Cloudburst: The Womanly Deluge

One more milestone at the end of 2017… ‘Cloudburst: The Womanly Deluge’, a collection of poetry which I am honored and privileged to co-edit and co-author along with Dr. Santosh Bakaya. Finally our collaborative baby is in my hands, all the way from India!!
Thank you Madan Gandhi sir, Global Fraternity of Poets, Santosh Bakaya ma’m and all other authors/poets of this book which made this dream come true!

Cloudburst_book

P.S. my tribute to Smita Patil and to Panchali/Draupadi which made me a star blogger in Bonobology is part of this collection, as is my award-winning poem ‘Mindless Meanderings’, based on a picture prompt by Santosh Bakaya ma’m.

The book blurb:

Cloudburst_cover

In this lyrical assortment of verses emerging from the pens of 28 Indian women poets, there is a joyous, enthralling celebration of a wide and endearing spectrum of human experiences. Just like every woman poet in the collection has her own individuality, every poem in the collection is endowed with a unique powerful voice, and compiled together, they create an overwhelming deluge of emotions, a cascading flow of poetic sensations.

To get the book in Amazon India, do click here:

https://www.amazon.in/Cloudburst-Santosh-Bakaya-Lopamudra-Banerjee/dp/9383755423/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1514928824&sr=8-1&keywords=Cloudburst+the+womanly+deluge

A few days before the release of Cloudburst: The Womanly Deluge, an interview of both us editors, Dr. Santosh Bakaya and yours truly, conducted by yet another prolific poet Nalini Priyadarshini, published in Reviews e-mag. Nalini happens to be a contributing poet of our anthology too! Do read the interview here:

http://thereviewsindia.co.in/nalini-priyadarshini-brews-it-up-with-santosh-bakaya-and-lopamudra-banerjee/

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In conversation with Bragadeesh Prasanna: Author of ‘Waterboarding’

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Question: What inspired you to choose the title of your novel and how is it connected to the narrative of amnesia of the protagonist in the story?

Bragadeesh Prasanna: Thank you for such an insightful question. Waterboarding, as you know, is a torture technique in which the victim is subjected to water treatment with a towel or damp cloth in his face. While the body knows it is not drowning, the mind tells that they are drowning. The torture technique depends on the thin strand of time between hope and hopelessness. A space where it is dying and not. Most people’s life flash before their eyes in that time inbetween.

The protagonist and the other two main characters of the novel, metaphorically go through this in-between time where they are hopeful of their future at one point of time only to be go hopeless in others. The novel talks about such self inflicted tortures people go through their life because of the choices they make. The lead character Ved suffers from traumatic amnesia where he had no recollection of major chunk of his life. He is caught in between the hope of the future and the weight of his past which, whether he like it or not, impacts his present and possibly his future. Sara, Ved’s best friend had been waiting for so long for Ved to see her true feelings for him. When she had given up this accident and Ved’s amnesia gives her a hope to start their relationship afresh. She does all she could to reshape his past to fit her narrative she is feeding to Ved. But her conscious keeps gnawing her whether what she does is morally correct or not. Even when things are going well for her, she is afraid of an impending doom. The third character Maya, also goes through such phase where she couldn’t understand Ved’s feeling for her and his trust issues. She grew up in a Tier-2 town with nobody to care for her. She clings on to Ved as he gives her his full attention. While she gets that from him, she wonders whether if that is all she needs from Ved.

The amnesia is a metaphor to the fast moving life of our times. People are getting very comfortable to hide their feelings than tell it aloud. These hidden feelings are forgotten after a while. But the feelings they felt before has impact on their present and future selves. This story is the struggle of these three characters trying to take off the wet towel off their faces and to stop torturing themselves. Whether they succeed or not forms the crux of the story.
Hope I have given a satisfactory answer. We, writers are encouraged by such insightful thought process of the readers. We write in hope to find such minds which resonates with our thoughts and concept. Thanks for being a diligent reader. You are doing the world of literature a great good.

Book Blitz: Fragments by Janaki Nagaraj

Print Length: 76 pages
Publication Date: July 31, 2017
Sold by: Amazon Digital Services LLC
Language: English
Available on Kindle Unlimited 
Genre: Fiction, Anthology 

“I often painted fragments of things because it seemed to make my statement as well as or better than the whole could” – Georgia O’Keeffe.

A serial killer on the loose who chooses a particular day of the month to kill his victims; a strained father-son relationship, when the father returns home after being presumed dead; a girl who can go to any extent for her career and money; a woman openly acknowledging the presence of the many ‘other women’ in her life; a lady’s dark past finally catches up with her… Life is an ongoing sequence of events meshed with everyday mundaneness so that it becomes difficult to isolate them.

‘Fragments’ captures the essence of those parts of our lives that we are not proud to show to others. It takes you through a range of emotions and leaves a big question mark on what is supposed to be. 

It would be great if you can add this book to your TBR

Janaki has been a blogger for more than 5 years now. An English Literature graduate from the Bangalore University, she started writing stories for various online groups and publications. She also writes poetry.
Apart from being a homemaker she is also a fitness enthusiast, marathon runner, an upcoming entrepreneur and now a self published Indie author.
She lives in Mumbai with her two grown up kids, husband of 27 years and 3 cats. 

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Darkness There But Something More: An Anthology of Haunting Ghost Stories

Back after a long time to the WordPress blogosphere, with a fresh new update for you all. Do you believe all ghost stories essentially need to have blood-dripping venomous vampires, blood-curdling ghostly shrieks and the deadliest of ghostly fangs? Do you also believe that some ghost stories can be emotionally gripping as well, to keep us at the edge of our seats while reading them? With this mission, me, along with my co-editor Dr. Santosh Bakaya, a prolific author and poet from India have come up with ‘Darkness There But Something More’, an anthology of 30 haunting, emotionally dense tales comprising of other-worldly beings, written by some very talented, seasoned as well as young authors dispersed all over the globe.

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The blurb of the book in Amazon touches upon the essence of the stories in a succinct way.

“Who has not been intrigued and enthralled by the spirit world, ghosts, other-worldly beings, or in other words, the paranormal? Ambiguous presences around us, whether in the form of orally narrated stories by our grandparents, or in the form of haunting, riveting supernatural stories in books and movies have held us in their spell, engaging, alluring us even to this date.

In fact, the prominence of paranormal investigators, ghostbusters and others documenting the other-worldly in today’s age overpowered by science and technology only points to the fact that we crave to push our boundaries as rational beings and delve into the phenomena which we cannot define or explain tangibly.

This anthology of 30 selected ghost stories by authors dispersed all over the globe celebrates the spine-chilling thrills and sense of awe and bewilderment of this very inexplicable world inhabited by the other-worldly beings. Come, experience the cataclysmic, weird, and at times, benevolent spirit world and you will never have a dull moment in this roller-coaster ride!”

Darkness poster

In the editor’s note, Dr. Santosh Bakaya writes:

“Some of us are wary of ghost stories, some are skeptical, scoffing at the very idea, and some prefer to ignore the topic with a supposedly wise shake of the head. Whether ghosts exist or don‘t, whether these spectral illusions are the result of an overworked imagination, whether they reflect our subconscious, the fact is, everyone likes a ghost story. It has never failed to enchant us with its eerie gothic ambience, of hooting owls, of bats hanging from cobwebbed ceilings, of terrifying screams, goose bumps, poltergeist activities, and also vulpine jackals howling, with their snouts raised to the moon! My mind is brimming with those horror stories of childhood, which have left an indelible impression.”

To which, I add, in my turn:

“The paranormal, ghostly, eerie world of spirits, witches, demons and other corporeal beings have been endearing, timeless entities in literature, films and other mediums of human communication ever since one can remember. As for myself, my early memories of encountering ghostly beings have been in the tales of the Arabian Nights, as I clearly remember the jinns and monsters, the impervious souls being invoked, or even coming out of bottles, casting magic spells, granting wishes, while even the seemingly benign narratives would be shaken and stirred by the thunderous gust of their sheer presence. The wondrous supernatural phenomena in Sinbad‘s tales that I read in school still lure me as magical memories with their gripping images; his fantastical adventures of encountering the monsters and other supernatural beings had me under their spell for quite a long time, when an indescribable chill ran down my spine, reading of the giants, monsters and the stories of entrapment during his vicarious voyages.
In my college years, my tryst with Victorian literature was embedded with the first memories of the spine-chilling image of Catherine‘s unquenched spirit roaming within the precincts of Wuthering Heights, the paranormal figure with icy hands that haunted her sadist lover Heathcliff. In fact, Heathcliff was steeped in her ghostly essence, and said: ―I know that ghosts have wandered the earth. Be with me always—take any form—drive me mad.”

The cumulative passion of Dr. Santosh Bakaya to attempt to unravel this ambiguous terrain of the human experience has resulted in this anthology of fiction.

darkness book launch

Do check it in Amazon Kindle:

Amazon India (paperback):

https://www.amazon.in/Darkness-There-Something-Stories-Anthology/dp/1635359503/ref=sr_1_2?ie=UTF8&qid=1506311534&sr=8-2&keywords=darkness+there+but+something+more

Amazon India (Kindle):

‘Flights From My Terrace: A Treasure Trove Of Memories and Metaphorical Truths

Filled with vivid, veritable expressions, descriptions connoting the joie de vivre of life in its small, yet discerning moments, Santosh Bakaya’s treasure trove of 58 essays in ‘Flights From My terrace’ comes across as a remarkable odyssey of childhood memories, nostalgia, and a vivid internal journey capturing universal human feelings. The journey of these essays combined together in an unforgettable mosaic, in her own words, is “the outcome of my ruminations on my terrace” of her snug, cozy Jaipur home, a home which pulls her away to the other homes and their assorted images, homes and realms she has inhabited with her memories, opening the doors to her idyllic childhood, replete with delight, loss, wonder, and bewilderment cried to be put into words.

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Bakaya, the amazing storyteller, essayist and poet extraordinaire attains catharsis and makes perfect sense of the hubris of her mind and the memory chaos by documenting and depicting a series of diverse complex emotions in the book, starting from the exuberance of flying kites to the reminiscence of the sweet nothings of an idyllic Kashmir of her childhood to being a mother to delving in the other metaphorical truths of her life. Hers is a Bedouwin (nomadic) heart inside which churns the quicksilver flash of memories, and splashes across the zigzag crannies of the terrains she touches now, hungering, wreaking havoc.

In spite of the deeply synesthetic appeal of the flow of her words, never once does her sea of thoughts from Kashmir to Bharatpur feel too exhausting for the readers to handle. She has them always in her stride as she is in complete grip of her narration, whether she is depicting the romancing of sacred whispers, the sweet resonance of birds chirping, the sudden burst of the cacophonous world, or her untiring, persistent interaction with strangers and serendipity. Like a true memoirist and a flawless essayist, she absorbs the readers full on in the immediacy of her subtle life experiences, eclipsing everything else with the earnestness and the lyrical candor of a loving heart.

Yes, undoubtedly memories and their essence form the core and crust of ‘Flights from My Terrace’. The fervor with she describes her journey from Bharatpur to Jaipur in the essay ‘The Persistence of Memory’ as “…a chunk of memory here, a sliver of memory there,” forming “a memory avalanche” is truly remarkable and unforgettable. Also, one cannot help but reminisce the beauty and power Bakaya inscribes to the seemingly inconsequential subjects, like the neem tree of her childhood, the family dog, Nipper, the cat, Lazy, among other things, and all of them are incorporated so endearingly into the narrative that they echo in the minds of the readers like a delightful, richly woven symphony, long after they finish reading the book.

“I did not have to make any conscious effort, these slivers of memory just erupted from the subterranean depths, fitting into the narrative smoothly.” She said in an interview where I had asked her about the effortlessness and ease of her narrative journey in the book. The passages about her scholar father, her loving grandmother and other members of her kith and kin come together as delightful chunks of the unforgettable mosaic of her narration, along with all her other lyrical encounters that form the crux of the book.

The takeaway from ‘Flights of Terrace’ to a discerning lover of literature is the use of language, tender, lyrical yet robust and poignant, the pervasive and spirited voice of Bakaya as the narrator, the crisp, almost meditative beauty of her prose. To all who love powerful stories centered on the meaning and essence of home and one’s memories and nostalgia that spills over, spreads around the idea of home, childhood and the engrossing facets of humanity, this book will remain a cherished, treasured read always.

Spotlight: Princess Of A Whorehouse by Mayank Sharma

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THE PRINCESS OF A WHOREHOUSE: THE STORY OF A 
SWAMP LOTUS
by
Mayank Sharma



Blurb

Aparajita is a tenacious go-getter. Her name means unconquerable in Sanskrit, and she lives up to its meaning. 

Just like any other ambitious girl, she desires to fulfil her dreams and become an independent individual. Far and wide, the shadow of her melancholy past chases her passage. The fact that her widowed mother is a former sex worker irks the community. Nonetheless, she is not ashamed to reveal her mother’s past. 

Will she lose hope, or will she defy an enigma that is centuries-old? Will she ever conquer the hearts of a prestige-obsessed community? 

See the world through Aparajita’s prism in a tale stirred by some real life events.

Grab your copy @

Amazon.com | Amazon.in | Amazon.co.uk | Flipkart

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About the author


Mayank Sharma is a computer engineering graduate with post-graduation in business management. He works with a leading technology multinational in Delhi. He has authored a number of articles and white papers on software technology and processes. For the first time in April 2014, his article was featured in Better Software magazine published in Florida, USA. Writing has become Mayank’s greatest passion when he observed how it can trigger the winds of change. He is gradually transforming from a “left-brained” writer to a “right-brained” writer. Besides writing, he is passionate about sketching, painting, and making sculptures since childhood.

India is the fifth-largest economy in the world with the Gross Domestic Product growth at 7.1 percent. Contrary, India ranks 118 out of 157 countries in the happiness index. The fact seized Mayank’s attention towards social problems affecting social support, freedom of choices, and generosity, to name a few. Having travelled across continents and associated with people with diverse beliefs and values, he became more curious about the social riddles curtailing liberties across societies. He penned his debut novel, The Princess of a Whorehouse, when he came across some real life incidents that quivered his soul.

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The River Dark, The River Deep

The rivulet, the gushing stream bounced and swayed

Like a colicky infant. pic of housewife

Didn’t I love you, sleeping in your banks, pure?

Hiding myself so deftly in your little pockets of silence?

Why then, today, when I ran to touch you, hot, raw, burning,

You ran away instead, fearing my coagulated blood,

my frozen tears, my milk stuck on your door-frame, my breath,

shot up, in spurts, that has known you like the grandma’s old tale,

Like the lone, dazzling truth?

 

Come, enter through my rich brown, derelict doors,

Still open for you. Settle slowly amid the thickets,

Soaking in the smudged, docile light setting in,

The skyline of my wants still eager, firm with primroses,

Brown, yet not dying still, with music, sharp, yet blurry,

The details obscured, yet the pleading, the little lightning

Robust, plump, hammering.

 

Will you burn it, like the rest of my thwarted dreams galore,

The pregnant ashes of my sighs

that once I had closed your palms with?

Like the stubborn, wailing infant, eyes rolling, fingers tossed,

You had wanted small tufts of the dried, golden grass

Growing mammoth, fleshy, in a mountainous pile.

Today, between my calloused palms, the ashes dwindle,

And let out an air, musky, choking, yet again.

 

The verdant spring, the primroses, the half-baked love songs

Burn me like the old, bloody embers, the fungi strong, shadowy

Smeared all over like a beauty in continuum.

Come over, do not run, what is there to hide?

Lie down, flat, on my back, as I float on your scalding waters,

Doused with the dark grey of our self-same songs.

His Drunken Wife: Novel by Sundari Venkatraman

HIS DRUNKEN WIFE

(Marriages Made in India Book #2)

by

Sundari Venkatraman

 

Blurb

 

The badass Shikha is startled when the nerdy Abhimanyu proposes marriage. She loves… herself, and Abhimanyu doesn’t figure on her list anywhere. For Abhimanyu, however, it was love at first sight when Shikha walked into RS Software, where the two of them work. 

 

When Abhimanyu shows her that he just might be rich enough for her, a pleasantly surprised Shikha accepts his marriage proposal and moves into his swanky apartment. 

 

But it looks like the love is all from only Abhi’s side as Shikha continues to drink herself crazy. Yeah, even at their wedding party. 

 

And then Abhi sets out on a honeymoon to Thailand with His Drunken Wife… 

 

*MARRIAGES MADE IN INDIA is a five-novella series that revolves around the characters you have met in The Runaway Bridegroom.

 

Read an excerpt from #HDW

 

It was at least another half an hour before Shikha returned to the party. She directly walked up to her husband and kissed him on his masculine lips. “Forgive me?” 

 

Abhi pulled her close, kissing her deeply. “Always.”

 

“Did I tell you that you’re the best thing that’s happened to me?” she whispered in his ear, nipping at his earlobe. 

 

“Shikha,” growled Abhi, “Are you even aware of what you’re doing to me? Position yourself in front of me till I gain control or I won’t be responsible for the consequences.”

 

Shikha gave a tinkling laugh, her hand on his fly, tracing his shape delightedly. “How did I ever imagine you were a staid guy?”

 

Abhi groaned. “Take your hand off, woman. Please!”

 

Shikha laughed again, kissing him. “How I love to hear you beg.” She winked at him. 

 

She turned right around and got a waiter to get her another drink, much to Abhi’s chagrin. “Will you lay off the drink, Shikha?” he frowned. 

 

“Why? You can’t afford it or what?” she challenged him, a shapely eyebrow up in query, sherry brown eyes dancing. 

 

“You’ve already had four large pegs.”

 

“You’ve been counting.” The smile left her face.

 

“Do you plan to get drunk?”

 

“Arre yaar, Abhi! It’s our wedding, a once-in-a-lifetime event. I’m only celebrating. Give me a break,” she protested. 

“The way you’ve been knocking down the drinks, anyone would think that you’re in pain rather than celebrating.”

 

About the author

Sundari Venkatraman

 

His Drunken Wife is the ninth book authored by Sundari Venkatraman. This is a hot romance and is Book #2 of the 5-novella series titled Marriages Made in India; Book #1 being The Smitten Husband. Other published novels by the author are The Malhotra Bride, Meghna, The Runaway Bridegroom, The Madras Affair and An Autograph for Anjali—all romances. She also has a collection of romantic short stories called Matches Made in Heaven; and a collection of human interest stories called Tales of Sunshine. All of Sundari Venkatraman’s books are on Amazon Top 100 Bestsellers in India, USA, UK, Canada & Australia under both #romance & #drama categories.


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My New Baby, ‘Thwarted Escape: An Immigrant’s Wayward Journey’

Hello friends, you might be wondering about my long (yes, somewhat) absence from this blog. Let me apologize for being away from you for these few months and make a happy announcement! My new baby, ‘Thwarted Escape: An Immigrant’s Wayward Journey’, partly autobiographical novel, partly memoir, has recently been published by Authorspress India and launched with my literary friends in Delhi, the capital of India and in Kolkata, the cultural epicenter of India. A personal journey of seeking the essence and meaning of HOME, the book is characterized by my quest for my self-identity as a woman, a mother and a daughter, while being ten thousand miles away from my Bengali hometown.

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The book cover of ‘Thwarted Escape’

The book, which had first started taking shape as a diary entry addressed to my unborn daughter during the third trimester of my first pregnancy, later gained momentum as an autobiographical narrative journey of a wistful immigrant woman as I gradually found my moorings in Omaha, Nebraska, a Midwestern city in the United States. The seed of this book was first sown in a Graduate writing program in a university based in the city where two of my creative nonfiction mentors Dr. Lisa Knopp and Dr. John T. Price egged me on to explore this beautiful, volatile, passionate journey.

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Thwarted Escape Quotes

In essence, it is a subtle, complex and organic journey of my transformation from a small town girl in India to a woman who reconnects with her ancestral home, her emotionally fraught childhood and puberty. In her emotional, spiritual journey, she looks back, releasing her pent up thunder as she recounts her first tryst with death of a loved one, her first encounter with sexual abuse during a Diwali night, her first brush with her ancestral Hindu rituals, with love, procreation and motherhood.

With the lens of a time-traveler, she also looks back at the aromas and fragrances of her native Kolkata with wistfulness and nostalgia while trying to find her feet and strike roots in her adopted home. Moreover, she also tries to deconstruct the meaning and essence of Home, of Diaspora, of migration, realizing in the end that her physical attempt to break free of her ancestral roots and filial ties in an adopted home is, after all, thwarted.

In this roller-coaster emotional journey, mostly written in poetic prose, I attempt to uncover the slices of my soul while looking back at my roots in Kolkata and Barrackpore, my ancestral home, and my cultural traditions.  I attempt to unravel the inner core of my identity and my epiphanies derived as a daughter, a woman and a mother.  In the latter half of the book, there are travel memoirs in different parts of US and India, including Niagara falls, Seattle, Minnesota, Puri, Bhuvaneshwar and Konark, Orissa where my inward and outward journey forms an integral part of my self-analysis.

thwarted-escape-book-lopa-banerjee-and-friends

The book launch in Delhi with eminent authors, poets and the publisher of Authorspress

In this seamless journey, I also look at the ever-flowing cascade of life from the vantage point of death and despair, ultimately surrendering to the oscillation between the binary feelings of alienation and attachment between two different worlds of my existence.

The title ‘Thwarted Escape’ touches upon the metaphor of home and the act of sub-consciously embracing the physical and emotional landscape of our birthplace, however much we evade it. Quite early on, the protagonist of the book discovers the feminist literary worlds of Taslima Nasrin, Virginia Woolf, and later, Sylvia Plath, and a rebellious streak inside her persona compels her to delve into the roots of her ancestral Hindu traditions, question them, at times, even break free of them. However, in her self-chosen exile in the US, she discovers that deep within; her ancestral roots are also the wellspring of her psychological, spiritual existence. In the process, she keeps on oscillating between assimilating and disintegrating, which forms the core of her journey.

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The Kolkata book launch of Thwarted Escape,with eminent poet and academician Sharmila Ray, Art Rickshaw, Hindustan Park, Kolkata.

The book is available in Amazon worldwide now, and in Flipkart, an online e-retailing store in India.

Amazon links:

https://www.amazon.com/Thwarted-Escape-Immigrants-Wayward-Journey/dp/9352074254/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1480621429&sr=8-1&keywords=Thwarted+Escape

http://www.amazon.in/Thwarted-Escape-Immigrants-Wayward-Journey/dp/9352074254/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1478420969&sr=8-1&keywords=Thwarted+Escape+Lopamudra+Banerjee

Flipkart link(for readers in India):

https://www.flipkart.com/thwarted-escape-immigrants-wayward-journey/p/itmenxzywcgtt549?pid=9789352074259&srno=s_1_1&otracker=search&lid=LSTBOK9789352074259QJJJJT&qH=485274c1f834c173

Goodreads page:

https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/33021719-thwarted-escape

Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/thwartedescapethebook/?fref=ts

 

Interview with Usha Narayanan, Author Of ‘The Secret of God’s Son’

Usha Narayanan had a successful career in advertising, radio and corporate communications before becoming a full-time writer. She is the author of several books including The Madras Mangler, a suspense thriller and Love, Lies and Layoffs, a lighthearted office romance. The Secret of God’s Son is the sequel to her bestselling book Pradyumna: Son of Krishna which was published in 2015.

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The cover of ‘The Secret Of God’s Sun’

In this heart-to-heart conversation with the author, we talk about the protagonist Pradyumna, the son of Lord Krishna in her novels, ‘Pradyumna: Son of Krishna’ and ‘The Secret of God’s Son’, and other fascinating details about the theme, characterization and juxtaposition of the human and the divine that characterizes her literary work.

Lopa Banerjee: The title of the novel itself appears very intriguing to me. I would love to know what compelled you to make Pradyumna the protagonist of both your novels ‘Pradyumna: Son of Krishna’ and ‘The Secret of God’s Son’ and what came to your mind when you took up the task of writing this entire series based on his life choices?

Usha Narayanan: What inspired me was the thrill of discovering an unknown hero and the excitement of unearthing colourful tales woven around a son of Krishna. While the Mahabharata and the Harivamsa both have Krishna as the focal point, there is a wide difference in their tone and manner. The first focuses almost entirely on the human story, specifically the war between the Kurus and the Pandavas. But the puranas roam unhindered through heaven, earth and the netherworld, bringing us vivid stories of gods and demons, asuras and gandharvas. Pradyumna and his wife Maya are depicted as belonging more to this fantastical world and their lives provide more vibrant material for a fantasy. The paradox of his being both human and divine engaged my attention, as well as the possibility of exploring whether these two levels can ever meet.
Lopa Banerjee:  Your novel ‘Pradyumna’ is the mythic tale of the protagonist who endured much pain in love, which is not highlighted or mentioned much in the epic Mahabharata. When you wrote the sequel, did this same pursuit of delving into the mystery of a minor character of the epic haunt you? Can you share some of your feelings regarding this?

Usha Narayanan: The greatest love stories are tragic, often ending with the death of the protagonist and his beloved. Their path is strewn with obstacles that defy every attempt to surmount them. In the case of Pradyumna and Maya too, I could perceive many hurdles and decided to write their story using my own imagination. Maya, who is Rati reborn, awaits the rebirth of her beloved Kama, burned to ashes by Shiva for executing his duty. Rati prays ceaselessly to the gods and finally wrests a promise that Kama will be reborn as the son of Rukmini and Krishna. When Pradyumna is born, he is snatched by an asura and brought up by the asura’s wife Maya who plays the role of his foster mother. He is unaware of his original form or that he is the son of the Blue God. She frets and fumes as she tries to mould the dissolute prince into a warrior. When the truth is revealed, Pradyumna refuses to accept her as he still looks upon her as his mother. She is older than him too and the wife of the asura emperor. How this love story would develop was something that intrigued me and set my creative juices flowing.

As for the sequel, much of it is fictionalized. I followed what seemed to me the natural trajectory of their lives and their love. Now, when I read the initial reviews coming in, I am happy to see that my readers are just as thrilled with their story as I was.

Lopa Banerjee: What role did the epic Mahabharata play when you embarked on the journey of this novel? How much of the depiction is sourced from the epic and how much of it is fictionalized?

Usha Narayanan: As far as I know, Pradyumna is mentioned only a couple of times in the Mahabharata and Maya not at all. So there was not much that I could take from the epic, except for using the Kurukshetra War as a backdrop. ‘The Secret of God’s Son’ has a little more from the Mahabharata, specifically Draupadi’s vastraharan and the story of Duryodhana’s noble brother Vikarna. Of course Gandhari, the Kuru queen, plays a major role in my book as it is her curse that goads Pradyumna to undertake his  journey to Kailasa and Yamaloka. My challenge was to make the fictional sections appear to be a natural extension of our epics.

Lopa Banerjee: Does the novel also focus on the father-son dynamics between Lord Krishna and Pradyumna and their collective journey in the terrifying realm where the protagonist Pradyumna finds himself? What would you say is the foundation of this epic depiction?

Usha Narayanan: Imagine the delight and the terror you would experience if you suddenly discovered that you were the son of Vishnu’s avatar! When Pradyumna finds out this truth, he defeats and kills the tyrannical asura in whose kingdom he lives and makes his way to Dwaraka to meet his godly parents. He strives to make himself worthy of Krishna, spending every moment that he can at his feet, partaking of his wisdom. Even when he is elsewhere or in later years when Krishna leaves the earth, his father still remains his focus and his inspiration. We see Krishna too sharing deep truths with his son, knowing well that his son must continue his mission after him. The avatar shapes Pradyumna into the ultimate warrior in the cause of righteousness and an ideal purusha. We see the human side of Krishna in his interactions with his sons, his grandsons Aniruddha and Ajaya and his great grandson Vajra.

There is no foundation as such for my depiction of these relationships. I have merely followed the tradition of bards handing down stories to the next generation, along with their own flourishes!
Lopa Banerjee: The mythology sub-genre in Indian Writing in English is making major headway in the fiction publishing world. What do you think makes a mythological fiction enduring and remarkable to readers?

Usha Narayanan: Myths have a universal appeal that is not limited to India. Rick Riordan says, ‘They’ve got everything you could possibly want…mystery, treachery, murder, loyalty, romance, magic, monsters.’ The gods experience the same emotions that we do. They are jealous or greedy and do foolish things due to lust and anger. We see ourselves in them and wonder how we can attain their lofty world. Myths also bring us eternal truths wrapped up in exciting tales brimming with action, romance and divinity.

In India, we have a rich treasury of puranas that we have lost touch with, as we can no longer read them in the original Sanskrit. The old system of joint families where grandmothers told children tales of devas and asuras over dinner has become rare. When we extol superheroes like Batman or Superman, why not discover our own heroes ― be it Krishna or Pradyumna, Rama or Hanuman, Draupadi or Maya? As long as the telling is fresh and interesting, the characters are unfamiliar or looked at from a different angle, these stories will continue to charm readers aged eight to eighty.
Lopa: Wish you all success with the book, Usha Narayanan jee!

Usha Narayanan: Thank you so much, Lopa, for your original and imaginative questions. It was a delightful experience answering them. I look forward to more such interactions with you and with readers of your blog.

The ‘The Secret of God’s Son’ is available on Amazon.com:

https://www.amazon.com/Secret-Gods-Son-Usha-Narayanan/dp/0143424173/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1473379617&sr=8-1&keywords=The+Secret+of+god%27s+son