After more than 800 years, the architect of the Leaning Tower of Pisa has been finally revealed. He was, apparently, mortified of the tilt and disappeared
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Tell us a little bit about your foray into the corporate world and the transition to the literary.
I have wanted to be an author since I was 10 years old, so I’ve been writing since my school days. Even in my corporate career, I was writing articles on management and business, though definitely not fiction. The Mahabharata Secret started as a story for my daughter which was written over two years. When it was published, it launched my career as an author.
What is your writing process? Since you are still a part of the corporate world and have a day job, how do you find time to fulfil this passion for writing?
It isn’t easy. It calls for a lot of prioritisation. I write when I can—a lot of my research and writing has been done on flights and long commutes between corporate meetings. And I take time off during family holidays for writing. I also do a few all-nighters on Saturdays, when I write from 10pm to 4am. But there are times when I will go for a month or more without writing or researching because of my busy schedule.
You’ve always been a voracious reader and being a writer was a childhood dream, but has fantasy always been your first love?
I think it is more accurate to say that adventure, mystery and suspense have been my first loves. And this cuts across genres. I grew up reading a lot of science fiction, fantasy, detective stories and even horror; and all those books involved adventure, mystery and suspense.
Since your work is heavily inspired by ancient texts and verses, there must be an extensive amount of research involved...
Well, I’ve been researching for around 15 years now on the Mahabharata and other ancient texts. That included reading the complete text of the epic (all one lakh shlokas) twice, since I read two different translations. I also work with Vedic scholars who have been teaching the scriptures for over two decades or more, to get my facts right. Additionally, I do extensive research on the science and history that goes into my books. This includes reading whitepapers, consulting international experts and also visiting locations that feature in my books.
Could you tell us a little more about your band Mid Life Crisis? You mainly play mainstream rock from the 70s and 90s. Any original compositions coming out soon?
There’s been a few changes there. We now call ourselves 33 and still play western classic rock. All six of us have day jobs but are united by our passion for music. Our work and travel, unfortunately, does not give us enough time to be able to work on original compositions, so we restrict ourselves to doing covers.
Coming to your latest release, The Mists of Brahma , what’s in store for Maya and Arjun this time around?
Maya and Arjun’s adventures continue—they get some answers and uncover some more mysteries. The Mists of Brahma contains a lot of surprises and twists, which readers tell me that they enjoyed. There are a lot of revelations that they would not have seen coming. And many assumptions that readers may have made after reading Son of Bhrigu (Part 1 of The Pataala Prophecy series) will be proved wrong in this book.
Is The Pataala Prophecy going to be a trilogy like The Mahabharata Quest?
The Mahabharata Quest was never a trilogy to start with. I never announced how many books there would be in the series because I didn’t know how many books I could write with the ingredients of science, history and mythology. But I always knew there would be more than three books in that series. The Pataala Prophecy series, on the other hand, will be a five-book series.
Your books were earlier compared to Dan Brown’s writing and now with The Pataala Prophecy, critics are calling it out for its similarity to JK Rowling’s Harry Potter universe. What do you have to say to that?
I think people who have opined that The Pataala Prophecy series is similar to the Harry Potter universe have hastily—and wrongly—assumed that they know the story of the entire series after reading just one book: Son of Bhrigu. I think it is a bit presumptuous to judge a series by the first book when you don’t know what is going to be revealed step-by -step in the remaining four books. And unpredictability is my hallmark. After reading The Mists of Brahma, many readers have realised that there is more to Maya than what meets the eye. Once all the books have been published, you won’t find anyone even attempting a comparison between Harry Potter and The Pataala Prophecy.
With 2019 coming to an end, when can we expect the third book in The Mahabharata Quest Series?
I would say in late 2020.
Mythological fiction has gained immense popularity over the past few years in India. And if I may say so, your competition is with writers like Amish Tripathi and Ashwin Sanghi, who are well-established in this genre. What is it about your writing that sets you apart?
To begin with, I don’t believe that Amish, Ashwin and I compete. We write different books with different styles and in different genres. And I don’t write mythological fiction. The Mahabharata Quest series combines factual science with factual history and a base of mythology in a modern day thriller format. The Pataala Prophecy series is a contemporary fantasy thriller series with a base of mythology. It is this uniqueness that draws them to my books.
We’ve read that you enjoy travelling. What’s your favourite holiday destination?
It is very difficult to pick a facourite. But if I was pressed to choose, then I would say the United Kingdom, for the history, the archaeology and the beauty of the countryside.
Your work must have taken you to a lot of new places. Is there a particular city that you might have drawn inspiration from?
I draw inspiration from all the places I go to. There’s so much to learn from every city that it would be a shame not to get inspired in some way by each of them.
Since your writing primarily revolves around mythology and fiction, if you could travel to one ancient city, which one would it be?
The Indus Valley Civilisation has so much mystery surrounding it. So, I would love to visit either Mohenjo Daro or Harappa.
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