Evil stepmothers abound in fairy tales and mythology. Most of us grew up with stories about Cinderella’s stepmother who jeopardized Cinderalla’s chance for happiness. A common trope has been to pit a stepmother against her stepdaughter. When viewed through a modern lens, we realize that these stories depict the lack of female power and how their livelihood depends on the men in their lives. It is no wonder these women are typically battling for a man’s attention.
In Indian mythology, Queen Kaikeyi in Ramayana is the catalyst for the epic. She banishes her stepson, Rama, to the forest for fourteen years and sets in motion the quest for Sita. Her crime is wanting the throne for her birth son. Her desire paints her in a dark light compared to the sacrifice of noble Rama.
For a good stepmother, you need to turn to Mrs.Dashwood in Austen’s Sense and Sensibility. Here, the stepson wrongs the stepmother by his greed.
Coming to my books, you catch a glimpse of Queen Charu in the prequel Novella. She is not an evil stepmother. Nor is she a saint. She is misguided, complex, and human.
Her chapter Queen of Malla in Heir to Malla is one of my favorite. It is a quiet chapter of a mother sharing her story with her daughter. Her words reveal so much about the place and agency of women in those times.
Prince in Shadow introduces the readers to the Land of Magadha. This novella is available to my Newsletter subscribers for free.
A prequel novella to Heir to Malla, this tale opens a window into the Malla dynasty. Royal siblings, Princess Meera and Prince Jay had led a sheltered life. That was about to change. Grab a hot chai and plunge into a tale of royal intrigue laced with love.
I typically send a monthly newsletter about my upcoming book, new releases, cover reveal, and sales. On rare occasions, you might get two emails from me in a month. So there is no worry about me flooding your inbox.
This past week, I celebrated a book birthday. I published my debut novel Heir to Malla a year ago. Just two months into the pandemic and new life of masks and lockdowns, I shared the story I had been working on for over five years.
A year later, I have realized how many mistakes I made. I had no marketing plan, no newsletter, and no beta readers. I launched the book into the wild with no clue. Since then, I have joined writing groups on Facebook and learned many things from experienced authors.
I have found a beta reader or two among my avid readers. I will be releasing Prince in Shadow, an Heir to Malla prequel novella, exclusively to my Newsletter subscribers.
For my second book, War of the Three Kings, I have a simple marketing plan, mainly focused on building my newsletter subscription, sales promo for Heir to Malla, and one or two third-party newsletter promotions. I will share more details after the launch.
This journey is a marathon, and I am grateful to my readers for letting me share the stories in my head.
I recently finished my first set of revisions and sent the book to my editor. I hope to publish this book this summer and share the story that has been with me for years.
This tale flowed more easily from my head to my hand. Meera is back as one of our two protagonists. She is a decade older and finding her heart tugged in two different directions. Our other protagonist, who will remain nameless, finds his whole identity called into question.
Flavors, colors, and smells of medieval India seep through the pages.
Writing from the perspective of two characters allowed me to depict battles, dances, voyages, and more.
The women in those times resembled the moon. They had no power of their own and derived their authority from the men around them. How they wield this influence is a theme I explore.
For the men of my tale, danger lurks in every corner. From the kiss of a sword to the kiss of a lady, their heart is in peril.
I will be sharing the first chapter with my Newsletter subscribers soon. Please sign up here.
While I am editing War of the Three Kings, I have also started writing book three. I just wrapped chapter one of the finale. These characters have been with me for over six years now, so I am heading towards the finish line with mixed emotions. I want to complete the stories of Meera, Jay, and others. I want to write other tales about new characters who are whispering in my ears now. But there is sad music playing in the background (in my mind) as I think of the ending and bidding these characters farewell.
In some ways, this does feel like a mother or father sending their child off to college and mourning the lost childhood. In my case, I do have other stories I want to tell. Those nebulous ideas in my head now will grow into faint outlines and then characters with personalities and back stories and story arcs.
War of the Three Kings: Can Meera keep her secrets past and present from destroying Magadha and the men she loves?
News of her father’s death shatters Queen Meera’s peaceful life. King Nakul is invading Malla, while her brother, Prince Jay, is fighting a battle in neighboring Sunda. Can she stop Nakul without revealing the deadly secret she holds about her family?
At the same time, Prince Jay seeks revenge for his father’s death, but he cannot tell friends from foes. How can he save Malla and live up to the burden of the Crown when he doesn’t know who to trust?
I am returning to the Land of Magadha in book two of the series, set a few years later, and with many familiar characters. I left plenty of hanging threads in book 1, and I am having fun pulling them to see what unravels and what tightens into a knot.
I am making steady progress in my second book set in the Land of Magadha. It starts a few years after Heir to Malla and has several characters introduced in book 1.
Heir to Malla is available everywhere books are sold and is a historical fantasy without magic based in the fictional land of Magadha. I am running a free Instagram giveaway for Heir to Malla in the US. Please check it out.
In book 2, our protagonists are older and in power, and their challenges pit duty vs. following their heart’s desires. I am deeply interested in exploring what makes someone a good ruler, and monarchy provides a unique way to explore that.
I have written 40,000 words, so I am about half-way through my first draft. While I am not writing a happily ever after romance, love and hope are recurring themes.
In terms of writing style, I have broad chapter outlines written for the book, and then I let the characters take me where they want to go. I am sometimes pleasantly surprised or shocked by how certain events turn out. This mix of some planning and then letting nature take its course works well for me.
Writing continues to be my refuge in a chaotic world, especially with the pandemic upending so many normal activities.