Author Interview: Sandeep Nayyar

Author Interview: Sandeep Nayyar

Sandeep Nayyar is a London based author who writes primarily in Hindi and English. His recent book The Inescapable Curse is the second book in The Kosala Triology. The books are based in post vedic area and are historical fiction with a tinge of fantasy in them. 

I recently took the opportunity to ask Sandeep Nayyar, via e-mail, a number of questions related to his newly published book The Inescapable Curse. I hope you’d like this short interview.

 Hi, Sandeep Ji congratulations for the publication of your newest book. It has been two years since the first part of this book Revenge of the Chandalas was released. And two years is a long time, so what are your thoughts right now?

Thank you so much. Yes, two years is a long time for the second part of the trilogy to come out. Actually, the last one and half years have been quite disturbing and turbulent due to the pandemic. My business that I am dependent on for earning my bread and butter suffered dearly. So, most of my time and energy was spent in bolstering the business and as a result I could not devote enough time to writing. 

For the unversed, could you tell a little bit about the Kosala Trilogy?

A summary of the trilogy is given in the book. The stories are set in the post-Vedic era of ancient India. The post-Vedic era is the period marked by momentous changes in the history of India. This is the period when the glorious Aryan civilization struggled through the darkness ensued from the great Mahabharat war. The egalitarian Vedic society gave way to a rigid hierarchical social order. The permissive Vedic religion developed into Brahmanical orthodoxy. The states battled for supremacy and began to display imperial ambitions.  Inequity and perfidy crept through society. The greater Kosala (North Kosala and South Kosala) pivoted these epoch-making moments. The Chronicles of Kosala' trilogy tells tales of this tumultuous time witnessed by Kosala.

In the first part Revenge of Chandalas, the war was waged against South Kosala? In this book the description shows South Kosala as the aggressor and it's people of Dandak who would have to fight the enemy. So is the story in the second book happening after the story in the first one? Or the story of this book is occurring in a completely different timeline. How important is it for the reader to have read the first one in the series?

The second book is more a prequel to the first book - Revenge of the Chandalas, than a sequel. In book 1 a magical but cursed yantra helps the protagonist of the book Shatvari to gain supernatural powers to win the war against the North Kosala. Book 2 narrates the story of this magical but cursed yantra, and hence the name – ‘The Inescapable Curse.’ Also in book 1 you have read about the imperial ambitions and the expansionist strategies of the emperor of South Kosala, Rudrasen. Book 2 goes into further exploring his colonial aspirations.

This is a historical fiction with a touch of fantasy in it. You have also written Dark Night which was contemporary fiction. Is the writing process different for both genres? If yes, then what are the differences?

Yes, historical fiction requires a great amount of study and research to gain a thorough understanding of the socio-political background of the period in which the story is set. Despite writing fiction, the author must do justice to history, otherwise it sounds like a fairy tale.  

Writing historical fiction demands a lot of research from the writer which can be a daunting task. Since this is the second book of the series and they are set in similar timelines so was the research easy for this one as you were traversing a similar territory? What were the most difficult parts of the research?

Yes of course. A lot of the research done during the writing of book 1 came in handy while writing book 2.

Apart from the main characters, which is your favorite character in the book that you enjoyed writing about?  And which was the character that you found difficult to write about (it could be doing the research or as a person getting into the mind of that character)?

It's the character of Devdutt. Devdutt is the real protagonist of this book. He is an orphan raised by his elder brother in strict discipline. He has a kind of love and hate relationship with his elder brother. Despite having been born in a Brahmin family he has traits of a warrior. He is a round and complex character brimming with many contrasts.  

I have noticed there is a strong woman in both books of Kosala Trilogy and they are taking the centre stage. There was Shatvari in the revenge of the chandalas and then there is Kusumltata in the inescapable curse. Was this a deliberate decision?  What are the similarities between Shatvari and Kusumlata and what are the differences between them? 

 History is full of male heroes, almost everywhere. It has been broadly written from a man’s point of view. Heroic, warrior-like female characters are not commonly found in the written history of the world, and also in historical fictions. So, you may say that it has been a deliberate attempt to introduce warrior-like female characters in both the books to build a new tradition. Women are taking the central stage in many modern stories so why not give them enough representation in historical fictions as well? Both the books also have strong central male characters. It’s Neel in ‘Revenge of the Chandalas’ and Devdutt in ‘The Inescapable Curse’.  

In revenge of the chandalas you had explored the caste based social structure of medieval India. This social structure played a crucial role in driving the story ahead and is also a commentary on our current society where in some pockets it seems not a lot has changed. Have you tried to explore another such facet of Indian society in The inescapable Curse?  

 No, I haven’t touched upon the caste system or any other social ills in the book. Human emotions like ambition, greed, devotion, and sacrifice take centre stage in this book.


It is said that we should learn from our history. As a writer, who is writing historical fiction, have you learnt something new, during this process, about us as a society? 

 It is also said that the only thing we learn from history is that we don’t learn from history. However, writing is a learning process anyway. I believe every writer learns and is intellectually enriched through the process of writing whether fiction or non-fiction. I learnt a great deal about India’s history while writing this trilogy. I have also learnt the crafts of storytelling and developing round and complex characters.


How important is the title of the book for you? How did the title The Inescapable Curse come into being? Was it the first choice or were iterations done?

 The title is very important for me. The title is the first thing the reader sees or hears about a book, and it certainly has an impact on whether the book is picked up off a shelf (or downloaded) by the reader. ‘The Inescapable Curse’ was the first-choice title as the story culminates in an important character of the book having become victim of the curse lurking within a magical yantra through sacrificing his life for the greater goods.


When can the readers expect the third part of the trilogy?

 I am working on it. Hopefully it will be next year.

Your books are being published in Hindi and in English. In fact, the initial books came out first in Hindi and then their English editions were published. Now the Hindi edition will be published after English. What's the reason for this shift now? Are you focusing more on writing in English?  And What difference do you find in the English and the Hindi audience?  

 There are more fans of reading in English than in Hindi. Book 1 of the trilogy was received very well in English. The Hindi edition was also received well but unfortunately could not find as many readers as the English edition found. I will keep writing both in Hindi and in English. This has been helping me to connect with a much wider reader base.  


What are the current projects that you are working on? Could you tell our readers something more about that?

Book 3 of the trilogy of course. I am also writing a non-fiction book on my experiences of life in Britain. 


You can read more about the book and read an excerpt from it by clicking on the link below:

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