I had recently read the phenomenal book “Kartikeya: The Destroyer's Son”. I asked some questions to extremely talented Ms Anuja Chandramouli. She graciously and kindly granted me her valuable time from extremely busy schedule. This may throw some light on her thinking process for those who are keen to know.
Brief bio as taken from Goodreads.com
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 and Shakti: The Divine Feminine are her other bestsellers. Currently all three books are being translated into Hindi, Marathi, Gujarathi and Bengali, a real achievement for one so young. Her epic fantasies called Yama’s Lieutenant and its sequel has received an overwhelming response. Her newest books are on Kartikeya, Padmavati and Prithviraj Chauhan. An accomplished orator, she regularly conducts workshops on Creative Writing, Story Telling and Mythology in schools, colleges and various other platforms. Her motivational speeches have also been well received. According to Chandramouli, her work with youngsters in the rural belt helping them improve their Spoken English and Writing skills has been wonderfully satisfying and enriching. This happily married, mother of two little girls, lives in Sivakasi, Tamil Nadu. She is a student of classical dance and Yoga.
Rajan: This is your second book I am reading. First was Shakti. Language is first rate but I need to keep looking up the dictionary. This coupled with the fact that you use metaphors and allusions makes it clear you are writing for intelligent audience and not popular fiction. Is it deliberate?
Anuja: I don't deliberate too much when I am writing. In my opinion too much analysis results in paralysis when it comes to action at least! All my thoughts are channelled into telling the story and I don't interfere with the flow of words or stop to worry if it is too complicated or what have you. It is an organic process and I am happy to just go along. And I am not thinking about the audience either in terms of critical or popular approval. All I care about are the stories and I am confident they will make their way to those who love them as much as I do!
Rajan: I read many retellings. I liked Narendra Kohli in Hindi. He gave a socialist spin. Amish writes fantasy with epic/ mythic/ religious characters. Your take is different. In your books these are religious characters but treatment is very progressive and feminist. What’s your approach?
Anuja: Absolutely delighted that you find my treatment of mythology progressive and feminist. When it comes to my books, I do a whole lot of research but while putting it down, I go with whatever makes sense to me. The idea is not to perpetuate regressive and narrow - minded ideologies in the name of culture and tradition. As a mother of two little girls, I would like them to grow up in a world where they are not made to feel at a disadvantage on the basis of gender. Hence, using my chosen profession to shape the narrative of tales that are treasures imparted by a glorious tradition, to render them progressive is the very least I can do.
Rajan: Your books are low on dialogues and rely more on atmosphere and emotions. This is a different approach but coupled with first question it makes a slow reading because in one chapter you cover a lot of ground and a lot happens. Why it is so?
Anuja: That applies to Shakti perhaps, but I think there are lots of engaging dialogue portions in my books. Really enjoy working on them. But I do spend a lot of time shaping each chapter till it feels perfect so yes, they do feel complete and can often feel very intense. Hence, even during the writing process, I need to recharge my batteries between chapters and subsequently, some readers may need a break too. However, others have complimented on the pace and the narrative style which they have said have kept them hooked and reading through the night!
Rajan: The book are very serious and to the point. Where are the fun and light moments?
Anuja: Again, Shakti was a very complicated subject and there was not room for too many laughs. However, when it comes to my other books and overall writing, there is a lot of humor to lighten the proceedings. My tales are supposed to make my readers smile a little, cry a little and think a lot!