Today we are here with an interview with Meera J. Pillai, the author of Maya and The Sword of Gringak.
About the book:
Maya and the Sword of Gringak is Part 1 of 3 in the series of Maya’s adventure, as she discovers a parallel world that exists on Earth. The Young Adult book explores the story of Maya, an average teenager, with the simple aspirations of a regular 16-year old. All she’s looking forward to is her dream date with Dhruv, the boy she’s had a yearlong crush on. What she doesn’t know is that while she’s busy thinking of what she’ll say to Dhruv, destiny has other plans for her. Even as she heads back home from the date, events will be set into motion that will change her very existence overnight. Secrets from the past will be revealed to her, leaving her reeling under their impact. She will discover that she is not who she thought she was; what’s more, she must prepare to embrace a destiny that will make her the saviour of Earth. But, is she really up for the task? Will she find the mighty sword that she has been destined to own? Will she be able to see herself as the true champion?
About the author:
Meera J Pillai started her career with Deccan Chronicle, Chennai, as their Chief sub-editor and reporter, a role she handled for three years. Her tryst with Radio (Chennai Live) lasted a year, as Head of Programming. After four years in the media, she moved to MJ Enterprises, Kochi, a family-owned HR and Facilities Management Company. Now, she is the Deputy Editor of Culturama magazine. In between being a parent and managing her work, Meera has found the time to create another world of her own.
Me: Maya and the Sword of Gringak is your first book and it seems like it will be a series, so. Where do you get your idea for this book?
Meera: I never really intended to publish a book in the first place but sometimes like everything else in life, things happen naturally and you go with the flow. Maya and the Sword of Gringak is a 3-part series. The plot evolved from the stories I told my son and my nieces as bedtime tales. I use to scribble down those stories later to just entertain myself. But this particular one got my attention and I knew I have to develop it further and see where it goes. So I worked on it and it is here for the world to read today!
Me: What is your writing process like?
Meera: I am a journalist by profession and writing stories comes easy to me. However, as a journalist, there is a restriction on what we write and the subject we choose. We look at others’ stories and this time I had a chance to make one on my own.
For me, the best part of the process was writing the story in itself. I enjoyed sketching out the characters and subplots. The only challenge I faced really was timing, as I like to write in silence and for my thought process to be undisturbed, but with a toddler sometimes it is not easy. But I managed to do it anyway.
Me: What are common traps for aspiring writers?.
Meera: For aspiring writers, one of the things that hold them back is their self-doubt about their own story. Each writer gravitates towards a particular genre. So finding the right genre is important, as the language, characterizations, and plot development; all depend on it. For me particularly, I have always enjoyed fantasy and the young adult genre, so when the story first came to me, I found it easy to develop into a full-fledged series.
Me: As a writer, what would you choose as your mascot/avatar/spirit animal?
Meera: A German Shepard. A German Shepard looks intimidating at times and is choosy about people, but once it gets close, it will be the most loyal animal there is. The protagonist of Maya and the Sword of Gringak, Maya is a perfect example of it. She is a little tough, absolutely kind, and fiercely loyal.
Me: How long were you a part-time writer before you became a full-time one?.
Meera: I am a journalist by profession and have always enjoyed writing other’s stories. But after having my son I took a break for a few years. During those years I use to make up stories for him and then use to write it down. Today I am a full-time writer. I am the Deputy Editor of the magazine called Culturama.
Me: How many hours a day do you write?
Meera: About 2 hours at night.
Me: When did you first realize you wanted to be a writer?
Meera: I enjoy reading a lot. I grew up reading Lewis Carroll, Enid Blyton, JK Rowling, and JRR Tolkien, who introduced me to the make-believe world that stayed with me even as an adult. I fell in love with fantasy because of them and chose the subject thanks to their legacy.
From a short night-time tale that I told my son one day, I developed a story around a character called Maya, who is stuck in an unbelievable scenario and how she fights against the odds to emerge as the champion. I knew there is a bigger story to it than just a ‘happily ever after’, so I decided to write it down and turned into an author doing so.
Me: How long does it take you to write a book?
Meera: As it was my first book, I did not have any deadline and did it in leisure. It took me about 2 to 3 months to put together the first draft but took about a year to get to the complete product. I worked with a wonderful editor who helped me understand writing a book better, as it was very different from what I did before.
Me: What is your work schedule like when you’re writing?.
Meera: I concentrate on my office work in the daytime and dedicate book-related work at night – once the silence falls around the house. Complete peace is something that helps me think clearly and come up with storylines that will work the best for the story. Writer’s block is rather a rare occurrence for me in the process because I take frequent breaks in between, watching some television or listening to music. Sometimes just not staring at words helps.
Me: My last question for you is, what advice would you like to give to aspiring authors?
Meera: Just keep writing. It is not easy to write a book on the first go. It takes a lot of patience and rewrites to get a book published, but it is possible. If you have a story to tell, there is an audience for it out there.
So, Readers, that was Meera J. Pillai and her book Maya and The Sword Of Gringak is available now.