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Behind the Scenes -Shadows Rising AKA HOW IT ALL BEGAN

In 2016, I shared a room in London for two weeks with an ISKCON devotee.

Vinod, as most people remember him was someone who had indulged in a whole host of activities that could be considered sinful. This included eating meat, drinking copious amounts of alcohol, not going to the temple, not keeping fasts etc. Until one day, he turned into a devout ISKCON devotee.

The change was dramatic. And confusing. And I was fascinated.

In those two weeks, I quizzed him on everything. What changed? How did you go from being a complete non-believer to a pious devotee in under a month? Why do you have just one wife when Krishna had sixteen thousand? Stuff like that.

 Bemused but delighted at my interest. V gladly answered all my questions. His absolute conviction in theism clashed with my absolute opposite stance on the matter but I enjoyed our discussions.

His biggest complaint was that Indian mythology was so rich and interconnected that he couldn’t fathom why everyone else wasn’t as passionate about it. And that got me thinking…

I remember being fascinated by the stories I read as a kid of Indian folk tales. They were full of brave and noble heroes, evil demons, magical weapons and the like –why would people not read them more? They had all the elements of a great story. Of the stories I like to read and the stories I wish to tell.

That’s when it struck me. Maybe a lot of people don’t relate to those stories anymore. We live in a world of technology. Reading about the past may appeal to a niche, but not to a lot of those who like contemporary fiction. The close the book they were reading and the world they go back to is as different as it comes from the world they just escaped into.

What if it didn’t have to be that way?

What if they had the same magic, demons, gods and myths, but set in present day India?

That was the first tiny seed. But there was more to follow.

I enjoy Flash Gordon a bit more than Star Trek – they may both be sci-fi, but they are so vastly different.

But mythology in India? Its always the same. Set in the past, the same characters stories being retold, always with reverence as we pussyfoot around religious icons and each person unable to break out of the mold they were cast in.

Even the covers for these books rarely change. Its invariably a shirtless guy holding a Vedic era weapon and frankly it’s not exciting anymore.

I wanted to try something different. It went against the grain because conventional wisdom has always been to write what the market wants. Writing to the edges never gets you anywhere.

And yet…

Curse of the Yaksha is set in modern times. It serves as a bridge between then and now. It took five years to get to where it is today, but it has been worth it.

I hope you like it. And more importantly, I hope it helps a few readers get an appreciation of the treasure trove of stories that we have in our folklore.

The best Part? This is only the beginning – there are stories lined up to expand the mythos and take us to places they’ve never been.

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Rohan is an amateur photographer, an open water scuba diver, a mountaineer, an obsessive bibliophile, an intrepid traveller and a highly successful mutilator of the Spanish and French languages (often at the same time), a consultant in the fields of market research, client partnerships and Artificial Intelligence, an author, and more recently, a dad. Among other hobbies, he can also lay claim to half-baked cooking attempts (no pun intended), chess, computer gaming, badminton, swimming,board gaming, indoor wall climbing, poker, adventure sports, reading fantasy novels, and a string of other very forgettable endeavours. His first novel Keep Calm and Go Crazy - a true story of how he met his wife, was published by Harper Collins India in 2016. His second published piece was a short horror story The School that featured in the Best Asian Speculative Fiction of 2018 anthology. Curse of the Yaksha is his latest novel which is an Urban Fantasy series set in modern day Mumbai. Roha

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