Shweta Taneja is a fantasy author, comic writer and journalist based in India speaks especially to Bookaholicanonymous. She's written seven books and two hundred articles in a career spanning fourteen years. She's a Charles Wallace India Writing Fellow and was shortlisted for Best Writer Award in ComicCon India for The Skull Rosary. Her graphic novel Krishna Defender of Dharma is part of CBSE and Kendriya Vidyalaya Recommended Lists. Her novels include Ghost Hunters of Kurseong, the bestselling Cult of Chaos an Anantya Tantrist Mystery, and How to Steal a Ghost @ Manipal.
How would you describe the genre you write in? What/who inspired you?
So far I’ve experimented with horror, high fantasy, noir, urban fantasy, science fiction, and neo-mythology. I think the genre remains consistently what is called speculative fiction, a kind of umbrella encompassing fiction with supernatural, paranormal or futuristic elements.
Having grown up on Indian mythology and folklore, the best kind of fantasy there is, I’ve always nursed this desire to recreate myths to reflect on our modern society. There are many modern authors (details below) who continue to inspire me in this genre, however, the main inspiration is the desire in me to explore what the society calls the others, the ghosts and monsters, and see what it says about us. Speculative fiction is a fantastic way of showing a mirror to the society on ‘who’ we are becoming, what we have become.
Tell us something about your female protagonist in 'The Matsya Curse' your last book?
Anantya Tantrist is a 23-year old tantric detective in Delhi who takes on cases of supernatural crime and solves them using mantras, potions, sass and magic. She’s a colourful, adventurous, reckless, expletive-spewing, beedi-smoking character who roams the streets of Delhi at night, dealing with whatever may come her way, human or not-so-human. She has had some hard choices to make in her past and chooses to be a tantric, though in her world, female tantrics is an illegal profession. Her character is what I would like to consider completely opposite to the ‘Ideal Indian Woman’ construct and so she constantly clashes with society, its traditional structures and roles laid out for her gender to choose and find freedom for herself.
Tell us something about your earlier 4 novels?
I am a medium swapper and have written novels, graphic novels, comics, and short stories for both adults and children. My graphic novels include the international bestseller Krishna Defender of Dharma which is a 200+ page saga of Krishna’s life and has been recommended in both CBSE and Kendra Vidyalaya’s reading lists. The Skull Rosary, another graphic novel for YA on Shiva’s dark side was nominated for ComicCon India Best Writer award. My novels include Ghost Hunters of Kurseong, which is a mystery based in the hills of West Bengal; How to Steal a Ghost @ Manipal, a series of short stories bind by folklore of the Western Ghats and the Anantya Tantrist Mysteries, Cult of Chaos and The Matsya Curse, both tantric thrillers based in a fantastical Delhi with Anantya Tantrist as its badass detective protagonist.
How have your readers responded?
The readers have loved it so far. I get a lot of emails from readers who are surprised by the Anantya Tantrist series. They say they haven’t read anything like it before, something that gladdens my heart.
Who are your all time favourite authors? Why?
Reading is necessary for learning the art of writing. Each and every author I read teaches me something, in the art of storytelling, in the style of expressing oneself using the tool of language. I’m a voracious reader and pick up anything from fantasy, science fiction to romance or high literary or non-fiction. My favourite though, remain in the realms of fantasy. Masters like Stephen King, Neil Gaiman, Terry Pratchett, Douglas Adams, Ursula Le Guin and Octavia E Butler. I’ve learnt so much from each of these writers and keep learning everytime I pick up their books again and again.
My next few months will be spent finishing up the third of Anantya Tantrist’s mysteries. I also have an unfinished science fiction novel on my table which has been calling me for attention. I think I need to give it some love and affection for it to become a beautiful tale.
Visit her website: www.shwetawrites.com
Here’s wishing for many more novels from Shweta! Good Luck!!
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