“The thing about a story is that it picks you. You don’t pick it,” says the author of Dark Things. Spending her childhood in a big house in Kerala, Sukanya Venkatraghavan only had her imagination to keep her company and was therefore always drawn to the fantasy genre.
While the major part of her novel revolves around a love triangle between the three main characters, it was not the initial focus of the author. “When I was writing, I wanted the book to be more about identity, betrayal and choices. Ardra, the main character of the book, is a girl who is confused and has to make some very difficult choices and is very identifiable. She represents everybody who has had to make tough choices and has had to struggle with making an identity of their own. But most people who read Dark Things informed me that their takeaway from the book was love,” says the author sounding surprised.
“It wasn’t disappointing, it was actually eye-opening because I have never seen myself as a romantic. But love was an inevitable part because the characters called for it,” continues Sukanya.
Another concept that is new to the book is the presence of a female antagonist. “Most fantasy books that have done well in the west like Harry Potter, have male antagonists. But in my book, the protagonist and antagonist are female and I didn’t even realise it until I was done writing! It was completely unintentional but I like how it turned out.”
Sukanya lived in Kerala when she was young and that’s where her fascination with mythology started. “Yakshis are a huge part of Kerala folklore and I grew up hearing tales about them. My grandparents would tell me mythological and folk stories every evening, so I had to incorporate them into my story but gave them my own spin,” the author says about her first book.
“There are a lot of words that people might recognise from Indian folklore, but their characteristic traits are totally different. I think that’s what sets my book apart from the rest of the mythology or fantasy genre,” says the author who feared that her book would not be read by anyone.
“That’s a legitimate fear all writers experience. We read our work over and over again and get bored. So there is hope lost in between. The toughest part of writing is to keep going, in spite of all of these constant fears nagging you,” says the author who also admitted that she deleted 40,000 words from her draft in a fit of desperation.
“But managed to restore them and ended up even using around ten thousand words,” concludes the writer who has already worked on five chapters of her new book....