Indian author Ravi Shankar opens up about his latest fiction-thriller book ‘Return of The Brahmin’.
Fiction happens to be compelling in nature. It makes the readers invested in the storyline while taking them into a world of mystics and mystery. No matter how much fiction one reads, one can never have enough of it. Among them, the stories that have a mythological background always break the ground. Having to imagine a world that belongs to a different era and reading about the characters that emerge from the struggles of that world takes the readers on a joy ride. Author Ravi Shankar‘s book Return of The Brahmin is the newest addition to the world of fictional thrillers.
The author created an enthralling world in his new thriller Return of the Brahmin. The story is set in the era when Ashoka became the ruler, Magadha. It talks about the exploits of Ashoka’s former spymaster, the Brahmin. Brahmin is also the second most important political figure in the Ashokan empire. With exceptional world-building and a beautiful description of the whole era, the story explores another threat that the king faces. Talking about his book, Ravi Shankar had a chat with us.
Here’s what Ravi Shankar had to share:
How would you summarize your book ‘The Brahmin’?
A great spymaster, now wiser and weather-beaten. A powerful emperor embarking on a Holy War. A vengeful villain’s final throw of dice. A gorgeous empress with a terrible secret. A mysterious prisoner guarded by sightless warriors. A seductive vishkanya with a private agenda. Two beautiful mercenaries. A desperate dancer. A doomed sorcerer. This novel is an Indian historical thriller told for an international audience. The format, ethos, idiom, imagery, and dialogue in Indian thrillers today are regrettably too local to connect worldwide.
When writing a fantasy story set in a different era, what kind of research did you do?
I researched geography first, since language, customs and costumes change according to country and century. Then came architecture, city plans, trade and commerce, officialdom, titles, weaponry, and food habits. Weapons require separate research as do religion and cults. Magadhan India was when Buddha and Mahavira were battling it out for supremacy. In the absence of available material, I did take liberty with costumes and recipes in ‘The Brahmin and The Return’. Writing a period thriller is fun because in 300 BC the world was discovering itself and so many cultures were exchanging influences, values, and tastes. Persia, Greece, and India were where everything was happening at that time.
What according to you is the best recipe to build a gripping spy story?
Raymond Chandler said that if you are writing a thriller and you’re stuck, have someone with a gun come in through the door. Great advice but the formula for success cannot change, you must have a strong plot involving power, love, and revenge. You need at least three powerful characters, including the villain. The story must be laid out on a great canvas where a core value is at stake and the world or the country is in danger. The canvas can even be an intense relationship between two people, read ‘Embers’ by Sándor Márai. Dialogues must be snappy with good lines and turns of phrase. Tone down the sex, it’s distracting. And above all, look for interesting tidbits during research.
What is your favorite part of The Brahmin’s universe?
The Brahmin’s relationship with Ashoka. Both are equals, yet one is the king. They are best friends, but one is the master. Ashoka sees himself in the Brahmin, what he could have been, honorable and loyal, but cannot be because he is a ruler with an empire to govern.
Are you a fan of fiction? Who is your favorite fiction writer?
Yes, I read a lot of fiction. But it isn’t fair to say that someone is a favorite. That’s simply impossible. I love Daniel Silva, Satyajit Ray and Vikram Chanfta. But one can’t be better than the others.
We have seen various fiction books being adapted into TV shows. What are your thoughts on that?
Endemol has bought the Brahmin. Let’s see. But some books don’t work as movies. But I’m glad it has got Indian thriller writers recognition.
If your book gets adapted into a TV show or a movie, who would you like to see as The Brahmin?
Russel Crowe. Rana Dugubatti. Aamir Khan.
What are your top 5 reads that you’d recommend to our readers?
- The Cemetery of Forgotten Books series by Carlos Ruiz Zafón.
- Homer’s The Iliad
- The Giordano Bruno series by JJ Parris
- The Artist, the Philosopher, and the Warrior by Pail Strathern
- All of Henning Mankell’s works
(And of course, always read Shakespeare and the Mahabharata.)
Are you a fan of fiction? You can check out Ravi Shankar’s book on Amazon.