Saiswaroopa is an IITian and a former investment analyst turned author. Her keen interest in ancient Indian history, literature and culture made her take to writing. Her debut novel Abhaya, set in the times of Mahabharata was published in 2015. Avishi, her second novel set in Vedic India explores the legend of India’s first mentioned female warrior queen Vishpala.
She holds a certificate in Puranas from Oxford Centre for Hindu Studies. She is also trained in Carnatic Classical music and has won a state level gold medal from Tirumala Tirupati Devasthanams.
Let’s see what she answered to my questions!
Please tell us a little about yourself.
I am an investment professional turned author who is interested in exploring the ancient literature, philosophy and history of India.
How did you come up with the title of “Avishi”?
Avishi in Sanskrit refers to Earth. It also means a river. Both of which are very important for a civilization. When I was exploring the legend of Vishpala, I realized that the word Vishpala referred to her position as a head of a settlement rather than her name. Ancient Indian civilization owes its progress to the rivers of India. I came up with the name Avishi for my protagonist as a humble tribute to the civilizational legacy of India.
What is your favorite character of “Avishi”?
Satya, the male protagonist who is a doctor and the innovator of the prosthetic leg that defined Avishi. To me, this story is not only about female valour in ancient India (about which I am incredibly proud of), but also about the trials and tribulations of innovators like Satya who face their own demons and journey towards their destinations.
What genre do you enjoy writing the most and why?
Ancient civilizational fiction. Many people call it mythological fiction. But I always like to view those immortal legends as odes to incessant perseverance and commitment of our ancestors. On a lighter note, it is quite possible that I am born in the right century but on the wrong side of Christ 😀
How would you describe your writing style?
I prefer to use simple language. My writings would have less of description or imagery and more of dialogue and discussion. I let characters drive my stories forward and without their co-operation my drafts get stuck!
What authors inspire your writing?
I am mainly influenced by medieval Telugu poets of 14th-16th Century who defined the age of literary liberty called Prabandha yuga (Era of Prabandhas). Writers and poets of 20th Century like KM Munshi and Kalki Krishnamurthy cemented my love for historical fiction and compelling character arcs.
What would you like to be if you weren’t a writer?
Other than words and stories, I love number crunching. My MBA has equipped me with a liking for analyzing data and I can spend hours doing the same. Perhaps the combination of my passion and skills makes my journey as an Independent author exciting
What are you working on now?
I am currently working on a sequel to my first novel Abhaya, temporarily titled as “Daughter of Mura.” Abhaya explores Mahabharata till the episode of Rajasuya from the eyes of a fictional princess of a small Kingdom in Ancient India while focusing on the adventures of its protagonist. The next story attempts to do the same, but from the perspective of a girl Mauri and her troubled romance with Ghatotkacha. It would
Do you have any advice for new authors?
Writing is a marathon. It would be more appropriate to describe it as a journey. I would caution aspiring authors against aiming to be one book wonders or treat writing as a short cut to fame. Experience and learn as you go.
Long before the times of Draupadi and Sita
Immortalised in the hymns of the Rig Veda
But largely forgotten to the memory of India
Is the Warrior Queen with an iron leg, Vishpala
Brought up in the pristine forest school of Naimisha, Avishi reaches the republic of Ashtagani in search of her destiny. When Khela, the oppressive King of the neighbouring Vrishabhavati begins to overwhelm and invade Ashtagani, Avishi rises to protect her settlement. But peril pursues her everywhere.
Separated from her love, her settlement broken, with a brutal injury needing amputation of her leg, can Avishi overcome Khela?