3 pm, Nov 09 Nov 09, 2012
On his book series 'Krishna Coriolis'
Ashok is an internationally acclaimed author. His Epic India Library is a lifetime writing plan that aims to retell all the major myths, legends and itihasa of the Indian sub-continent in an interlinked cycle of over 70 volumes. This includes the Ramayana Series, Krishna Coriolis, the Mahabharata Series, the contemporary thriller Blood Red Sari and other works. His books have sold over 1.2 million copies in 12 languages and 56 countries worldwide. Join him in the IBNLive-HarperCollins authors' lounge for a vibrant interaction on his book series 'Krishna Coriolis'.
19 questions answered
- You were very active on Twitter, and then suddenly, you had deleted your account. Could you share your reasons why? Thanks! Asked by: Abhinav Agarwal
- Ashok Banker Hi Abhinav, I love writing much more than I enjoy social networking. With the number of projects I'm working on, I simply couldn't handle social networking as well as writing and family and personal needs. Also, I'm one of the only authors who is one hundred percent accessible to my readers - over 41,000 have corresponded with me to date, many have kept in touch for decades. So I had to choose. And I chose to keep writing books and staying in touch with my readers directly. :-)
- Can you shed light on the scheme that you mentioned in the foreword of Vengeance of Ravana, where you talked about linking all your works that are in 4 different categories, all together? Thanks Asked by: Swagat Sinha
- Ashok Banker Well, that foreword says it all - as you know, Indian mythology or itihasa or even history is all inter-connected. It's simply not possible to tell the Ramayana without referring to Vishnu, of whom Rama is an avatar, and if one speaks of Vishnu then his next avatar (amsa, actually) was Krishna, and Krishna in turn is a major protagonist of the Mahabharata, and so on... My goal is to keep retelling all these great epics in one massive story-cycle which I call my Epic India Library. It's quite simply an attempt to tell the Story of India. :-)
- Please release a print version of Sons of Sita! I have all the others in the Ramayana series :( Asked by: Swagat Sinha
- Ashok Banker Swagat. Sons of Sita has been released and is available from all good online bookstores. It was actually completed in 2005 but the previous publishers apparently had no interest in publishing Indian authors so they let it remain unpublished for years. It's now out in stores and I launched it in Delhi just last week. Happy Reading! :-)
- Hey Ashok, What was your inspiration behind Krishna Coriolis? How did you think of writing these books? Asked by: Sunaina Kaul
- Ashok Banker Hi Sunaina, that's a short question which requires a big answer. But short response: as I've replied to Swagat in this chat a few minutes ago, my attempt is to retell the Story of our great Indian sub-continent, and as you know, all these stories are interlinked. So the Krishna Coriolis is a natural part of the greater story that includes the Mahabharata, Ramayana and other puranic epics and itihasa.
- I can read about Blood red sari on the information here, but cannot find the book. What is it about? Asked by: Shakti Naresh Gupta
- Ashok Banker Blood Red Sari, book one of the Kali Rising series published by HarperCollins India, is a contemporary action thriller series which is the first in the world to feature an all-female cast of protagonists. It is an action-packed story with a strong political plot. All four books have been completed by me, as I always do before the first in a series is published, and Blood Red Sari will be in bookstores in December. I launched it in Mumbai last week at the Literature Live festival. :-)
- Writing about women, sex and relationship is quite tough! It's hard to marinate yourself into society, specially when You are a female, write erotic fiction, people consider you to be of pervert mind, men approach you to drag you into bed. Being an erotica writer. how should I manage? How to take criticism? Were you also being demoralized by your environment? how did you fight and managed to publish your book? what/who motivated you? Please Guide what should I focus on the most? Thanks Asked by: Budding Author
- Ashok Banker Firstly, let me say that sex is natural, innocent and healthy between consenting adults. Erotica is a beautiful expression of that natural physical and emotional bonding and it is an integral part of our Indian literature. The Ramayana by Valmiki is one of the most erotic works - Valmiki's descriptions of Sita and other women characters, or even male characters, has to be read in its original to be believed. Nobody would dare to write so boldly even in erotica today! So never be ashamed of your genre or your writing or even your own sexuality. We are all sexual beings and that is part of what makes us who we are. Having said that, publishing erotica is now much easier with online publication possible and thanks to the wonderful success of the Fifty Shades trilogy which I celebrate with great glee. I'd rather see more good erotica published than this horrible young adult fantasy genre, which is absolutely dreadful. Focus on writing well, writing stylishly - sex is the same everywhere, it's how you describe the sexual union that makes it unique. Remember we care more about a story when we care about the characters. First build character, make us care about them. Then let the sex happen naturally. Ignore all criticism but learn to edit and evaluate your own work honestly. I write erotica too and it is the hardest genre of all to write well. But it is even harder to read for perverted minds. It takes a very great intellect and intelligence to be able to appreciate good erotica. Never be ashamed of it yourself.
- Ashok, congrats on the entire series. My kids and i love reading it. How many more are coming out in this series? Till now i have 5. Asked by: Naina Kumar & kids
- Ashok Banker Hi Naina, thank you for the kind words! I had a contract for 8 books with HarperCollins and they have all 8 manuscripts with them and are editing and publishing asap. However, there is still a LOT more story left in the Shrimad Bhagvatham and Harivamsa and I could frankly write about 4 more books, taking the total to 12. Whether or not HarperCollins can publish that many will depend on them and of course, on readers like yourself! Thanks for your support. My best to your kids too. :-)
- HI Ashok, Love your storytelling! What would be your prime concerns if your a book your wrote was going to be filmed? Asked by: Prosenjit
- Ashok Banker That they should be able to make a great movie out of it, that's it. As a scriptwriter with knowledge of all aspects of the medium, I know that a movie must work as a movie first, which often means recreating the story for that medium. IMO, the LoTR films are far superior to the books, and as we know, that's a rare exception. I also think that it's important to find an original way to film an ethnic story. Too many people mindlessly spout, 'Indian LoTR' which is such BS. We don't need an Indianized copy of Peter Jackson's great epic. We need to create our own template, just as the Chinese have done so brilliantly with films like Hero and Red Cliff which are no less than a Ramayana and a Mahabharata, respectively. The day we Indians stop trying to ape the west and create our own cinema, we will have audiences the world over watching our films.
- That sounds interesting Ashok. I'm really looking forward to it. You should write for movies. All the best and keep the books coming Asked by: Shakti Naresh Gupta
- Who is your most favorite author? What inspired you to start writing and how do you sustain the momentum while writing? Asked by: Bhaskar Maji
- Ashok Banker I don't have a single favorite author, but I do have a top 100 at any given time. After reading over 18,000 books it's not possible to have favorites, it's like picking out a single drop from a river. Life inspired me to start writing but good books showed me how to do it. For me, writing is as simple as breathing - actually, it's simpler, since I was born with a condition that makes me have to consciously make myself breathe (or I stop breathing, literally) whereas writing just flows like air through my fingers. I can write all day everyday and it's just living. It's NOT writing that is hard to do, like not breathing. :-)
- With the propensity of people to attach roles from Ramayana and Mahabharat to people around them/politicians/cricket teams (!); have you ever felt an urge to write a modern retelling of any of the epics you've written about? Asked by: Swagat Sinha
- Ashok Banker I've never been propelled by the propensities that propel most people. ;-) Besides, it's so pointless to be relating great ancient personalities to modern-day douchebags. I love the epics because they're not about today's time and these idiot politicians and phony sportsmen. I am writing modern epics - my Kali Rising is one attempt, Gods of War is another, but those are my own original stories.
- Ashok ji, Why the love for indian mythology? why no modern story>? Asked by: kamal
- Ashok Banker Kamal ji, less than half my books are related to Indian mythology. The rest are all modern stories. In fact, even my mythological stories are retold in a modern voice, my own voice. I'm a very modern person so even if I'm writing Mahabharata, I'm doing it while listening to Swedish House Mafia and that influence shows in my writing. Sometimes, modern or ancient depends on a point of view not the story itself. :-)
- Thanks a lot Mr Banker. You have really motivated me. wish you a great success and best wishes for Diwali! Asked by: Himadri
- are your books based in your belief of Krishna as a god or do you have a fictional point of view for your books? Asked by: Atheist
- Ashok Banker I am neither religious nor spiritual, neither atheist nor agnostic - I simply am not interested in the question of God or religion. I was given the freedom to choose my religion as a child, so I studied all religions from a young age, as well as the scientific/rational view of the world. In the end, I chose to simply stay human. I enjoy and love the concept of bhakti or adoration of a deity but cannot participate personally in it as I'm not a Hindu myself. What I do have is a great love for immersing myself in these great stories and yes, because the Krishna Coriolis happens to be about Krishna so naturally he is a god in the stories - my point of view is irrelevant because the story is not about me. I take no liberties with the stories themselves, only with the descriptions and style of narration. A Hindu brahmin author may choose to fictionalize his own religion, as at least one recent Hindu brahmin author has done successfully. But not being a Hindu or a brahmin, to me the original story still holds great fascination. I came very late to these epics and mythology and I'm still enjoying discovering new things as I study and retell these wonderful tales. So I guess you could say I write out of love for storytelling and to me, Krishna is the god of the story. :-)
- Hi Ashok, Best luck with your book. Asked by: Jeril Nadar
- Love your work. Which book based on the Mahabharata would you consider your personal favourite? Asked by: Krishna
- Ashok Banker As I often like to say, I retell the epics because I came to discover Hindu culture very late in life and to me, the original epics are by far the greatest. I don't see the point in writing books based on the Mahabharata or Ramayana because the original epics themselves are such marvelous works of literature. No book based on them has come close to capturing a fraction of the original's greatness, whether in terms of language, storytelling, character depiction or philosophical content. My own works are shabby attempts to touch the feet of those great masters who created these giant works. So my answer would be simple: Vyasa's Mahabharata of course. :-)
- Sir,do you understand Sanskrit ? Asked by: NITIN
- Ashok Banker Nitin, I barely understood Hindi growing up and when I began studying the epics, no, I did not understand a word of Sanskrit. But decades of reading Sanskrit alongside translations in Hindi and English have helped me pick up a great deal of the language. I still won't say I "know" Sanskrit but yes, I can read and follow some things. It's a great language, mother of them all, and I am still at the mother's toes, looking up and clutching the hem of her garment, thumb in my mouth. :-)
- Are there any plans to release graphical versions in India? Asked by: Vijendar
- Ashok Banker As of now, there is no plan to publish graphic novel versions of the Krishna Coriolis series. The best Indian artists are all busy doing animation work for outsourcing studios and are not interested in working on original Indian projects. Western artists are too expensive. So sadly, it's not likely. But I would be happy to write a graphic novel adaptation if a good artist was willing to work for a reasonable fee and royalties!
- you have tackled two of the biggest (and unfortunately most controversial) stories in our country's history: Ramayana & Mahabharata. what do you think is the biggest stumbling block from a reader;s perspective? or do you consider the Indian audience to be adult enough to take criticism of certain characters if required? Asked by: Atheist
- Ashok Banker I work with the original epics so I see no controversy in them at all. Each person and culture can have a point of view about a story, and that point of view can change from time to time, or individual to individual or group to group. But the story remains what it is. In Malaysia, Muslims love the Ramayana and consider Rama to be a great god in his own right without needing to worship him (it is not permitted in Islam to worship any god except Allah, the only true God) because they can relate to the story. So let's separate one's point of view from the work itself. As far as I'm concerned, any reader who's interested in the great story that is the Ramayana or the even greater epic tale that is the Mahabharata, will love my series. Similarly, you don't have to be a Krishna bhakt to enjoy my Krishna Coriolis - I've loved writing from the point of view of Kamsa, Putana, Jarasandha as much as Krishna, Balarama, Yashoda, etc. It's not about Good Versus Evil. It's simply about A fighting B for X reason. If you're on A's side, you'll consider A to be a god and B to be evil. That's one point of view. If you're on B's side you'll consider B to be god and A to be evil! Or you can be like me, just an outsider sitting and watching the story unfold, and understanding Kamsa's point of view, no matter how terrible the things that he does, or you can see Krishna's mind-view and see why he does what he does. My interest is in the epic form. Krishna Coriolis happens to be about a personage some consider God. But the story is greater than Krishna himself. The story concerns the world of which even Krishna is only one part.