02 March, 2016

#Interview with Preetha Rajah Kannan, #Author of Shiva in the City of Nectar

About the Author:
Preetha Rajah Kannan is a housewife, who loves to read and write. Her entire school life was as a boarder at Sacred Heart Convent, Yercaud. She went on to graduate in Psychology from Women’s Christian College, Chennai and has an M.A. in Journalism and Mass Communication from Madurai Kamaraj University. She has done several freelance articles for the Madurai edition of the New Indian Express, and written more than a dozen short stories for children for the Express School Magazine. Her story, ‘The Tale of an Ice Cream,’ was one of the winning entries in the Sulekha.com – Penguin online short story contest, and was published by Penguin in the anthology, ‘Blogprint.’  Another short story, ‘Moving Out,’ was published as part of the anthology, ‘Two is Company and Other Stories,’ published by Unisun. She lives in Madurai, with her husband and two sons. 

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Interview with the Author:

When did you first realize that you wanted to be a writer/ a storyteller?
My love for reading and writing has always been a part of me. Even as a toddler, I always responded with alacrity to the words, “Tell us a story.” I started writing small poems at the age of eleven.

How did you come up with the idea for your current story?
Shiva’s Thiruvilaiyaadal is never far away for us Maduraaites as it constantly comes alive in our city: we enact and celebrate almost all its episodes, from Goddess Meenakshi’s coronation to the Celestial Wedding. We even have a special day on which we gorge ourselves on the steamed rice cakes that Shiva bartered for his labor on the Vaigai embankment! 
I realized that these precious tales are beyond the reach of those unfamiliar with Tamil: including convent-educated people like me, whose grasp of our mother tongue is unfortunately abysmal, and precludes reading Tamil literature in the original. So, Shiva in the City of Nectar is my way of reaching out to a wider audience. 

Are there some stories tucked away in some drawer that was written before and never saw the light of the day?
Yes, I do have several short stories that live in an unpublished limbo. 

What is your favorite scene in the book? Why?
My favorite scene in the book is the one in which Lord Shiva assumes the form of a singing woodcutter, in order knock the arrogant Aemanathan off his pedestal. Music is closest to the divine, and it is captivating to visualize the cosmos holding its breath to hear Shiva play on his harp. 

What is the best piece of advice you have received, as a writer, till date?
However much a writer may believe in his book, it is the reader who breathes life into it. So, for good or bad, what the writer wants to say is not as important as what the reader wants to hear.

What is the best piece of advice you would give to someone that wants to get into writing?
It is easy enough to write – getting published is a completely different cup of tea! Try to get into the market with something popular, get established and then write your dream novel – which is what I am attempting to do!!!

How do you spend your free time? Do you have a favorite place to go and unwind?
Reading, reading, reading – and movies. 

What do you have in store next for your readers?
My next book is the Navagraha Purana, written in collaboration with the eminent Telegu author Vakkantham Suryanarayana Rao. It chronicles in fascinating detail the birth, life and glory of the Nine Planets, the powerful deities who are the ultimate arbiters of man’s destiny.

About the Book:

Throbbing with non-stop excitement, Shiva in the City of Nectar sweeps across Heaven, Earth and the Underworld, narrating the exploits of the mysterious and powerful blue-throated god. One after another, the tales unfold the follies of ancient devas, asuras, sages, men and mythical beasts. And through them all, Shiva blithely takes on the guise of beggar, saint, monarch, merchant, fisherman, hunter, warrior and woodcutter; walking through the three worlds to slay rampaging demons, perform his Dance of Bliss and embrace good and bad alike.

Shiva is portrayed in all his multi-faceted mystique – the tender lover who woos and weds Goddess Meenakshi; the eternal Guru who dispenses wisdom; the fierce avenger whose third eye flashes fire; the generous benefactor who showers blessings on his devotees; and, above all, the gentle prankster who embodies the essence of Vedic faith. 


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