JAM interviews fantasy fiction writer Ritu Lalit, who is currently making waves with her books ‘Hilawi’ and ‘Bowlful of Butterflies’.
Her second book ‘Hilawi’ a fantasy thriller novel, was released in July this year. Hilawi is the name of a mystical weapon that was dredged out of the ocean by Gods and Demons during the Samudra Manthan. Its origins and its capabilities are not fully recognized by the family that inherits it. The current owners of Hilawi are the twins Gargi and Veer. They are scholars, and are skeptical, but then slowly they change.
So what prompted her to write a novel as fascinating as this? “Ihave been fascinated by our Indian myths. They are powerful and imaginative. And I like the concept of divine or mystical weapons. Gandeev, Sudershan Chakra, Trishul, Brahmastra and even Krishna’s flute that sent its listeners into a trance. I felt like doing something about this fascination, writing about one such weapon. I needed a name for the weapon which had no previous associations with it. So I thought – “Jo Hila Kar Rakh De” and it became Hilawi,”she explains.
Ritu has been a voracious reader since her childhood. Like any typical writer, all she ever wanted loved and knew was to write!
Ritu wrote her first poem when she was about seven and her first novella when she was fourteen. So writing is not a new territory for the author of Her debut novel ‘A Bowlful of Butterflies’ was about three teenage girls in Class XII. It was all about growing up in a suburb in modern day India. It was a coming of age tale.
According to her English fiction is changing in India. “As a child I read Enid Blyton and we wondered what root beer and pies were and how did they taste. I wished I knew what lacrosse was. That made it hard to connect with the characters of a book. Now English fiction that the youth read is about our country and people like us,” says her.
Technology has a way of changing our habits and she believes that 2012 or maybe some time soon could possibly be a watershed year for e-books in India.
What according to her is the biggest problem that writers face in the industry? “I find a lot of young writers being scammed by unscrupulous agents. It is alarming. Of course there are picky agents and publishers, which is a part of the writing game. It’s hard enough as it is to get a book published. With such scams it makes the process doubly hard,” she asserts.
She is gung ho about the whole trend of adapting books of Indian authors into films.In fact she thinks Priyanka Chopra is apt to play the part of Gargi since she is athletic and spunky.
But she hates books having been written with a movie deal in mind. “Books are primarily for the reader. A movie is a different format. Having said that, movies do give a book a bigger sale, which is good,” she says excitedly.
She suggests aspiring authors to read a lot. She feels it really opens the mind to the creative process and also gives a better sense of plot and character development.
Her third novel which deals with lust and vengeance is likely to release soon. Ritu resides in the Northern Capital Region with her family, three dogs, a cat, fishes and a water turtle called Anubis. She admires Georgette Heyer and J.R.R. Martin.
– Babita Balan