.
Are you already working on another book? As a fan, I am very curious who you would write about after Ravana and the Kauravas?
Ajaya will be published in two parts. On Dec 1st, the first part Roll of the dice will be out. On Aug 15th, 2014, Rise of Kali, the second part of Ajaya series will be out. In 2015, I hope to come up with Amatya, the story of Chanakya’s foe. The research for the same is already on. Another one would involve the Sun temple of Konark as a back ground.
You took someone who has been branded as evil for centuries and made a human out of him. What prompted you to write about this angle?
I believe it is possible only in India and only with the Hindu mythologies because of the open mindedness of Indians. It is not easy to write something that goes against the popular beliefs that have been held dear for the past three or four thousand years. The logic has to be compelling and the research meticulous. I may have shortcomings as a writer, but I hope no one would accuse me of not working hard and putting my heart into my writing.
Lots of new writers are venturing into writing about mythology/history. What would your advice to them be?
Do not write about mythology or history just because a few books have become successful. Write them if you are passionate about it. Popularity of one particular Genre will come and go, what matters finally is whether you have a story to tell. When I started my research on Asura, everyone told me that one has have to write like Chetan Bhagat to be successful, no one will read mythology these days. Many publishers rejected it saying that mythology would not sell. I did not change my writing style to imitate Chetan Bhagat, because I cannot write like him. Now mythology is in vogue, but it does not stop Ravi Subramanian or Chetan Bhagat still being in best seller list. Every writer is unique and one has to stick to one’s style and do whatever he or she believes in.
A special request from the author to his readers:
Without your support, encouragement and criticism, I would not have had the courage to come up with another book within an year. Asura is in the crossword popular award 2013 final list of five. The competition is tough, with big names of Industry like Amish, Aswhin Sanghi, Ravi Subramanian and Anuja Chauhan in the list. I request all of you to give the vanquished a chance.
Please vote for Asura and please post the same in your blog/ fb/ twitter by spreading the messageHere is the link : http://goo.gl/nVkgS6
Prelude : (http://www.leadstartcorp.com/ajaya-sample-chapter/)
AJAYA Contest : (http://www.leadstartcorp.com/ajaya-contest/)