Meet Anuradha Singh, author of ‘The Essence of Draupadi’

Prof Dr Shiv Sethi

The author of ‘The Essence of Draupadi’ Anuradha Singh, is a wanderer by heart. She calls herself a new age gypsy. She has travelled all across the country and says that the scent of the soil of India, the flora and the fauna that she has experienced, the rhythm of various rivers that she has listened to have enriched her in multitudinous ways.

Anuradha’s writings reflect her observations. The poems of her poetry collection, ‘Musings of a Wandering Mind’show her love for mountains, forests, picturesque villages and also mythology, which we can see through her long poetry Song of Life A poetic retelling of Mahabharata.

Anuradha calls herself a realistic writer and her stories and novels pen authenticity with societies and relatability with people

Quest1: The heroine of your first book, ‘Ira’, was a feminist, your new book has 12 women stories who are strong women, where would you go further from here?

Ans: I have not chalked out any plan for my writing journey as such. But I guess I would like to explore women and their experiences, relationships, their inner turmoil in more detail in my next book. But that would take some time as I have started working on my new book and it is of a different genre than what I have explored till date. Nevertheless, it happens very naturally that my every book has strong women characters even though the story revolves around a male protagonist.

Quest 2: Do you call yourself a feminist?

Ans: If voicing my thoughts, being a working woman, having a dialogue on different topics with people, having a difference in opinion, doing things independently, asking for a choice in different spheres of life is feminism then I am a feminist. But if burning bra, screaming at the top of your voice about equality, and wanting to step all over men is feminism then I am not a feminist. I don’t believe in this kind of feminism. For me feminism is all about being complementary to each other, respecting other gender. Our Earth, in its every element is made up of both the genders. Earth cannot function without its femininity as well as masculinity. So, if it is equally required in nature then it is equally required amongst us humans as well. We women or just the men cannot be there.

Quest 3: ‘The Mysterious Widows of Mehboobpura which was a realistic thriller, on the other hand you wrote Ayasam which was a historical fiction and had a male lead. why such a contrasting jump?

Ans: I had the idea of Ayasam going in my mind for a long time. But I was hesitating to do it. I was not sure if I would be able to do justice to such an ancient, vast and intricate topic. But then, I took it up as a challenge and completed it. I was out of my comfort zone while doing it. At certain places it was a struggle, especially while writing the war scenes but I didn’t stop to leave it as an incomplete work. I finished it so that the manuscript should see the day of light. If you will ask me, what do you like to write then it is surely realistic stories, thrillers. But I didn’t do it purposely. It happened because it was destined to happen.

Quest 4: Do you still write poetry?

Ans: Yes, I still write poetry. But, I have considerably reduced as I am presently concentrating on my new book. It happens with me a lot, when I start a new book, I stop doing poetry, I stop reading books related to other subjects and read only research material relevant to the book. It helps me to remain in the mood and focus of the new book.

Quest 5: How do you take decision to start writing a new novel

Ans: Like I mentioned before, I am a story teller, I like to tell stories, so I write them. I write realistic stories, my stories resonate with many, they have a vividness in them. When an idea wanders into my mind and I start seeing it with clarity, I picture the complete plot in my mind and then I start writing.

Question 6: What do you like to read? And do you get influenced by the books that you read?

Ans: I mostly read thrillers, historical/mythological fiction, slice of life, autobiographies. Actually, a wide range, leaving aside sci-fi and horror. Yes, I do get inspired although not influenced. I admire writers works. I am highly inspired by the writing of Khaled Hosseini. I am fond of all of his books, especially kite Runner and ‘The Thousand Splendid Suns’. My all-time favourite is Margaret Mitchell’s Gone with the Wind.

Quest 7: Why do we need retellings in mythology? Similarly, why historical fiction? Doesn’t it confuse people?

Ans: Why not? retellings are important, they remind people of our history. Although as children we have had learnt about our history and mythology. Our parents andgrandparents have told us numerous stories. It may happen that, while growing up we tend to forget some of them. And today’s generation might not have heard these stories. So yes, retellings are important, the more the stories are heard repeatedly more they remain in the memory of the people. Retellings are not confusing. Mythological fiction can be confusing for some. An informed reader will not get confused, but one must be able to discern between a fiction and a retelling.

Quest 8: Do you think it is wise enough to take up writing as a full-time profession in today’s times?

No, not at all. Taking up writing as a full-time profession is not a good idea, unless you have a back-up. Writing books cannot be your bread and butter, again I will add an unless. Unless you get a million-dollar deal, or a book to screen adaptation contract or your book becomes a national best seller, then you can drop your day job and be a full-time writer otherwise a big no.  Writing in today’s world is not an easy job. Books do not sell as before due to the sea of internet. An author has to put in a lot for his book to be sold. An author’s face is as important as his words. Its an uphill toil, a long journey.

Quest 9: What do you think about today’s trend of adapting books to large screen

Ans: it is a good trend. Since reading books is taking a back seat and it is an audio-visual world. The OTT platforms are in constant search of stories. The writers get a chance to earn some mullah and producers get some excellent stories and the audience get an author backed characters, exquisite stories to watch. So, it’s a win win situation for all.

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