Sarang Mahajan’s fantasy world, Inkredia has all the elements of a truly alluring and magical land. The first book in a series set in this mythical world, Luwan of Brida, introduces us to the protagonist Luwan, a young and brave lad. The story follows this simple village boy and his sister Meg, as they embark on a dangerous journey towards a destination that is unknown. What makes them run away from their simple but fulfilling lives in their village? What secrets does the magical book given to Luwan by his mother hold? Why are the inhuman Ghork-riders, the terrifying creatures of death, behind him? What is it about the medallion around his neck that draws danger towards him?
As Luwan and Meg make their way away from their village they encounter dangers at every step. The reader meets a set of fictional fantasy creatures each with their own unique characteristics- spirits that live within walls, demons of death, magicians, monfrits and many more. If you like the fantasy fiction genre, this book is the right one for you. There is a sense of mystery that pervades the entire book, and makes the reader want to continue till the very end. Are all the questions answered? It suffices to say, that while many questions are answered indeed, many new questions are raised which makes the reader wait in bated breath for the next book in the series!
Bookedforlife chats with author Sarang Mahajan on the concept of Inkredia and the story of Luwan of Brida.
The Fantasy fiction genre is a crowded one. It is heartening to note that many Indian writers are exploring this genre as well. What do you think makes the Inkredia concept stand out?
Yes, the genre is crowded if you are speaking globally, but in India it is still quite new. The fantasy that we see in India is mostly Indian mythological fiction. Inkredia, on the other hand, has an entirely original fictional universe. This factor not only makes Inkredia stand out among Indian fantasy books but also sets it apart from the western fantasies like Harry Potter or Lord of the Rings, because Inkredia does not borrow fantasy creatures such as dragons, unicorns or centaurs or the races such as dwarves or elves.
In addition, the Inkredia Universe has its own concept of magic, a detailed and original map, original names of people and places and so on. Even some of the magical objects mentioned in Inkredia serve unique purposes and don’t exist in any other fantasy literature. I believe these are the factors that make Inkredia stand out and it has been pointed out by many readers so far.
You have been actively involved in writing for television. It is not surprising then, that while reading Luwan of Brida, one can actually visualize the entire sequence of events! Do you plan to introduce it as a television series as well?
I began as a writer with the novel format and I still consider myself a novelist. When I write, I love to withdraw from the real world and enter the fantasy world I am creating, so that I can enjoy the process. I believe that’s why many readers feel that my narration has a visual quality to it. Television happened later. I was approached to write a fantasy show for Star because of the success of Luwan of Brida. Since then, I have done four shows in all. But I still love the novel format most. Indian television is totally different from the novels that I write. So far I have had people expressing interest in turning Inkredia into a video game or a film, though I do believe that if ever it’s adapted for the screen, it will best fit a TV show format because of the length and structure of the story.
What was the inspiration behind the conceptualization of the entire Inkredia universe? It is a pretty detailed outline, and Luwan of Brida seems to have just touched the tip!
Yes. The first book is just the tip of the iceberg. The sequel, The Castle of Tashkrum will give a better insight into the Inkredia Universe and the novels after that will keep revealing more and more. The inspiration was my love for the fantasy genre. When I began to write a book of my own, I almost instantly decided that I am not going to use existing elements from the Greek, European, Egyptian, Arabic or Indian mythologies. I thought it would be way more exciting to create new stuff. This was the phase when I had not even thought of having a book published. I just wanted to enjoy the process. As I started developing the map and later started writing the book, I realized that I would have to come up with a lot of things other than places and creatures such as festivals, currencies, a political structure; in other words, an entire culture. Since I loved doing all of this, the universe kept expanding.
While the book solves many mysteries it also leaves the readers with several questions about what is going to happen next! As a writer, how challenging was it to balance this sense of suspense with a sense of revealing some aspects of the story, to satisfy the reader’s curiosity?
Well, I never looked at the first book in isolation. Whenever I have thought of the story, it has always been about the entire series, which is about the evolution of Luwan’s character that’s going to go through some tough challenges, personally and mentally, over the course of the series. As I worked on it, the first logical episode in this character journey turned out to be a big one and would have been impossible to fit in one book, but I let it evolve as it did. It was only when the story was completely ready that I considered the practical aspects. I knew I could not write a 1200-page first book. I had to cut the first episode in two parts and it was challenging.
After I cut the first episode in two books, initially, the first draft of Book one had a story that ended abruptly and I knew I could not leave it like that. So, I borrowed as many revelations from the second book as I could without harming the next part and put them in the first one. I also increased the insight into the fictional universe. I was later surprised to see that I had actually managed to arrive at some logical conclusion for the first book, because in the next book, Luwan is not going to go through similar challenges. I believe I have succeeded to a great extent in achieving the balance that you speak of, judging from the reactions so far. All the unanswered questions are going to make the second book thrilling and entertaining and you will realize that there was no way I could have answered those questions without telling the next story. But that’s what a book series is about, isn’t it?
Luwan of Brida is the first book in the series and is soon to be followed by The Castle of Tashkrum. How many books do you plan in total?
I have made a lot of progress on the second book and plan on finishing the first draft soon. I also have a detailed outline of the third and the fourth book. The story, as I see it now, ends in the fourth book. But I want to keep an open mind and see how it goes.
Are you fond of reading fantasy fiction? Which are your favourite authors and books in the genre?
I have been a huge fan of this genre ever since I started reading. I remember being absolutely fascinated by Aladdin and the Magic Lamp when I first read that story. I do love adventures as well. Stories like Gulliver’s Travels and Sindbad used to fascinate me as a kid, so did Robinson Crusoe and Treasure Island. What I really love though is a fantasy combined with an exhilarating adventure and a touch of mystery. I love the genre so much that I find it hard to read any other genre even today. Due to an utter lack of books like these in India, I eventually ran out of the stuff when I was in high school. I did not read for several years. It was Harry Potter that drew me back to books and I am deeply grateful to JK Rowling for that. But the work that really made me want to write a book of my own was the one that I got to next, The Lord of the Rings. I have been in awe of JRR Tolkien since then. Thankfully, the Wheel of Time by Robert Jordan came to my help and filled up the massive void left by LOTR. I devoured all ten books in the series that had been published by then in one go. These are the books and authors that remain my favorite to date. I wish to read the works of Brandon Sanderson and George RR Martin but haven’t been able to do so yet.
Title: Luwan of Brida
Author: Sarang Mahajan
Genre: Fantasy Fiction