I first met Rituraj Sharma during Pune International Literary Festival-2018. I was instantly touched by his warmth and humility that is at once comforting and reassuring. I approached him to chat about his book “Vedic Warriors”, a mythological fiction, published by Vishwakarma Publications. We touched upon the challenges of writing mythological fiction, his writing routine and other questions. Here is an excerpt from the conversation.
1. In recent times, we have noticed a spur in mythological fiction. What is prompting this interest in mythology? Is it because of the open-ended nature of myth and the various possibilities or is it because mythological characters are easily identifiable?
Mythology breaks all barriers of imagination; it has the ability to teleport people into a world of fantasy. It makes them acquainted with characters which are often larger than life orbiting around in a world of magic and enchantment, not to forget the wide range of spiced content one can gouge from our rich Indian mythology.
This fantasy world triggers the limbic system of the brain, making them experience varied emotions keeping them intrigued and captivated. And yes! Most characters in mythology are also identifiable and reading about their stories with a different perspective fascinates people towards this genre.
2. What sets mythological fiction apart from other-fiction say historical fiction? Are the challenges to write such fiction unique or do they just overlap with challenges of writing?
There are differences and also overlaps with a historical fiction. Mythological fiction is easier to write because one can take lot of liberties with characters, situations, dialogues keeping in mind, of course, that no sentiments are hurt. This is because unlike a historical fiction which deals with proven history, mythology, as the name suggests is not proven so an author can completely unleash his imaginative powers and can bring amazing larger than life characters to life and weave intriguing narratives.
The reason I said overlap is because many times history and mythology do overlap, for example, for many people, Padmavati is a real life character but for plenty others, the character is fictional.
The foremost important challenge in writing a mythological fiction is to make it relatable to the readers.
3. How did you come up with the idea of writing a novel? Why not a short story or an epic poem or a translation? In any case how important is form to the story in your view?
History and Mythology has always attracted me. It is a leisure pursuit, making me read and analyze numerous books related to the same genre. The reading enhanced my knowledge and upgraded my view and thinking towards history and mythology. I started to look things differently.
With the massive knowledge possessed, I thought of penning down the same and weave a world of fancy and curiosity for readers. Another thing that I felt was that a book needs to pace faster. World is changing dramatically, the average attention-time is dwindling down day by day. Time has become a constraint. Everything is evolving, look at cricket, from test matches to one-day to twenty-twenty. The same goes for books as well; readers desire fast paced books with plenty of entertainment. This is what prompted me to write a book containing action and a cliffhanger effect in each and every chapter, with no room for dullness and over-elongation. The story moves swiftly and is a perfect mixture of action, adventure, intrigue, mystery, love and betrayal this becoming a perfect cocktail called – entertainment.
The story I wanted to tell had to take the form of a novel because a short story or a poem would not have done justice to it. Also my work is original; so it couldn’t be a translation.
4. Many authors have a set routine for example JK Rowling writes in a cafe, while Shahshi Desphande wrote in her husband’s clinic. Do you have any such routine? How do you set about writing a book?
Very similar to JK Rowling I guess, most of the content was written in Café Coffee Day and Star Bucks.
5. What is on your current reading list?
Honestly, I am not reading anything at the moment as I am writing my next fantasy fiction.
6. How has your journey with Vishwakarma Publications been?
Great! The team at Vishwakarma Publications has been extremely supportive.