Medha Bhaskaran is a Microbiologist. She finished writing the second part of trilogy (Frontiers of Karma – The Stratagem’). She does farming as a hobby and also a freelance health columnist for the Indian Express (online). Let us know more about her writing.
What inspired you to start writing?
I was in Dubai and was pretty busy with my job as a Marketing Executive of a Pharmaceutical Distribution Company. I have also been a freelance health columnist for the Khaleej Times. Tell you frankly – I was not so keen on parties and meeting people on a social platform which is a favorite pastime in the Gulf (same things are discussed about who drives which car, and whose children go to which universities in the UK or US or Australia, who is wearing what, who is staying where – then drink, eat go home late on weekends AND ALSO DO SOME India bashing – how bad India is – the living conditions, ‘dust and heat’ of the Indian subcontinent etc the usual NRI talk) Even though I loved Dubai, its glamour and my lovely cars, I found it pretty dumb time-wasting and juvenile to spend my time this way. Wanted to do something that would keep me occupied in a more inspiring way. Then I thought of Shivaji, and wondered why there was no book on him in English and bingo I had my subject. People said it is like climbing the Mount Everest with fractured legs. I said so be it! At least this way, I will do something for my country- in some way, even if it is a drop in the ocean. I remember Dara Shikoh’s poem – the translation of which appears in the first part of the trilogy, Frontiers of Karma- The Counterstroke’
Why must I seek to be the emperor?
When I can be a free creature
And let my mind unfurl without caution
Why must a drop be a pearl?
When it has the choice to be a pearl?
Then started coming to India on holidays and visited some of Shivaji’s forts and also Aurangzeb’s forts. My mom bought about fifty hardcore history books for me study. People bring gold from Dubai, I took books on Shivaji to Dubai. Then there was no looking back. The lives of these men are stranger than fiction. As if pre-ordained, I shifted back to India to look after my ailing dad, and without a day job had a lot of time at hand.
What did you like to read when you were a girl? Who are your favorite Authors?
Phantom and Mandrex commix. Later I liked to read Hilary Mantel, Arundhati Roy, Jeffery Archer, PL Deshpande (Marathi) Conn Iggulden (the author of fiction books on Genghis Khan) and some others
What is the greatest challenge in writing a book?
It is not about writing (other than some back pain and eye strain), it is what happens thereafter. Rejections and heartbreaks. Marketing is a big game in book industry now – needs money and time. Also I feel sorry for writers who try so hard to sell their books – at literary fests, on facebook, on google –as if it is life and death, wonder why so much desperation? I have not yet figured out what makes a book a success – then someone told me – each book is born like a human – with its own destiny written between the lines.
How much research do you do before writing the book?
Read about fifty hardcore history books and studied them for ten years. Visited historical places and met many historians to unveil the truth.
What motivated you to write the book “Frontiers of Karma”?
Shivaji’s life and his achievements – as well as Aurangzeb’s intelligence and political understanding. I had a great hero and a great villain, what more do you need?
Can you tell us more about your latest book “Frontiers of Karma”?
|Frontiers of Karma trilogy|
|3||Not decided the name|
Frontiers of Karma trilogy showcases the 17th century Hindustan. The Mughals, invaders from Central Asia, have ruled India for over a century since the first emperor Babar’s cavalry and artillery cut Ibrahim Lodhi’s army to pieces at the first Battle of Panipat. Under Babar’s great great grandson, Shah Jahan, Mughal rule has expanded to its zenith. It stretches from the highlands of Kabul to the riverine deltas of Bengal and from the vale of Kashmir to the arid Deccan plateau.
Jagirdar Shivaji, a Maratha landholder is busy eliminating the self-serving, native landlords who resist his idea of sovereignty. At the same time Aurangzeb, third in the line to the Mughal throne, attacks the Shia kingdoms of the Deccan. Shivaji does what no one has dared do before. When Aurangzeb and his massive army are busy bathing the Adilshahi kingdom in blood, Shivaji and his peasant soldiers plunder Mughal terrain.
Aurangzeb, the third son of Shah Jahan, hates the audacity of an infidel. It can set a dangerous precedent and other warrior Hindus like the Rajputs, the Bundelas and the Sikhs would take the cue. But this is not the time to deal with Shivaji. He has to forge a bloody path to the Mughal throne. Frontiers of Karma is a story of Shivaji’s enormous struggle to create a homeland for his oppressed people and Aurangzeb’s pathological obsession to eliminate Shivaji. The Counterstroke is the first part of a trilogy delineating Shivaji’s astounding face off with Aurangzeb’s brilliant cunning.
How did you come up with the idea of writing fiction genre book?
Our history has myriads of lessons that we can learn from. I believe that such a mission can only be accomplished by writing a novel, which gives the writer a poetic license to fill in the details and personal interactions. However, I do not believe that I am the sole custodian of this monumental task. I feel small and terribly inadequate for my task but I have persevered sincerely as it has also been a journey of immense joy. It is actually the best journey that I have undertaken in my life.
Who are your favourite authors?
Hilary Mantel, Arundhati Roy, Jeffery Archer, P L Deshpande (Marathi) Conn Iggulden (who has written historical novels on Genghis) to name a few
How much time do you dedicate for writing on a daily basis?
Not daily but when I sit I do it for hours
What words of wisdom would you like to give to aspiring writers?
Keep writing, read many times, read aloud, remodel the prose and never give up. (For me my writing and me – till death do us apart!) Do not waste money on agents who claim that they will better your manuscript. Only you can work on your manuscript and the editor provided by your publisher. If you get an agent who does not charge you anything upfront, take him/or her otherwise a big NO.
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