Author Interview: Kavita Kane

Meet the queen of Indian Mythology.

No other way to celebrate my 5Oth post on WordPress than to have the versatile author and senior Journalist, Kavita Kane talk to us about her love for mythology, what inspires her and a little something about her no one knows!

You can read the review of her latest book Lanka’s Princess here: Review: Lanka’s Princess

Get to know the author: 

A senior journalist with a career of over two decades, which includes working for Magna publication and DNA, she quit her job as Assistant Editor of Times of India to devote herself as a full time author. A self-styled aficionado of cinema and theatre and sufficiently armed with a post-graduate degree in English Literature and Mass Communication from the University of Pune, the only skill she knows, she candidly confesses, is writing.
Karna’s Wife her debut novel, (2013)was a bestseller. Her second novel – Sita’s Sister (2014) also deals with another enigmatic personality – Urmila, probably the most overlooked character in the Ramayan. Menaka’s Choice(2015) ,another best-seller, is about the famous apsara and her infamous liaison with Vishwamitra the man she was sent to destroy. Lanka’s Princess (2016) is her fourth book based on Ravan’s sister, Surpanakha, the Princess of Lanka who was also its destroyer…
Born in Mumbai, a childhood spent largely in Patna and Delhi , Kavita currently lives in Pune with her mariner husband Prakash and two daughters Kimaya and Amiya with Chic the black cocker spaniel and Cotton the white, curious cat.

 

 

Interview:

  • Did your career as a journalist somehow inspire you to become an author? 
As a journalist I had written non fiction for more than two decades! I wanted to test my creative writing skills and gathering enough courage, ventured into writing a novel. That’s how my debut book Karna’s Wife came about. It was more about testing myself.
  • Did you always want to write on Indian Mythology? What has been your experience like as an author of Mythology?
Mythology as a subject greatly fascinated me while I was studying English literature when I came in contact with Greek, Norse and Celtic mythology besides the fact that I grew up on a staple diet of Amar Chitra Kathas! Another favourite subject was history so I guess somewhere down the line I unconsciously leaned towards mythology as a genre when I decided to write my first novel.
Mythology is a huge canvas where you can add colour without damaging the whole picture. It’s not about retelling ancient tales of God or simply about  good vs evil : mythology is a lesson in knowing about Man and his follies and fallacies. Holds true especially now.
I receive so many questions on my books and our mythology from readers aged 18  to 30 and I realise they want to know so much more. It’s a void they want filled by writers of mythology.
  • Tell us a little about your latest book, ‘Lanka’s Princess’.
As the title says it’s about Surpanakha, Ravan’s sister whom we rarely see as Lanka’s princess. She is that ugly woman whose nose got chopped off. Yet she is the one who started the war. She is the turning point in the plot and pushes  forward the second part of the narrative of the epic. Also, besides Ravan,  she is the antagonist of the latter part as was Manthara and Kaikeyi in the earlier section of the Ramayan.  Yet what do we know of her?
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  • Your books are always well-researched. So what’s the strangest thing you have ever had to research online for your book?
While researching,  I often find the way the stories in our epics and mythology are woven within another and this interweaving is truly amazing. It is like a maze and connecting the dots  is a challenge. For instance I just realised Shishupal and the Pandavas were maternal cousins! It keeps coming and I have to make a concerted effort to stop reading and researching and get down to some writing!
  • Of all the characters you have written about, which is your favourite and why?
Urmila! My first book was to be about her but not having enough research material on her, I started on Karna’s Wife instead. But Menaka was one of the more difficult characters to sketch, adding to her shades of grey yet not to make her dark and negative. She was a temptress, a consummate seductress who used her wiles to succeed, she was a mother who abandoned two daughters- certainly not the perfect woman, is she? Yet she fell in love with the man she was meant to destroy. She was the reason for the downfall and rise of the most powerful man. Must have been a remarkable woman and that’s how I portrayed her in my book Menaka’s Choice.
  • Describe your ideal writing space. 
Physically I don’t like to write on a desk. I find it confining. I just need a quiet room with lots of sunlight and greenery. Also I never write in the night. That’s when the ideas rush in!
  • What is something memorable you have heard from your readers/fans?
Each time a reader gives his feedback, I am truly touched. The most humbling moment was when Karna’s Wife was compared favourably to the classic Mritunjay. Or the moment when I received a hand written letter by a 90 year old fan hand delivered by his grand son! It was incredibly heart warming.
  • A book that had a deep impact on you.
Most books do so in some way or the other and  it would be unfair to name one.
  • Million dollar question, are you working on another book?
Yes!
  • Lastly, tell us something about yourself no one knows. 
I hate chocolate!
I feel extremely honoured to have Kavita Kane on the blog and had a great time interviewing her.

Review: Lanka’s Princess

“Words once spoken could not be redeemed, they were like inflicted wounds, the imminent scars lingering long.”

Author: Kavita Kane

Publisher: Rupa Publications

Genre: Historical Fiction

Pages: 298

Format: Paperback

Rating: 3.8/5

Kavita Kane’s novel, Lanka’s Princess, narrated from the POV of Ravan’s infamous sister, Surpanakha is a retelling of one of histories most epic tales, Ramayana. It is a story of war, death, hatred and vengeance. There are several questions that come in one’s mind. Was Surpankha an evil, blood thirsty woman who led to the tragic death of her own brother or lack of acceptance and love transformed a once meek and shy girl into a living monster? The answer lies at your understanding of the novel. I think books such as this one, leave so much to the imagination. I guess that’s what the author meant to do. Show us the state of the misunderstood Suparnakha.

Surpanakha’s childhood has been dealt with extensively, what she was like being born into a family of rishis and asuras, the circumstances that led to her change, and her ongoing battle with her mother that ultimately instilled revenge and hate. When reading the book, I felt various emotions for Surpanakha. It’s not whether her actions justified the bloodshed and loss but what forced her to take such drastic steps. In retrospect, she suffered a lot. Right from being neglected by her parents and brothers in her childhood to always competing for her parents love. Constantly trying to prove her worth but failing each time. People who were close to her left her. Her father left her after Ravan captured Lanka. Her grandmother whom she had immense respect for was killed. She lost her husband. Her son was killed. Her face was maimed by Lakshman. Suparnakha lived a life of pain and loss.

The writing is beautiful. The book is well researched and the descriptions are vivid making the readers travel into the ancient times. Kavita Kane is no doubt a prolific writer weaving intense emotions throughout the book. Although at one point the story reached a dry state but it was soon replaced with fast actions and the story kept moving forward. I haven’t read Indian Mythology much but it was a different experience. The characterisation especially those of the female characters was pretty impressive. The author through her powerful words made suparnakha speak out against the injustices. It was empowering considering the status of women in those times.

“Words once spoken could not be redeemed, they were like inflicted wounds, the imminent scars lingering long. A curse could not be renegaded: not even the mightiest spell could allay the power of the uttered word.”

Most people aren’t what they seem. History has always been a subject to fabrication. You can no longer decide what is wrong or right. Everyone is a victim of circumstances and what they choose to do is a reflection of their surrounding. Indian Mythology has considered Suparnakha to be the untamed, rebellious sister but the reality is very different. Kavita Kane’s novel delves into the psyche of Suparnakha and various other characters.

If you’re looking into reading Indian mythologies, Lanka’s Princess is a good book to start with.

Which is your favourite Mythology?

 

 

I received a copy of Lanka’s Princess from Writersmelon in exchange for an honest and unbiased review”