Penning classic Indian ethos
Author Anita Shirodkar in a freewheeling chat talks about her inspiration and thought behind her third novel in the Guardians of the Blue Lotus...
Anita Shirodkar knows a thing or two about how to manage a juggling act. From graphic design to content writing, this professional started her journey as in advertising as a Visualiser and grew to become a Creative Director. Anita is also a successful author whose latest work is a trilogy in the mythological fantasy genre. After 'Aryavir' and 'Sitanshu', her third book from the series, 'Ambuj' has been launched.
Excerpts from an interview
Briefly tell us about 'Ambuj'.
'Ambuj' takes off where the second book, 'Sitanshu', left off. The Guardians of the Blue Lotus Trilogy is the story set in a completely fictitious, imaginary world and takes place in a land very much like ancient India, but with fabricated kingdoms and races. Bitter rivalry and struggle for power play out between the main characters. In Ambuj, you are taken into a flashback of events that took place twenty years ago, with serious repercussions in the present day.
Have you ever incorporated something that happened to you in real life into your novels?
So far, I've not had the opportunity to do that, but inevitably my philosophy, opinions, voice and outlook on life find their way into the pages of my books. Also, when I wrote my first three books, they were based in and around the city and society I live in – so if it was not my own life that was reflected, I definitely put in sketches of people I have observed around me.
When did you first realise you wanted to be a writer?
At age 52, I woke up one morning and decided I wanted to write a book, and that is literally how the journey as a writer began. Writing has always come naturally to me, but I spent my advertising years pursuing the art side of things. When I stopped working for agencies and branched out on my own, I began to conceive ideas that I articulated both in terms of design and copy and discovered I actually loved writing. From copy, it was a quick sprint to fiction, and so my first novel 'Secrets and Second Chances' was born.
Where do you get your ideas?
Ideas are always buzzing around in my head, jostling with each other and clamouring for attention. I have been inventing stories for as long as I can remember. As children, my sister and I used to make up stories to tell each other, and she too became a writer late in life. While my children were growing up, I had to keep my imagination fertile in order to make sure they were entertained at bedtime. Stories revolve around people, and I am a people watcher – just doing that gives me endless ideas.
What is your writing process like?
For this trilogy, I put a lot of effort into the process – my style is to generally begin with a basic structure and let it flow from there, but for the Guardians of the Blue Lotus, it was a little more complicated. I was mapping timelines and following character arcs over a 20-year period while keeping everyone's backstories, past lives and chronologies in sync. I created family trees, maps and even drew sketches of the principal characters. The beauty of writing fantasy is that research need not be a major part of the process – one can rely on imagination to see you through the difficult parts!
Your future projects.
Currently, I'm working on getting the 'Guardians of the Blue Lotus' on to paper as a film/TV script. I have written the books with the visual form unfolding in my mind and believe that the story will play out beautifully on film. I'm also working on another concept for a TV serial, which I'm excited about.