Anuja Chandramouli is the author of Kamadeva: The God of Desire. Her first book Arjuna: Saga of a Pandava was named by Amazon India as one of the top 5 books in Indian writing for the year 2013. Contact her here.
NAW- Tell us about your book, Kamadeva. How did you get the idea for it? What is it about?
Kamadeva: The God of Desire is about one of the most enigmatic and misunderstood characters in Hindu mythology. I have lost track of the number of ribald jokes that people have taken to regaling me with, having been told that my second book is based on Kama. Many assume that I have done my take on the Kamasutra and wish to know if there are illustrations. Seriously though, my book seeks to take the reader on a ride that begins with Kama’s origins and follows the intimate contours of the tumultuous journeys he was destined to undertake – the tremendous bond of love he shared with his consort (Rati), his love affairs, the dangerous missions he performed for the Gods, his invaluable contributions to the amorous arts, the premature death that was his fate, his rebirth and what happens after.
The book happened after an intensive bout of writer’s block which with the benefit of hindsight bias, I now realize is the inevitable fallout when you try to bring out the Stephen King in you by attempting a horror story. My publishers and I were tossing a few ideas around and I was strangely drawn to Kama though he had barely ever intrigued me before. The rest as they say is history and a big chunk of my heart now belongs to the gentle God of Desire, whom I genuinely believe all guys need to adopt as their role model.
NAW- How did you get interested in Hindu mythology?
Hindu mythology is something I have always been passionate about, even as a child. I love stories and it is a veritable smorgasbord of charming yarns that entertain, instruct and enlighten, sometimes at the same time. If that were not enough it hearkens to a glorious culture and heritage that every Indian can rightfully take a lot of pride in.
NAW- How did you research for the book given that Kamadeva isn’t a very well known figure unlike other Hindu Gods?
There was a lot of arduous research involved and I had more panic attacks than I care to recall on account of the scarcity of material that was available about the God of Desire who unfortunately had been relegated to obscurity with his legacy faded almost past recapture. However, I trusted in Puranic lore and as always it did not let me down. I caught glimpses of Kama’s elusive presence and my imagination and intuition rescued me when he vanished from my sight and soon I was able to flesh him out fully.
NAW- What can a novice reader expect from Kamadeva?
I think the scholars as well as novices will enjoy their sojourn in Kama’s world. The former will love the obscure nuggets of information I have dug up and the mythology virgins will be eased into the notoriously difficult terrain with anecdotal as well as modern insights into the beloved deities that constitute the Hindu pantheon. Through Kama’s eyes they will be able to get a vantage position which affords them the opportunity to get intimately acquainted with celestials and mortals alike who belonged to a bygone era but whose trials and tribulations nevertheless remain relevant to this day given that we still fight our wars in distant lands and within the confines of the relationships we choose to be a part of on the great battlefield that is life.
NAW- Tell us about your other works.
Kamadeva is my second book. I made my debut as an author with Arjuna: Saga of a Pandava Warrior – Prince which has been very well – received. In fact, it was named as one of the top five books in Indian Writing for the year 2013 by Amazon India.
NAW- Tell us about your publishing journey.
That would make for one hell of a tale about the bloody toil, heartbreaking struggles and tortuous turmoil that struggling writers go through! I approached every single publishing house in India and several abroad hoping for a green signal. Unfortunately, as every aspiring novelist barring a lucky few will tell you, it is almost a rite of passage to be put through the wringer first.
Your heart as well as your self – esteem will take the beating of a lifetime as you deal with rejection and more rejection which is somehow kinder than waiting endlessly for some of the powers to be in the publishing business to get back to you long after they have dumped your proposal in the trash and have forgotten all about it. Long story short, I stress ate and took to aerobics and classical dance with a vengeance to distract myself, until mercifully I received a blessed acceptance email that was my ticket into that hallowed portal of published authors!
NAW- Tell us about yourself. What do you do when you are not writing?
I am a mommy of two little girls and they keep me happily occupied. Yoga keeps me from flipping my wig as does classical dance. I enjoy reading, cooking and travelling as well. Adventure sports give me a rush as well. I have tried paragliding as well as bungee jumping and loved it. Diving with the sharks and skydiving are next on my list!
NAW- Please name your favourite writers. Are there any who you’d like to name as an inspiration?
Agatha Christie, George RR Martin, Terry Brooks and Jane Austen are among my absolute favourites. I loved Enid Blyton as a kid and it is awesome to rediscover her world with my children. Bill Watterson and his Calvin and Hobbes series are beloved to me and I have tremendous respect for the man. Margaret Atwood is many shades of brilliant. They all inspire me and make me want to emulate them.
Closer home, I am very fond of Veda Vyasa, Kalki Krishnamurthy and Baradwaj Rangan.
NAW- What will you be working on next?
My next book is based on a beloved and mysterious Goddess. In the interest of maintaining suspense and hopefully generating hysterical levels of curiosity and excitement, all I will say is that it is unlike anything that has ever been written about this particular Goddess and will blow the minds of my dear readers. My publishers and I are very excited about it and we are working hard to bring it out towards the latter half of 2015.