“An assertive and idealistic Princess, Abhaya meets the enigmatic Krishna Vaasudeva. A bereaved Dhatri, hounded by her own family is saved by Lord Bhauma. When subverted religion becomes a tool in the hands of power thirsty and strikes Bharatavarsha, the land of Aryas, Abhaya finds herself face to face with the impending doom”. ~~ Abhaya — By Saiswaroopa Iyer
What happens when a former IITian and venture capitalist, is also a self-confessed lover of Indian history , mythology , Vedic and associated literature, stories, and philosophy ? Well, this book Abhaya is all about author Saiswaroopa Iyer’s love & passion for this ever illusive world. And more importantly it is about some really critical driving forces that took her through.
A dreamer through and through, Sai Swaroopa and her childhood love for Krishna Vaasudeva grew with her. Abhaya explores one of the author’s perspectives of the Mahabharata and Bhagavatam through the eyes of the eponymous protagonist, a princess who is her window to the life of Krishna. It explores the episode of Narakasura Vadha from the Bhagavatam, a story that has varied flavors in various Vaishnava and Shakta legends. Abhaya is not about a God’s triumph over the devil. It is about the struggle between a civilization that is inherently inclusive and a religious cult that has taken an exclusivist and expansionist approach. Each side has its strengths and weaknesses in varied shades, driven by varied emotions. Abhaya delves into the social constructs, relationships and rivalries, ideals and emotions that drove the world into this conflict whose outcome we all celebrate as Diwali or Deepavali. The darkness is nothing but one’s fear shaping his or her personality while light is one’s faith or Vishvasa shaping his/her personality.
Strong points of ‘Abhaya’:
Swaroopa bases her literary responses based on her readers’ reactions. Based on the reviews that her book garners, she says that most of them love the strong female characters in her books, even if they are minor to the story. Swaroopa explains her style of writing as:
“My claim as an author is that I have tried to stay true to each character with a firm belief in what defined them. I leave it to the readers to establish what they liked and disliked because the book takes them through a whole world and not just through a one dimensional story.”
Balancing work and passion:
Weekends, late nights, and stolen minutes at work meant that it took four years for Swaroopa to give Abhaya its final touches. About balancing work and writing, she says:
“It would get frustrating at times, but my mother, my husband, and a few of my closest friends kept my motivation going through the tough times.”
Words of wisdom for aspiring authors:
Swaroopa is generous when it comes to advising aspiring authors. She has a list of things to keep in mind that will help you bring your work up to scratch:
- Have realistic writing aims. Don’t be too hard on yourself.
- Your job has a boss, team, and a salary to keep you hooked. But your writing has you and your passion alone.
- Lack of a day job does not mean that you can sit and type all day. Cultivate a discipline and follow the set deadlines and meet your personal targets. For example, writing 1000 words a day. The pace will be steady if you meet your personal goals.
- Shun the protectiveness you feel towards your characters, stay true to them, and let them carve their own story. At least for a little while.
- Cultivate a network of beta readers who will give you an honest feedback. Honest reader feedback is worth more than a professional opinion. It keeps you motivated.