Hello everyone, its me, Mili again. And today I am back with a new interview with an internationally well-known author, Zorian Cross. You may have heard of him.
In this exclusive interview, we have the pleasure of chatting with Zorian Cross, an award-winning playwright who has now ventured into the world of novels with “The Yogi Witch: Bloodlines and Legacies.” This enchanting book is creating quite a stir with its unique blend of fantasy, magic, and contemporary themes. Zorian shares insights into the development of the story, the fascinating characters, and the magical world they inhabit. Join us as we explore the inspirations behind the book, the challenges faced in its creation, and a hint of what might be in store for the future. Whether you’re a fan of fantasy, queer romance, or simply love a good story, you won’t want to miss this intriguing conversation with a talented author whose words are like a cool, fresh breeze creating a storm in the literary world. You can find the book review here.
Me: First of all, what is Zorian Cross production, which kind of play do they do, elaborate, please. I mean any specific, like queer, romance, or witchy?
Zorian: Zorian Cross Productions is an independent theatre company based in New Delhi. I began it in 2013, because I wanted to do things on stage that everyone else was too scared of even dreaming of.
Under the company, I have delightfully experimented with different styles of productions. Be it classic “living room comedies”, to edgy experimental feminist manifestos. Jukebox musicals, original concept ballets, and even a Cabaret-style play. Even though all productions were dramatically different from each other – they were all filled with powerful women and out and proud queer characters.
Unfortunately, the pandemic caused us to close operations – I do miss the stage. Who knows, maybe I’ll return. Theatre has survived worse.
Me: The protagonist, Jai Gill, in “The Yogi Witch: Bloodlines and Legacies” is a fascinating character who leads a dual life – by day a yoga teacher and by night a demon slayer. How did you develop his character, and what challenges and growth does he experience throughout the story?
Zorian: I feel Jai’s story was a channeled message from a divine source of some sort. It’s the only way I can explain how I managed to write the manuscript in the span of 27 nights. I don’t know how I developed it. I don’t even feel like analyzing. When inspiration hit that fateful night, a few hours before sunrise – I didn’t stop. It was like I was consumed by this otherworldly force to just keep writing. I guess if you wish to know how it was developed, one would need to ask the divine muses. Unfortunately they don’t have a whatsapp number or an instagram page to DM.
Me: The novel is set against the backdrop of Lutyens’s Delhi, with an ivy-covered mansion that houses both a yoga studio and a family coven. How did you approach creating this intriguing setting and integrating it into the storyline? I’d like to add It reminds me of some of 90’s tv series, I think we both saw them (Chuckles) 😀 aww those were the days, your book brings back all the memories, I think this book is going to be a favorite for 90’s kids and new generations, it can act like a bridge between generations, what is your thought on this?
Zorian: I grew up a military kid, and during my childhood, we actually lived in Lutyen’s Delhi. Granted, they were in government housing, and not a private palatial mansion, but the entire Lutyen’s Delhi is an essential part of my childhood. I guess setting the novel there was a simple case of ‘write what you know’.
As for having a yoga studio within a home, my first yoga guru, Seema Sondhi, has a yoga studio that’s set within her maternal home. I haven’t been in a studio as magical as hers. I suppose, having Jai’s family home include a yoga studio was my way of paying tribute to my beloved teacher.
I feel the 90’s and the early 00’s film and television was filled with so many brilliant shows that dealt with supernatural themes in urban settings. What makes this era special was not only were they not afraid to go camp, but they did it with so much flair that one couldn’t help but be amazed by it all.
Me: Love and curses intertwine in the narrative, with Jai discovering that love can be a curse for witches. How does this theme shape the story and impact Jai’s decisions and relationships?
Zorian: We need to understand that, ‘witch’ is often used to represent strong women who have a deep connection not only to the spiritual world, but also are securely grounded in the material realm.
Unfortunately, patriarchy doesn’t like witches, and hence for so many centuries (and even till this day) witches have been burned.
We’ve been spoon-fed stories of princes rescuing fair maidens. We’ve grown up on movies (especially Bollywood movies) where the ultimate goal of lovers is to overcome all obstacles and get married.
In those stories, women are deemed desirable not only if they’re “fair and lovely” (pun intended) but are meek and delicate beings who can’t protect themselves.
Me: Now, why would a witch – a woman who has a divine connection to the forces of “The Universe” wish to diminish herself to protect the ego of a man? What “Raja Beta” would be able to handle a woman who is proud of her intelligence, and won’t compromise on her ambitions or even overall life goals?
Zorian: Not to say witches don’t deserve love — they most certainly do. Finding a man who’s for lack of a better word, “Kenough”, is harder than finding the proverbial needle in a haystack.
Thus, if you wish for romance in this patriarchal world – you as a woman need to compromise and diminish yourself to keep a man happy. To live such a life is a curse.
This is for straight cis-women. Imagine this being a million times harder for queer individuals who face oppression just because of the way they were born!
Me: Lavender tea and sinfully delicious baked goodies with a magical twist sound delightful. How did you come up with these charming details that add to the enchantment of the story?
Zorian: First of all, I wanted to normalise loving and enjoying carbs – especially brownies and scones and other baked goods. Too much toxic diet culture has demonised carbs for lord knows how many decades. Having a major eating disorder myself, as well as, having been fat-shamed all my childhood – my relationship with food is incredibly damaged. True, I am working on healing it. Unfortunately, it’s not an easy journey.
I suppose this was my way of telling the readers to enjoy life and all the delights it has to offer. Food isn’t just for nourishing our bodies, but it’s also for healing our minds, hearts, and souls. After all, in Sanskrit, ‘food’ is called, ‘Anna’, and is governed by the goddess Annapurna – who also rules abundance.
How can we demonise carbs – when they’re responsible for giving our body the energy we need to basically live? Plus, no woman has ever said that eating a boiled egg-white gave her the same orgasmic levels of dopamine and serotonin the way a piece of chocolate does.
In fact, isn’t it interesting how food scientists of the past (and many in the present) are mostly cis-men? I wouldn’t be surprised if we discover that toxic diet culture is just another way of patriarchy trying to diminish women.
Lavender Tea goes perfectly with all delicious baked goods. Lavender is also a magical herb that’s famous for not only healing us in numerous ways on a body, mind, and soul level – but some of the most powerful spells in ancient grimoires use lavender as an essential ingredient. In fact, some sources state that lavender is one of the flowers that Adam and Eve took with them as they were banished from The Garden of Eden. Witchcraft deities like Circe and Hecate had lavender associated with them.
Plus, have you ever kissed someone after drinking lavender tea? It’s heavenly! Unlike kissing someone post drinking doodh-waali-chai.
Me: The concept of bloodlines and legacies is a central theme in your book. Could you discuss the significance of this theme and how it contributes to the depth of the characters and their magical world?
Zorian: Well, I’m afraid if I go into this in details, I’ll be providing massive spoilers, and I really don’t want to rob those who haven’t read the book yet of all the wonder of these discoveries.
However, we must realize that for us to be born, it took two parents, four grandparents, eight great grandparents, sixteen great-great grandparents, thirty-two great-great-great grandparents .. so on and so forth. Thus, if we go back twelve generations – which is roughly 350 years – we needed four thousand and ninety-four ancestors to have lived full lives in order for us to be born today.
Picture that for a moment – more than four thousand souls had to be born in the last three and a half hundred years – to have survived numerous wars, famines, plagues, pandemics, natural disasters, forces of nature, and what not — just for us to be born today.
Today, in your blood flows the struggle of more than four thousand souls before you. Your heartbeats courtesy more than four thousand love stories. Our soul is present today due to the result of more than four thousand hopes and dreams. The fact that we’re breathing today is all courtesy more than four thousand souls who lived long enough to pass down the legacy of their genes.
Isn’t that such a powerful thought? Almost magical! Think of that the next time you’re posting a “felt cute, might delete later” selfie.
Me: Mythology often plays a role in fantasy novels, and your book appears to incorporate it as well. How did you draw from myths and legends to enrich the magical elements of your story?
Zorian:I think that’s part of the beauty of being born in India – country that’s not only the birthplace of many mythological sagas, but also where the myths and tales of other nations found a home and were able to flourish.
Take the Mahabharata for example. A tale of cousins filled with generational trauma that traced all the back to heavenly beings – where Tara was cursed by her husband Brihaspati (Jupiter) for carrying a illegitimate child due to her affair with Chandra Dev (The Moon God). That generational trauma was so intense that it lead them to wage a mighty war that killed countless lives – all for the sake of property.
Think about all the times we see our parents fight with their siblings over properties.
Unfortunately, we live in times when dark forces of blind orthodoxy have blinded so many of us to the magical forces of mythology. We’re no longer allowed to appreciate the flaws of heroes and kings. We’re bombarded with hate-filled propaganda that doesn’t let us learn from the mistakes of these beautifully fleshed out characters who have survived countless millennia and made room within our minds, hearts, and souls.
We can’t really love someone without appreciating and accepting their shadow aspect. We can’t even love ourselves without facing our own personal demons. How are we then to learn from our mythological legacies?
Perhaps one of the things I hope that the readers of my book take with them is exploring our mythological and spiritual heritage with a fresh lens that isn’t marred by hate and propaganda.
Me: As an author, what were some of the most enjoyable aspects of crafting “The Yogi Witch”? Were there any challenges you faced while developing the plot, characters?
Zorian: I had an absolute blast writing “The Yogi Witch”. Those twenty-seven nights were absolutely bliss. I lost all inhibitions and all resistance was thrown out of the window. I surrendered to the divine muses and gave my heart and soul with complete love and trust. The biggest challenge was the journey after that! First, the pandemic caused numerous delays to the release. It was almost like the book was a stubborn baby that refused to be born until and unless it was ready to be.
The next big challenge was trying to find a genre to fit the book into. It’s fantasy, yet incredibly contemporary. It’s a love story, but there are fantastical elements. It’s got obscure mythological references, but there is a ton of pop-culture references. It’s got a young-adult vibe, but there are many “controversial” and “explicit” moments.
Then there was the editing process where I had to convince the powers and justify certain things. I had to put a stone upon my heart and delete chunks, but at the same time out my foot down about certain aspects that I felt were essential to the story.
However, everyone who worked on the book – the editors, the proof readers, even the cover design artist — they all loved the book, and they were all passionate about releasing it into the world in its best possible form. To have so many people not just believe in your vision, but to love is as passionately as you — that is incredibly rare, and I am eternally grateful for it all!
Me: Lastly, what message or emotion do you hope readers will take away from experiencing Jai Gill’s journey in your novel?
Zorian: The message isn’t mine to give. Nor is the emotion mine to govern. That’s all for the reader. The minute the book was released, I ceased to have any control over it. It’s now for the reader to take whatever message or connect with it emotionally in the way they best can.
I do hope that Jai’s story inspires the readers to start exploring the magical world. I would so love it if they would begin discovering the occult and esoteric sides of life, and try to experience the divine forces without the limiting binds of orthodoxy of any sort. If it inspires them to get on a yoga mat, or order a tarot deck from Amazon – I’d be so blessed. If it inspires those who are struggling with their sexuality to come out of the closet and embrace their truth – I would be forever grateful. If it gets them to explore the musical and artistic legacy of ‘Magdalena’ – I’d be giggling away to glory.
Me: You are an award winning Play Writer, but as a novel is it your first attempt?
Zorian: It’s my first novel that got published. I’ve been trying to write a novel since I was fifteen, but spent god knows how many years getting excited over a prologue and abandoning a story before I could even type ‘Chapter Three’. I think I kinda made it to ‘Chapter Seven’ when I was about twenty-two, and then I couldn’t write any further. After almost a decade-and-a-half of this, I finally managed to finish a novel in 2016. Unfortunately, that got rejected everywhere. Some of the rejection letters were so incredibly scathing that I spent a few months crying myself to sleep – vowing to never write a novel again. This is why I keep saying ‘The Yogi Witch’ was a channelled work. It came to me at one of the most traumatic times in recent global history – especially when my own personal history of writing a novel was so incredibly fraught with dismay and dejection.
I’m so blessed that those divine forces chose me. I hope I did them proud!
Me: What is the difference between writing a play and a book? Did face any difficulties?
Zorian: Well, both are incredibly different mediums. One is purely the medium of imagination that’s completely dependent on the author’s way with words and the reader’s ability to grasp them. The other is an audio-visual medium that is dependent of way too many factors, and yet, it can be an incredibly intimate experience for the viewer.
A book gives the author all the liberty to play around as much as possible. However, writing a novel is a longer process, and one needs to be truly patient and motivated enough to finish telling a story.
With a play, however, especially if you are also the director and producer – you need to keep in mind the budgetary constraints, the venue/auditorium’s stage capacity and other technical things, the kind of actors available to work with, and a whole other bunch of stuff. Plus, to get a play staged takes months of long nights of blood, sweat, and tears. You have to really believe in your play with every fibre of your being in order to get it off the pages and manifest it on a stage.
Me: Tell us your favorite tv show in your adolescent days? (Chuckles) I know you understand what I want to know 😀
Zorian: Oh gosh! Um, I watched way too many shows as an adolescent. From Buffy the Vampire Slayer, to Charmed. From Dharma & Greg to That Seventy’s Show. I was obsessed with Xena Warrior Princess to the point that I learned how to mimic her iconic battle-cry.
Of course, one show that shaped me was, ‘The Golden Girls’. It was such a powerful and revolutionary show of it’s time. Seeing those four veteran actresses owning their age and fabulously thriving away to glory – it truly was inspiring. It’s a show that till date remains incredibly relevant, and I still can’t help but laugh out loud (not just typing ‘lol’ with a straight face) whenever I see clips of it on YouTube or Instagram Reels. Humour is the first art form to get ‘dated’ and so many jokes become ‘problematic’ with the ever turning wheels of time. The Golden Girls is eternally hilarious and uplifts the spirits of those who watch it.
There’s this old cult cartoon show called ‘Jem and the Holograms’. It was originally aired in the US in the 80’s, but was aired in India during the 90’s. Not many know of it – but those who do – absolutely love it. Also, I totally stan ‘HIM’ from The Powerpuff Girls.
I know Sabrina the Teenage Witch was incredibly popular. While I found it cute, I so much preferred ‘The Chilling Adventures of Sabrina’ on Netflix. Such a brilliant show that was marred by a god-awful fourth season that was a result of Netflix cancelling it prematurely. Had the show not been given the axe, we could have had a way better fourth, and perhaps a much deserved fifth – and perhaps even a sixth season.
Though, I can’t leave out two Indian shows that totally gave me life growing up – Hum Paanch and Tu Tu Main Main. The former was so subversive and unlike anything we had ever seen before (nor will we see again), and there was such a deep queer subtext within it that I’m surprised no one picked up on. No, I’m not just talking of Kajal Bhai. The latter was a delight to see two brilliant actresses sparring away to glory with witty-bitchism (yeah, I made up that word, lol!).
It’s backbreaking work – especially if you’re the one running the show. However, when the house lights come on, and the audience greets you with a massive standing ovation as you come out for the curtain call – so totally worth it.
Me: In your book you said that sexual assault is important in learning magic, why so? I mean this is really deep, can you explain why you need that much assault? it sounds too hard!
Zorian: The reasons why sexual assault is important in awakening the magic within is mentioned in the novel itself. I don’t wish to give away spoilers and plot points – for it might rob the magic of discovering these little gems and nuggets from those who haven’t yet read the book.
There are themes about sexual politics, as well as, the way patriarchy uses assault as a way to humiliate and snatch the power of the feminine goddess energy within their victims. It’s
However, I myself have been a victim of not one, but multiple sexual assaults as a child and a pre-teen (and even older). Even though I’ve spent oh so many years healing those wounds – there are the rare moments that I am haunted by them – even till this date. True, the frequency of those hauntings have been severely reduced, but when they show up, it can be brutal.
I guess this was my way of reaching out to others, who like me, have had a part of their soul forever stained by the heinous actions of others. I’ve received so many Instagram DM’s and emails from readers who have had numerous cathartic and healing moments whilst reading my books. I’m so heartbroken when they share stories of what happened with them, but they always have said that reading about how Jai overcame it all gave them the hope that they too can heal.
Sometimes the wounded angel is the one who heals the most powerfully.
Me: Finally, the last question for you. So what we can expect in the next book? Are you going to keep Jai as a young man or are you going to make him older? I am too eager to know this as for me your book is already a cool fresh breeze that is now creating a storm, eagerly waiting for your next book 🙂
Zorian: Thank you so much. I’m truly grateful for your wonderfully kind and generous praise for my little book. I’m not giving spoilers for future books. However, Jai has to grow. He has to evolve. It’s the only way his story can become richer. Of course, as he grows, there will be flashbacks to moments in his childhood and teenage years that will be relevant to not just the overall plot, but also with his current headspace courtesy all that he’s dealing with.
There’ll be more magic, more supernatural stuff, more occult and esoteric mysteries shared openly, and secretly hidden between lines under the garb of language. Unfortunately, I cannot reveal more than this.
Thank you for joining us in this enlightening conversation with Zorian Cross, the creative mind behind ‘The Yogi Witch: Bloodlines and Legacies.’ We hope you’ve gained valuable insights into the world of this captivating fantasy novel and the author’s journey. If you’re ready to embark on a magical adventure filled with intriguing characters and contemporary themes, don’t miss out on ‘The Yogi Witch.’ Stay tuned for more exciting interviews and literary discoveries as we continue to explore the fascinating realm of storytelling.