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.
How many books do you write a year? That is a question many authors get. Or a variation of it, like, when is your next book coming out?
It took me five years to write my first book, Heir to Malla. I had stories running in my head. But it took time to take the images in my head and translate them to words on a page. I stumbled, made mistakes, changed my beginning.
My second book, War of the Three Kings, took a year to write and publish. I have learned how to plot a book chapter by chapter. With an outline, my task became easier. Words flowed naturally, and there were fewer revisions.
Along the way, I found my pace. One book a year is one I can consistently meet without sacrificing my family time or other commitments.
Some authors publish one book a month. Hats off to them. Others take three years to write their masterpiece. There is no right or wrong answer here.
As writers, it is vital to find a schedule that works for us without impacting our mental or physical health. And still, produce great books that bring joy or excitement or passion to our reader’s hearts.
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.
Readers want original content. They want something new, unique, and never before told story.
As writers, one might feel like there is nothing new under the sun. Fantasy and Science Fiction genres offer some room for novel ideas. A story set in a galaxy far, far away captures our imagination. Or a complex magical system piques our senses.
What shall a historical fiction author do? Conflict of the heart is what I like to explore. In this society, plenty of ways to put my characters in situations where they have to choose between love and duty, the eternal conflict.
I use distinct metaphors to set the stage for the period (a pumpkin flower that wilted on its stalk). My female characters dress in vivid color saris (ripe mango).
Like your favorite bowl of comfort food, familiarity is also soothing. A romance reader craves a happily ever after ending. My books offer hope amidst the chaos.
A good book touches the human heart, and if mine stirred yours, I have achieved my goal.
Like many adults, I read a fair share of non-fiction books. Topics range from self-help, philosophy, and history to gardening and cookbooks. Many adults stop reading fiction after the high school days of forced reading. With our busy lives, why read fiction?
Humans have told stories for millennia, and we started telling stories as soon as we had language. Oral storytelling is how many cultures passed on their ancient myths and legends. Fiction builds on this tradition.
Reading fiction builds empathy. Our imagination translates the words in a book. As a reader, we picture the world, taste the five-course meal, smell the forest floor and feel the character’s pain. We can read about distant lands and cultures and fall in love with a person who only exists on a page. Watching TV does not have the same impact on our minds.
Fiction allows you to escape reality and walk in someone else’s shoes.
Reading science fiction and fantasy is the equivalent of daydreaming. Many scientists began their journey as science fiction readers. Historical fiction allows us to experience the past through stories. A child who dislikes history with dry dates and places might love the same past when told as stories.
There is research to show that reading literary fiction improves the Theory of Mind. Theory of Mind is the human capacity to comprehend that other people hold beliefs and desires and that these may differ from one’s own beliefs and desires. More broadly, their study shows that works of art enhance this critical skill.
Stories are a complex form of communication, and reading stories have a long-lasting effect on the human brain, per this Emory study. Reading fiction helps us better understand others and enhances our ability to keep an open mind, per this Harvard Business Review article.
Finally, reading fiction brings us joy. Overcoming adversity, triumphant underdogs, falling in love, and finding friendships all bring us enjoyment.
Curl up with a novel today and fall in love with a character. I recommend my historical fiction “Heir to Malla” or check out my book reviews for a great read.
Writing is a solitary journey. We authors think about our characters constantly. Meera and her world enter my reality while I am cooking—walking—in the shower—waiting at the stoplight. They become our friends and family. Then one day, we share our baby with the outside world, with our heart in our hands.
Then comes the reality all authors must face and dread—a negative review. Such reviews may turn our fight or flight response. Neither is beneficial for our writing journey. Writing a book review with constructive feedback is an art by itself. We should learn to treat these reviews as gifts and cherish these reviewers. This is not easy, and it is okay to call a friend and have a meltdown. Just keep it off social media.
As writers, we want to improve our craft. Constructive feedback gives us a valuable window into the mind of our readers. While we cannot make everyone happy, it is crucial to know what readers of our genre expect.
If a reviewer is malicious, please ignore and move on. Picking a fight is not worth your sanity. The good news is most reviewers are thoughtful.
So next time you get a negative review, bake bread and take your anger out on the dough. Then take a deep breath and understand it is not personal. Read the review and mine for the gold nuggets to take your writing to the next level.
Keep writing! I am cheering for you and looking for the next book to fall in love with.
I write medieval fiction. While my story is set in the fictional land of Magadha, it is loosely based on India around those times. As an author, I do have a choice on what aspects of the culture I reflect in my story. Some of these, like polygamy or women’s agency, is not aligned with modern sensibilities. What should a writer do? Write the story they want to share.
Royal dynasties in the Indian subcontinent commonly practiced polygamy. This practice appears in my books. Whether I approve of it today is not material to the tale. It is a plot device in the hands of an author. I imagine how it must have been for characters to be in this kind of relationship. And I put them in situations that will result in a conflict of their human hearts. I strive to do this without judging them based on my modern awareness.
My female characters inhabit a world where they do not have any agency on their own. They are dependent on their male family members for their authority. Their daily lives differed from mine today. I enjoy writing about the human heart in conflict, the struggle between love and duty, the strife between self and society. For that, I imagine how female characters with different attributes will survive in this world. I place them in harm’s way, tempt them, lead them down wrong paths. And some characters like Meera surprise me with their strength and steadiness.
Readers come to the book with their own life experiences, and once a book leaves my hands, I have to let the readers take it from there. To enjoy, experience, emphasize, fall in love, grieve as they choose.
Looking forward to hearing your thoughts on how you approach reading books that have practices that we condemn today.
I am an author of medieval fiction “Heir to Malla”, a story of a princess fighting her battles without wielding a sword or a wand.
When the world around us is unpredictable and chaotic, we all need an outlet to escape reality.
I can pick a book to read and get lost in its pages for hours. I can be following a Scotland Yard Inspector solve a murder mystery in gloomy grey London. I can be shapeshifting in a magical realm, chasing a dark lord bent on destructing the world.
I started writing five years ago, and quickly, Heir to Malla became more than a novel. Writing became a way for me to relax. The creative outlet allowed me to meditate about characters and plot, rather than worry about everyday struggles.
Writing my second book in the Land of Magadha series has kept me sane during this pandemic. I may not be able to travel anywhere in the real world, but my characters have been riding elephants and horses and sailing the seas.
These characters that have been with me for over five years feel very real to me, and I can forget about the virus for some time every day and write about Meera and Rish.
Imagining a dark corridor, hearing the sounds in a battlefield, or describing a palace feast let my mind savor these things. Instead of obsessing about things I cannot control, I can chart a course for my story.
What are you doing to keep your sanity in these times?