Origin of The Destiny of Shaitan: A Guest Post by Laxmi Hariharan

Laxmi Headshot

I met author Laxmi Hariharan through a mutual friend, Ritesh Kala who is a reviewer for the relaunched site Alexia Chronicles, some weeks ago. This really was my first time interacting with an Indian SF/F writer and so I got to know Laxmi and her debut novel, The Destiny of Shaitan, which she has self-published recently. Consequently, as part of an unofficial self-published author spotlight, I invited her to do a guest post on how the novel came about. There’s a giveaway involved at the end so do check it out!

 Origin of The Destiny of Shaitan

by Laxmi Hariharan

The unerring precision of being caught in that act by him sends goose pimples up her arms. She plays it out in her mind, examining it from different angles.  It was 2003. Wanderlust had led me to Hong Kong, where I now lived in a tiny four-hundred-square-feet apartment (I kid you not! If you have seen pictures of the high-rises smothering the Hong Kong skyline, well I share a secret—they are all apartment blocks. I lived on the eighteenth floor of one such tower.) “Eighteen—lucky number,” the landlord had reassured me, as apparently, was the street address—Eight Hollywood Road. The belief in numerology runs deep in the Orient, with local businessmen shelling out millions of dollars for a car license plate bearing the number Eight.

But I digress, for I am here to share the story of the origins of my novel.

One hot perennial-summer-afternoon found me walking down Hollywood Road, wearing my favourite thin cotton cut-off trousers, and a skinny-T-shirt. In that eighty-degrees-heat the less one wore the better, and I had learnt very quickly that even wearing jeans felt claustrophobic. Cotton was best, as it let in the cooler air to keep the skin ventilated. Raindrops drizzled, and a slight sea-breeze crept up, enveloping me in its cooling embrace before fading away. I raised my eyes in delight at the perfect moment and put out my hand to catch the drops of calm in the palm of my hand. Thank you, one above! My phone rang just then, startling me out of my dialogue with the greater force of nature. “Enjoying your walk?” It was the man I had met last night at the salsa bar. Hong Kong—strangely—is a salsa hotspot, and most nights I managed to make it to the gym and then onto a salsa class to give myself over to the pure enjoyment of becoming one with the music. I was a novice and he was obviously a seasoned dancer. I was flattered by his attentions, and for the rest of the evening we twirled, sashayed and swayed together.

Seemed he was in the bus that had just gone by, “I saw you talking to yourself” he told me that night as we met at another Saturday night salsa melange. I blushed feeling the blood rush to my face so that the heat curled up from the pits of my stomach all the way to the tips of my eyelids. I blinked. Why did it felt as if he had caught me in the act of making love to myself? Perhaps because at that very moment, when he saw me, I had been one with the universe. In the middle of the city I was in my own private place. No one was meant to see it, and yet he had intruded to see a vulnerable side to me; the one which no-one was meant to know even existed? There are no coincidences. So what was this? All it had been was an emotional exchange, yet the attraction felt wrong, it felt as if coming from a wellspring of hope which I had not known existed within me. A gaze, lust. A touch, sizzle. A beat of music, caress. A drop in time, like the rain which chattered down while I had looked up and floated away.

Why did it feel so wrong, as if I was cheating on my partner? When all I had done was look into his eyes and felt a connection? I had to get to the bottom of these uncharacteristic emotions—hope, lust, guilt—all bubbling up within me and so had put the first words to paper, in the form of a short story. My writing style, it turned out, was firmly rooted in the magic realistic, almost fantasy genre. Set in a futuristic city filled with foreign scenries—similar to the alien city of Hong Kong, where nothing was as it seemed; splattered with characters who were bizarre—much like the own country rejects who came to Hong Kong, attracted by its multilayered, east meets west confluence of sensations, in the hope of finding their path.

A complete surprise was how my plotlines were inspired by the lush stories from Indian mythology. Seemed somewhere along the line, I had taken to heart the wars of the gods and the seductive adventures of the goddesses from the legends back home; narrated to me first by my grandmother and then Amar Chitra Katha (Indian comics) they found a new avatar in my fantasy. It took another nine years, three countries, four homes, many jobs and crucially a near death experience in which I lost my first born which pushed me over the edge.  It was almost as if I had to resolve my own issues before solving my characters’ conflicts; and then suddenly I was there. It was time to release Shaitan to the swells of Amazon, to be read by humans and kindred half lives. It had to be now, for there is no tomorrow.

So that was the tip of my iceberg of a story. What about you? What prompted you to start writing and crucially to release it to the real world? I would love to hear your experiences too.

About Laxmi Hariharan:

(In the author’s words) I am a writer, technophile & dare I say, a futurist, with a penchant for chai and growing eye-catching flowers.  Wanderlust drove me out of my home country India to travel across Asia, and I lived in Singapore and Hong Kong before coming home to London.  My writing is inspired by Indian mythology; I draw from the stories my grandmother narrated to me as a child. It is in acknowledging my roots that I found my voice. When not writing I love walking in the woods with my soulmate, and indulging my inner geek. I would love to hear from you:

Twitter @laxmi,

Website: www.laxmihariharan.com.

Follow her eclectic music http://www.myspace.com/laxmihariharan

Facebook:  https://www.facebook.com/laxmihariharanauthor

Pinterest: http://pinterest.com/laxmihariharan/

If you like my writing and would like to be profiled in my Readers Avatar Series then please email me at laxmihariharan@yahoo.com.

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Shadowhawk is a regular contributor to TFF. A resident of Dubai, Shadowhawk reads, reads and reads. His opinions are always clear and concise. His articles always worth reading.

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  • Marie

    This is awesome! thank you so much for doing the tour – you rock!

    ~Marie, Novel Publicity

  • Bn100candg

    I enjoyed the post. Thanks for sharing about the inspiration for the book.

  • Rebecca Hipworth

    Interesting tale of inspiration! Very inspiring.