Shubira Prasad on mythology, writing and demonic forces

The team of Mumbai Live got in touch with Shubira Prasad to talk about her latest novel The Demons of Jaitraya.

Shubira Prasad on mythology, writing and demonic forces
Credit: Om Publications

Educationist Shubira Prasad’s latest novel ‘The Demons of Jaitraya’ first in the trilogy of thrillers is the much hyped-up book the set in the current times. The team of Mumbai Live got in touch with the author to understand what went into writing this fantastical epic.

1. From being a school teacher to a writer, what motivated you to make this transition?

Ans. I was already teaching literature and writing on and off for various journals too. I am also an astrologer. My interest in the Hindu epics and literature went side by side. It was a naturally smooth transition.

2. What kind of literature did you like reading while you were growing up?

Ans. I am and was so fond of reading that I would read anything that I could lay my hands on or was allowed to. In Hindi, I was very impressed by Munshi Prem Chand and Shivani and other such writers. I had more exposure to English literature. I read everything from Ruskin Bond to Somerset Maugham. I also read modern-day spy thrillers. I have been very fond of reading classic English literature, some of them being Jane Austen, Jeffrey Archer and Salman Rushdie.

3. In the case of ‘The Demons of Jaitraya' what came first, the plot or the characters?

Ans. I had been toying with the idea of Indian warriors from the epics destroying the evil energies that still roam about sometimes in the physical form and sometimes just as negative energies. To give more body to this idea, I gave different powers to different characters. The plot unfolded gradually and the need for more characters came up. Since the demons were manifold, the characters too had to be more than one or two. Once you have started and woven a plot and built characters, the plot enlarges, and more characters are added. It is a task for the writer to maintain the whole story as a coherent entity. If anything goes out of proportion, the book becomes boring and the readers lose interest.

4. You have inculcated mythological characters such as Rama and Ravana with newer fictional characters by the name Aishani and Adheesh. Who are they and how important is their role in the story?

Ans. The base of the story is the Ramayana, but the characters are from the army of the great King Rama. A king is as strong as his army. I have borrowed some warriors from this mighty army and brought them to the present to face the hibernating demons who are gradually coming out now.  Before leaving for Vaikunth, Bhagwan Ram had entrusted the destruction of the rest of the demons, to his faithful and trusted warrior Hanuman.

To annihilate the mighty demons, real power is needed. Human beings never stood a chance against the demons. It had always been Devtas or Gods against the demons. Now in this Yug, we have humans against the demons. Aishani and Adheesh are the main characters to annihilate the demons. They have been soul partners from ages. They are blessed by Gods and Goddesses for this purpose. They also have a team of warriors which protect them and assist them. These warriors too are in possession of special powers.

5. What is the most difficult part of writing a mythological thriller?

Ans. Mythology is so old that it cannot is proven. It is only our faith which keeps it going. On the way, some parts get enhanced and some get distorted. But there is no smoke without fire. Hence the moot point has to be a character from the epics or a weapon or a warrior or a demon. It is this search which is time-consuming and sometimes difficult. This is where fantasy steps in.

6. You believe mythological stories are true happenings and demonic forces resurface on this earth periodically, can you please elucidate on this?

Ans. This entire world is Bhagwan’s Maya. Evil in any form is as important as goodness. How do we know what is good if there is no evil to counteract it? When demonic forces recur, the whole world comes together to counter it, whichever way it can. In the case of The Demons of Jaitraya, it is a set of humans with special powers. Quite a few demons at the time of the great war of Ramayana had escaped and hid or gone into hibernation for centuries. They are gradually coming out according to their pre-fixed timings in different centuries. Not so with our human warriors. They had to die and take birth again and again to confront these demons. Demonic forces and their destroyers (positive forces) have always co-existed and will continue to do so. It is not possible to imagine anytime when only one of these forces existed. It was true in our mythology and it is true in the present times. Nothing has lost its relevance. This conflict will continue forever.

7. When it comes to mythology, a lot of research work is involved, how much time did it take for you to research and formulate the basic structure for the story?

Ans. Research is the main factor, especially if it is a mythological fantasy based on the epics. In my case, there had to be a demon which had its roots in the Hindu epics. It could be either a descendent of the demon or the demon himself/herself after hibernation, the power he had, the boons he/she had extracted from the Gods or the great sages. Then we have the humans with special powers who have to, sometimes resort to using the divine weapons to kill a demon or demons. In retrospect writing the story was the easiest part, research was everything.  

8. The Demons of Jaitraya happens to be the first book in the trilogy. What are your plans for the next two books?

Ans. The story cannot end with only one book. It is an unending adventure. Even three books will not be enough. The way things are it seems the world is getting infested by demons and negative energies. The line between the good and the bad is increasingly becoming blurred. I have tried to introduce a warrior from outside the country, who was so restless in his search, a search which led him to India where he ultimately finds salvation. He could have been an Indian warrior in his previous births, or he was genuinely attracted by the Hindu way of life, I leave it to the readers. Nobody on Earth is blessed or cursed for eternal life. One has to go through the cycle of birth and death. The only way to continuity is to take rebirth and through children. The warriors too will grow older, get married and have children. We will have to see whether their children to have their parent’s powers or not. Maybe there are alternate worlds too.

9. What did you find particularly challenging about this novel while writing?

Ans. When I began my book the rough plot in my mind was the clash between demons and warriors. So far so good. One book will have approximately twenty chapters, each chapter of about four to five thousand words. A couple of chapters can go in introducing the team members, the location, and the surroundings. That meant that one had to find at least eighteen demons and the weapons, human or divine to counter them. Again, it was a matter of all-consuming research.

10. Writing can be a draining and an all-consuming job, what advice would you like to give aspiring writers who want to write a novella?

Ans. Writing is just not sitting and banging on the keys of the typewriter, though that too is a big job. I would advise you to put your thoughts in order first. Think of what you want to write about, then put the thoughts on paper, find your characters, location, their backgrounds etc. This itself will give enough impetus to go ahead. And lastly is to write every day, even if it is just a couple of hundreds of words. If you persevere, inspiration will strike.