With the success of the second in his Peshwa series, The Peshwa: War of the Deceivers doing so well, Ram Sivasankaran is over the moon. As well he should, because his writing is captivating and borders on nostalgia. The man of the moment agreed to do a little write-up about his book and how he does it all. Here’s the story in the words of Ram Sivasankaran himself:
After an eventful autumn launch of Peshwa II – War of The Deceivers, where I have given several talks and interviews, and featured in a few publications, I find it almost relaxing to write a short monologue (if I can call it that!). I am reaching out to my readers, reviewers, patrons and well-wishers, by dividing the description of my writing into three sections.
The Peshwa Series – Why I Do It:
Everyone who has followed my work with the Peshwa Series so far knows my primary inspiration behind writing it. I want to tell the story of the great 18th-century hero – one who I personally admire – in a fictional form so as to arouse the interest of the average reader – a reader who does not particularly fancy nonfiction. My hope is that, once the reader is intrigued enough by the fictional tale I tell, they would then be impelled into doing their own research on the titular character and the galaxy of his or her surrounding protagonists and antagonists.
Thus would my twin aims have been met – having readers read my work, and, benefit somewhat from it by following up with their own research. The consequence of all this is a welcome one. We learn about some of the greatest sons and daughters of our country – they, whose legacies have largely been omitted, ignored or suppressed in the modern-day history textbook.
Ram Sivasankaran – Answering Readers’ Questions:
I would believe in using fiction as a tool to propagate the search for fact – something that comes naturally to many readers who have written back to me. Some questions I have enjoyed answering, and ones which my readers have answered for themselves are:
“Who are the Scorpions, really? Was there a real group like that?”
“I realize so-and-so lived a long and healthy life. Why did you kill him or her off prematurely in your book?”
“Were these really the weapons of those times? Was this really the currency of the day?”
“I read that this was the truth about this incident you mentioned. Why did you choose to tell it your way?”
This shows two things – the reader reads my books in full and internalizes the characters and incidents, and, they go about looking for facts on how everything actually came out to be, in real history. In fact, at the risk of sounding repetitive, I would say that this is not only my aim and method for my maiden series, but everything else that is going to flow out from my writing desk.
The Peshwa Series – What It Is:
It goes without saying that my story of Bajirao is both a brocade of fiction and fact. While the first book featured the young, idealistic hero who came of age, rose to an important occasion and triumphed against his adversaries, I must say that the second installment will have taken a more serious tone with a much darker tinge. I have contemplated using a more specialized genre to write under. While I would consider the first book to fall under the shade of historical fiction, I would hope that the second could be construed more as a historical thriller.
The Peshwa: War of the Deceivers – Ram Sivasankaran:
Bajirao, a hardened general and one of the greatest strategic geniuses of all time, reigns supreme as the commander of the most dominant military power of the 18th-century subcontinent. However, not all wars are fought on the battlefield and not all casualties are soldiers. Oftentimes, innocents are used as collateral and leverage to arm-twist adversaries. Just as the fires of conventional war ravage the lands, the Peshwa fights a covert war against his long-term nemesis, Nizam Ul Mulk, and the newly-installed Mughal Emperor, Muhammad Shah.
The Peshwa wins the days and the Mughals, the nights, in a seemingly endless cycle that drive both sides to more desperate and ruthless measures. But it would seem that the Nizam has the upper hand, right up to the very end, while the young Peshwa is surrounded by the former’s spies and assassins to effect a coup d’état against the power of Shaniwar Wada itself.
The conventional and covert wars between the flagging Mughal Empire and the powerful Maratha Confederacy draw others into the fray too – one of whom is an obscure princess from the land of Bundelkhand – a bold beauty known as Mastani. On the other hand, another valorous lady, Kashibai of Shaniwar Wada, consort of Bajirao, holds the reigns of Pune, in her husband’s absence, with remarkable tenacity and poise.
Some are forced to play guessing games, most are fighting blind, and all are deceivers in this tale of valor and cowardice, strength and weakness, treachery and fidelity.
What I, Ram Sivasankaran, Ask of My Readers:
Read my work, (hopefully) enjoy it, and don’t get too caught up on the fact vs. fiction debate if you already know the history well! But if you don’t, obviously, do not consider the book an academic work. The world has become a much smaller place than it was, where people can carry whole libraries in the palms of their hands. If you enjoyed the fictional read, try to delve a little deeper into the real-life characters in the story. Oftentimes, facts are stranger than fiction and real history is more fun to uncover, one layer at a time, than ballads, tales and lore. Happy reading!