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Of myths and fantasy

Author Sowmya Aji’s book draws from fantasy and old folk tales

July 26, 2017 06:01 pm | Updated 06:01 pm IST

The cover of Sowmya Aji's book 'The Wall'

The cover of Sowmya Aji's book 'The Wall'

The legend of Kamadeva, the god of love plays a central role in journalist and author Sowmya Aji's latest book, The Wall , that draws from folk and classical stories. The book was launched in Bengaluru recently at Bookworm bookstore. Talking about the book, Sowmya says, “The book is a mix of mythology, horror and fantasy. I wanted to write it as I felt the story. India has so much mythology and folk tales. I was trying to get the feel of the stories I heard as a child and apply them to life.”

She adds, “Some of the strands in the novels are made up by me. Some are reworked elements from various folk tales. I have taken tales from all over Karnataka. I have tried to blend all of them. The book saw more than 27 drafts and the language changed with each draft. I have also used many Kannada words in the book.”

Sowmya contends, “One of the challenges I faced was presenting the Kannada sensibility in English. We have had translations of Kannada works in English, but I have attempted something new in The Wall , which is an original English work with a Kannada sensibility. It has been a learning experience for me, often because I use words that would be just fine in English, but would not make sense for a village girl from Karnataka to use! I have tried to find a middle path that would make sense all round in this book.”

Was there any specific reason for Kama to be the protagonist of the tale? She says, “Kama, in my mind, is the root of all life. Desire marks all change, all progress. It also marks all destruction. Negation of desire is a common thought that all philosophies advice to attain Nirvana. I have tried to look at all those elements. The first draft of the book was written in 1996.

“I undertook multiple revisions, aided by the advice of prominent writers and publishers I interacted with. I returned to the book in 2004. I feel that it is very different from the usual mythology tales we have been used to.”

She adds, “Most of the writing was done at night. It helped me balance my writing with the day job.”

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