New Release: The Rakta Queen

It gives me a thrill to announce the launch of Anantya Tantrist‘s third adventure, The Rakta Queen, yet another rollercoaster dive into the supernatural underworld of Delhi.

Anantya Tantrist is all that stands between Delhi and the forces of darkness.

A Kaula tantrik is brutally murdered by his chandaali slave. The same night, a group of university students lose their minds and perform an orchestrated orgy in front of the Vidhan Sabha metro station. 
To get to the truth, Anantya Tantrist, unofficial consultant with the Central Bureau of Investigation, must navigate her way past muderous sorcerers, deadly chandaalis, an underground betting scam run by jinns, and a renegade aghori teacher.

Bestselling Indian fantasy series

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This book’s my favourite of Anantya’s adventures so far as it’s where she faces not only a formidable enemy in a fantastic supernatural world, but also her mother’s legacy, an ancient one, that falls heavy upon her shoulders. 

The novel touches upon themes I’ve been thinking upon recently, which include what it means to be a feminist today, what freedom and democracy truly mean to us, and about authoritarian structures and the kind of society we want to become. All this through a rollicking adventure that explores the rich folklore and mythological past of India. I loved writing it every part of this book and hope you enjoy reading it as much.

Media Reviews

Cult of Chaos is a crime-busting story unlike any other’ – Asian Age ‘The terrible, scary and horrific side of society is explored …’ – Economic Times

‘Supernatural thrills, horror tropes and enigmatic women in old havelis’ – Mint

‘Taneja sure knows how to get the readers hooked and hang in anticipation’ – Mail Today

‘Anantya Tantrist combines an illegal tantric, lost figures from Indian mythology and scary villains all battling it out in the Capital’ – The Hindu

‘Her protagonist is so well developed that she can have Twitter discussions with her’ – The New Indian Express

‘…the country’s first tantrik detective novel, which also talks about the key issue of women’s safety’ – Business Standard

‘Anantya is as sassy and independent as they come’ – Factor Daily ‘…engages and piques your interest at every level …’ – Deccan Chronicle

‘Edgy thriller’ – Mid-Day
‘Anantya transports you to another world’ – The Week

‘The series brings alive the subversive and subaltern possibilities of traditional tantrism’ – Deccan Chronicle 

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Guest Post: How to multitask as a writer

Kiran Manral is a good friend and a prolific author who multitasks in a normal life. She has published eight books, written countless articles, blogs and short stories and is actively involved in mentoring startups, speaking on stage, involved in curating literary events and handling an awesome family. So of course when she launched yet another book, I had to ask her how she does so many amazing things in one life. This is what she had to say. 


How do you multitask so much, someone asked me the other day.

I had no honest reply to give her, except the very prosaic, “With great difficulty.” If there was a camera fitted in my home, it would make for rather sedate viewing. Get up. 5.45 am. Get to the kitchen. Make the tiffin boxes, morning tea. Wake the offspring, pack him off to school, put the clothes into the washing machine. Now here’s where it gets a little more exciting. Get to the computer, switch it on. At this point this is the most hedonistic you could get. My fingers start flying over the keyboard. That, with occasional interruptions to answer doorbells, put clothes out to dry, deal with the domestic help, organise breakfast, lunch, dinner. Rinse, repeat.

I work from home. I also live life on rotorblades.

You might not see it when you look at me, sitting at my desk, morning to night, my fingers working themselves out to the bone. But at my desk, I have multiple windows open. I have the attention span of a gnat. And perhaps that’s what works to my advantage.

Multitasking, isn’t that what we all do, every single day, without really thinking too much of it. It is par for the course for most women. There’s a day job. There are time bound projects that come up. There’s the offspring and his demands. There are events to be put together. And there is the writing. I chortle when folks say they’re going away for a few months to write. I long for the luxury of doing the same, but I know that in the peace and calm of only myself and my thoughts, writing won’t really happen. What might happen is boredom.

My writing feeds itself on my daily frenetic schedule.

There’s been books that have been written in this chaos, like the dancing stars of the cosmos that emerge out of the chaos of creation.  My latest book, Missing, Presumed Dead, began its life as a novella five years ago. I kept going back to it, the word doc stayed open, tinkering, and tinkering, until it emerged a manuscript that became a 268 page book. Or as my protagonist in this book, Aisha, reflects, it is the everyday routine that keeps us stable. It is routine that is the font of creativity. Or as Gustave Flaubert said, “’Be steady and well-ordered in your life so that you can be fierce and original in your work.” It is the discipline of writing with everything spinning around you, that allows your creativity to be the eye of the storm.

Because the books get written while life and work happens, the window to the Word file stays open, it gets looked at in the breaks between work, writing becomes my break from work. Writing becomes my play. And that’s why I wouldn’t have it any other way, but to swamp myself with things to do, and then run away to find myself in my writing.

Event: Talk at Eurocon – Trends in Indian Fantasy/SF

Pinch me. I’m giving a talk at Eurocon.

I’m writing this in a train, looking out at a blur of a rainy French day. On my way to Amiens from Paris. Amiens is a small town in France, where Jules Verne was born. A town where this year’s Eurocon 2018 will be held this weekend, Europe’s biggest convention for science fiction and fantasy. I’m heading there to speak about Indian fantasy and science fiction and my work. The amazing titles that are coming out of my country, the debut authors who are experimenting with a desire to read more Indian speculative fiction.

It’s been a while since I’ve written a blog. There is a reason. (And this should’ve been another blog, but frankly I’ve become just too busy to write blogs. Hoping that would change soon).

Earlier this year, I said bye to my home for 10 years, Bangalore and moved house and husband to Zurich. It was in the middle of February and for a month, the only things I saw outside my window were cats and snow. I also met a lot of Swiss officials for the various paperworks it takes for two people to move in their 30s. (Yet. Another. Blog)

It gave me a lot of time to reflect and work. And travel. Quietly, without social media. It’s freeing, by the way, to have a hiatus from the online world. You should try it.

I managed to set up new home, finish my third novel in Anantya Tantrist series (another blog on that too. Soon. I promise), wrote a 20 page comic about Anantya, with a fantastic artist and three short stories which are going to come up in various anthologies around the world. I also travelled two continents, to a lot of cities and attended lectures in ETH in Zurich and MIT in Boston.

As I said, there’s a lot happening so I won’t write many blogs. Or maybe I will, because there’s so much I have to share! Well, I’m talking to a bunch of Europeans at the Eurocon. Telling them stories I bring with me to their country. Our stories. Wish me luck, peeps! I’ll tell you later how it all went.

Meanwhile, leaving you with a fantastic illustration done for Eurocon. See you soon.

 

 

Event: Factor Daily’s Sci-Fi Meetup in Bangalore

Each time you finish a new novel, you think you’re more experienced and will be able to write the next one faster and in a more efficient manner. Doesn’t happen. My novels are messy, individualistic creatures to whine and throw their own unique tantrums. And I love them (and at the same bipolar time, throttle them) for it.

All of last two months I have been hiding under a rock, rewriting and editing the third instalment of Anantya Tantrist mysteries to make it for my deadline. The good news is it’s coming out later in 2018. The better news is, I will be talking about it and my love of speculative fiction as a whole with Factor Daily, this fantastic online geek-out that you should check out if you haven’t already.

Do come over, say hello, ask us questions and give your thoughts on what you’d like to read in life. You’ll have to register for this event. Details below.


** We have limited seats, so do register. The event is free! Fill up this form to register –> https://goo.gl/forms/4b59fZSNxFv7j6b42

The much-awaited New Worlds Weekly on FactorDaily – #NWWonFD – Sci-Fi meet up is here again!
Whether you’re a sci-fi fan, an avid reader or interested in SF, then mark your calendars for an evening of catch-ups and conversations about all things SF/F with fellow fans and Shweta Taneja – SF fan, geek, journalist and bestselling author of the Anantya Tantrist mysteries.

Shweta Taneja will be in conversation with New Worlds Weekly columnist Gautham Shenoy, followed by a Q&A. You can read all the best of the NWW posts here –> https://factordaily.com/top-science-fiction-from-2017/

There’s also a cool – and short & interesting – NWW-based SF/F Quiz with some awesome prizes to be won. Not to mention all the goodies and giveaways that await you. Be there!

Saturday, January 13 l 5:30 pm onwards l The Bookworm, Church Street, Bangalore


 

How research into tantrism helped me find my mojo

“How much of the tantrism mentioned in this book is true?” a woman asked me at an event. She referred to my fantasy thriller series, Anantya Tantrist Mysteries, which has a tantric detective who fights supernatural crimes and is based in a world where tantric organisations run the supernatural world and liaison with the Indian government.

I opted for that cryptic babu reply: “It’s fiction but it reflects what’s real.”

Frankly, I was rather flattered. Here was a lady who had been in the spiritual business of things, attended congregations in ashrams across the country, was exposed to tantrics of all manners and she wondered aloud if the story, a book that calls itself fantasy fiction mind you, was based on true events or not. A whole year of in-depth research into the world of tantrism had paid off. Kaboom.

When Anantya Tantrist first came into my mind, as an urban fantasy series, I knew the 23-year-old was a tantric detective. After all, if you want to base a story in the Indian occult, the first image that comes to you is of a black choga-wearing villain who have an evil laugh, wears skulls while doing badly choreographed jigs and rituals that involve blood. Tantrics, in other words.

“Be careful,” advised my mother, upon hearing my new topic, “Tantrics can do jaadutona.” Continue reading “How research into tantrism helped me find my mojo”

7 reasons to add burpees to your exercise routine

Burpees are one of the hardest, most intense parts of a workout session. This sweat-inducing, explosive four-step movement involves squatting, thrusting, getting into a plank position and jumping. “It is a full-body exercise that helps develop muscle strength and burn calories,” says Kamal Chhikara, owner and head coach of the Reebok CrossFit Robust gym in Delhi. It engages all the major muscle groups like the arms, chest, quads, glutes, hamstrings and abs.

Our experts list some of the additional benefits. But do remember, if you’re new to exercise in general or 40-plus in age, don’t start it without a trainer—you could get injured.

Good for weight loss

The key to fat loss is keeping the heart rate high long enough to burn stored fat, says Vesna Pericevic Jacob, a fitness expert and founder of fitness centre Vesna’s Alta Celo in Delhi. “The burpee demands all your strength and power, utilizing the muscles from your feet to the neck and shoulders,” she says.

Continue reading “7 reasons to add burpees to your exercise routine”

Photos: Reading at a book crawl on a lazy Sunday

Love the idea of a book crawl, that is a pub crawl but you get drunk on books instead. You move from book store to book store to check out the novels, comics and other things on sale and to hopefully meet readers and people who are part of the love of reading. When Book and Brews approached me with their unique Book Crawl idea and asked me to participate, of course I said yes. This was the first reading I did from Cult of Chaos  and it was nice to see so many turn up on a lazy Sunday afternoon to hear out how I added in a tadka of tantrism into the book. Leaving you all with some photos.

(photos courtesy: Book and Brews, Darshan CG)

Shifting? Get help from a smartphone

Shifting to a new city comes with its own set of hassles. You have to find a place to stay, haggle with apartment owners, disclose personal information like whether you eat meat, stay out late, and how much you earn. Then there’s Wi-Fi, air conditioning, cable TV and other services to take care of. And that’s just the beginning. From getting furniture to figuring out food and modes of transport while handling work in a new city, the process can bog you down completely. We list a few apps that can help ease the transition.

Find a place to stay

Do you eat meat? Are you married? How long do you plan to stay? Save yourself these and other probing questions by simply renting an apartment from an online home rental company like Nestaway (Android, iOS; Nestaway.com). Search a place, visit it, pay a token amount to book it and move in. The house is furnished, with a ready kitchen, appliances and Wi-Fi, so you just need to carry your suitcases. Nestaway is available in Bengaluru, Delhi-National Capital Region (NCR), Hyderabad, Pune and Mumbai. Grabhouse (Android, iOS; Grabhouse.com), a Quickr company, provides services in these areas as well as Kolkata and Chennai. It offers what they call cocoons, aesthetically done apartments. Bengaluru also has the option of RentMyStay (Android; Rentmystay.com), which rents out furnished flats on a daily or weekly basis, for up to 11 months. Continue reading “Shifting? Get help from a smartphone”

The possibilities of the occult in fiction

How does one research into occult? In the climax of Cult of Chaos, the first novel of my tantric fantasy series ‘Anantya Tantrist Mystery’, the protagonist Anantya and her teacher, Dhuma, an aghori who lives in a cemetery, embark on a complex tantric ritual to call upon a charnel goddess, Shamshana Kalika, to the human plane.

The ritual called Shava Sadhana requires Anantya to sit on top of a corpse on a full moon night. I first came across this dramatic ritual in The Calcutta Review Volume XXIV written in 1855. In true Victorian Gothic style, the text explained that the sadhak, or the one who meditates, sits on top of a dead body, preferably a corpse of a chandala who has died a violent death, on a full moon’s night, so as to gain command over impure spirits like danavas, betalas, bhutas, pretas and other paranormal goblins.  

Image of the published article in Open 

While researching this scene, I sat on top of a corpse, all night, in suffocating darkness with Anantya. We touched the cold, clammy flesh of the swollen corpse and we felt blood pounding in our veins and hearts. Sitting on that corpse, waiting to connect with powers beyond the human consciousness, made me realise the ultimate truth of all human lives:   That the day shakti (alternatively meaning energy, prana, life, or soul) stops coursing through our bodies, we will cease to exist and maggots will consume the bodies we call our home. This relationship with death and life, expressed in such a dramatic, dreadfully mesmerising way, stays with me even three years after I wrote it.

Continue reading “The possibilities of the occult in fiction”

Interview: Sudeshna Shome Ghosh on how to pitch to an editor

If you are a children books author and appreciate editors, you would have heard of Sudeshna Shome Ghosh. A Bangalore-based editor, Sudeshna has worked in the Indian publishing industry for twenty years now. She started her career at Penguin Books India and moved to Rupa Publications and Aleph Book Company thereafter. During this time, she has published authors such as A.P.J. Abdul Kalam, Ruskin Bond, Sudha Murty, Subroto Bagchi, Derek O’Brien among many others and was responsible for managing Penguin India’s children’s publishing list, Puffin for four years before she started Rupa Publication’s children’s list Red Turtle. Currently, she is a consultant with Speaking Tiger Books and is building a children’s list for them.

In other words, she’s a treasure trove of inside knowledge of the publishing industry and me being the Curious Cat that I always was, used our friendship by asking her the most delightful personal, almost rude questions over tea at Infinitea in Bangalore. An excerpt

Q) You’ve just completed 20 years in publishing and the thing you said on social media was that you wanted to do it for another 20 years. What about this job keeps you here?

Let me see, where do I start…

There are many things, but the biggest, for me, is the feeling that my work is meaningful, that I am contributing to the creation of a reading culture in children. That the books I commission or edit, are good books that some kid somewhere is going to pick up, enjoy and think about. That, for me, is what keeps me going through some clearly mindnumbing bits, like reading proofs!

Q) Why did you become an editor? Why choose this career?

Continue reading “Interview: Sudeshna Shome Ghosh on how to pitch to an editor”