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The Aryavarta chronicles have been sitting in my shelves for half a year and I grabbed it this week. Right after finding out that she was on twitter. I fell so in love with the first few pages that I jumped into her mentions and asked for an interview.

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What’s the best compliment you’ve gotten for your trilogy, The Aryavarta Chronicles?

A – I’ve had my fair share of compliments and brickbats, and I usually try to take both kinds in the same spirit (who am I kidding, I love compliments!) But the ones that mean the most to me… it has to be where a reader got in touch with me on social media, said she absolutely hated my presence on social media and that she would never ever think or speak of me again – the reason: She loved the world of The Aryavarta Chronicles, she loved Govinda Shauri and my presence as author only corrupted the experience for her by reminding her that it wasn’t the “real” world she lived in. As someone who spends a lot  of time in such worlds, I know exactly how painful that can be. In its own way, her hating me is the best compliment ever.

Are you working on anything right now? Could you tell us something about it?

A – I’ve just sent in final edits to my next book “Immortal”, which is scheduled to release early August. Its a contemporary thriller starring a sexy, mythological character – indeed, one of my favourite people. I’ve had so much fun writing this book, its been amazing, because despite the one allowance (of assuming a character is immortal, and thus alive in today’s world), the rest of it it logic, history and science tied together. Just reading up all the stuff I researched for this made it so much fun that I’m seriously suffering withdrawal symptoms right now!

You’re an author and a poet. Is there any one you prefer over the other?

A – I’d first imagined I’d be a poet. But I’m pretty bad at poetry and dash less bad at prose, so… I love writing both though – the medium, I’ve realized, is determined by the story that is told, not the story-teller, if that makes sense…

Is there a favourite poem of yours from your collection?

A- Its called Ring, and it goes:

“She twists me round and round on her finger that much more often these days.”

If I’m not mistaken, you did law. Now you’re an author. This is becoming sort of common, CAs, Bankers, Lawyers all becoming authors and becoming bestsellers. What makes this risky career seem so much more attractive to practical minds such as yours. (No offense meant, when i told my uncle I wanted to become an author he laughed and told me to do CA and follow in his footsteps)

A – None taken. Frankly, that’s not very different from many of us would have heard – which probably answers your question. In my case, apparently as a kid I wanted to grow up to be “an astronaut or a writer”, but I was well into my third career (law, then management, then academia) “well-settled” as the Indianism goes, when I realized I’d never be completely myself unless I wrote. Maybe its a function of our society or of the era we grew up in, but most of us have had to, with or without pressure, take up professions that are perceived as steady and lucrative. It is only once we achieve those targets, or get close to them that we realize we didn’t really want to go there in the first place. The lawyers and bankers and doctors who have turned writers – they are the lucky ones, who still had a chance at their dream. There are many others out there who didn’t get the chance – or the courage – to take the plunge.

Aryavarta_Govinda_PosterMythology is one of India’s favourite genres. Why is Indian mythology not so popular outside the country despite being in English, like Roman and Greek ones are? Do you think this’ll change?

A – Simple. To us, mythology is closely interwoven with religion. We can’t look at characters from myth/ mythohistory, without imputing virtues and vices to them, we can’t bear the thought that our gods and heroes are not perfect and that villains and demons through and through – whereas if you describe Zeus as a tyrant or Neptune as vain, or suggest that even the worst of demons has a redeeming, maybe even a humorous quality, it doesn’t sound that bad …. But let me state here that I don’t mean we need to be disrespectful or flippant in our view of our mythology. But we can be a bit more open to the possibility that women and men of myth were (once) also human, and humans are beautiful because they are flawed. I don’t need my heroes to be perfect. I need them only to aspire to be better people than they were before, to show compassion. To me, that is divinity.

Will you continue writing mythology or will your next book be of a different genre?

A – I’ve got more myth-history books lined up – there is the Aryavarta Chronicles Prequel I’m working on, and I’ve recently committed to Penguin to do two books on the life and times of Siddhartha Gautama. But I do have ideas that move away from mythology, and every time I finish a book I tell myself I’ll do something different next…. I guess, there’s something to be said for good old fashioned heroes. They make me want to tell their story.

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I can’t wait to read the next book and I wonder if the same cover designer(Aryavarta), Kunal Kundu, will be doing the covers this time as well.

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