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.
I have written over 50,000 words in my new tale of love. The series is based on an ancient Indian custom called svayamvara. In a svayamvara, a princess chooses a suitable groom from among the gathered suitors. Here is a sneak peek:
Princess Lalitha searches for her father, who fought in a battle against King Dushyant. When Lalitha is injured, a metalsmith rescues her. He accompanies her on the journey back to her kingdom, and there is nothing convenient about the feelings Lalitha develops for him. Her father had promised to hold a svayamvara, a groom-choosing ceremony, for her. With no male heirs, Lalitha cannot succumb to temptations if she wants to rule her kingdom.
King Dushyant was fighting to avenge his father’s death. He did not anticipate saving Princess Lalitha or escorting her to her kingdom. While he had hidden his identity from the spirited princess, his icy resolve to keep his heart untouched began to melt.
Neither can afford to surrender to the current of attraction sweeping them. But the author has different ideas for them.
If you are interested in reading my other historical fiction books, start here.
I love reading books with happily ever after endings. The ten romance novels I have read this year pay testimony to that. Reading a well-written romance novel can feel like drinking a cup of hot coffee while watching the sunrise. No one does it better than Jane Austen. Capital L love her books. Who is your favorite romance author?
However, writing a happily ever after story requires a different mastery. Unlike the Land of Magadha series, where death came without an announcement, the protagonists in my historical romance novel have to survive to the end to declare their passion. I have written over 50,000 words in this tale of love without killing my star characters, though I came close a few times.
The series is based on an ancient Indian custom called svayamvara. In a svayamvara, a princess chooses a suitable groom from among the gathered suitors. Sometimes, there might be a contest, and the prize for the winner is a wedding. In Ramayana, Rama strings a bow to win Sita’s hands.
The slender maiden glanced at him; she glanced And uttered not a word, nor heeded how The grass-twined blossoms of her garland danced When she dismissed him with a formal bow.
The Dynasty of Raghu, by Kalidasa
Looking forward to sharing updates about my work in progress in the coming weeks.
What a great way to spend my Saturday. I hung out with fellow authors and talked about my stories with book lovers. The weather was still summer-like, and there was something magical about sharing my love of reading with others. I am grateful to the readers who stopped by and talked to me. Special thanks to those to purchased my books.
A reader who purchased my complete series reached out to say she has read the first two books and is halfway through the third. She loved the story so far. I have been floating in the air since I heard from her.
I attended a book reading event by author Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni at the Warwick’s book store. Her ability to craft stories was evident in her talk. The one-hour event imparted so many lessons for an author like me. She masterfully narrated her interest in Queen Jindan’s life and how she did her research into the historical period and the queen. I was astounded by how the author set up the scene before she started the reading. Though I have read excerpts from my books, I have never taken the time to explain the background before. Something for me to emulate in the future. The best advice she gave authors is to read great books. That advice is easy for me to follow because I love to read. The best part was getting her autograph on the novel The Last Queen. I cannot wait to read and share my review with you.
This series of historical romances will center on the ancient Indian Svayamvara traditions. Svayamvara offered the bride a chance to choose her mate. I have sprinkled references to this ceremony in the Land of Magadha trilogy. Some svayamvara’s involved a challenge, and the bride would garland the winner. In Ramayana, Rama strung the bow to win the hand of Sita.
Each book would tell the story of a royal couple. Romance with a healthy dose of royal court intrigue is what you will find in the pages.
These novels will feature a happily ever after ending, but the road traveled will be bumpy.
How is my writing coming along? I am writing the first book in the series and falling in love with my characters. I have written ten thousand words, and they are starting to feel real to me. I will share their names soon.
While waiting for this book, read my free novella to get a taste of medieval India.
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.