Wednesday, March 22, 2017

Meeting With Anuja Chandramouli - the Master of Mythology Genre

Anuja Chandramouli is a bestselling Indian author and New Age Indian Classicist. Her highly acclaimed debut novel, Arjuna: Saga of a Pandava Warrior-Prince, was named by Amazon India as one of the top 5 books in the Indian Writing category for the year 2013. Kamadeva: The God of Desire, Shakti: The Divine Feminine and Yama’s Lieutenant are her other bestsellers.

Her articles, short stories and book reviews have appeared in various publications like Femina, Women’s Era, Lonely Planet, The Hindu and The New Indian Express. An accomplished orator, she regularly conducts Story Telling sessions and workshops on Creative Writing, Empowerment and Mythology in schools, colleges and various other platforms. 

This happily married, mother of two little girls, lives in Sivakasi, Tamil Nadu. She is a student of classical dance. Currently, she is hard at work on her new book with her two trusty aides – caffeine and yoga.

To what extent you think current trend of mythological or historical novels have helped you? Did that help you just to the point of inspiration or it helped little with publisher approval?
When my first book Arjuna, was released in 2013, I did not realize that the Mythology wave had gathered so much momentum and was a red hot genre. At the time, the big names were Ashok Banker, Ashwin Sanghi and Devdutt Pattanaik. Anand Neelakantan and Amish Tripathi had arrived on the scene a year ago and there was no looking back after that. Grateful to them all for giving my Arjuna that little which saw it become one of the top 5 sellers in Indian writing for 2013
Would you like to tell us your experience / initial response of publishers when you approached them with Arjuna?
It was quite disheartening actually. I got so many rejections that I lost track and every single one was as painful as the one before. Fortunately, Arjuna was accepted and that made it all entirely worthwhile. It is good to know that hard work and persistence pays off!
Would you like to narrate some interesting things that might have happen during your publishers’ meeting or book promotions?
As a hardened introvert I seldom get out and really meet people. But thanks to my writing, I get to meet a whole lot of interesting folks from various walks of life and they have such wonderful stories to share. For instance, I met Ashwin Sanghi, Anand Neelakantan and Arshia Sattar (who was moderating) at the Odisha Lit Fest where we were on a panel together. This was my first time at a lit fest and I was so scared and nervous it wasn’t funny. All three of them were really sweet and made me feel thoroughly comfortable which made the experience an amazing and memorable one.
One runs into a whole lot of characters – celebs, politicians, activists, news makers etc. I would love to share my experiences but I have to save it for my memoir.
Do you plan every character and their role in your story before you put them? Do you write a story with perfect ending in mind?
Not really. I prefer to go with the flow and watch the characters take shape along with the story. It makes the writing process a lot of fun because I never know what to expect from my characters. They are full of surprises!
One should not ask mother which child she likes the most, but given a chance which one is you considered as your best work till now? Why?
Tough question! Arjuna is a personal favourite and the great love of my life. Kamadeva is one helluva guy and I have a massive soft corner for him. Shakti, in all honestly represents my best writing and I am proud of it. Yama’s Lieutenant is very dear to me, because it is me at my most creative. The feedback from the readers has been incredible and I am happy to let them know that the sequel will be out soon.
Can you tell something to our aspiring authors that can boost their confidence?
I would tell aspiring authors to never ever give up, no matter how difficult things get. Keep reading and keep writing. It is as simple as that! Good luck!
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