eShe: How did the idea for the book come about?
Anuja Chandramouli: Being a horror movie aficionado, a topper in abnormal psychology and one of those people with a morbid fascination for all things dark and disturbing, I wanted to write a book that was intense, more than a little messed up and wildly entertaining. After chewing on it for a bit, Yama’s Lieutenant took shape. Even while writing it, I toyed with the idea of developing it into a series, because it was hard to let go of the characters who had become such a big part of my life. My editor thought it was a good idea too and Yama’s Lieutenant and the Stone Witch happened. Hopefully, George RR Martin will be inspired by my example and quit his dillydallying when it comes to delivering The Winds of Winter.
eShe: Which is your favourite character in the new book?
AC: That’s a tough one because after a point you grow attached to the lot of them, including the antagonists who have mass murder and destruction on an apocalyptic scale in mind for the rest of the world. But I guess my favourite is the protagonist, Agni Prakash. He somehow manages to combine the qualities of a sweetheart and badass both.
eShe: What draws you to Indian mythology?
AC: There is always a sense of discovery, fresh insights, the feeling that you are catching up with friends you have grown up with and always the possibility of meeting someone new. It is one hell of a romance. Mythology and me forever!
eShe: What was the portrayal of women like in the old texts? And how would it compare with women’s social standing in India today?
AC: There is no dearth of strong women characters in the old texts. Contrary to what misguided folks seem to think nowadays, the ladies were not shrinking violets who cowered behind yards of fabric, allowing their fathers, brothers, husbands or sons to run their lives while they popped out babies and tended to home and hearth. Then, as it is now, there were certain restrictions that bound women (and, to be fair, men as well) but resourceful women seldom let that sort of thing get in the way of pursuing their ambitions.
Women were always active players, unafraid of wielding power and taking up challenging roles that played a crucial part in shaping the present world we have inherited. We would do well in this day and age to take a leaf out of their scrolls, quit it with the endless whining and complaining, so that we can all just get on with it,
eShe: What are your other passions in life, besides writing?
AC: The most important thing in my life aside from writing is my family. Hubby is my muse and my two little girls are amazing! I learn so much from them about living life with grace, generosity of spirit and heavy helpings of toilet humour. Yoga, reading, coffee, classical dance and yummy desserts are my other passions, though not necessarily in that order.