Interview: All about the lady behind Aryavir, Anita Shirodkar

From being in the corporate world to a home-maker, Anita has taken it all with grace. From her first book to her latest, Aryavir; Anita is conquering hearts and I am sure there is nothing new to why she is! Her work and writing style is fresh and not like the contemporaries. Know all about her and her journey at THE DRAMA QUEEN SAGA BLOG!

To start with, would like to say who is Anita Shirodkar as per you? Is she a basic home-maker or is she a passionate corporate woman? Or is she a mix of both?

A) Definitely not a corporate woman! Home-maker, yes, and I’m proud of it. I’ve devoted time and energy to my home and family, and for the most part, it hasn’t affected my career. On the work front, my motivation has been creative rather than corporate because I’ve always leaned towards the artistic side of the career path. Having said that, I can be very practical when I need to. I think most women today are a mix, and they manage to do a fabulous job at home and at work, despite the sacrifices required along the way.

 

Being in advertising for so long and now writing along with a decent job as a consultant, what is that one thing that you think makes you stand out?

A) I don’t believe I’m more special than any other person, but if ‘standing out’ refers to my innate strengths, then I would say that determination to follow my passion defines me. I’ve always pursed my dream and goals without a thought for success or failure – those things are irrelevant because my validation comes largely from knowing that I have given my all to the project at hand.

Your book ‘Aryavir’ is a mythology-based fiction. Can you enlighten us more about it as an author and as a reader?

A) While writing Aryavir, my goal was to create a fantasy world entirely in the Indian context, but keep away from any existing mythological references or tropes. There’s a plethora of books out there with versions of Ram, Shiva, Krishna, Draupadi and the characters from the Indian epics we all know and love. I wanted to give my readers the opportunity to delve into an entirely fictional world, with an engaging, fresh set of characters. It’s much harder as a writer to begin from scratch, but the advantage is that there is no danger of hurting people’s religious sentiments! I’ve actually invented a religion based loosely on the tenets of Advait Vedanta.

How is Aryavir different from the already existing contemporaries in the market?

A) As I mentioned earlier, Aryavir is not a retelling or reinvention of existing characters from our scriptures and epics. Aryavir is set in a completely imaginary world and takes place in something very like ancient India, but with fictitious kingdoms and races. The religion, customs and places are invented, yet the story portrays the Indian mythological ethos that the Ramayana and the Mahabharata provide. There are princes, kings, queens and warriors who are fighting their battles – real and metaphorical. There are fascinating characters – the revered Maheshwari sect who live in seclusion in Aryavartha, the mountain kingdom and the Kesakutas, who are Kamalkund’s long-haired warriors who sleep for 100 days and stay awake for 100 days at a time. There’s lots of invented stuff in there that will touch a chord in readers of Indian mythology.

 

This is your fourth book. Do you think with each book you are evolving as a writer?

A) I certainly hope so! In terms of content, the shift in the genre has been a great learning curve. The process does not get easier, but there is definitely a better grasp of the narrative and how to put it across. I’ve learned how to handle more complex plots, which is imperative when your writing sequels. I’ve always loved creating characters, but I’ve learned to pay more attention to voice. Reading diverse authors helps a lot in evolving as a writer, I find.

 

What is the most common and regular difficulty a new writer faces?

A) The foremost one nowadays is the obvious one: getting published. However, there are self-polishing avenues open to new writers now. The other thing is getting the right exposure, and marketing your book. Publishers don’t always back a new writer with enough marketing effort, with the result that a good book often sinks without a trace.

 

After 4 books, how do you feel? Do you feel that’s what you exactly meant to do? Or there is an alter self to Anita that the world will never or maybe witness someday?

A) There is no alter self or ego as far as I am concerned. As of now, I’m exactly where I would like to be. Every creative process is a journey, and mine has evolved from writing contemporary fiction to writing mythological fantasy. The idea is to keep evolving, exploring genres and pushing the envelope. If I can use the obvious metaphor, I’m an open book, so there’s no hidden side of Anita waiting to emerge!

 

What inspired you to write books? Was it your experience in advertising or was it your motherhood that led a mythological fiction’s birth?

A) I’ve always loved storytelling! I used to practice on my kids when they were young – I would tell them fantasy stories in installments, leaving off at an exciting part, to be continued the next day – It was a great way to lure them into bed each evening! I think my main inspiration to write has been my love of reading – it seemed like a natural step to take. As far as mythology goes, I think growing up on the Mahabharata and Indian folklore, and then watching back to back episodes of Game of Thrones was the basis of my inspiration. I really wanted to create a world that was Indian in ethos, that Indian readers could relate to… and that’s how Aryavir was conceived.

 

What’s after ‘Aryavir’? Will it have a trilogy? What’re the timelines for it?

A) The Guardians of the Blue Lotus is a trilogy, of which Aryavir is the first book. The second one is in editing stages right now so it will be out in spring. I’m currently starting work on the third book.

 

What’s your favorite line that keeps you going forward?

A) Put one foot in front of the other. It’s so simple, so uncomplicated but it makes perfect sense. One step at a time will always get you there, no matter how hard the road is.

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Five things someone who is looking forward to becoming a writer should keep in mind: 

  1. Give yourself a deadline, and stick with it. Chalk out a workable writing schedule. Writing only when you’re in the mood never works.
  2. Write EVERY DAY! The most important thing is to show up for work, whether you have writer’s block, mental resistance or you’re feeling plain lazy!
  3. Take inspiration from books you loved reading, and write a book you would love to read. That will give you the right voice and make your journey more exciting.
  4. Create characters that are believable – they should be human, flawed. Get to know them well, and allow them to surprise you!
  5. This last one I read somewhere and really liked; remember the three P’s! Perseverance, Patience, and sense of Purpose.

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How easy or tough was the journey from your first to your fourth book? Who would you say was your support system?

A) For me, writing is never the hard part, so that part of the journey was not tough. The difficult part was the marketing – though I spent twenty years in advertising selling everything from soap to bubblegum, I’m not so good at selling myself! But it has become easier over the course of the four books. My support system is, and has always been, my family and friends. There’s no end to the encouragement they continue to give me.

 

Do you think sometime later, your books can actually be adapted in films? Who can be ‘Aryavir’ and why from the film industry?

A) Every paragraph I have written in Aryavir has been visualized in my head like a screenplay! There’s nothing I’d like more than to turn my trilogy into a TV series, more than a film. Aryavir is eighteen years old, so its hard to like him to any of the current big heroes, but in personality, I think he would be closest to Ranveer Singh. Because they are both deeply layered individuals, and both are perfectionists! Also, beneath that tough exterior, there’s an endearing vulnerability to both of them.

 

One advise you can give to your readers?

A) This is a quote from Albert Einstein that I love – Life is like riding a bicycle. To keep your balance, you must keep moving.

 

How can your fans reach you to share their thoughts?

A) I have an author page on Facebook, and am always reachable through my inbox. I look forward to hearing from readers, with feedback or even criticism. The link is https://www.facebook.com/anitashirodkarofficial/

 

 

Book her latest book from here.

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