Event: A graphic reading party in Bangalore

A reading party, a rather modern phenomenon of people coming together and being introduced to a genre or to read together, silently, sitting in a pub or a cafe, is a wonderful idea. Which is why when Gathr approached me for this event, I was quite excited. It’s happening this Thursday in Bangalore. I will be doing a talk on my love of comics, showing people the books I have, read other people’s collection of graphic novels and mostly celebrate the Indian comics genre. I hope there are more reading parties like this, that people sign up for and more and more people pick up Indian-made comics. Come over, peeps, if comics are your kind of a thing.
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The fifth edition of our odd juxtaposition of reading and party finds us focusing on modern Indian graphic novels, a genre that is really finding its feet. We’ve curated a set of some of the most interesting new works available for your reading pleasure. Continue reading “Event: A graphic reading party in Bangalore”

The Matsya Curse is out for pre-order. Yay!

It’s called The Matsya Curse. And it’s here.

Am superbly thrilled to share the cover of my latest book with you all. Anantya Tantrist is back. And so is this adventure, which is crazier than the last one.  The cover’s been done by the wonderful, wonderful George Mathen. (Read about how I convinced him to do it here). And well, it’s out, it’s coming and I’m going gaga and have lost the art of writing a bit. On preorder now.

Tantrik detective Anantya Tantrist is back, smart-ass comments, dark mantras and all

In Banaras, Bhairava, a black tantrik, sets out to win control of life through mass murder, aided by an army of pretas. In Delhi, a tribal supernatural melts to death in a five-star hotel on the same night that an ancient demonologist is murdered. All this while, the government and the Central Association of Tantriks choose to look the other way and gods, demi-gods, immortals and rakshasas all join Bhairava’s army.

All that stands between the murdering bosses and the hapless masses is unofficial detective Anantya Tantrist, armed with a boneblade, a tote of mandalas and a cocky attitude. Just as she begins to see a pattern between a goddess selling art, a miracle-producing minister, an undead mob attacking a rock concert and her immortal friend throwing a tantrum, Anantya faces her most personal hell: her ex-boyfriend Neel has come back from the dead and is trying to kill her. He’s not the only one, of course. A powerful rakshasi wants her head, a pair of demi-gods wants her blood and the trolls are trying to squash her to pulp.

She cannot even sleep off the exhaustion, because each time she drops off, Bhairava invades her mind, trying to consume it. Join Anantya as she faces her most formidable enemy yet in the ultimate battle for her mind and her city.

“A remarkable tale,” says Anand Neelakanthan, author of Asura and Bahubali.  Please to pre-order and read.

Looking at speculative fiction beyond mythology

Is speculative fiction beyond mythology possible in the literature coming out from our country? Till now, most of the speculative fiction that has come out of the country (even mine) has been heavily inspired or uses characters from our rich Hindu mythology. I take the topic head on in this talk at the LitFestX. This video is from 2015, so a little dated and since I’ve spoken there, there has been a lot of amazing books that have come out in the genre, but I’m adding it now because frankly, at that time, I lost track of things and never added this in my blog. See if you’re interested in hearing my thoughts on the topic. Have thoughts, disagree? Add to the comments below.

Media Mentions: HT Brunch, Scroll, Bangalore Mirror

Last few months, got a few journalists asking me to give a quote for a lot of interesting stories they were working on for their media houses. Listing down my absolute favourite ones! This is more for my reference than your reading, but go ahead and read it if you’re looking for interesting stories around storytelling.

Shattering the idea of feminism with wit – Bangalore Mirror

This was a fantastic story that talked about new age women in all careers who are trying to face-off chauvinism, patriarchy and bigotry with humour, wit and a slice of lemon. I loved the story, though I didn’t have to say much I’ve always struggled with the idea of feminism and what it represents in India (aka feminazi) though I bet Anantya would disagree.

 

Who I want to see at Jaipur Literature Festival – HT Brunch

Douglas Adams! That’s who. Imaginethe author of The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy  coming down to Jaipur with his massive wit and observing the whole gamut of the festival and the bustle crowd around literature without a book in their hand. He would have a blast, I tell you.  I loved the answers of others in this too. Read the whole article online here.

Reared by the wolves – Firstpost.com

Firstpost did a great article on why we remain fascinated by the human child that grew up in the jungle, aka Mowgli. I got to add my two bits along with Ashwin Sanghi and others.

 

“Shweta Taneja, a speculative fiction author and a Charles Wallace Writing Fellow, offers this perspective: “I feel the idea of growing up in the wild, away from social norms, is tied up to having a re-look at society and what construes social norms and civilisation. When a character grows up in the jungle so to say, his/her perspective to our society is fresh, explorative, almost child-like in its curiosity, innocent and simplicity. This kind of storytelling is a way to explore the society that we live in from a fresh, almost innocent perspective. The writer, who is invariably city-based and grew up in the civilised environment looks at the jungle/forest space as something which is chaotic and dangerous, but at the same time has codes that are untouched and untainted by the civilized codes.”


Have a story you’re doing? Write to me. I would love to give in my two bits.

Year end and so much to be thankful for

Time is a thing of beauty. There are moments it trickles, slows down enough that you can hear your heart beat, beat by beat. There are flashes when time zooms, taking you on a journey full of laughter and glee. That’s how my 2016 went. Flew by, waited tiresomely and pondered. So I just want to list down the things I was thankful for.

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Made new friends

Beginning of the year, I shivered and learnt from Booker Prize winners at Chichester as a Charles Wallace fellow. Gave a talk in London. Worked on three books simultaneously, editing two and writing a new one. Learnt how empty it feels when you finish a project you’ve been with for years. Wandered in loneliness and heard myself. In the process, hung out with new people and made new friends.

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Learnt about failure

The book I started, refused to come to me. I lacked the skills for it and had to park it. I learnt to breathe and learnt about patience. I learnt to let things go. Attended a wedding in the middle of July in Delhi. Roamed on the streets. Found bugs with nephew and saw them through a lens so we could appreciate the beauty in their wings.

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Did things new to me

Saw a zebra running wild and a lioness being licked by her cubs. Found how hard it was to plant a tree. Launched a book and became a hybrid author. Started a new book, which I’m halfway through as I write this and am hoping to finish. Joined an ATM line, two days after demonetisation was announced and read a book on my Kindle. Joined two startups as their communication advisor.

All through this, I made many new friends and spent time with my old ones. Wandered the streets, chattered over filter coffee and green tea. Heard stories, nodded in empathy and danced away the nights. I’m so thankful my year went so beautifully.

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As you read this, I’m off somewhere in Madhya Pradesh, with my closest buddies, doing what I do to recharge my creative batteries: Walking, hiking and listen to collective wisdom on the road. I’ll come back with new stories, probably of ghosts, woes to share, ideas to write down and more things to be thankful for.

Have a wonderful year end, peeps.

Read, learn, make new friends, be merry, share laughter with strangers, fall in love, learn a new skill, slow down, get fit, plant a tree and listen to what it says to you. Take your life away from gadgets and make time for the people you love. For we won’t be here forever. And remember to be thankful for everything the universe has given you. Oh, and keep having that tea with Mad Hatter.

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Come over to Bangalore LitFest to swap ghost tales

I’m heading to the Bangalore LitFest this weekend for a fantabulistic workshop. The thing that excites me the most. Ghosts! What else? Come over peeps, swap tales of the paranormal and share your experience of the supernatural. Listen to kids and adults as they share their stories and even write a letter to a ghost you always wanted to chat with. Oh the best part? It’s free for all!
Head to the bangalore literature festival for a chat with ghosts!
Details:
Age: 9+ (courageous parents can join in)
What we will do: Have a paranormal experience to share? Or love to listen to stories that chill and thrill? Join author Shweta Taneja in our spooky circle and listen and write some scary tales.
Time: 45 minutes
This session is part of the Children Literature Fun @ Bangalore Literature Festival.

Call 9945799224 for details or head to its Facebook Events page.

The media on my latest novel on Manipal

I’m always both excited and panicked when a new novel is launched. It’s out there, with a lovely cover, and you don’t know if it’ll do good or sink in, if readers would enjoy it or frown while reading. It’s panicky, but then what’s an author’s life without it? Sharing a quick listing of all the lovely interviews, reviews How to Steal a Ghost @ Manipal, an ebook which got published with Juggernaut has received so far. It also stayed in Top of the Charts within the app! Yay!

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INTERVIEWS

“A young student turns into a paranormal investigator to impress her boyfriend.” – Best subhead  found at Asian Age along with a rather lazy, old photo of mine.

asian-age-mumbai-2016-10-19 Continue reading “The media on my latest novel on Manipal”

I stole a few ghosts from Manipal

It’s a paranormal adventure, full of romance, jealousy, gadgets and ghosts, set in the beautiful university of Manipal. And it has the craziest name you’ve heard of. Welcome to my latest title with Juggernaut Books. Tadaaa!

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The only way Twinkle Kashyap can win Rohit Dandi’s heart is by becoming the best paranormal investigator in Manipal and stealing a few ghost-catching tricks from retired professor Susanto Das. But when a string of mysterious murders complicates things, Twinkle is forced to dive deeper into the supernatural world than ever before. Can she solve the cases and get a happy ending?

Buy now: Juggernaut Books App


I’m so delighted to inform you of this special book. I wrote it squeezed between two parts of Anantya Tantrist series and almost shelved it.

Thanks to a lot of encouragement (Uthara, Suki, Saba, Ashwani, Indra, Kanishka, Anchal, I’m looking at all of you), I edited it again and again till it became what it is today. And I’m so glad to see it getting published. For the protagonist, Tinker, deserves it. She’s a first year student in Mechtronics in Manipal University, full of hope for her future and love for a senior. It’s her adventure with the dark side of Manipal that you’re going to read. And how she stands up to the challenges she faces. I’m proud of the 17-year-old. For what she achieves. I would personally recommend this book for anyone above the age of 13. It’s published with Juggernaut Books, which is a mobile ebook publisher, so the only way for now to read it is on your smartphone.

If for whatever reason you can’t read it on the app, write to me and I’ll send you a e-copy or a PDF. I would rather Twinkle’s fantastical adventure is read by everyone who loves to read paranormal tales.

Buy now: Juggernaut Books App

 

 

 

Talking about Indian comics in London

I’ll be giving a talk on Indian comics at the Cartoon Museum in London later this week. This post is about how it happened. It’s a good story, do read it!

Early in May I attended a workshop on British comics, full of comic scholars in London, led by the marvellous Paul Williams from Exeter University. There I was, in bustling, sunshine-y London, closed off in a small room with twenty scholars, who had brought along old comics from the 40s, 50s, 60s, 80s – all decades really. We discussed on visual imagery in war comics, what British identity means, and many other important things. And I didn’t miss the outdoors, which says something about the comics, the activity and knowledge that these fabulous scholars presented there. But I digress. What happened in lunchtime is what led to the talk.

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We munched on fried fish, aalo pakoras (you read it right), spring rolls and quinua salad in the pub while talking comics and then headed back to the Cartoon Museum, which is where this workshop was happening. It was a 10 minute walk. While walking back, I happened to accompany Anita O’Brien, the curator at Cartoon Museum and then of course it being comics, I started yapping about my love of comics and how there are so many talented artists doing fantastic things in India and how she should do something about it here in London. She told me she’d commissioned the World War I graphic novel with Campfire. I told her the artist, Lalit Sharma, was a good friend. We found out we knew more than a couple of other artists from the industry.

‘You should do something more on Indian comics here!’ I cried, my head buzzing with ideas.

‘Why don’t you do it?’ she asked, calmly.

‘Me? Do what?’

‘Talk about Indian comics,’ she said.

‘Oh,’ I said, rather eloquently.

And that’s how it happened. Before I knew it, I’d asked Jason Quinn to ask me the right questions in this talk, who was sweet enough to agree. We will talk about comics coming out from India, some of which we love, some which we don’t, swap tales, talk about my work and his and anything else we feel like really. We have the stage after all.

If you happen to be in London and would like to join in the joy ride, come over. It’s a free event and you’ll get to hear stories about comics. What can go wrong with that? All you need to do is register yourself by sending a tiny email to the Cartoon Museum at shop@cartoonmuseum.org to reserve a seat. It can be a sentence long, really. I don’t think they have a word limit to it.

Finally, the moral of the tale (for there’s always a moral): Always walk back from the pub and always yap about the things you love. 🙂

Hope to see you there!

 

 

 

How to write an application for a writing fellowship

Am so thrilled to share with all of you that I’ve just received the Charles Wallace India Trust writing fellowship for speculative fiction. Yup, speculative fiction. You know the one which has monsters and aliens and spaceships and rakshasas and cool things that stay away from the so called ‘serious’ writing? Which means I get to write science fiction stories (the new book I’m planning post Anantya Tantrist’s third book is finished) and get to attend creative writing classes and meet faculty and students and gorge through the folklore library at Chichester University, all at the same time. Ain’t life fun?

Though I applied for the fellowship, I’d never really thought I would get it. And I’m still surprised, since I’d applied for a science fiction writing gig. There are a few friends who helped me shape the application (thank you Samit, Ajitha, Seema, Ranjita, Uthara) which got the thumbs up from the kind faculty at Chichester  (that’s a shout out for you, Stavroula!). And there are a few things I learnt while writing the application. Which is why this blog. I hope readers who’re applying for fellowships/scholarships and don’t know where to start, find some guidance here.

1) Have a project in mind

Don’t start with ‘I want to go for this fellowship’, start with ‘I want to write this book, this story, or work on this project.’ Have a clear vision on what exactly you want to do. I don’t mean know what you want to write or create, for there will never be so much clarity on that, but have a strong idea on what kind of story you want to create, what project, so you can express it as clearly in the proposal. I waited for four years to apply for any fellowship, for I wanted to be sure the project I wanted to work on needed it. The science fiction project I mentioned, needs me as a writer to learn more on the overall Sci-fi genre, to read more, to be exposed to well-read faculty, facilities and ideas.

2) Do your research Continue reading “How to write an application for a writing fellowship”