Thursday, October 20, 2016

Interview with author Mira Prabhu

      Krishna’s Counsel

1.      What inspired you to write your book?
Krishna’s Counsel is the second of a trilogy of novels whose theme is moksha (Sanskrit word for ‘liberation from suffering’). (Please check out: 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.

Krishna’s Counsel is 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.

Pia, 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?
Here is the blurb from the back cover:

Krishna’s Counsel sweeps 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?
Krishna’s Counsel is 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 powerful dream.

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 book?
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!!!

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Brian Feinblum’s views, opinions, and ideas expressed in this blog are his alone and not that of his employer. You can follow him on Twitter @theprexpert and email him at He feels more important when discussed in the third-person. This is copyrighted by BookMarketingBuzzBlog 2016 ©.
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