Rajkumari Sharma Tankha
Author Anita Shirodkar has just released her fourth book Aryavir. This is the first part of her trilogy Guardians of the Blue Lotus. Read on to know more about her:
Tell me something about yourself.
I grew up in a family that moved to some new city every two years since my father was a Naval officer. I have literally grown up all over India and had varied experiences in different cities, including Moscow at the height of the Cold War, where I spent three years and learned to speak Russian. I’m lucky enough to have travelled to more countries than I can remember and now live in two cities, between which I travel every 10-15 days.
Anyone in your family who is an author?
Coincidentally, my elder sister Madhuri Iyer is a writer too – our careers have moved in a very similar trajectory since we left college, and out first books were launched within days of each other.
When did you realize that you wanted to be an author? Which was the first piece you wrote and what was the response you got for it?
I was an advertising professional where creative expression has always been art related for me. My writing career started after I left the advertising space. I started writing content for travel and websites, and from there it was a very short jump into fiction. The serious writing stared when I was well into my fifties. When I had my first manuscript in my hands, I shared it with my family and a few friends who could be relied on to be genuinely critical. I was thrilled at how positive their response was… They told me they couldn’t put it down once they had started! That was how I had the courage to get my work published.
What/who inspires you to write?
When I have a story that I believe is worth telling, it’s the only inspiration I need. The Guardians of the Blue Lotus trilogy was an idea that I was excited about from its inception, and I wrote the first draft of Aryavir in two-and-a-half months, from start to finish. Obviously, it’s not just me that needs to like it, so I had a few friends read it and the extremely positive reactions I got helped me complete the manuscript in record time.
Your favourite genre?
Currently, I’m enjoying the fantasy genre as far as writing goes, but I’m reading a lot of historical sagas.
Your favourite authors?
Ken Follet, John Grisham, Tom Clancy, PG Wodehouse, Agatha Christie, Jane Austen, Arthur Hailey, to name a few. I read a lot of books written by Indian masters like Swami Rama, Baba Muktananda and Gurumayi Chidvilasananda. Autobiography of a Yogi by Paramhansa Yogananda was a book I read in my early teens and has been a significant read for me. I’ve started reading Lucinda Riley – I love her historical fiction.
What are you busy with currently?
Currently I’m busy working on the second book of my trilogy Guardians of the Blue Lotus. It’s an all-absorbing, time-consuming project – not only is the storyline a little complex, but the trilogy features a large number of characters, many of who fill important roles in the books. Keeping track of all of them and where they’re going is quite a task, but I’m enjoying their journey tremendously.
What is your writing schedule, and which is a favourite space for writing?
I write every single day once I begin a book. Whether it is one hundred words or one thousand I feel it is imperative to keep the flow going. My preferred time is early mornings, sitting in bed with a cup of tea, before the day with its countless distractions begins. This is the time and place where I get my most inspired work done. Otherwise, it’s late at night at my desk when the household has retired, and no one is interrupting me to ask which daal should be prepared for lunch, or whether the milkman has to paid today!
Do you think in these days of Internet, books sell. How easy/difficult is it to market your book?
Books sell on the Internet. I think Internet is great because your book is available to anyone, in any part of the world, at the touch of a button. The only thing is, the push for internet sales only comes when your book is visible on the shelf of a bookshop. So marketing is crucial, and it’s not easy. It requires a continuous and sustained effort, which personally I never seem to have the mind space for. Then there is the financial outlay. I always say, writing a book is the easy part. What comes afterwards is the big challenge.
Your other interests/hobbies? What do you do in your free time?
I read, I cook (I’m a huge food buff), I meditate, chant and binge watch Netflix serials back to back! I love travelling so that takes care of a large part of my free time. I love hanging out with my kids or friends when I have the opportunity – that’s really a favourite pastime.