My first inspiration was my grandmother. As a young child, I spent several summers with her. Mealtimes were storytimes, and I remember prolonging it, so I can hear one more story. Her stories based on Indian mythology would bring characters to life. She had excellent delivery for comedy and would have my brother and I laughing at the funny stories.
As I grew older, I read practically anything I could get my hands on. My mother would buy used books for me to read. And I used all my allowance at the local lending library borrowing books for one rupee each. I have read Tamil novels by Kalki, like someone dying of thirst gulps water. Greedily.
I have read all Jane Austen novels. Who says romance is easy to write? To write a book that appeals to someone 200 years later is monumental. Her female characters are witty, headstrong, make mistakes, and very human.
I have read several Charles Dickens novels, and my favorite is A Tale of Two Cities.
Epic fantasies with complex plots, alternate universes, and a myriad of characters are a delight to read. I have read Lord of the rings, Mistborn series, A Song of Ice and Fire, among others. Magic, when weaved carefully into a tale, can be a powerful tool in the writer’s tool kit.
Science fiction opens our mind to possibilities, and Neal Stephenson books tackle some contemporary issues, and the Dune series takes you into space.
You can find more of the recent books I have read on Goodreads.
Curl up with a good book this weekend.
Love vs Duty is a premise I explored in Book 1. This is a topic relevant in current times as well. It manifests itself as Self vs Society. Take the current pandemic and mask-wearing as an example. Wearing a mask might be good for the community, while the individual self might protest the inconvenience or health and safety concerns.
Sacrificing one’s self might be taken to an extreme. In some cultures, women are routinely asked to give up their aspirations for the welfare of their families. What is a good balance between the two, and who decides it?
My characters live in a medieval world. Fealty to the king and crown is expected. Marriages are arranged with an eye towards strengthening alliances. Do individual desires and aspirations have any place in these settings? Especially among female characters?
My characters struggle with these questions, and answers are not always easy.
I use two first-person point of view characters in this book. Their storylines do not happen chronologically. The astute reader would find hints in the chapters to establish a timeline and sequence of events. This allowed me to have a little fun revealing things to the readers that my character is in the dark about. The drama comes from seeing the characters make decisions based on incomplete information, while the reader is either enjoying the ride or screaming at the book (no, no, no, don’t do it. Wrong path).
When I started writing the book, I aspired to craft a strong female protagonist, while staying true to the medieval settings. Princess Meera wields no sword or magic. Her strength is still very palpable.
She has influential role models to learn from, her grandmother, and her stepmother. These older women have very different traits and provide Meera two distinct paths to follow. What she learns from them is a subtext in her story.
Strength comes in different forms, and Princess Aranya provides an intriguing contrast to Meera. Two adjacent chapters feature Meera and Aranya, where their similarities and differences are presented, and I had fun writing those chapters.
The men in Meera’s life play a significant role in her journey. I will save that for another day.