Behind the Book: Anand Neelkantan


Today we have the man behind Asura - one of the most talked about books this year, Mr. Anand Neelkantan. The moment I had read the book I was curious and I knew I had to know more about him, the book anbd ofcourse his forthcoming book Ajaya about which you can read HERE:
Source: Google Images

  • Firstly a warm welcome to Reviews and Musings. I would like to tell you here that I have tremendously enjoyed reading Asura and the first thing that I was very curious to know about was what inspired you to write this book.
Thank you very much for your nice words. Asura was inspired by many folk tales and tribal versions of Ramayana, but it was mostly inspired by a single thought- what if the vanquished have a story to tell?
  • A year has passed since then and yet it still creates ripples in the literary world. How does it feel now that it coming out in its hardback version?
It is a dream come true to any author. When I was toiling for 6 years and was doubting about my skills about telling a good story over the pile of rejection letters I used to get, in my wildest imaginations, I had not thought about a success like this.
  • How did writing happen to you , was it a dream you always saw as a child?
Yes it was and it still is. I dream for bigger and bigger things
  • How did you come up with the title of your book?
The story to be told was that of the vanquished. It had two main protagonists and both were Asura. Hence the title Asura, tale of the vanquished
  • As a writer I believe that gradually as the book progresses the authors tend to become one of the characters breathing life in them. Did it happen with you when you were working on your book? Who is your favorite character from your book and why?
Bhadra is my favourite character as I created him. All other characters in Asura are from original Ramayana. Bhadra is modelled on the common man of all countries of all eras.
  • The story from a very different point of view is what Asuras is all about. And it reaffirms the old adage that every coin has two sides. What is the message you wanted to send across to the readers through Asuras?
That life cannot be simplified into good guys and bad guys story
  • Can you share a little of latest upcoming release Ajaya with us?
Ajaya again is about the power of perspective. What if the defeated have a story to tell. Ajaya looks Mahabharata from the view point of Kauravas and especially the Crown Prince Suydohana (damned as Duryodhana in popular telling) who was cheated out of his inheritance. It will have other heroes like Ekalavya, Karna and Aswathama.

  • Sounds very innovative and interesting. How did this unique concept come into being?
The story was inspired by a temple in Malanada village of Kerala. This ancient temple has Duryodhana as the main deity with Karna and other Kauravas as minor deities. The details story of this temple is given in the sample chapters and the introduction of the book
  • Could you share with us you future projects?
Ajaya is going to be in two parts and the second part Rise of Kali will be out in Aug 2014. Other than that I am toying up with many ideas and one of the mature ones is the story of Chanakya’s foes.
  • If I were to ask – name one of the most beautiful thing and one worst thing about being an author what would it be?
Beautiful thing- Life is never boring
Worst thing- An author can never take a vacation. The brain will be buzzing with the next story.
  • Would you please share your experiences of becoming an author? Your journey till here.
My sister Chandrika is an astrologer. If you have read my books, you may be knowing that I am very critical of superstitions and try to bring rationality to thoughts. I am an Engineer by training and work in a public sector for a living. When I had started my research for my book Asura, she had predicted that if I am able to complete it, it would be a great success. I laughed at the idea. Those were the days when books got sold if it had the name of great authors like Amitav Ghosh or Arundhathi Roy, because of their talent in writing or they got sold if it had names like Chetan Bhagat written on it, for his deep understanding of what average reader wants and deliver it, packed in off the cuff humour. This was much before Shiva Trilogy had come to the market and changed the game. So, the idea of any one wanting to read about a few Asuras who may have been dead at least three thousand years ago in itself was preposterous. Even now, I do not admit to my sister about her prediction, but I think  may be subconsciously, that prediction might have encouraged me to toil on in my writing and research when there was no possibility of it getting even published. That helped me perhaps in facing the pile of rejection letter I received.
  • Do you have any advice for other upcoming writers?
Never, never never give up. Rejection letters will look like bomb shells delivered in your mail box, but keep believing in yourself. Any book can be published if an author works sufficiently on it. With every rejection, the author has to view her work impartially and correct the same.
I have a small request to make to all the readers of this blog.  Asura is in shortlist of Crossword award 2013. The competition is tough with all the big names squeezing a first time author.
Please vote for Asura and give the vanquished a chance to win. Please post the same in your blog/ fb/ twitter by spreading the message. Here is the link

Thank you so much for gracing my blog today and it was indeed a pleasure to have you here. We would like to wish you all the best for your future projects!


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