Fiction to fantasy

Anjali Jhangiani
Wednesday, 26 July 2017

Author Anita Shirodkar, who is out with the first part of a trilogy based on an illusory world, talks about delving into the genre

Author Anita Shirodkar has many feathers in her cap. After spending two decades as an art director and mastering the art of selling everything under the sun, she is now the creative consultant to a destination and event management company. She loves traveling and meeting new people, because it gives her material to develop the characters in her stories.

Author Anita Shirodkar, who is out with the first part of a trilogy based on an illusory world, talks about delving into the genre

Author Anita Shirodkar has many feathers in her cap. After spending two decades as an art director and mastering the art of selling everything under the sun, she is now the creative consultant to a destination and event management company. She loves traveling and meeting new people, because it gives her material to develop the characters in her stories.

After writing three books titled Secrets and Second Chances, Nights in Pink Satin and Adriana’s Smile, which explore the complexity of urban life, she is out with a fourth book.
Striking different from her previous work, her fourth book called Guardians of the Blue Lotus - Aryavir, is the first part of an epic mythological, fantasy trilogy. We chat her up about what turned her into a writer, what made her take the plunge into mythological fantasy and more.

After spending two decades in advertising, why did you take up writing?
I literally woke up one morning and decided I wanted to write a novel, and it flowed from there. Initially, it was more on the lines of contemporary fiction, but with Aryavir, I have ventured into what is an uncharted territory for me. The beauty of it is that even in your 50s, a change in your line of work is completely possible.
I wish I could say that I write a thousand words a day, every day! But I live in Mumbai and Dubai, run two homes, work as a designer and consultant for a destination and event management company, travel, and have a busy social life. I grab time whenever I can, through the day, to write.

What made you get interested in writing a trilogy?
Basically, the story was too long to be told in one book, so it was a necessity rather than a desire to write a trilogy. But it’s true, I think, that a trilogy is just the right length. Two is too little, and four is too many!

And how does it feel plunging into a new genre with a three-part commitment?
It feels fantastic! I’m having so much fun with the process of creating these characters and the story. The difficult part is, you’re living with this complicated story in your head, and the ideas just keep coming. I find myself making notes all over the place, and then forgetting where I wrote what! That’s why trying to write a little every day is important, otherwise I tend to lose the thread in the tangle of a hundred different thoughts.

Indian writers are extensively exploring Indian mythology in their work. Do you think this creates a fresh interest in the subject among readers now?
Indian readers have always loved mythology. Till today, our sense of right and wrong is culled from the exploits of our mythological heroes and heroines. Unlike Greek mythology, which remains alive only for its literary value, Indian mythology is present in everyday life. Is it surprising then, that writers are exploring these themes?
The only difference is, younger readers who are not as much into the religious aspect of our epics, are enjoying newer interpretations of the same themes, in more modern and relatable ways. The Guardians of the Blue Lotus deliberately stays away from known and existing mythological characters, because to me, the epics are sacrosanct! The characters in Aryavir, their spiritual beliefs and cultural leanings are all based on the Hindu mythological ethos, but are entirely fictional.
 
What do Indian writers have to do to adapt old world stories to make them interesting for a new generation of readers?

Why adapt? Fictionalise! Instead of re-interpreting the same stories with new twists, I think creating entirely new ones is the way to go. There’s just so much one can do in terms of rehashing the same material. RR Martin created an entirely new world with his series, and it has seen unprecedented success the world over.
We have so much tradition, so much colour in our ancient texts, and there’s enough inspiration to draw upon. It can be used to create something new and exciting, and that’s basically what I’ve attempted to do with the Guardians of the Blue Lotus trilogy. So far, the response has been really great, and my readers have assured me that they are looking forward to the release of the second book!

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