The randomness is postponed to Sunday because I messed up guest posts and interviews. So you have some movement on this blog and disrupted schedules, LOL! I was contacted by this author’s publicist back in May, and I admit I haven’t read the book yet (but it’s on the TBR list – I actually bought in on Amazon, but its sits on my Kindle. Sounds familiar? Yeah, I know. More time to read and write, please, and Life, please, bugger off, LOL!). But when I heard the blurb about futuristic Bombay… well, how could a Bollywood fanatic like me give up the chance to interview someone who wrote about future India (or anything about India for that matter, LOL *waves to her Desi friends*)? So there you have it, ladies and gentlemen please welcome Laxmi Hariharan!
Q. Where do you live and write from?
A. I live and write from London in the real world. But really I was on Arkana when I wrote this novel :-) And the scenes set in Bombay are inspired by my growing up years in the city, especially my trip last December when I drove through the new Bandra-Worli sea link which has opened in the city connecting the outlying islands with the main city. And wow! Had it changed. It gave me a lot of inspiration for the futuristic Bombay scenes I wrote in the book.
Q. When did you start writing?
A. I wrote my first poem when I was five years old. No kidding! Inspired by the mango tree outside my home in Andheri – a suburb of Bombay. I finished the poem and knew I was going to write a novel – many novels. And then thanks to Ms. Hermes, my English teacher at the convent school I went to, I graduated to Wordsworth and Keats very quickly. (I went to an English language girls only convent school, run by French nuns. So English became my first language very quickly).
Q. What genre(s) do you write?
A. It is still a shock to me that I write so much in the fantasy space and it is a constant surprise to me how much I use Indian mythology as a north star. I had to trace my memory back to when I was very little, about five or younger, and recalling my grandmother telling me stories of the Indian Gods and Goddesses and their adventures to understand that my subconscience had soaked that up and was using it as a springboard in my writing. My grandmother was this amazingly strong woman. She lost her husband early and single handedly brought up her five children and various assorted nephews and nieces. I find that she speaks through me when I write. Overall I find I have more in common with a fifteen year old scifi geek (super heroes, et al) than the more typical ‘Desperate Housewives or Sex and the City’ kind of person people often classify me in.
Q . Where do you find your inspiration? Do you put yourself in your stories?
A. It’s a cliché but yes a lot of autobiographical incidents sparked off The Destiny of Shaitan. There is a kernel of truth in many of these chapters. The trigger for this book was Hong Kong. I lived and worked there for a few years and thought it was the most fantastical of all the places I had lived. The kind of experiences I had, were literally out of this world. Specifically from the moment I landed in Hong Kong, I found that I developed a racing heart – literally every time I shut my heart I could hear it pump as it were really afraid. A kinesiologist told me that Hong Kong was the seat of commerce – the base of the universe; and so for a person who was quite in touch with myself, to be surrounded by all that pursuit of money was a real shock. But it was such a bizarre experience, having a physical manifestation of something which was so intrinsic, it forced me to put pen to paper and start a story about what would happen if someone landed in a futuristic city and had strange encounters with people who could be from another planet – that character turned out to be Tiina in The Destiny of Shaitan. The rest followed.
Q. Do you have a specific writing routine?
A. Growing up in a modest middle class South Indian family who were very academically inclined, my Dad would insist we wake up really early in the morning to study. This has stayed with me. I find I write best if I wake up early in the morning 4 am if possible; and if I am really inspired and write till at least noon. If I am on a deadline I might write all day; like with Shaitan, the last 75 pages were written in two days – over a weekend. By the end of it, the muscles of my right hand had swollen up – it was crazy.
Q. Outliner or improviser? Fast or slow writer?
A. Ah! Shaitan was so organic; it grew from some real soul level inspiration. But did I struggle to make sense of it for the reader. The characters were off having great adventures and me the poor writer was scrambling to make sense of it. So for my next book – I am writing the outline, chapter, scene breakdown first. Writing’s the easy part/
Q. Tell us about your latest book
When Tiina accompanies Yudi on a mission to retrieve the Isthmus from the ruthless Shaitan, she seeks more than the end of the tyrant; she seeks herself.
Driven by greed and fear for his own survival, Shaitan bulldozes his way through the galaxy, destroying everything in his path, including Tiina’s twin sister Maya and her best friend Rai. Tiina wants Yudi to destroy Shaitan, thus fulfilling the prophecy of Shaitan being killed by his firstborn. But she finds that Yudi is hesitant to do so. The final showdown between Tiina, Yudi, and Shaitan has unexpected consequences, for Shaitan will do anything in his power to win the fight. The universe is at stake, the combatants are determined, and Shaitan’s ultimate destiny will be fulfilled.
Q. Indie publishing or traditional publishing – and why?
A. I had two small publishing houses in India who were interested in publishing the book. But I found when it came to the crunch, I wanted control over it. I could not hand over my first born to anyone else. I wanted to edit it, design the cover and market it. I am so all over the internet, I knew no-one else could represent it better than me. So here I am – in the crazy, amazing yet satisfying world of Indie publishing.
Q. Any other projects in the pipeline?
A. My next novel is called The Seven Islands. I loved the scenes of a futuristic Bombay in which some of Shaitan is set so much, that my next novel is completely set in this world. I may even explore further the relationship between Tiina and Artemis – the shape-shifting spaceship who has a crush on Tiina.
Q. What is your goal as a writer and what are you doing to achieve it?
A. I want to share what I have learnt on my life journey through my writing; if I get my reader to feel with his/her heart and learn to live in the moment, which I believe is true happiness, I’ll be happy.
About Laxmi Hariharan: I am a writer, technophile & dare I say, a futurist, with a penchant for chai and growing eye-catching flowers. Wanderlust drove me out of my home country India and I travelled across Asia, living in Singapore and Hong Kong before coming home to London. I am inspired by Indian mythology; I draw strength from the stories my grandmother narrated to me as a child. It is in acknowledging my roots that I found my voice. When not writing I love walking in the woods with my soulmate, and indulging my inner geek.
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