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Thursday, October 20, 2016
Interview with author Mira Prabhu
1.What inspired you to write your book?
is the second of a trilogy of novels whose theme is moksha (Sanskrit word for ‘liberation from suffering’). (Please
My first novel, Whip of the Wild God: A Novel of Tantra in Ancient India, is set
in a civilization reminiscent of the ancient Indus Valley Civilization, and my
third, Copper Moon Over Pataliputra, is set in 300 BCE. I intended to
stick with historical/mystical fiction, but way back in 1999, my
Manhattan-based literary agent suggested I write a contemporary novel about an
Indian woman who had moved from East to West. Nothing happened until many years
later when I found myself marooned in a guest house in Rishikesh in northern
India: a wild festival raged all around me, keeping me captive in my suite, and
so I decided to sink my teeth into something that would engage my monkey mind;
in six months, I had written the first draft of Krishna’s Counsel.
a patchwork of a thousand tales I heard growing up in India and in the West.
The title/theme is inspired by the luminous advice delivered to Prince Arjuna
of the Pandavas on the ancient battlefield of the Kurukshetra by his charioteer
and kinsman, the Blue God Krishna. Arjuna does not want to fight—his enemies
are his own kin who have turned viciously against his family. Prince Arjuna
would prefer to offer himself to the enemy as a sacrifice rather than stoop to
destroying those who once cherished him. Then Krishna shows him a dazzling
vision of the cosmos and convinces the doubt-stricken Prince to fight the good
fight: in essence, Krishna’s teaching is that the spiritual warrior must never
give up the battle against evil—instead he or she must first decide on the best
course of action, and then pursue that action, disregarding the consequences.
my protagonist, is, by her own admission, a coward; she is literally forced to
fight her own battle against evil, and it is the brilliant teachings of all her
gurus who empower her to do what is right when she is confronted by a charming
man who could also be a conscienceless killer. A supernatural thread runs
through this work, for as a child I was imprinted with mesmerizing tales of the
paranormal. Sometime in my teens I learned about the brutal conversion of my
own community by the Portuguese Dominican priests and it sickened me; still
later, I was struck by the tragic story of a beautiful heiress who had been
victimized by a psychopath. It was a combination of all these elements that
went into the creation of Krishna’s Counsel.
2. What is it about?
is the blurb from the back cover:
you back to sleepy south India in the 1960s, right into the tumultuous life of
Pia, a rebellious and brilliant teenager whose world disintegrates under the
brutal sword-thrust of an eerie death. It is the loving gift of a magnificent
view of Eastern Philosophy—particularly a poignant scene in the Bhagavad Gita:
when Lord Krishna advises the quailing warrior Prince Arjuna to pick up his
great bow Gandiva and rout the corrupt foe regardless of the consequences—that
saves Pia from certain self-destruction. Many years later, now a gorgeous woman
living in frenetic New York City, Pia is tracked down and coaxed to return to
India to deal with an insistent throng of old ghosts. Then horror strikes
again, and she is compelled by supernatural agents to heed the timeless advice
of Lord Krishna as she finds herself on the trail of a charming psychopath who
will stop at nothing to kill her….
3. What do you hope will be the everlasting
thoughts for readers who finish your book?
suffused with the ancient teachings of Eastern Philosophy simply because these
serve as my raft on this often turbulent ride we call Life on Planet Earth. The
gifts of the Eastern mystics have become real tools to me, and I use them to
guide me through what was once a bewildering maze, and which has now turned
into a simple but profound path to inner freedom. As a teenager I read Hermann
Hesse’s Siddhartha—it both enthralled me as well as showed me a way to make the
best of my own life. Today I write to inspire myself and others on the inner
path to the heart; I write (indirectly) about my personal journey because few
women, especially in the East, have the good fortune to strike out alone into
the unknown and to grow from the many challenges that life throws at the
intrepid female nomad.
4. What advice do you have for writers?
To plunge into serious writing only if you are burning with an idea you
find yourself compelled to express, all the way from the glimmer of a concept
into its full and glorious flowering. Why? Because writing a novel in
particular is a long and winding journey into one’s own Self; it takes
commitment and courage to keep going, which is why your original idea has to be
so potent and compelling that it can keep you on track until you are done. I
know some writers churn out one book after another, but for me writing a novel
can take up to twenty years, which is what happened with my first. (I did seven
major rewrites during that time and was also travelling the globe in quest of a
spiritual and creative home, so I guess that is understandable!) For me a novel
should form a complex and beautiful tapestry and be embedded with poignant
messages—and to perform this miracle, one must commit to the process heart and
soul and never ever give up until the work is as smooth and seductive as a
5. Where do you think the book publishing
industry is heading?
Unless conventional publishing rising up the
challenge, I guess we will find even the best writers increasingly gravitating
to self-publishing. I myself had the good fortune to be picked up by a great
literary agency located in Manhattan, but while they did generate a lot of
interest in my first novel, as well as a couple of solid offers that later
evaporated, the agency could not sell my book since, being based on the
mystical truths of Eastern Philosophy, it was hard to fit it into a
conventional genre; after giving them more than enough time, tired of being swung
up and down like the proverbial yo-yo, I decided to self-publish. No regrets!
This way we writers keep our rights and freedoms and, while it is a little sad
that those of us without the means to hire a troop of expert helpers are forced
to wear altogether too many hats (which drastically cuts into creative time),
for me at least self-publishing is the way to go. Perhaps after I finish my
trilogy I will look for a great publisher to take on all three novels, but my
crystal ball isn’t as yet revealing what things in the industry will be like
then, so who knows?
6. What challenges did you have in writing your
Well, at the eve of the millennium I began
traveling in quest of a spiritual and creative base, and I guess you could say
that the lack of a creative womb was my major challenge; some may be able to
write on the move, but for me a cozy base and uninterrupted time is necessary
to producing a stunning piece of work. It was only when I moved into my own
home in south India and began to feel really comfortable that I was able to
finish my first and second novels, and also to make serious inroads into my
third. The lack of a base has been my only serious obstacle—I am never stuck
for ideas and can write in the middle of a raging thunderstorm!
7. If people can only buy one book this month,
why should it be yours?
Humans vary so widely in their tastes and
predilections that I, for one, would never presume to suggest they make Krishna’s
Counsel their book of the month. However, if a reader is interested in
how ancient and modern threads can coalesce in India today, in the beauty of
Eastern Philosophy as applied to mundane life, and in a riveting murder
thriller that will keep them breathless as it surges towards a powerful climax,
I would say, yes, yes, yes – buy KRISHNA’S COUNSEL!!!