31 January 2008

Interview: Sonja Chandrachud

Taking fancy to fantasy

Sonja Chandrachud, whose new book on the wizard world –The Potion of Eternity, released in Pune recently says how J K Rowling’s Harry Potter has opened doors for several other fantasy writers.

“One of the best things that emerged out of the success of J K Rowling's Harry Potter is that it has allowed several writers with similar interest and capabilities to explorer the genre of fantasy,” says Sonja Chandrachud, whose book, The Potion of Eternity – ‘a hilarious haunting adventure’ as she calls it, released and made it to all leading book stores recently.
Having traveled to several parts of the world, Sonja says she didn’t feel the need to ‘Indianize’ her story. “These names and places just came to my head and they seemed right, so I went ahead with it,” she says, adding that she was looking at a certain universal appeal for the book.

The story line is a rather simple, one that is filled with powerful scorcerers, yogis, vampires and witches. In that sense, anyone who is familiar with The Lord of The Rings or Harry Potter won’t feel timid to go along with this little escapade. So what’s it about? The Wizard Organisation Worldwide(WOM) finds its magic potion –one that promises eternity to the children of wizards- contaminated. Count Drunkula Von D’eth is entrusted with the potion and he goes underground with his large crazy family to conoct the Antidote and brew a fresh lot the Potion. But things aren’t easy, considering he’s up against some serious black magic and an enemy right in his house, all trying to pinch the potion from him. On the home front, things are worse, what with him having to contend with his hot-headed Indian tantrika wife and her sharp-tongued, revolting mother-in-law.

Within the genre of fantasy, this isn’t a terribly novel plot and neither do the Count’s enemies comes across as defined but it still has its strengths. For one, this is a wonderfully racy book, a quick read. Secondly, the author succeeds a great deal in creating interesting characters like the well -meaning but harried Count, his loyal but irascible Indian wife, Sinistra, who walks out on him angrily when she cannot cope up with the pressures of his job and handling her Twins. The most inspired bit of characterisation here is that of her mother-in-law Hag. “All the characters that you see in the book are inspired from my own life. I have twins in real life and even the mother-in-law’s character is hunderd per cent real,” she says laughing.

Coming back to her choice of genre, she says, “I have always been drawn to the genre of fantasy and let me say that it has always existed even before Harry Potter. J K Rowland herself was inspired by Eva Ibbotson’s book, Secret of Platform 13. Eva also wrote WhichWitch, a story about a Whizard looking out for the right witch to marry. Then there have been writers like Rold Dahl who have also dabbled in the genre. Indian itself is a treasure trove of these kind of stories,” she says.

Fortunately for her, publishers Penguin liked her manuscript when she approached them. “You have to play it by their rules –wherein you cannot call them once you submit your manuscript, they will get in touch if they like it. But things worked out well for me. No changes were suggested at all and the book has been marketed quite well as you can see,” she says.
But for the average person, looking to get their book published, she agrees it’s still a struggle in India. “We have no literary agents here, so it’s always difficult. My husband was there to support me, so I could go ahead and work on a story. But in any case, eventually, I do see myself turning my writing into a full-fledged career,” she says.

In fact, Sonja has already started work on the second part of what looks like a series now.
Based in Pune, the author had a rather interesting book reading session, preceded by a dramatised performance of the story at Crosswords recently. The interest that the event elicited clears shows how interest in the world of wizards is at an all time high among children.


Nikhil said...

Ah jes. I think I can relate to what she goes on about.

You planning something?

janaki said...

hey sandhya,

did she not tell you that there's a wicked witch bookstore owner in the sequel ? :)

Anonymous said...

i am looking for an author from India (school)to write about, and Sonja's name just seemed to jump out at me! how cool is that?

Anonymous said...

i mean, its so cool that harry potter inspired her to write. heck, harry potter inspired me to write! ill definately look for Ms. Chandrachud's books at the library!!! :D

Anonymous said...

yeah, harry potter's cool. and her books sound likeable 8]

Anonymous said...

ms. chandrachud sounds like a good author.

Anonymous said...

;) i like fantasy.
>wink< >wink<

akshay said...

hi im akshay frm magarpatta city public school n i met u there n i wan't 2 read the nxt book wich ur goin 2 write ni can't wait for it

mohit said...

Must be an enjoyable read The Potion of Eternity: A Hilarious Hauntings Adventure by Sonja Chandrachud. loved the way you wrote it. I find your review very genuine and orignal, this book is going in by "to read" list.

Anonymous said...

The latest book Full on Fashionista is ABSOLUTE TRASH !DO NOT waste your money on such crap !