Editor’s Choice Award: The Daughter that Bleeds

Proud to announce that The Daughter That Bleeds, a short story I wrote, that has been published in The Best Asian Speculative Fiction 2018, has been awarded the Editor’s Choice Award. 

All of 2018, as I prepared The Rakta Queen for publishing and moved countries, I’ve been busy typing away hilarious, maddeningly weird feminist speculative fiction stories. The Daughter That Bleeds was one of them and it was a glad moment for me when it got selected for this prestigious anthology. 

About the anthology

The anthology has been published by Singapore-based Kitaab and comes with over 40 stories from 16 countries in Asia.  

The Best Asian Speculative Fiction

Editors: Rajat Chaudhuri & Zafar Anjum (Series Editor)
Format: Paperback (Ebook not available yet)
Imprint: Kitaab
Published: 2018
Subject: Fiction/Short Stories
ISBN: 978-981-11-8528-1
Buy at Kitaab Store (for Singapore & global deliveries)
Buy here for deliveries in India

Between singing asteroid stations with a secret, and chilling visions of dystopia, between mad sorcerers with an agenda and time-travelling phantoms perplexed by the rules of afterlife, this volume of stories offers a unique sampling of flavours from the infinite breadth of the Asian imagination. If science fiction, horror, and fantasy are the genres you swear by, but miss Asian voices and settings, then this anthology is your oyster. Call these stories speculative, sff, or by any other name, they are really tales well told, and they always take off at a tangent from the big, blustering ‘real’. Here the imaginative spirit is aflame, casting a rich lovely light. Tales from sixteen countries of Asia plus the diasporas. Freshly minted, told by seasoned writers and new talent—a smörgåsbord of Asia’s finest speculative imagination.

Excerpt: The Daughter That Bleeds

He had to sell his daughter today. If that didn’t happen, he would have to go back, take fresh blood samples, apply again to the State Auction Bank and wait.Or worse, sell his daughter in the black market, for the money.

“Never,”he whispered. “My blood’s real. My daughter is bleeding for real.” Unlike thatSardar Singh and those geriatric peddlers. Bystanders, jobless, coming to the marketplace day in and day out dragging their barren daughters, forcing them to try surgical methods or potions or medicines in a desperate need to make them fertile. Empty-pocketed, infertile idiots! They just couldn’t afford it. Oh yes, he was going to make a sale today, no matter how.

Buy at Kitaab Store (for Singapore & global deliveries)
Buy here for deliveries in India

Comic release: Obsolete Baby

So excited to announce release of “The Obsolete Baby”, a whimsical and darkly funny short comic short I scripted that deals with giving birth and our obsession with technology. Illustrated by artist Kavita Nambissan, it releases in Ground Zero fourth volume by MetaDesiComics

It’s an all women creator anthology and kind of answers a question on where are women artists when it comes to comics. Other than my story, the anthology includes Blond Bonanzas – a surreal and potato-filled journey into the unknown, written by Simona Terron and Aishwarya Tandon; Batperson and Kitten, a mini-comic full of fun, written and drawn by “Suki” and Manjula Padmanabhan, and a neurofuristic to-be-revealed-title by Ridhi Batra and Tanushree Majumdar. 

The whimsical 80s feel in the cover
As well as the story cover. Isn’t the suit so cool?

I’m pretty excited about this. Grab a copy at one of the ComicCon India booths, or online.

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.

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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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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


 

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)

Event: Occult quiz and book launch in Delhi with Samit Basu

Let me repeat that again. Samit Basu. Yes, the superking of speculative fiction in India has agreed to come to my book The Matsya Curse‘s launch and discuss all things fantasy, Indian occult and why a certain percentage of us are obsessed with dragons and spaceships.

Thrilled, absolutely dont-pinch-me-let-me-dream thrilled to tell you all about this event.

There will be book launch of the second of Anantya Tantrist series, an occult quiz with prizes to be won (believe me when I tell you, you’ll need all the brains you got), followed by a discussion on the Indian fantasy between Samit and me. In between somewhere there are snacks by HarperCollins and a few other freebies. So come off only.  There’s no reason you’ll want to miss this one! Connect with everyone else on its Facebook events page.

 

Event: Occult quiz and book discussion in British Council, Chennai

I’m finally heading to Chennai with the occult quiz. It’s been a couple of years since friends, fans and quiz enthusiasts are asking me to bring the creepy occult quiz to them. So i’m so so excited to announce this.

It’s tomorrow, 5-6pm at the British Council, Chennai. You can RSVP to Susan: susan.chettri@britishcouncil.org or on the Facebook event page. Needless to say, come over peeps. It’s going to be super fun.

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Event: Author as librarian at Goobe’s Book Republic

What happens when an author becomes a librarian? As far as I remember, I’ve always wanted to be a librarian, or own a bookstore and have harboured a dream of sitting in one, selling and recommending books to readers like me. I actually do that, in airport stores, or bookstores on weekends, lurk, and suggest people what to read.

I’ve always had this fantasy of recommending books to readers. The kind that I like, that are full of spaceships, monsters, supernatural and a tadka of ghosts.

I will be hanging about for a few hours, sitting on the cashier seat, recommend the books and authors I love reading, sign my own books and talk to customers in a role-play of being a librarian.  So I fixed with the amazing Ravi, at the indie bookstore Goobe’s Book Republic, to make my fantasy come true. For a few hours on Saturday, I will be womaning their desk, recommending books to readers, indulging in long conversations about favourite parts of favourite authors and selling and signing books! 

There’s another reason. A dire one.

In recent years, a few of my favourite indie bookstores have shut down across the country. All these stores, run by passionate people, couldn’t sustain because of competition from either chainstores or online stores.
It’s heart wrenching for an author to see bookstores where she has spend years, to be so unceremoniously shut down. I think where reading is concerned, indie bookstores are the best way to encourage people, through one-on-one interactions, listening to readers and keeping a quality collection.

Which is why I hope this little event brings in more from the community and sales. Goobe starts it, but I hope to do this, build meaningful relationships with indie booksellers and readers in other cities too. After all books should be a way to love, exchange, laugh and celebrate reading.

Come over, if you’re around in Bangalore, want to read something new, and say hello.
DAY / TIME: July 1, Saturday, 4.20pm to 7.20pm
Say yay on Facebook page.

Photos: How to rock a book launch at the British Council Library

My latest book, The Matsya Curse, was partly edited at the Chichester University, where I was for three months, on a Charles Wallace India Trust writing fellowship, galavanting, interacting with authors and teachers and basically learning so much.  That’s the reason when it came to the book’s launch I decided to approach the British Council Library, Bangalore for it.

And oh, what a launch it was!

There’s still a heady hangover from it as I am writing this. There was a quiz, done by geeky spouse Ashwani and friend Prasad which was won by 11-year olds. I knew about four questions from the total fifteen and Leighton, the head of Bangalore BCL mentioned that he didn’t know any over Twitter. The quiz was followed by an excerpt reading from The Matsya Curse and then a conversatino between me and Samhita Arni. Sam was wonderful with her questions, well-read and covered all aspects of the book, be it tantrism, feminism, Indian mythology in fantasy or how much time it takes to write a book. Phew. What wonderfulness.  Leaving you with a few photographs taken by the fab photograph and friend Darshan CG. Now back to planning more quizzes for you. Look out this space for announcements.