He wrote his first book when he was just 14, and today, he is one of India’s budding author. He is an ardent storyteller and firmly believes in the power of dreams. Set in Treta Yug, his debut novel is vividly larger than life and talks about the history of the mankind. In an exclusive interview, Antar Atreya, the much-revered author of ‘Chronicles Of The Mortal Vishnu’ shares how his love for books shaped his life…
Q. Who is the real ‘Antar’, a writer, a philosopher, just a common man with common ideas?
A. I am a writer without any philosophical interface, but definitely, I do ponder over things. I’d say, I am a thinker who enjoys conversations that dot my discussions, ideas and visions. I would not say that I think of common ideas because I believe ideas and dreams must always be ‘big’ and crazy enough to keep one on toes.
Q. Tell us something about your childhood, family and time spent in school and college?
A. I’ve been independent, expressive and extrovert since childhood. At times, a little sensitive. I was a lot into extracurriculars at school and college. I liked taking my own decisions. I am a curious soul and used to spend a lot of time reading books and watching movies. Good stories fascinate me (even now) and transcend me to the unimaginable world. Hence, my parents encouraged me to pen down my thoughts. They, despite having busy bureaucratic careers, always found time for writings – poems and short stories.
My school days and childhood were spent in the lap of nature in Tezpur, Assam. Staying amidst nature, I feel, helped me become more inquisitive, observant as well as creative. People have this perception that writers lead a serene, rather a self-oriented lifestyle, which, of course, I did not. My life was complete with fun and frolic in the company of friends till my college years.
Q. When did you realise the inner calling of becoming an author – the circumstances and incidents that drew you towards writing?
A. Books were my best friends from a very young age. From Enid Blyton, Jeffrey Archer to Agatha Christie; from Panchatantra to Arabian Nights, voraciously I read them all. Books truly inspired me to try my hand at storytelling. Moreover, I took inspiration from my parents as their prolific poems and short stories kept getting published in newspapers and magazines. This filled me with a lot of confidence to write. I, therefore, wrote a book at when I was 14 years old, and the book did fairly well. Since then, there is no looking back in terms of writing. Though, I wasn’t certain if I could make writing my primary profession. But, that’s that!
Q. What inspired you to pen down your novel ‘Chronicles of the Mortal Vishnu’. The inspiration, people who inspired you or the tales from your life?
A. I was in a precarious predicament before I began penning down my debut novel ‘Chronicles of the Mortal Vishnu’ owing to my father’s persistent sickness and my own my deteriorating health. I was in a state of emotional turmoil and dilemma loomed over my career, ahead. Immediately after completing my graduation, I was in the clutches of clinical depression for almost a year.
To cope up with the ‘no so okay’ situation, I took refuge in counselling sessions, tried medication and meditations and practiced yoga as well. My introductive tryst with yoga surprisingly brought to fore my interest in the ancient school of thoughts and teachings of Hinduism. I began grasping and knowing more and more about the Hindu mythological episodes. Fascinated both by the stories and the essence of these episodes, I was spellbound. And, my rendezvous with Bhagawad Gita and Mahabharata, left me bewildered to the bones. I began to understand the nuances of life and I was headed towards the direction wherein I was able to cope up with my own issues. At this very point, I decided to embrace writing as my profession, and create stories in the mythological and fantasy genres. And since mythology’s dimension is exciting and it comes bundled with profound essence, the very idea of my debut novel – Chronicles of the Mortal Vishnu emerged.
Q. How would you define spirituality? Are you spiritual at heart?
A. Spirituality, for me, is all about introspecting and diving deep to know oneself. The inner calling, the principles you believe in, the life learnings, the strengths and limitations that make you what you are – these stir our being. Yes, I am spiritual, I like spending time in self introspection, I do try to understand people and situations around me.
Q. How much time did it take you to research on the characters and the story line of your novel?
A. The debut book is always special; hence it did take me some time to maneuver through the whole publishing process. Apart from what goes inside the book, I also devised the marketing plan to aid the novel. So, the scripting, planning, collating and the research took me about three years to come up with this illustrated novel “Chronicles of the Mortal Vishnu”.
Q. Are you in talks with film makers who’d want to adapt ‘Chronicles of the Mortal Vishnu’ in to a film?
A. Yes, the book is with India’s leading ‘book to screen’ adaptation company, The Story Ink, but owing to the pandemic, there is still not much movement on that front. Also, I am working on my second book, based on a war between two Gods that took place after Kurukshetra.
Q. Any special message for the readers of www.LifeConfluence.com?
A. I always reiterate this to readers, that if you are an avid reader, keep reading as much. And, as you do so, try penning down whatever you wish – poems, blogs, stories – it could be just anything. I believe at some point, ‘readers’ knowingly or unknowingly develop the knack of framing stories.
- One book that is really close to your heart and why? – ‘To Kill a Mockingbird, absolutely for humane touch of the story, its portrayal of emotions and harsh realities and as well as for the sensitive yet strong plot. And despite dealing with rape, racial discrimination, and clash of thoughts, the story had so much warmth in it, which makes it a rare read.
- Please tell our readers five books of all times that they must read. (both fiction and non-fiction)
1. To Kill a Mockingbird,
2. Count of Monte Cristo,
3. The Murder of Roger Ackroyd,
4. A Train To Pakistan
5. The Road.
3. Current works – Recently, a story of mine has been published in an anthology, ‘Where the Kingfisher Sings’. It is a collection of stories about north-east India. Hailing from Assam, I am pleased to be a part of it.
4. Favourite Authors: Jeffrey Archer, Harper Lee, Amish Tripathi And Mamani Raisom Goswami.
5. Favourite Films – The Marvel Movies, My Name Is Khan, The Usual Suspects, Identity.
6. Favourite Destinations – I am not much of a travel enthusiast, but I love travelling with like-minded people or friends