07 November, 2015

#BookBlast :: Faith of the Nine (Wheels of Janani #1) by Sachin Dev

~ Book Blast ~

About the Book:
The Third Yuga is slowly drawing to a close. Nam – the greatest Empire on Janani – is going to face some fierce winds of change. Seers foresee omens of death and destruction in the return of the Banished One – A God who will claim the ashes of this world as revenge. While out in the streets, rumours abound - of older forgotten powers stirring.

Caught in this maelstrom of a power struggle between Gods are three ordinary lives: General Fateh, the most celebrated soldier in Nam who starts to question his faith, Ishan – a gifted orphan who struggles to comprehend his destiny and Abhaya – a young monk in search of truths about this world. Their choices and actions will shape the destiny of this scarred world that becomes the playground for vindictive Gods.

In a world where Rakshasas arise out of left-over traces of Maaya and twilight forms the portal to countless worlds around us for Daityas and Yakshis to dance through, a God is only as powerful as those who believe.And when Gods rise, faith of men will be tested…And broken.

Buy Links:
eBook: Newshunt * Google Play

Interview with the Author:

When did you first realize that you wanted to be a writer/ a storyteller?
Well, there was no clear penny-dropping moment that told me I had to follow my heart and be a storyteller. I have always been fond of reading. Ever since I got gifted the storybook of Noddy and his friends when I was five – and then in my early formative years, I thought I should write my own version of a story that is perhaps more exciting than the Secret Seven, Famous Five series. Must have been eight when I penned my first story that I called the Famous Trio series#1. A bad mash up of some Tintin adventures and my over worked imagination set in Florida and the Amazon jungles.  

What inspires you to write?
Love for the written word itself. I love the English language – and not just the classics or Shakespeare but everything about it. 
Also I like creating new worlds – that incredible surreal sense of floating away into the unknown - jumping from one pulse-pounding adventure to another – some people may call it ‘Fantasy’ but for me, every written novel is an escape. This power of being able create something from scratch is very intoxicating. And while I “create” characters to reside in such worlds, they are all as real as you and me – deriving inspiration from the daily world I interact with. 

How did you come up with the idea for your current story?
Frankly while I would like to be more organized in terms of plotting, I usually let the story write itself as I go along. More of a pantser as opposed to a plotter.
This one, specifically - Faith of the Nine, first part to Wheels of Janani is actually a full length fleshed out back story to a short that I had submitted for a fantasy anthology back in 2013.  I’ve always wanted to write a full length epic fantasy novel (my favorite genre!) 
So the short story I submitted was essentially a fast paced adventure story that followed the lives of two people – trying to overthrow the yokes of tyranny in a desert kingdom. One a young boy prophesied to overthrow the current seat of power and the other, a soldier who rebels against his cruel masters knowing their ulterior motives. The feedback I got on the story was that readers would love to get connected to these two characters’ back-story and the history of the world the story is set in. 
So I knuckled down and wrote that back story and fleshed out that world – and lo! Behold! Part One, Faith of the Nine was born!  

Are there some stories tucked away in some drawer that was written before and never saw the light of the day?
Oh yes! Before Faith of the Nine, my last ambitious project that is my ‘trunk’ novel is a fantasy western adventure (right now sitting incomplete at a whooping one hundred and fifty thousand words!) that was my fan fiction tribute to Stephen King’s Dark Tower Series that influenced me a lot while growing up.  
There are quite a lot of unfinished works in that trunk – among them a space opera that I’ve started recently. That Famous Trio series I talked about from School days? I actually wrote three full novels on that theme. Well, technically they did see the light of the day as I printed and bound them – gifting it to my school library. 

Tell us about your writing process.
Process? (scoffs!) Doesn’t that cripple creativity? Let’s not box creativity into those 2X2 grids now!
Ok on a serious note, while I try and be more organized to consciously make that process a bit more uniform, I don’t know if I succeed.
I’m disciplined for short periods of time when I write – like for a spurt of 3 months I try and get my writing done in the early mornings, sticking to a schedule of 1000 words a day. Then I slack off and write in spurts.  But there has been little tidbits that has helped this “process”
For example, for every novel I have an “idea” file where I collate all those cool little nifty ideas that strikes me whenever (you could try Evernote app to tag such!) and I always do a “story outline” – and “character” outline – then divide stories into chapters filled with side notes what characters POV is featured and which major plotline would I write about. It has helped me so far! 

What is your favorite scene in the book? Why?
That would be last scene of the book. And obviously since I don’t want to be giving away spoilers, I am not talking about it. 
But apart from that totally kickass last scene (shameless self plug!), there is this prologue that introduces two major characters and events to the whole story arc. 
I like it. A lot – chiefly for two reasons. One, the prologue really helped me explore the grim dark explosive action scene of a battle set in my fantasy world in great detail. I am very inspired by the realistic portrayal of an action scene – as written by Joe Abercrombie. I don’t come close but I have tried! 
Second, the prologue kicks off a series of events that eventually are going to snowball through my series. It’s the only scene where I present in person these beings what I call the Ancient Nine – who are critical to the overall plot of the series. 

Did any of your characters inherit some of your own quirks?
Ahem. I have poured a bit of me into all three of my major POV characters.  
There’s Ishan – an eleven year old who is forever curious and extremely precocious for his age. I like to think I was like him at eleven!
Then there’s Abhaya – the monk who is in his early twenties probably comes close to what I am in real life. A bit of a recluse who clearly knows his strengths  (his knowledge of the Maaya!) but is confused by the grand scheme of things in this world. He is selfless and courageous to seek out to help his friends in danger but he is lazy and uninspired at the same time. He is a study in contrast and in my book, the only character who gets to wield power – and does so responsibly. 
Fateh – an ageing soldier known as one of the bravest man in all of the Empire is what I would like to be.  A loyal soldier to the empire, age and the endless warfare has nevertheless made him bitter about life and its lessons. He only wants to retire in peace but the world and the Gods won’t let him be. 

Do you read? Who are your favourite authors and how have they influenced your writing style?
I ONLY read. I don’t sleep or eat. 
I have gone through the phases of discovering the love for books through Enid Blyton, matured through to Hardy Boys, moved into contemporary fiction and blasted through all of the usual suspects (Jeffrey Archer, Sidney Sheldon, Alastair Maclean etc) and then after college, have focused mainly on speculative fiction. (fantasy, horror, sci-fi and the likes)
This book has been heavily influenced by some of my current favorite fantasy writers doing a brilliant job out there. Joe Abercrombie, Mark Lawrence, Scott Lynch. My all- time favorite would probably be Stephen King for his ability to spin magic and infuse realism with words. Among Indian writers, I love Krishna Udayasankar’s work on her nuanced thought provoking series Aryavarta Chronicles based on Mahabaratha. Of course, Tolkien set me up on this fantastical journey and George RR Martin only fuelled the fire sky high. 

What is the best piece of advice you have received, as a writer, till date?
To keep it simple. 
I tend to get carried away by the beauty of the language – but as a writer I need to focus on the message and not how it is ‘being’ delivered. 
For example I can write a thousand words description of the glorious sun breaking through the clouds filtering down in golden spokes onto the tiny village waking up for the day – but I should switch it to the perspective of the farmer waking up and worrying about how today’s going to really hot and how hard it is going to be to till his land. The reader connects to the farmer and his issue – while he will gloss over the flowery description of the majesty of the day break over that tiny picturesque village. Simple thing really but a lot of us are trying too hard. Focus on the story and not the language. 
I often get into arguments with the editor(s) about specifics of the same but their practicality and quiet resolve always gets through to me in the end!

What is the best piece of advice you would give to someone that wants to get into writing?
If you keep waiting for a good time to start writing, then that day will never arrive! 
All those nebulous ideas you start jotting down in your little red diary thinking one fine day you will write a book, unless you start on them today, like right now – it’s never going to happen. So believe in yourself and pump yourself up and get going.  The journey might be long and arduous but the reward of getting it published in itself is worth it. Also don’t write for an audience, write for yourself. Don’t write to impress, write to express yourself. Take part in a NaNoWriMo. Push yourself and get that story out. All of us have one or more inside us!

What would be the Dream Cast for you book if it was to be turned into a movie?
Ooh! I like this question a lot. So unfurling my wings of fantasy and dreams, here goes: 
So assuming it’s going to Hollywood:
I would have Ridley Scott or Darren Aronofsky direct this one as a movie as it would have to obviously be a big budget big banner EPIC movie! 
Russell Crowe brings the right amount of pathos and grit to the role of General Fateh, an ageing soldier who questions his faith and loyalty to the empire.  I will have perhaps fill up the Rakht-dhaaris (the personal protection detail for General Fateh, twenty of the them sworn to protect him with their lives and blood) with the likes of Chris Evans ( Captain America) Chris Pratt ( Guardians of Galaxy), Chris Hemsworth (Thor) Chris Pine ( Star trek 2009) Tom Hardy (Dark Knight Rises) – I could go on! But all of them hunks would do great filling up the boots of Fateh’s lieutenants kicking ass.
Joseph Gordon Levitt is one of my favorite character actors and he would fit in admirably well into the role of the monk, Abhaya Samanna – whose questing for the truths about the world and all that he finds might not be what he likes. He is just such a great actor for a young guy! 
Christopher Waltz (inglorious bastards) will make a leering Tamanjinn Nasri who is the mysterious new general promoted to be part of the triumvirate in Nam alongside Fateh – enough dripping menace in that guy to qualify for this role. It’s a role shrouded in secret !
I really don’t know any of the famous child actors now in the industry – but I would have liked Daniel Radcliffe play the character of Ishan ( precocious youngster!) when he was younger. 
On the other hand – if it were in Bollywood or just any other movie enterprise in India, I would let SS Rajamouli handle pretty much everything from casting to camera. I would trust his instincts given that he’s given the world the first Indian magnum opus blockbuster that can rival any epic fantasy production – Bahubali!

How do you spend your free time? Do you have a favorite place to go and unwind?
I read most of the time. And write of course. 
I love outdoors – so I travel- mountains, beaches and forests. I love Sri Lanka and plan to go there again often. Also one of my recent favorite destination is the quieter side of Goa – northern parts and those unexplored inland river stretches along porborim etc. 

Can you share with us something off your bucket list?
Oh getting published. For starters! 

Tell us three fun facts about yourself.
I own 4 dogs. 
I am a closet feminist (as I live with seven ladies – four of them the four legged variety!)
I am from Kerala – Gods’ own country and yet I hate eating fish and haven’t yet seen a boat-house or visited the backwaters of Allepey. 

What do you have in store next for your readers?
Oh definitely more books! 
I am wrapping up Book Two in the series, Wheels of Janani and I am also penning a contemporary romance (talk about variety!) ; co-authoring that with my wife and have tons of ideas to start off. Like a zombie apocalypse set in Kochi, a space opera, a historical fiction about the port city of Muziris in Kerala. So the days are full and packed! 

Is there anything else you’d like to share with your readers?
First off, I would like to thank you for hosting me and doing this interview. It’s been an absolute riot! 
Faith of the Nine is the first book in my trilogy, Wheels of Janani – and my first published book.
It’s an epic fantasy adventure with themes borrowed from the rich tapestry of Indian mythology and folklore. The story is set in a secondary world called Janani and features three ordinary mortals caught in the crossfire of a war between forgotten Gods and ancient powers come to life – their decisions and actions dictate the last chapter of this world on the brink of an impending apocalypse. And hell yeah, it features blood thirsty rakshasas and beautiful Yakshis and tons of swashbuckling sword fights and dollops of magic or Maaya as it’s called in this world.  
Even if you don’t like fantasy, trust me – Come and immerse yourself in this world full of epic adventures that borrows themes from the ancient Indian mythology and combines the grim dark elements of modern fantasy! That just might spark off a new love! 

About the Author:
Sachin discovered Tolkien in his teens, alternative rock as a new adult and digital marketing in pretty much his late twenties. These still form a large wedge in his circle of life. Travel, radio and theatre have also figured in that ever-expanding and diminishing circle.

On perhaps a more prosaic note, he is an engineer from BITS Pilani and holds an MBA from Indian School of Business. Attribute the love for numbers and pie-charts to this. He is currently based in Bangalore and happily married to Harini. He spends an inordinately large amount of time chasing after his two dogs (who love the free life a bit too much) when he is not busy dreaming up fantasy worlds full of monsters. And beautiful Yakshis, of course.

He can usually be found ranting on twitter under the handle @xenosach, devouring books and talking about them on his blog. You can always stalk him online at his official website

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