TheBookoholics recently interviewed Anuradha Singh, author of the historical fiction ‘Ayasam: Epic Tale Of King Gavi’. Check out the entire exchange in our blog!

The Bookoholics : What inspired you to write ‘Ayasam’?

Anuradha Singh : I was doing research for my poetry book, ‘Song of Life: A Poetic Retelling of Mahabharatha’. I have condensed Mahabharatha in poetry form in this book. At that time I came across a story about a tribe of Bihar and Jharkhand, who have a legend that they are Shiva’s tribe and Shiva has given them work of smelting iron from iron ore.

I found this story very intriguing and discussed it at home, while discussing this idea of writing a historical fiction sparked.

The Bookoholics :You are an English language teacher by profession ,why did you choose to write about an ancient civilisation?

Anuradha Singh : Yes, I am an English Language teacher. But along with having interest in the nuances of the language I also love history and mythology. In fact for a few years I have even taught history in schools. Then, as a child I was greatly interested in hindu mythology. My ajji (grand mom) used to tell me numerous stories from mythology. Stories of Mahabhratha were my favourite.  When I grew up I started having discussion about these stories with my mother and friends trying to find scientific or logical understanding to these stories.

The Bookoholics : Was there a lot of research involved?

Anuradha Singh : Yes I had to do extensive research for this book. I had to read a lot. Thesis of various scholars on Saraswati Valley civilisation. There are numerous websites dedicated to the Saraswati Valley Civilisation. I took help from these sites as well. So, yes it was a long haul. It took me more than two years to write this book.

The Bookoholics : How hard was it to get your book published?

Anuradha Singh : Yes it was difficult. In India reaching or should I say finding a good publisher is a great task. But I thankfully came across Paper Town, who are a comparatively young, fast growing Independent publishers.

The Bookoholics : How did you come up with the names of the characters in ‘Ayasam’ ?

Anuradha Singh : The name of the protagonist is completely a figment of my imagination and the other numerous names of the different characters are mostly from ancient history. The names of places are ancient names of Kingdoms of which some of them are not used anymore. So, I used to do this exercise of writing names on a huge chart paper. Then I used to keep staring at it, mumbling it, checking the characters graph in the story. If I used to be satisfied with it. I kept it otherwise, the same exercise would be repeated with the new name.

The Bookoholics : Who is your favourite character? And why ?

Anuradha Singh : To tell one name is difficult, as the story has so many characters and with many I feel a moral connection of birthing them to life. But yes, I like the character of Bhavya and Queen Hema the most, as they come across as very brave women, who stand up against the wrong which was occurring with them and then come out of it as winners.

The Bookoholics : What did you want the readers to understand or feel after reading ‘Ayasam’ ?

Anuradha Singh : See, it is basically fiction, so my first and foremost responsibility towards my readers is to entertain them, give them a fantastic reading experience, the story should remain in their mind for long after finishing it. Speaking of takeaway, the biggest would be, respect mother nature. Do not overuse and misuse the gift

The Bookoholics : What advice would you give readers who have an inclination in historical reading?

Anuradha Singh : History is a perception of a person from his point of view. There are many angles to look at a story, the same way is for history. There is the winners point of view, the losers point of view, then there is perspective of the people of that time. Like Chinese whispers, the events from the ancient period have got distorted. Sometimes due to lack of original manuscripts it becomes so difficult to gauge the real event. It is a daunting task for writers or historians to research and write. So try to think from this point of view and read with an open mind.

The Bookoholics : How long did  it take you to write the book?

Anuradha Singh : It took me more than 2 years to complete the book and then maybe another 8-9 months to find the publisher, do the editing. By the time the book came in my hand it must be 3 years and yes not forget the pandemic. The pandemic also slowed down the work.

The Bookoholics : If you could be a member of any fantasy race, which would you choose and why? (Please feel free to describe your weapon of choice as well.)

Anuradha Singh : If I would be part of a fantasy race I would be part of the race of ahuras from my book, ‘Ayasam’. They are a warring tribe, courageous, Indomitable, Independent. My weapon would be something like Shiva’s trident.

The Bookoholics : Was being an author on the bucket list? How did it happen?

Anuradha Singh : No, it was not on my bucket list. I always wrote and this happened very impulsively, surprisingly a few years back.

The Bookoholics : What was one of the most surprising things you learned while creating your book?

Anuradha Singh : The most surprising fact about writing the book is , writing is easy but getting a good publisher and reaching the book to maximum readers is another epic task altogether.

The Bookoholics : Which part was hardest for you to write?

Anuradha Singh : The battle scenes were the hardest. To understand the battle strategies, creating maps, showing the route which the armies took was a difficult part.

The Bookoholics : Who is your favourite writer from this genre?

Anuradha Singh : Amongst the Indian authors of course I enjoy Amish Tripathi’s books a lot. Apart from him I thoroughly enjoyed Alex Rutherford’s Empire of the Moghul series.

The Bookoholics : How was the journey from finishing the manuscript to publishing?

Anuradha Singh : To sum up in short, Interesting but difficult,. But the publishers made it quite easy.

The Bookoholics : Did this book change you as a person in any way?

Anuradha Singh : Not as such but yes it was a very challenging project which I had undertaken and I am glad and satisfied that I could finish it. So I enjoyed writing it and though I was stretched I enjoyed it thoroughly.

The Bookoholics : What, in your opinion, are the most important elements of good writing?

Anuradha Singh : Good writing should hold the reader’s attention and the language should be such that the reader doesn’t have to rush for the dictionary again and again, as that would certainly be a spoiler. Then the writer should try to be as realistic as possible even while writing fiction.

The Bookoholics : What was the most common response you got from the readers?

Anuradha Singh : The most common response was most of them loved the ambience of the Saraswati valley civilisation, surprisingly they loved the battle scenes and also the growth of the character of the protagonist.

The Bookoholics : Are you on social media and can your readers interact with you?

Anuradha Singh : Yes of course, I am there on facebook and instagram.

FB : anuradhastringsofmyheart is my FB page

My blog : anuradhastringsofmyheart,com

Instagram : anuradha861978

The Bookoholics : Is there a next book on the way? If yes, what is it about?

Anuradha Singh : Yes, of course there is another book in the pipeline but it is yet in a nascent stage so can not talk much about it. Soon I will get to know.