How did this story originate? What inspirations did you draw on?
Like all the other Legends of the Burnt Empire published exclusively here on Lightspeed, “A History of Snakes” is drawn from the original Sanskrit epic, Mahabharata. I adapted it and revised it slightly to fit into the world of the Burnt Empire but it’s essentially the same core story from one of the many nesting tales-within-tales serpentine structure of the original.
Is there anything you want to make sure readers noticed?
Apart from being a (hopefully) fascinating immersion into the mythology behind both the original Mahabharata and my own Burnt Empire series, this is also the origin story of the family of the being known as Jarsun. While he doesn’t appear in the story—Jarsun himself is born much later in the timeline—this is the tale of his ancestors.
Other than writing, do you have any other creative pursuits? What do you do to relax?
As my social media feeds—especially Instagram, Twitter and Facebook—will show, I began teaching myself to draw and paint just over a year ago. You can see my progress from the earliest doodles and sketches on those accounts. I’m now working on my debut middle grade graphic novel, “Neela Amber Cancels the World,” as well as an as-yet untitled nonfiction picture book, which will mark my debut as a picture book author-illustrator. Beyond these book projects, art is probably the best stress-buster and creative outlet and I enjoy it thoroughly!
What trends in speculative fiction would you like to see gain popularity in the next few years?
There have been so many wonderful diverse authors and books in the past few years, but here’s to many more! I’d also love to see marginalised Indian voices represented, especially lower caste/class authors like myself. US publishing in general, and especially SF/F fiction publishers, seem to follow a brahmanical editorial policy, centring upper caste/class Indian authors and letting them speak even for marginalised, oppressed and underrepresented Indian voices. I’ve lost count of how many brahmin authors write in minority characters in their SF/F short fiction and novels. We’re in an age where India’s marginalised are being brutally persecuted, attacked, oppressed and silenced. To publish mainly authors from the upper caste/class makes US SF/F editors appear complicit with this pogrom of silencing. They need to do better. Educate themselves about casteism and minority persecution in India. Curate submissions keeping this imbalance and persecution in mind. I’m one of the lucky exceptions, an outcaste/low caste/lower class minority Indian author who found success in publishing, but there are so many more wonderful talents waiting to be discovered here in the US. Here’s wishing them all the love and luck in the world!
What are you working on lately? Where else can fans look for your work?
The Blind King’s Wrath, the third and final book in the Burnt Empire trilogy, comes out in May in the US. My debut thriller A Kiss After Dying releases in June in the UK and the rest of the world (except the US).
Spread the word!