Rashmi Chendvankar, the author of ‘The Rigveda Code’, talks about herself and her writing to us today. Right from its first page, her book ‘The Rigveda Code’ takes you into a magnificent world of adventure and romance; love and betrayal; and valour and weakness. And the book delivers beautifully on each of them. You can read my review of the same here.
Rashmi, first of all, I would like to thank you for giving us your valuable time. Let us start this conversation by telling us something about you.
I am a legal professional – a commerce graduate, a law graduate and a qualified company secretary with more than ten years of work experience. I currently head the legal and secretarial department of an IT company in Mumbai. My husband Lalit is also a legal professional and we have a 3 year old son – Sohum.
I am an avid reader with a keen interest in mythology / alternate mythology and ancient history.
It has not sunk into me yet… Writing was a fun process – I loved the day-dreaming, brainstorming that I did while writing the book. It took three years… Publishing was the difficult part. But it still does not feel like I am an author because my routine life as a legal professional continues….
Could you describe the mundane process of writing? Do you follow a regular routine?
Writing is not mundane when you are struck with a story… once your mind is fired, the words just flow, as if you are in a trance… But yes – an idea / a story striking you is more of luck. I guess ideas and stories come to you when your brain picks up random pieces from what you have read and seen over the years…
What would you say is your interesting quirk that only happens when you are writing?
I day-dream and may go into a trance… It’s difficult for me to grasp anything outside my self-created world…
This also happens to me in a milder form when I read an interesting book 🙂
It can be irritating for others who want to communicate with me when I am in the middle of my story sequence… So I wrote my book mostly at night and in the backseat of my car when I was alone…
Is there anything which has influenced your life and writing?
Books! Especially history – I even read non-fiction when it comes to history….
What was one of the most surprising things you learned in writing your books?
The fact that words flowed through me once the story was formed…. It felt as if they are coming from some external source and were flowing through me…. May be that source was within me only – but it was too deep to be felt and hence appeared to be external….
A story that can convey deeper meanings with simple words… without being preachy! It also has to be engaging enough to keep you hooked till the end. I love stories that can strike a chord with readers through its characters.…
Are there any occupational hazards of being a writer?
As I said, it can be irritating for others who want to communicate with me when I am in the middle of my story sequence… So I had to write mostly at night and in the backseat of my car when I was alone… So late nights, day-dreaming are some of the occupational hazards…
What do you like to do when you are not writing?
Reading good books and listening to music. I love listening to Hindustani Classical music – both vocal and instrumental… Playing crazy games with my son (3.5 years old) and having conversations with him is also a fun time for me…
Tell us some “Good-to-know” fun-facts about you. There must be some. What’s the most amusing thing that happened to you?
People who know me professionally cannot believe that I have written a book – in fact they don’t believe that a legal professional can be creative. One of my colleagues remarked that he expected to find phrases like “Notwithstanding….”, “Provided that…” (Legalese) in my book!
It’s a mytho-historical thriller based in 600 BCE. It picks up threads from the Mahabharat and ties them to an actual historical event of ancient India. The main character is an Indian warrior princess, who is set to change the political legacy of Ancient India. She unravels the mystery of a code left behind by a phenomenal man who existed during the Mahabharat era – I am sure the readers, especially Indian readers, would be able to guess who this phenomenal man is! The story has ample elements of drama, romance, battle-action and mystery. Though it is pure fiction – the geographical references are real. It’s not a retelling – it’s a fresh new story!
You have created so many characters. Is there one particular character who speaks the loudest to you? Does any of these clamour to be heard over others?
That character is undoubtedly the protagonist Rikshavi. But she does not shut out the other characters. I moved into the perspective of each character when I wrote about him or her…
What kind of research you generally do for your books?
It’s just one book that I have written J
It began with random reading first. When the story line struck me, I read up on the contemporary culture in India in 600 BC on the net. This included minute research on geographical locations, rivers, prevalent customs, eating habits, costumes, etc.
What, according to you, is the hardest part of writing?
Which part of writing do you enjoy most?
I hope that my book will encourage young readers to read up on the glorious history of Ancient India. Our history text books are extremely limited in their depiction of the history of India. We had an advanced ancient civilization beyond what is written in the history textbooks – a real one – not the one which exists in fables and legends…And the history of this ancient civilization is extremely exciting! Please note that I am not equating Mahabharat with actual history. I still consider that Mahabharat is largely a mythology…. I am talking about documented history of ancient India…
I hope to revive interest in this history through my book. I am sure that everyone who reads this book would feel a renewed sense of pride about this land!
What question do you wish that someone would ask you about your works, but nobody has so far?
How much time did this book take? It took three years!!! The story brewed slowly in the cauldron of my mind and in brainstorming sessions with a few people…. And my lone car travel to and from my office (in the backseat) gave me ample time to read, research and day-dream!
What are your future plans?
Nothing in particular. If someone asks me about my next book, the answer is: “I am waiting for the next book to happen to me…” In the meantime, I continue to read during my spare time….
Do you have any suggestion to help others become better writers?
Read! Enjoy reading! Words will simply flow when they have to…
And do not take writing as your sole profession – all the fun will vanish if you expect it to pay your bills!
What do you think is the future of writing?
It looks great – we have so many platforms to blog / publish our work…
Favourite Colour: Baby pink
Favourite Cusine: Indian (that itself covers a vast variety…), Italian
Favourite Book: “The Prophet” by Khalil Gibran and “Yuganta” by IravatiKarve
Favourite Author: P.L Deshpande (Marathi). I also like to read books by Devdutt Patnaik, Ashwin Sanghi and Amish.
Favourite Quote: “The possibility of a dream coming true is what makes life interesting” – Paulo Koelho – The Alchemist
Favoutrite Movie: Golmaal (old), ChupkeChupke
Favourite Actor: The Big B!
Favourite Actress: Madhubala, Madhuri Dixit. I also like our new feisty actresses – Priyanka Chopra and DeepikaPadukone
Dog or Cats: None!
Light or Dark: Depends on mood….
Tea or Coffee: Tea!
E-reader or Print Book: Print…
Ball point or Fountain pen: Ball pen…
You can contact Rashmi Chendvankar on her website.