Behind the Book: Anuja Chandramouli
Anuja Chandramouli is a full-time mommy and part-time writer. She is the author of Arjuna: Saga of a Pandava Warrior Prince & Kamadeva: The God of Desire.She holds a bachelor’s degree in Psychology and a master’s degree in English. She currently works out of home as a columnist and e-reporter. She has been accredited with a number of articles that she writes on a freelance basis. Her articles have been featured in publications that include Lonely Planet, The Hindu, and Womens Era. She resides in Sivakasi, Tamil Nadu, with her husband and two daughters.In conversation with her, to listen as she talks about things close to her heart, her two books and much more at Behind the book.
1. First and foremost a warm welcome to Reviews and Musings and thank you so much for sparing your time for us. Talking about your book we would like to know the story behind it as to how it got conceptualized.
Thank YOU so much for featuring me on Reviews and Musings. Forums like this are a great way to connect with readers, writers and book lovers and I am grateful for the opportunity.
Regarding the book, what drew me to Kamadeva was that he was such a mystery despite the fact that his name is such a constant fixture in our collective psyche. There was little I knew beyond the fact that he pissed off Shiva and was incinerated by the three – eyed God before he was reborn as Krishna’s son, Pradyumna. All this was stuff which every Amar Chitra Katha crazed fan girl who has read their illustrated rendition of Pradyumna’s tale could tell you and I wanted to know more about this hugely intriguing persona. It was the beginning of a hugely satisfying relationship with one hell of a character and the end result was my second book.
2. Both your books speak about the exhaustive research that has gone behind them. How did you go about it?
It was far easier the first time around with Arjuna: Saga of a Pandava Warrior Prince, since there is no dearth of literary material on the Mahabharata. With Kamadeva: The God of Desire though, I had my task cut out, because he is such an elusive presence and seemed content to remain hidden in the shadows. His story is a fascinating one though and it was an exhilarating experience to gather together every precious nugget of information pertaining to him by scouring the familiar and happy hunting ground that is the wondrous world of Indian mythology and draw close to him in a way that turned out to be a strangely intimate and fulfilling experience.
It was even more fun to fill in the initially frustrating gaps in the narrative which no amount of research could plug, with my imagination and educated guesses. Sherlock would disagree most strongly but the experience made me feel like a literary detective! I hope to try my hand at crime/mystery fiction and find out for myself if there is a little Agatha Christie in me!
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3. Your books have been about strong independent characters from mythology that have no qualms about flaunting their strengths as well as their weaknesses with equal élan. Is that intentional?
It most certainly is! I refuse to believe that characters are purer than the snowy clothes in detergent commercials or darker than the spots in the same. From what I can tell, there is a touch of goodness and a dash of the devil in everyone, irrespective of whether they choose to spend their lives helping the poor and needy or barreling down the road of life on the wrong side of the law.
My characters reflect my observations on the remarkable thing that is the human psyche and wear their virtues and vices like badges of honor because ultimately that is what makes them who they are.
4. You have tried to bring out those sides of Kamadeva which are usually not known to everyone rather than concentrating on what was usually known about Him till now. As a writer how difficult was that, to challenge what we believed in till now and look at newer angles to the retold epics.
It was not particularly difficult because Kamadeva has always been something of an enigma and every aspect of his personality, I unearthed proved to be a revelation. That being said, I have always tended to look at the familiar from a unique angle that yields entirely unique reflections and it was no different with Kama.
As readers know, what makes every book exciting is the promise of fresh discovery concealed within its pages and it is this element that I hope to delight my own readers with in my novels. Therefore, you can count on every story I ever tell to come equipped with its fair share of surprises!
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5. On a lighter note- which of the two books is your favourite and why?
You may as well ask me which of my daughters, I love more! Sorry to disappoint you and feel free to call me fickle, but I love Arjuna and Kama equally. However, I will tell you that the exacting critic in me feels that as a writer, I did a better job with Kamadeva. Arjuna was my first effort, and the starting terrors as well as anxiety attacks tended to get the better of me and found its way into the narrative! I was more confident the second time around, and hope to get even better with time.
6. Do we see you experimenting with genres in future? If yes which ones would you like to explore?
I look forward to experimenting with as many genres as possible because I don’t want to get stuck in a rut. And even within the confines of the mythology genre, I have done pretty much my own thing. If Arjuna was a pretty straightforward retelling with my personal touches to spice things up, Kamadeva is a mythical romance with enough blood and gore to sate even the most hardened lovers of lurid pulp fiction and above all else, a tribute to every troubled, tempestuous, stormy and turbulent romantic relationship that ever was, is, and will be.
Returning to your question, I would love to try my hand at horror, historical fiction and fantasy.
7. We would like to know about any future projects you are currently working on.
My third book will be out later this year and it is based on a remarkable Goddess who is dearly beloved not just in India but all over the world. It is unlike anything that has ever been written about her and I am eagerly awaiting the response to my effort.
8. Some words for your readers.
It makes me sound lame in the extreme but the fact is that my readers bring out all that is mawkish and sentimental in me. Just knowing that there are people out there who are holding my book in their hands or reading my stories on their sleek e – reader devices makes me feel warm and mushy inside, irrespective of whether they are devouring the material with gusto or snorting in derision. I cannot thank my readers enough for their support and I promise I’ll always do my best by them.
Thank you very much for your time!