Interview with Author Arun Krishnan

Hi, its Mili here. It’s been long since I had interviewed an author. Today I have Mr Arun Krishnan, who is a marvellous author of the books ‘Battle of Vatapi’. Originally, it’s a historical battle in India that was fought was also a decisive engagement which took place between the Pallavas and Chalukyas (2 famous dynasties of South India) near the Chalukya capital of Vatapi in 642.

Author Arun Krishnan did not change the main ideology of the book, in his first book ‘Battle of Vatapi – Nandi’s Charge’, he takes us through the riveting tale of preparations on the Pallava side for an eventual campaign against Pulikeshi and the Chalukyas. I had reviewed that one as well and you can find it on Mili’s Writing Desk.

And in the second book ‘Varahas Vengeance: The Battle of Vathapi Book 2’, he tells us how the grim struggle for the survival unfolds.

When asked, how would he like to describe himself; he replied as धर्मो रक्षति रक्षितः (The phrase “धर्मो रक्षति रक्षितः” is in Sanskrit and it translates to “Dharma protects those who protect it” in English.). A Seeker, Scientist, Rationalist, Nationalist, Author and Musician.

So, without further ado lets look into our detailed interview with Author Arun Krishnan.


Mili: Can you tell us a bit about yourself and your background as a writer?

Arun: I have studied and lived in different cities across India, USA, Singapore and Japan, before putting down roots in Bangalore. I have a degree in engineering and a doctorate, and went on to work in IT, high performance computing, bioinformatics, computational biology, Analytics and AI.
I have worked at various corporations, research institutes and also in academia
as an Assistant Professor of Computational Biology.

And then, just to shake things up, Iwent for an MBA and turned entrepreneur. I am a polyglot, conversant in Tamil, English, Hindi, Bengali, Japanese and Kannada. I love to sing and play the guitar, keyboard and percussion instruments. I am also an
amateur historian and enjoy visiting historical places. While I have over fifty
articles in journals, conferences and book chapters, The Battle of Vathapi series is when I started writing fiction.


Mili. How you drawn to historical writing? Why not anything else? I mean I want to know more about this love for this specific genre of history.

Arun: I have always been drawn to history. I have always tried to imagine how people lived 100s or 1000s of years ago and have been fascinated by the story of how humans have evolved over time. I have found that while societies evolve, and yes, so do humans, in a biological sense, the raw emotions that drive humans have been very similar over 1000s of years.

Also, I have found that most writers in India, stick to retelling of Puranic/Indic stories. There really aren’t that many people writing historical fiction in India. There are SO many stories that need to be told. Hence, my love for history and writing, aligned very nicely with what I saw as a need for stories to be told.


Mili. Do you prefer to outline your stories beforehand? Please give us a quick short trip to your story, your book series. What themes or messages do you hope readers will take away from it?

Arun: In 7th Century CE India, there were three kings who loomed large over India. King Harsha in the north, King Pulikeshi of the Chalukyas and King Narasimhavarman, the Pallava King. History tells us that Pulikeshi had defeated both Harshavardhana and the Pallava King Mahendravarman whose son was Narasimhavarman.
Eventually, Narasimhavarman Pallava attacked Vathapi (modern day Badami), the capital of the Chalukyan kingdom and sacked it. King Pulikeshi is said to have died in that battle. The Battle of Vathapi, is a trilogy that traces this conflict, culminating in the sack of Vathapi.

When I started the series, I only knew vaguely how each series would end. I knew that I wanted to write it as a trilogy, which I learned later on, is not something first time authors ought to do. I just didn’t know any better. My situations and characters develop as I write, organically. I don’t really start off by detailing all character and then start writing.


⁠Mili: How did you create and develop your characters? Did you draw inspiration from real-life people or experiences? 

Arun: Like I said earlier, characters tend to develop as I write. Of course, I draw on real-life people and experiences to flesh out characters. Also, an author leaves something of himself in every character. I think it is the same with me. I usually pay attention to people — whether I am at airports or railway stations or some functions. One can pick up little traits that people have — body language, a way of smiling, laughing or other facial expressions. And then of course, all the books that I have read also play a role. Subconsciously, the mind tends to file away interesting characters and I am sure that at some level they also play a part in how characters develop.


Mili: I understand, creating historical character isn’t easy job, how do elaborate their nuances, it must be going through a lot of research, please share your research journey with us.  How many days, hours you invested in your research?

Arun: I do use a lot of references from people like RC Majumdar or Neelakanta Shastri’s books. For the Battle of Vathapi, I also consulted the Mahavamsa of Sri Lanka. Research is used not just to understand who were the key participants — the kings, generals and religious leaders — but also to understand the food habits, the cuisine, the dresses, festivals, way of life, etc.

I write of time periods where not much is known about. We have very sketchy details about the actual events. There are maybe 1-2 inscriptions that tell us about the battles or who the involved parties were. Everything else is then left to the imagination of the author.


Mili: What moments or aspects of the writing process or any special character brought you the most satisfaction or joy?

Arun: The happiest moments are  also tied to the most frustrating moments. People talk about the writer’s block. I usually don’t have that but I do have periods of “plot blocks” where I am stuck and don’t know how to unravel a plot knot. It could be something like a character being in a particular situation and me not knowing how to figure out how that situation resolves or moves forward. The joy that comes from being able to solve that, is extremely satisfying.


Mili: What books do you enjoy reading, and did they play a role in shaping your approach to storytelling? 

Arun: I have always been a voracious reader, from childhood. Started off with Noddy, Enid Blyton, Amar Chitra Katha, Champak to Hardy Boys and then to PG Wodehouse, Sidney Sheldon, Frederick Forsyth, Alistair Maclean, Desmond Bagley, Robert Ludlum, Tom Clancy, Louis L’Amour, Jeffrey Archer, Dan Brown, David Eddings, to go with some of the classics, Dickens, the Bronte Sisters, Thomas Hardy, Victor Hugo, Alexandre Dumas, Bernard Shaw, Anton Chekov, Dostoevsky, Kalki, Sandilyan, Bharathiyar, and so many others. I have always read across the spectrum, and that has certainly helped me in my writing. I would particularly like to call out these five authors who, I feel, have had the most impact on me as a writer: Kalki, Alistair Maclean, Jeffrey Archer, David Eddings and Louis L’Amour.


Mili: Please share with us your top 5 favourite books, from any genre.

Arun: Ponniyin Selvan by Kalki (Tamil)

Kane and Abel by Jeffrey Archer

Belgarath the Sorcerer by David Eddings

Blandings Castle by PG Wodehouse

The Sacketts by Louis L’Amour


Mili: Why is ‘The Battle of Vatapi’ a series and why not stand alone? Are you planning to write stand alone in historical fiction genre? Or any other genre you would like to explore through your writing? 

Arun: I didn’t know any better. I thought a series would give me the scope to really flesh out the characters and the stories. It allows for more detailed character development. I have already written 2 other standalone novels and am currently writing another standalone novel. Series is tough work and am not sure I am ready to write another series at the moment.
As for a different genre, I think that at some point, I might try my hand at fantasy. There are lots of similarities between historical fiction — especially those set a thousand or more years ago — and fantasy (discounting the magical aspects of course). It would be an easier transition for me, in my opinion.


Thank You Arun for your time and this insightful interview.


Also, if you are interested about the history of India, please check out Arun Krishnan’s books on the Vatapi series.

Buy the Book Here

44 thoughts on “Interview with Author Arun Krishnan”

  1. Arun Krishnan sounds like not just a really wonderful author, but such an interesting person, as well! I love that he described himself using the phrase that “Dharma protects those who protect it,” as I couldn’t agree more. I can’t wait to dive into reading his book myself!

  2. What an inspiring interview with author Arun Krishnan! It’s fascinating to learn about his journey and the creative process behind his writing. His insights into the importance of storytelling and his experiences as an author offer valuable lessons for aspiring writers like myself. I appreciate the honesty and depth in his responses, which shed light on the challenges and joys of being a writer. Thank you for sharing this enlightening interview – it’s truly motivational and uplifting!

  3. Such an intriguing interview with the author Arun. Thank you for the introduction to his writings. I enjoy historically-based novels so I am sure this is one I would enjoy. His philosophical approach to writing is inspiring.

  4. How fascinating to be so well traveled! Arun has such an interesting background and so much knowledge. It is neat to hear how books come together from the author’s perspective.

  5. Arun Krishnan is a polymath and polyglot indeed! Hats off to him for all his achievements and now I am intrigued by the Vathapi series.. will see if I can find them here in the US

  6. Good to know about this author and his book. I don’t think I’ve read any historical book about India. It would be interesting to read, for sure.

  7. The “Battle of Vatapi” series vividly portrays India’s historical narrative. Krishnan’s commitment to historical precision and his thorough research are evident in his intricate depictions of characters and settings.

  8. This is a great interview. It’s interesting to hear about the author and what inspired them to write. An interest in the subject matter can make a big difference to how something is written.

  9. Melissa Cushing

    I am loving this author inteview and this book looks abnd sounds like an incredible addition to my reading collection!

  10. This is a great interview. I love learning from other people through their intelligence and experiences. I am pretty sure his book is one of the best books for me to read.

  11. Arun Krishnan sounds like not just a great author! I love that he described himself using the phrase that “Dharma protects those who protect it,”.
    I can’t wait to check his book out!

  12. Bedabrata Chakraborty

    Such an interesting interview with author Arun Krishnan! I love hearing about writers’ journeys. Have you read any of his work? If so, which book would you recommend starting with?

  13. This was a very cool interview with Arun Krishnan. I like his explanation of how he researches the characters and story, which both evolve as the story comes to the page. Being a writer myself I could relate to his process.

  14. Pingback: Author Corner: His second book is just released – An interesting evening with author Arun Krishnan – miliswritingdesk

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