I had the honor of coordinating an interview with proud Indie author Laxmi Hariharan. She is the author the Kindle Best Seller, The Destiny of Shaitan. Born in India, this London-based author explains what it took to produce The Destiny of Shaitan.
(BOOK GIVEAWAY: One of the first ten people to comment on Laxmi Hariharan’s interview will win an ebook copy of The Destiny of Shaitan. Read the interview, comment below and you may win. Good luck!)
Joey Pinkney: Hello, Laxmi.
Laxmi: Hey. Joey. How are you?
Joey Pinkney: I’m doing well. Thank you for joining me today.
Laxmi: Thanks for having me. It’s great to be speaking with you.
Joey Pinkney: Likewise. Tell us a little about yourself. Who are you?
Laxmi: I am Laxmi Hariharan, a new-age migrant who found my voice by embracing my roots.
Joey Pinkney: Your book The Destiny of Shaitan is gaining a lot of positive attention. What drove you to write it?
Laxmi: Two years ago, I lost my baby in a miscarriage and almost died… I realized that there is no such thing as tomorrow. I had to tell my story and do it as early as possible.
Joey Pinkney: I’m sorry to hear about your loss.
Laxmi: It took me 9 years to write The Destiny of Shaitan. But in just 9 weeks, I had to get it all dressed up and out in the real world.
Joey Pinkney: When you say it took nine years, why so long?
Laxmi: I had been writing it for a while, but the near death experience gave me the impetus to get it out in the real world as soon as possible. I moved three countries and went through a coming-of-age of my own in the meanwhile. It was almost as if I had to resolve my own issues before I could resolve the characters’ conflicts.
Joey Pinkney: In which three countries did you live during the creation of this book?
Laxmi: I lived in India. Bombay inspired the novel’s roots in Indian mythology. Then I lived in Singapore and Hong Kong – a futuristic space-age city if there was one. Finally, UK – London. This where the greenery and peace gave me the space to finally write it all out.
Joey Pinkney: How did writing The Destiny of Shaitan while living in India, Singapore and Hong Kong affect the flow of this book and what happens within it?
Laxmi: The stories my grandmother narrated to me as a child growing up in Bombay is where my stories were born. Hence, I am inspired by the plotlines from Indian mythology. Landing in Hong Kong was like arriving on a futuristic alien planet. Hence, I write in the fantasy genre.
And moving from place to place has made me young at heart. (I believe I am a Young Adult for life, so I am close to this genre.) Sometimes I feel my grandmum speaks through my prose. I still can’t believe how much I borrow from Indian myths and legends.
Joey Pinkney: Your grandmother inspired you with the various myths she told you. Your travels have kept you adventurous. What books and/or authors did you read to make you feel like you had a story to also put out there?
Laxmi: First, it was the Indian epics – the Ramayana and Mahabharatha. All those crazy adventures that the Gods and Goddesses had. I loved their colorful lives. Then it was the superheroes from DC & Marvel Comics. (I wanted to be Batman when I grew up.)
George R.R. Martin and his Fire & Ice series as well as his Dunk & Egg series have had a huge impact on me. Finally Salman Rushdie who writes in the magic realism genre. The Ground Beneath Her Feet is one of my all time favourites.
Joey Pinkney: With popular science fiction being for the most part a set against the backdrop of Western philosophies, how does a novel set in a futuristic Bombay by an author born and raised in the Far East differ?
Laxmi: The Destiny of Shaitan, first in Chronicle of the Three, is partially set in Bombay. My second Return to the Second Islands will be totally set in a futuristic Bombay. What sets my Eastern inspired fantasy apart is the specific eastern philosophy interwoven in the interplay between the characters and the situations they face.
Joey Pinkney: Could you give some examples?
Laxmi: Ok, so here’s a dialogue between Mimir, the wise Master, and Yudi…. The old guardian walks up to him and holds up his palm.
Mimir: “There’s more power in your hand than in the entire universe.”
Yudi: “What do you mean? How can I possibly have more power than everything and everyone in the world put together?”
Mimir: “The energy of intent can move a thousand mountains…”
That’s just one example… There are quite a few more in the novel.
Joey Pinkney: I’m glad you brought up names. I’m always curious about how authors choose the names of their characters. Here’s my question: How did you come to name Tiina and Yudi? What is the significance of their names and how does that play out within The Destiny of Shaitan?
Laxmi: Tiina is actually named after Parvati – the divine female energy. She is the mother goddess. Yudi is named after Yudishtra. In Indian mythology, he is the man who always speaks the truth, he can never lie. I wanted names that were embedded in Indian legend but easy to pronounce.
Joey Pinkney: Everyone talks about Yudi and Tiina in reviews of Destiny of Shaitan. What makes them so irresistible to your readers?
Laxmi: Tiina takes after her strong female goddess avatar. She is a free spirit. Headstrong, yet under all that she is confused about what she really wants. So much so that the second novel is precisely about this – her quest for what she really wants in life.
Yudi is a strange one. He is in love with Tiina yet cannot resist making the mistakes that men seem to make in real life. He loves her yet cannot stop himself from hurting her.
I think they are multidimensional characters who face a lot of challenges on the journey to overcoming the evil Shaitan. In overcoming them hidden aspects of themselves are revealed. Kind of like the journey of life we all go through.
Joey Pinkney: Outside of Tiina, Yudi and Shaitan, someone pointed out Rai. What makes Rai tick?
Laxmi: He is the confused one – an orphan from the streets of Bombay. He stands the ultimate test of friendship. He is confused about his parentage and about his sexuality.
Joey Pinkney: I want to switch gears and ask about the book’s cover. It’s amazing. Who did it for you?
Laxmi: I found an artist based in New York and told him my vision of it. The artist’s name is Peter Ratcliffe, www.peterratcliffe.com. He was fantastic. I wanted the sword featured prominently. Because in this futuristic world, technology can only be used for travel and communication – not for causing harm. So everyone travels in spaceships but use swords to fight.
Joey Pinkney: You mentioned earlier that the book took 9 years to write, but it was finished up in 9 weeks. Since that time, it has become a Kindle Best Seller. How has having a Kindle Bestseller in The Destiny of Shaitan been for you? For the authors who dream of that kind of recognition, what is that experience like? How were you able to achieve that?
Laxmi: Divine direction, I think. (smile) I was just guided by a force larger than all of us. The challenge is to keep focused and write my next novel – this time in nine months. (smile)
Joey Pinkney: What do you do to get your book in the hands of your readers?
Laxmi: E-chatting with amazing people like yourself. (smile) I also have an active blog http://www.laxmihariharan.com, and I am very active on http://twitter.com/laxmi. The fraternity of Indie authors and book bloggers have been very supportive in spreading the word.
Joey Pinkney: Speaking of twitter and the like, how does social media networking play into the marketing and promotion of The Destiny of Shaitan and your future titles?
Laxmi: Most important is to find people who really believe in you and your writing. They will tell many others to read your novel. Social networking only helps amplify that effect. It is important for Indie authors to build their platform much before releasing the book. For me though, it went hand-in-hand. In finding my voice, my blog took off, and so did my book.
For my second novel I already have a pinterest board http://pinterest.com/laxmihariharan/return-to-seven-islands/ Here, I record the various images and music tracks which inspire the novel. For The Destiny of Shaitan, you can track the entire sequence of what inspired different incidents in the novel here http://pinterest.com/laxmihariharan/ And for the geeks out there like me (smile), here is all the behind the scenes/ the origins stories of The Destiny of Shaitan:
Joey Pinkney: You mentioned the fraternity of indie authors. I read on your blog that you came across a self-published author who was not ashamed to be successfully self-published.
Joey Pinkney: How has that shaped your outlook on your publishing future?
Laxmi: I am proud to be Indie. Based on my experience, I have come up with a quiz which will help authors answer the question as to if (and when) the should self publish.http://www.laxmihariharan.com/2012/06/do-you-have-it-in-you-to-be-indie.html. If you are creative, an entrepreneur at heart, and much too impatient (i.e. want to do things your own way and fast) then Indie is the way to go. For me, being given a second life I felt I couldn’t waste a minute longer. I just had to do it for tomorrow could be too late.
Joey Pinkney: I thank you for your time. Is there anything that we didn’t cover about The Destiny of Shaitan?
Laxmi: I hope that with The Destiny of Shaitan, I am able to introduce people around the world to the magnificent and colourful world of Indian mythology. I hope it will take them on an entertaining journey while giving them an insight into themselves. (smile) Thank you for this opportunity, Joey! It’s been fantastic having this link over the airwaves between London and the East Coast of the US!
About Laxmi Hariharan (In the author’s words): I am a writer, technophile, and dare I say, a futurist, with a penchant for chai and growing eye-catching flowers. Wanderlust drove me out of my home country India to travel across Asia, and I lived in Singapore and Hong Kong before coming home to London.
I am inspired by Indian mythology. 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. My debut novel The Destiny of Shaitan is available on Amazon. I would love to connect with you.