Practise makes a writer perfect: Anand Neelakantan
Growing up in a village in Cochin with more temples than was necessary, it was no wonder that the Ramayana fascinated him. Ironically, he was drawn to the anti-hero of the epic – Ravana, and to his people, the Asuras, and that became the title of his first book. He did not stop at this; his second book Ajaya has Kauravas of Mahabharata as his heroes. Meet Anand Neelakantan in conversation with Varsha Verma. Anand Neelakantan is known for his debut novel Asura Tale of the Vanquished & AJAYA: Epic of the Kaurava Clan – Roll Of The Dice. Anand’s debut work Asura: Tale of the Vanquished was a surprise bestseller of 2012, breaking into the top seller charts within a week of its launch. And so is Ajaya.
So what is Ajaya all about? “If Jaya is the Mahabharata of Pandavas, Ajaya is the Mahabharata of Kauravas. Ajaya is Suyodhana’s (Duryodhana is more popular parlance) Mahabharata where Kauravas are heroes rather than the despicable villains they are usually made out to be. The first part of the book- Ajaya epic of Kaurava clan, Roll of the dice has been published on December 1, 2013 and the second and last part, Rise of Kali (note: Kali as in Kaliyuga) is slated for release by mid August this year,” tells Anand Neelakantan.
The book has featured in the top position in booksellers lists like Crossword, Landmark, Oxford, etc. “The response and reviews of the book has been fabulous so far. What is icing on the cake is that my first book Asura: Tale of the Vanquished is still in the charts,” he shares. The book has recently been launched in Tamil language and is receiving rave reviews.
And this is just the beginning, Anand is working on a few more books, all related to mythology. On asking why, he replies, “An author writes what he or she is most fascinated about. For me, it is mythology. I am working on Mudrarakshasa from Rakshasa’s view point. Traditional tellings say Chanakya’s story with Rakshasa as the villain. My novel will take the story from Rakshasa’s view point, at the eve of Alexander’s invasion of India.”
Since all such books make interesting trilogies, we asked Anand if he’s planning one. “Yes, I am planning a trilogy soon. Though, I prefer to work on single books as it gives a sense of completion to both author and readers. However, certain stories need a bigger canvas and I may have to write a trilogy for something I have in mind, as the story requires it,” he shares.
So, what’s the most satisfying and difficult part of writing? “When I write my first draft, I write for myself. That is the most satisfying part of writing. Nothing can beat its satisfaction. The hardest part is editing the first draft. Every word has been put with a lot of passion, but when I read it after a few days, I start doubting my sanity and writing ability. Editing out chunks of what I have poured my heart on is painful, but necessary,” tells Anand.
Anand feels that his journey so far as an author has been wonderful. “Three years before, I used to wonder whether anyone would ever read my books. Today, when my books are topping bestseller charts, it gives me a lot of satisfaction. I hope to write more and more books and perhaps try my hands in television or films,” he adds.
Cartooning remains his first love and he likes reading comics and children’s books. “The best thing to happen in the world is Tom and Jerry series, which I enjoy watching with my children. Other than that, I love to do oil painting,” laughs Anand.
As an advice to aspiring writers, Anand says, “Keep writing. The craft improves as you keep practicing. A musician practices for many years before he dares to perform in public, a sportsman spends most of his childhood practicing, yet many people who want to write expect that their first attempt to write would get published and they will earn universal fame. Writing is no different from any other profession. Practise makes a writer perfect.”
“Read my books just as another fiction. They are not research papers and I am not a scholar by any stretch of imagination,” concludes Anand.