Have you read India’s first Tantric thriller ‘Tantra‘ yet? If you haven’t, go grab a copy NOW. Read it, come back, and read my review here.
Anu is a leather wearing, no-nonsense professional guardian with a reputation for killing the most dangerous vampires in New York City. But when her enemies murder the one person she truly cared about, all she wants is vengeance. The only clue points to New Delhi, so Anu puts in for a job transfer…
… At first, it seems Anu’s biggest challenge will be evading the nice boys her aunt wants her to marry. But when children start disappearing, she discovers forces older and darker than anything she’s faced before. All of Delhi is in danger, especially the sexy stranger who sets Anu’s pulse racing.
If you have read the book already, and chewing nails for a sequel – here’s something better to read in the meanwhile – an exclusive interview with Adi, the author of Tantra.
1. To begin with, heartiest congratulations for Tantra! You seem to have struck the right chord with the tagline ‘India’s first Tantric thriller.’
I was hoping I would strike some sort of chord! When the book came out I was shocked at the absolute lack of fiction involving Tantra despite how well it is ingrained into our society. I think a lot of people might have been put off by the vampire bit in it though, even though the book is absolutely about tantra, and the vampires are there just for the ride.
I would love to know how it all began. What made you think of having a female superhero as the protagonist?
Years ago in college I wrote a short story about an old jaded vampire hunter who eventually took in a protégé. When I finished that story, I found myself more interested in exploring the life and tale of the protégé, Anu Aggarwal, that the mentor himself. I have always had amazing and strong female role models my entire life. Starting with my mother and grandmother, and extending to my aunts, friends and my teachers. I guess there was not one moment where I decided I wanted to write a female superhero. But as I did I realized how amazing it was, and how much it was needed. Most young girls today do not have strong female models who they can relate to. While women are doing incredible things in this country from politics to business, most of them are not young, and are not facing the problems of the young in daily life. I guess what also attracted me was the notion of a young woman in India which poses its own unique and wonderful contradictions just wanting to be explored. India needs a few female superheros and I was happy to be able to write one.
- Anu Aggarwal has an exceptionally robust character with emotions stuffed inside. While sketching the outlines of the character, did you get inspired by any fictional/real women?
We are the sum of our experiences, and I as I look back I can track Anu’s character traits to mish-mash of a number of women I have met over the years. The original draft of the book was almost a hundred pages longer and went deep into the psychology and childhood of Anu. Unfortunately, it was an extremely slow read, and was mostly cut from this final book. I really hope to bring a lot of it back in the next book. The quote “Well behaved women rarely make exception,” has been quite an inspiration to me, and I have been lucky to know and grown-up with many women who do not subscribe to the norm. It would probably not be right to name them individually here, but they share common traits. They are complex, they have had to deal with incredible situations, they are strong emotionally, and yet it strange and surreal sense a bit broken. They are finding themselves, and their place in this vast universe. They make mistakes, and hopefully learn from them. They are strong because they have to be, and yet they have a strong sense of the feminine, they are not girls trying to be men, but following their own sense how life should be lived, enjoyed and suffered.
There is a clever blend of vampire essence within the broader realm of tantra. How did you get interested in the concepts of tantra and sattva? Did you ever experience or witness any tantric ritual yourself?
I joke that I have spent a lifetime in researching all of this. As I child I was enthralled with religion and philosophy. Originally starting with Amar Chitra Katha comics, I quickly graduated to reading original material from some of the greats. Swami Vivekanand was a particular inspiration, as were more western philosophers and religious texts. Hindusim for me has been particularly interesting, and its deep philosophical roots far outweigh any rituals or traditions (although many of those are quite important). If you go deep into the philosophy, Tantra shows up naturally, it is a well ingrained part of the breadth of knowledge, and unfortunately has been terribly misrepresented and maligned. A sex cult or practice in the west and despicable black magic in the east. I hoped through this book to explore a little more of the edge of the philosophy of it, as well as other aspects of Hinduism. The vampire bit was just for fun – but it also raises and allows the exploration of some extremely deep concepts of the interaction of dharm, karm, the soul, after life and immortality. I have witnessed one or two mild tantric and anti-tantric rituals. I’ll stay mum on more than that. Honestly the research I did scared the living daylights out of me at times, and so far I have kept those rituals and experiences to a minimum in my writing.
We have seen a surge of books in the genre of romance for the past few years. What do you think is the USP of Anu Aggarwal which will make her more interesting than the other women protagonists?
I think women want characters they can relate to. Anu Aggarwal has a particularly interesting dilemma that while representing a lot that most Indian women go through, it does take things to a bit of an extreme. I am a strong believer that anything worth reading or writing has a touch of romance in it, even if it is not explicit. I think of what makes Anu unique is that she is complex, and she makes amazing mistakes, and for her the stakes involve the entire world. I am not sure if that makes her more interesting that other women protagonists, I never thought of it as a competition. She is a unique individual in herself, and I seem to have just begun explore the depths of her amazing nature, and her madness in words. Most of all what I love about her is that she takes matters into her own hands, even if that leads to strange and unfortunate consequences.
Though it’s too early into the release of your first book, there is a hint of a series to follow. Would you like sharing a clue or two with the readers?
As of now I view Anu Aggarwal’s story in this arc to be at least a trilogy. The world she operates in is a different matter. I am still extremely interested in her mentor, who has his own long, strange, wonderful and amazing history and journey. Many of the unique traits of which Anu has inherited. The next book in the series will follow the logical path of Anu’s flirtations with the unknown, and the consequences of choice and action. Her past which has been hinted, especially with her dead boyfriend will finally start to catch up to her, and she will find more and more that being involved at this level means that there is no black and white in the world. All decisions will cause happiness and sadness, and she needs to make them and live with it.
Adi’s Favourite Books
The Decameron Pretty Much Anything The Odyssey
Harry Potter Noble House(and related series) Interview With The Vampire
The Fault In Our Stars Lolita The Metamorphosis
The Dresden Files Lord Of The Rings
Basking in the glory of success, what projects are you working on at present?
Ha! I don’t know if I am “basking.” Being a new author is always rough. If you don’t keep thrashing around with arms and legs flailing, the world is liable to forget you. I honestly struggle with keeping together my professional, personal and author life connected together. On the basis of a promise to family members, I did not use my last name, or my professional and business connects when the book was launched. Projects encompass a vast variety of things, and my last few Facebook posts are documenting now some of those beyond being an author. As far as writing goes, I am hoping to come out with another short work of fiction by February of next year just before part two of this book comes out. I am always deeply afraid of being stuck in a single genre. If as an author I am not challenging my comfort zone and that of my readers, I feel I’m not really contributing much to the world.
MUCH thanks to Adi for scooping time for the lovely conversation with me and the readers. We wish you all the luck for your next ventures.
Readers, done with Author Adi? Now get to know a tad bit about the Other Adi.
- I love travelling. Last year I was in a different country almost every week. It was fun and exhausting, and I was perpetually worried about where I could do my laundry.
- I have a private pilot’s license, which means I can fly itty bitty airplanes around for fun, but not for profit.
- I consider myself a non-judgmental person, everyone has the right to their own life choices as long as those choices do not infringe upon the rights of others.
- I am a hopeless romantic. Truly and rather hopeless. I tend to write a lot of bad poetry.
- I love losing myself in things, places and people.
- I love ballroom dancing, particularly east-coast swing and the Viennese waltz.
Readers, I hope you liked the very first Author Interview on One and a Half Minutes. You can contact Adi on Facebook and Twitter (@dearAdi).
Hold your seat belts for more roller coasters very soon.