Last month, I read Dark Things for the Deweys 24 hour Readathon and I enjoyed it quite a bit. Also, I was curious about a few things and wanted to ask the author. I emailed her, she emailed back and here it is. My questions with some super interesting answers.
1. If, tomorrow, your book is taken up to be made into a movie, whom would you want to play the main characters?
This is a really tough question. And I have seriously considered this. If I were to only go with Indian actors then I see Shruti Haasan as Ardra and Priyanka Chopra as Hera. Or even Aishwarya Rai. At the book launch Vidya Balan mentioned she would love to play Hera and I think she would make a spectacular one too.
AS for the boys I have no idea. No Indian actor really seems to fit these bills. Perhaps Hrithik Roshan at a pinch for Dara. Anyone else has any suggestions?
Psst also Kareena Kapoor in a special appearance as Menaka would be perfect.
2. Based on your answers, why her for Hera and why her for Ardra?
Shruti has an otherworldly look, like she doesn’t really belong on earth and this quality makes me think of her as Ardra. As for Hera you need someone who is not just beautiful but has an aura of power around them. Hence my choices.
3. What’s the first thing you did after your book was published?
To be honest, I don’t remember. There was a huge gap between the book going to print and actually hitting the stores and the wait was horrid. But I do remember the day someone told me it was up for pre-order on Amazon and I sort of lost it.
4. You’ve done THE BEST thing ever by making the main protagonist and antagonist female. Just talk about that for a bit. Why didn’t you go the usual safe route and choose men?
Maybe because I am fairly obsessed with fairy tales. I love the evil witches, Baba Yagas and wicked queens. Why didn’t I choose men? Well, I never really thought about it. I wanted to tell a story of a Yakshi, so that naturally made her female and I wondered how to bring about conflict and Hera appeared in my head. In a really twisted way Dark Things is inspired by Snow White. (wow I have never mentioned that before)
5. Disney has done that for a while but women are invariably rescued by men except in Frozen. Any thoughts on that?
We all need to be rescued, irrespective of the gender of the person who does it. And no matter how much physical rescuing happens, our internal healing can only start with ourselves. No one else can do it for us. I have never had a problem with the Disney-fication of fairytales. We need the tropes and clichés as much as we need the deviations and interpretations, and in the case of fairy tales, the actual original grim ones. Pun intended.
(Recommended in this context is Neil Gaiman’s The Sleeper and The Spindle. )
6. A little personal, was the friendship (between Ardra and Vina) inspired by someone you know? If so would you wave your book in her face and say, “HAH!”?
Women are immensely capable of being frenemies. Though I’ve the good fortune of having some amazing women around me, I may have come across an occasional Vina. But she isn’t inspired by anyone in particular.
7. Do you read a lot of fairy tales? What are your favourites?
As I mentioned before I am obsessed with them. I still have my Russian fairytale books which are about 30 years old or more. My favourite ones are The Little Mermaid, Beauty and the Beast, Fenist the Falcon, Little Red Riding Hood to name a few. I would recommend Angela Carter’s The Bloody Chamber and Other Stories for anyone who loves fairytales as much as I do.
8. If you hadn’t written Dark Things, what would you have written?
I had started work on an end-of-theworld saga inspired by mythology again, so I would have probably huffed and puffed my way through it.
9. Battle Royale inspired Hunger Games. And Shakespeare plays are being used for inspiration by famous authors like Atwood. If you could base your next book on an already famous work, what would it be?
So many! The Count Of Monte Christo, Rebecca, If Tomorrow Comes, Jane Eyre to name a few.
10. Last question. What are your favourite books and what would you recommend to people who are just starting out reading?
If you are a reader starting out I would suggest you read anything and everything. The good, the bad, the ugly, the boring… EVERYTHIING. You only become a discerning reader if you have tried all genres in the beginning.
I don’t believe in reading lists for the reason listed above but if I had to pick some authors that you must try as a first time reader I would choose:
(In no particular order)
Enid Blyton, JK Rowling, Ursula Le Guin, Terry Pratchett, Jane Austen, Neil Gaiman, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, Agatha Christie, The Bronte sisters, Edgar Allan Poe, C S Lewis, Phillip Pullman, Stephen King, Dorothy Parker, DevDutt Patnaik, Khushwant Singh, Sidney Sheldon, (my love for pulp is fairly evident) Roald Dahl, Laini Taylor, to name a few.
(Phew that is some mix)