Jash Sen’s novels The Wordkeepers and SkySerpents are part of a mythological trilogy, meant for all age groups

Jash Sen’s love for writing, mythology and thrillers took shape in her debut novel, The Wordkeepers and its sequel Skyserpents. The Wordkeepers has a mix of characters drawn from both The Ramayana and The Mahabharata. Anya, a carefree teenager, is left with the mantle of wordkeeper, when her mother is abducted. In another village, a teenage boy Bilal comes to know of a prophecy that he is a messiah, which he initially doesn’t believe, but when he finds his friend killed because of mistaken identity, he is forced to take stock of the situation. Anya and Bilal have to find each other and destroy a common enemy in pursuit of them.

It was when The Wordkeepers turned into an 11,000 word story from a 3,000 word short story that Jash decided that “this would be one big book”. Skyserpents was recently launched in Crossword Bookstore in the city. The novel has a gripping plot and hooks the reader for its well-paced narrative. The novel follows Anya and Bilal in saving the earth from the powerful god Kali, who has the deadly Skyserpents as a formidable weapon. The novels, Jash says, are meant for every age group. “College students have loved the book. And the oldest reader is a 73-year-old.”

Jash chose to write of lesser-known mythological characters. “I did not want to write the standard Ram and Sita stories, because then the scope of wonder would be limited. I have always been obsessed with the Chiranjeevis. I read and re-read up on them. I knew the book had to incorporate Kalki by definition. Dhoomavati, for example, is not worshipped by all. She is worshipped by people who want solitude. I wanted to make her a fancy character. I wanted to give her an existential dilemma. She wonders, ‘Why should I care? But I am still a goddess’”, says Jash, a DU and IIM graduate, who worked in IT and has even taught mathematics.

Jash decided to spin a story around Anya and Bilal, characters who she says were waiting to be written about. “It was in December 2010 when I was in Calcutta. This kid, Anya, from a normal background made her presence felt. And she wouldn’t go away. Bilal’s character came to me fully formed. Anya would be this urban, impetuous child. Bilal would be very calm and love cricket,” says the Kolkata-based author.

Jash says sometimes her dreams lead her to write graphically described action scenes, one of her fortes as a writer. “I have action-packed dreams. I have sword-wielding dreams. For a while, I let them go. Then I when I was writing, I thought, ‘why not put it down’”.

The various narratives and sub-plots are neatly stitched together in both her books. “I have been told as a young child, I was a very good storyteller,” she laughs and continues, “I love cliff-hanger endings. I am a life-long fan of Alexander Dumas, he’s all about plot. I am also a huge fan of Philip Pullman. These authors have not compromised on plot and pace,” concludes Jash, who incidentally likes Bourbon biscuits, bookstores, libraries, watching films, especially thrillers, and well-stuffed armchairs.

The Wordkeepers and Skyserpents are Duckbill publications.