I used some cool AI narration technology to create my audiobook. Parvati, the AI voice I chose, sounded very real.
In some ways, she is no different than my fictional characters, Meera and Jay. My characters live in medieval India with no technology, and Parvati is a 21st-century invention. Her accent is modern Indian rather than medieval.
The news you have been waiting for (not really but I am an author living in my dreams) is here. Burden of the Crown is available for preorder.
Be warned. The story starts with heart-wrenching sadness. After I drench you in the rain, I let the clouds part at the end. You, my reader, expect no less than an emotional roller coaster from me. I am here to make the plunge deeper and screams louder.
Meera had no strength left in her to lift her head. She curled up like a child, struggling to breathe. “My queen,” a voice called, and she raised her head. A deep yearning filled her as she gazed at Rish’s silhouette outside her tent.
You saw him as a sixteen-year-old crown prince in Heir to Malla. In Burden of the Crown, King Jay is a father. The character growth over thirty years was a fascinating story for me to write. Yes, there is heartbreak involved. And hope. And lots of love. I am excited to share an excerpt from this book with you.
Chapter 1 – Jay
Salty air wafted in through the tiny window and touched my skin like a coarse fabric. The sea crashed against the ship, drowning the faint noise of sailors shouting on the deck above me. Picking up a scroll, I noticed the swirls in the honey-colored table revealed by the morning light. I traced the markings on the wood with my finger, marveling at the craftsmanship of Malla carpenters. From outside my door came a thud of footsteps and a knock. I glanced up as my son strode in with my nephew on his heels. My son, Vikram, resembled my younger self, captured in a portrait in Akash.
“Father, there are beautiful coral reefs around here, and Atul and I want to take a boat to explore,” he said. The waves rocked the vessel gently like I had rocked these boys when they fit in my palm. Vikram swayed on his feet, brimming with energy. He exuded easy confidence that I had not possessed at sixteen.
In Heir to Malla, you meet Queen Charu, stepmother of Meera and Jay. Is she an evil queen? Not quite. I featured her in a blog post.
Tears welled in my eyes anyway for the mother I lost, and my stepmother who got her wish to wear the crown but knew no real happiness.
Grandmothers and the tales they spin can be magical. Meera’s grandmother plants seeds in her mind of what her life will be like as a queen. I wrote about how my grandmother inspired my writing journey.
The wonderful sibling relationship between Meera and Jay features prominently in my trilogy.
“The one our mother taught us?”
“I don’t remember her, let alone her voice. I only remember you singing to me.”
Of course, many aunts act as mother figures in the story.
He cried out for his mother last night. I watched as Aranya comforted him tenderly and calmed his demons.
A mother’s love is complex, and I enjoyed exploring the different layers of it in my story.
What is your favorite portrayal of mother in fiction?
This book concludes the story of Meera and Jay and is a culmination of my eight years writing journey.
We first meet 19-year-old Meera and her 16-year-old brother, Jay, in Heir to Malla. In the first chapter, our protagonist dreams about marriage and love. The chapter ends with her learning that her brother has gone missing in enemy land.
What follows is a tale of love, adventure, and royal intrigue set in medieval India. From the gods worshipped to the food served at the feast, the book offers a taste of 9th to 11th century India. I enjoyed writing this coming-of-age story, especially Meera’s. At the start of the book, Meera is a traditional princess, content to let her father and brother manage the affairs of the court. Then things change for the worse, and she is forced to take charge of her destiny.
Meera and Jay return to face the consequences of their actions in War of the Three Kings, set a decade after book one. This book starts with another Meera chapter, showcasing her domestic bliss, with a peek at her heart in conflict, and plunges into chaos with a death of a beloved monarch. I loved the many storylines in this book, some happy, others tragic. One, in particular, tore my heart. My characters are not playing with blunt swords anymore. So the outcomes are unpredictable.
Burden of the Crown will wrap up Meera and Jay’s tales. This series has been a magical ride for me. Some of the arcs started in book one conclude in this book. It has been an absolute joy writing about this land, where I could let my imagination run wild. I will share an excerpt soon.
I recently attended a local author event put together by Ahaana, a non-profit that encourages men and women in the South Asian community to speak openly about taboo subjects such as domestic violence, abuse, and abandonment. They increase awareness through community events like these.
I am usually nervous about public events, but the friendly audience put me at ease. I shared the stage with two amazing South Asian women. Davinder’s story and her courage were inspiring. Kelly is a legal powerhouse. I am looking forward to reading their books!
I chose to read some passages from Chapter Two: Queen Charu. Strong women come in many forms. Some of Charu’s struggles still resonate in the modern world. I wrote about her in an earlier blog post.
Writing is a solitary activity, so I cherished the questions after. It gave me a boost of energy. Susheela Narayanan from India Currents attended the event and featured it in the magazine. Thankful for her kind words.
As an author, I am grateful for the support of organizations like Ahaana. Please donate to their worthy causes.
While there was a Magadha kingdom in ancient India, my book is set in a fictional land of my imagination. Yes, I made my own map.
Magadha, an ancient empire in India, situated along the Ganges river valley, prospered between the 8th century BCE and the 4th century BCE. Gautama Buddha resided in the Magadha kingdom for many years.
My story, though, is set in a fictional land of Magadha and consists of three kingdoms—Malla, Padi, and Saral. This tale emulates the culture, laws, and religions of the 9th century CE to the 11th century CE in medieval India.
Why did I not use a real kingdom for my setting? I thought about it. Since I am writing about royal families and their battles and power struggles, a fictional land allowed me to tell the story I wanted to tell.
Malla kingdom is a composite of many kingdoms in India, including the Chola empire of Rajaraja I. Chola rulers used the symbol of a tiger as their royal emblem, and I borrowed that.
“We write to taste life twice, in the moment and in retrospect.”
Land of Magadha trilogy
Heir to Malla: Missing brother. Broken father. Rogue prince vying for her kingdom. Princess Meera is fighting for her land. Will she have to sacrifice her heart to save it?
Historical fiction allows us to experience the lives of humans of the past and to draw parallels to our present. As you read my books, you will see it resonate with many of our present-day situations. You can emphasize what these men and women went through and see where we have made progress and where we still have ways to go. My books magically teleport you to medieval India from the comforts of your couch. That is the power of fiction. Happy reading!
I love books with happy endings. They are like a warm blanket on a cold rainy day. But, in real life, our emotions come in waves. We are sad, happy, angry, jealous, all on the same day.
Even with my writing, I finished the final book in my trilogy with mixed emotions—glad to have completed the story to my satisfaction—at the same time, saddened to say goodbye to these characters.
My stories reflect that. I hope they bring you joy. Also, I hope they move you to tears. Read my books and fall in love with the characters.
Reading a story can allow us to find ourselves when we see our emotions reflected on the pages. A character’s journey can help you find courage for overcoming adversities in your life. Let my tales tug your heart.
What a journey this has been. Meera and Jay have been with me for over five years, and they feel like my friends. Friends who rule kingdoms and fight in battles. I am blessed to be able to share this story with you.
In this trilogy set in medieval India, I have mostly explored the conflict of the heart. There are plenty of enemies for my protagonists, but the ones that need to be slain are the ones within.
Meera has always done what is right for her kingdom and family. Can she do something that is right for her?
Jay thought ruling a kingdom was a colossal burden to bear. But being a father proves to be more arduous.
I cannot wait to share this conclusion with you in 2022. Wish you a very happy and meaningful New Year.