Presenting an author’s interview today.
Shweta Taneja is an author and graphic novelist based in Bangalore. She loves to prod and pry into peculiar and odd creatures with her books. Her latest Cult of Chaos (HarperCollins) is a tantrik detective thriller based in Delhi. Other books include The Ghost Hunters of Kurseong (Hachette) and graphic novels Krishna: Defender of Dharma which is part of CBSE Schools Reading List and The Skull Rosary which won a nomination in the Best Writer and Cover category at the Comic Con Awards. She has also written many short stories, comics and articles on technology, travel, health, and lifestyle. Find her online @shwetawrites or over at www.shwetawrites.com where she talks about random things.
Cult of Chaos, an Anantya Tantrist mystery
Anantya Tantrist is a spunky 23-year-old, gaali-spewing, beedi-smoking fearless tantrik who solves crimes in Delhi. When she's not solving crime, she's having a drink at Bedardi Bar. Cult of Chaos is the first of her dark adventures where she solves a case in which little girls are being sacrificed in a tantrik ritual. www.shwetawrites.com/anantya
The book is ready to be released on 15th January 2015. However, you can pre-order the following links:
Tell me something about yourself
I am a writer and a storyteller. I have a weakness for the occult, the esoteric and the oral traditions of mythology. When I am not writing, I either go on long walks, runs, or sit and have a cup of tea with friends.
Tell us about “Cult of Chaos”. What is the story behind selecting that name?
Cult of Chaos is the first Anantya Tantrist mystery. Anantya Tantrist is a spunky 23-year-old, gaali-spewing, beedi-smoking fearless tantrik who solves crimes in Delhi. When she's not solving crime, she's having a drink at Bedardi Bar. Cult of Chaos is a dark adventure where she solves a case in which little girls are being sacrificed in a tantrik ritual. The book features a God of Chaos who someone is trying to bring into Delhi. I won’t tell you much about it right now, because it’s a fabulous suspense, but the name was inspired by the same god and the followers he has, the tantriks who’re trying to bring him here.
Tell us something about your kickass tantric heroine - Anantya Tantrist.
Anantya’s a spunky independent girl who lives in Chandni Chowk. She has had a violent, abusive past, but she doesn’t feel like a victim. In fact, she’s quite the opposite. She has shifted to the city recently, but made it her own. Her profession, that of a tantrik detective, is her own choice completely. She has shrugged her father’s patriarchal legacies and the luxurious life she was offered to make it on her own in Delhi. She is not a goody-goody girl in any way. She smokes beedi, spews gaalis, glugs drinks at a seedy bar, and has one-night stands with various species. She lives by her own morality and ethics and doesn’t care two hoots on what the society thinks of her.
Professionally, I think she’s attracted to danger and unsolvable mysteries. She’s quite good at this detective thing she has fallen into. She enjoys being in the centre of action and likes to solve cases and help the underdogs of the supernatural underworld. She hates most of the tantriks around her though.
If you want to talk to her, head to @anantyatantist, though let me warn you, she can be quite a prickly bitch.
What is your inspiration behind writing a detective story?
Curiosity. I am superbly probing and curious when it comes to anything. I want to prod and pry till I get to the bottom of things. I think detective stories come naturally to me, as my friends who’ve had had to thwart questions from me will tell you!
Can you name three of your favorite books? And why?
I would like to mention my three favourite authors rather than specific books: Neil Gaiman, Terry Pratchett, Ursula Le Guin. I’ve learnt darkness from Gaiman, humour from Pratchett, and a way mere words can touch your soul from Le Guin.
What is your favorite genre as a reader?
I love the speculative genre, to read as well as to write in. I remain fascinated by how authors explore our own quirks, attitudes, ethics and moralities through the concept of ‘others’—be it alien, supernatural or paranormal. Through these alternative worlds, we try and look critically into our world. And that’s what fascinates me about fantasy the most. That and of course we’re living lives of other creatures, which is just so much fun! Currently I am exploring a sub-genre of science fiction called feminist science fiction.
Being a journalist, can you please tell us the scope for freelancing and let us know how to be one.
Freelance scope has increased in India because of a lot of online sites and magazines which’ve come into place. But most of them don’t pay so well or disregard feature writers calling them content writers. To be a successful freelancer, you’ve to write regularly, at least six-eight stories a month, track all the payments, chuck the bad paymasters (and there are many) and keep with the good ones. And once you’ve managed to earn an editor’s trust, try and get a consultant position with them, where you commit a certain number of stories a month and they pay you regularly. That way you have some regular incoming coming your way.
I know that there will be several bloggers with a dream of publishing. Can share some tips on publishing. Can you also share your own experience on how your story found a publisher?
I’ve written about the journey in a separate blog. http://shwetawrites.com/book-contract/
When I was trying to get published, there were some really good tips I got from authors, publishers and friends. I’ve collated all of it in this post: http://shwetawrites.com/publishing/