A different journey

Preeti Zachariah
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Fantasy is lovely, it’s creating a world within a world says Janaki Murali, author of Gulu Naami and The Power of the Triad

Janaki Murali takes you on a phantasmagorical journey to the centre of the earth. Literally. Her latest offering Gulu Naami and The Power of the Triad (Partridge Publishers ) , the first part of a high fantasy series for young readers, dives deep in the bowels of volcano in the Bay of Bengal, unearthing quaint characters like the fire-breathing Mrigas, shape-shifting Bahulas, four-headed Gufiyas and the protagonist—the special unugly Gulu.

“I love fantasy,” laughs Janaki. “Creating a world in a world requires a lot of imagination.”

Janaki has donned many roles in her life including that of a journalist, columnist and a soft skills trainer but writing has remained a vital aspect of her identity through it all, “I worked as a journalist for 25 years before moving to corporate,” she says, adding she had just quit her corporate job to focus completely on her writing, “Stories have always been a huge part of me. I wrote even as a child and had published my first short story by 16,” she says.

And though being a journalist, “I did enjoy reporting facts but I also need to write creative stuff,” she says.

Her work includes short stories published in various magazines, The Colour of Dawn — a novel and Tender Tales — an adventure series for children that first appeared in a national daily she worked with.

Talking about Gulu Naami series, “It’s supposed to be for young readers but a lot of adults are also reading it. I think everyone likes fantasy. My book has an Indian setting — it’s set in a fictional place called Indus Nagari which is situated in the Andaman. I realised while I was doing my research that out of the 400 islands that form the Andaman, only 38 are inhabited which made it an apt place to base my story.”

True to type, this high fantasy novel has its characters flitting between the real world and a parallel universe and features the archetypal good versus evil battle between the hero (Gulu Naami) and his nemesis (King Rudra). However, unlike most Indian fantasy novels this one does not draw from mythology, “It has an Indian setting and I have used a lot of Sanskrit references but that is all. Most Western audiences find it difficult to associate with non mythology based Indian fantasy but I hope my book manages to challenge that perception,” she says. On future plans she says that a single book doesn’t do justice to fantasy and she is coming up with the second part of the series soon. She also plans to foray into poetry, though she says she is more of a prose person.



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