26 October, 2013

#BookSpotlight & #AuthorInterview :: AJAYA - Epic of the Kaurava Clan by Anand Neelakantan

AJAYA - Epic of the Kaurava Clan will release on 1st December, 2013

THE MAHABHARATA ENDURES AS THE GREAT EPIC OF INDIA. But while Jaya is the story of the Pandavas, told from the perspective of the victors of Kurukshetra; Ajaya is the narrative of the ‘unconquerable’ Kauravas, who were decimated to the last man.
At the heart of India’s most powerful empire, a revolution is brewing. Bhishma, the noble patriarch of Hastinapura, is struggling to maintain the unity of his empire. On the throne sits Dhritarashtra, the blind King, and his foreign-born Queen – Gandhari. In the shadow of the throne stands Kunti, the Dowager-Queen, burning with ambition to see her firstborn become the ruler, acknowledged by all.
And in the wings:
* Parashurama, the enigmatic Guru of the powerful Southern Confederate, bides his time to take over and impose his will from mountains to ocean. 
* Ekalavya, a young Nishada, yearns to break free of caste restrictions and become a warrior.
* Karna, son of a humble charioteer, travels to the South to study under the foremost Guru of the day and become the greatest archer in the land. 
* Balarama, the charismatic leader of the Yadavas, dreams of building the perfect city by the sea and seeing his people prosperous and proud once more. 
* Takshaka, guerilla leader of the Nagas, foments a revolution by the downtrodden as he lies in wait in the jungles of India, where survival is the only dharma.
* Jara, the beggar, and his blind dog Dharma, walk the dusty streets of India, witness to people and events far greater than they, as the Pandavas and the Kauravas confront their searing destinies.

Amidst the chaos, Prince Suyodhana, heir of Hastinapura, stands tall, determined to claim his birthright and act according to his conscience. He is the maker of his own destiny – or so he believes. While in the corridors of the Hastinapura palace, a foreign Prince plots to destroy India. And the dice falls…

An Interview with the Author

Tell us about your journey as an author so far.
It has been a fascinating journey. It is nice to know that people are reading, loving and sometimes hating my books. It is fun to live out one’s passion

How long did it take you to plan and research for the book?
Asura, Tale of the Vanquished, the story of Ravana and his people was a product of six years of travel and research.  I have used a lot of folk elements in the making of Asura. The same research was helpful for my second book Ajaya, epic of the Kaurava Clan too as it is based on Mahabharata just like Asura was on Ramayana

What was most difficult stage for you – research, writing, getting published or marketing?
Research is the most difficult part, followed by getting published. If research is not alright, no Publisher would touch you, especially when you are writing stories based on mythology. Writing is something I love, and so it is easy, painful and enjoyable at the same time. Marketing mostly happens through word of mouth and I do not generally worry about it.

What was your expectation from ‘Asura’? How similar or different was the actual response to the book?
Any author aspires to be a best seller. If someone says he wrote a book not for becoming a best seller, he is lying. I hoped for a best seller and I still feel it has a long way to go. I am an ambitious writer and I want everyone who is literate to read my stories. So far Asura has done very well, crossing 1.2 lakh copies in 18 months and still being in TOP 20 lists. Asura is getting published in 10 languages and so is Ajaya.

There is always that one person who hates your book – how do you deal with it?
There are many who hate my book and there are many more who love my book. I can accept both. What I cannot accept is indifference. Then, I rarely write about a subject which anyone can be indifferent. So either the reader will love my book or hate it. There is no middle point about my writing

Retelling the Indian mythology seems to be ‘in’ and readers are responding too. Why?
When I started my research for Asura, the trend was for light comical college romances. By the time I had finished writing Asura, mythology had become the ‘in thing. A story is a story, irrespective of what genre.  I did not write mythology because it is an ‘in’ thing.  I am a man with a story to tell, nothing more, and nothing less.

You do have some strong competition in the genre – and by taking the lesser taken road you are setting up a bigger challenge to yourself – don’t you think so?
There is no competition for writers. It is not like film industry, where when one super star’s film is released, it may kill the prospects of his competitor. In writing, a person who reads another author’s book will also read my book and vice versa. Maybe the reader will pick up the other successful author’s book today and mine after three weeks, but I am sure she will pick up mine too.
The challenge is to write today better than what I had written yesterday.  The challenge is to come up with new ideas and tell a fascinating story. If there are 20 writers who can do that at a given point of time, all the 20 would sell equally well.  

First ‘Asura’ and now ‘Kaurava’ is coming up – why are you drawn to the other side of the story so much? Is it because it is less explored or is it because you are more attracted to the so called ‘villains’ or is it a mix of both?
It is less explored and more fascinating.  It is just fun to think like a Ravana or a Duryodhana and the entire epic can be seen in a different light once we do so. I enjoy nothing better than that.

What can we expect from ‘Kaurava’? Is it going to be stand alone or a part of a series?
It is going to be in two parts- Ajaya, Roll of the dice and Ajaya, Rise of Kali. Ajaya is not just going to be Duryodhana’s Mahabharata like Asura was Ravana’s Ramayana. Ajaya is going to be much more than that. I hope my skills have improved compared to Asura. Ajaya , I have used multiple protagonists and I think this will add more pace and colour to the narration

Is there a message that you would like to send out to your readers?
My message is my books. If I have the capability to give a message in two or three lines, then I would not be writing 500 page books, would I? About my new book, Ajaya, epic of the Kaurava clan, I would only say that it will see Mahabharata through the eyes of the defeated. It is the epic of Kauravas. It is about Ajaya, the unconquerable ones, as against Jaya- the story of Mahabharata

AJAYA - Epic of the Kaurava Clan will release on 1st December, 2013

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