Welcome to an exclusive interview with Asha Priyadarshini, the brilliant author behind the enchanting fiction novel, “The Princess of Swarna-Sarsika.” Set in the mystical city of Swarna-Sarsika, Asha takes us on a captivating journey filled with extraordinary abilities, ancient treasures, and the power of resilience. Authortimes.com is honored to bring you this insightful conversation with Asha Priyadarshini as she shares her inspirations, character development, and the deeper themes explored in her mesmerizing tale.
Q1. What inspired you to create the mystical city of Swarna-Sarsika? Were there any real-world influences or specific inspirations behind its creation?
Asha: The city of Swarna-Sarsika is a reflection of some of my childhood memories that are very dear to me. My hometown Bhubaneswar deserves credit for inspiring me to create this mystical city. The ancient folk tales and traditional stories associated with the city helped me create the mystical city in the book. The Swarna Sarsika, which means the Golden Pond, represents a small pond we had in our garden when I was a child. There were a few lotus flowers blooming in the pond, and a few mango and jackfruit trees surrounded it. The idea of writing a novel came to me in 2021 when we were still in the pandemic phase. Due to a change in my usual lifestyle and a hectic work schedule, I had difficulty balancing my sleep schedule. I would often wake up suddenly from a nightmare or a really good dream. Somehow, I was also able to remember these dreams in great detail until the next day. This went on for a long time, which worried me more and more, because the dreams I saw, both good and bad, were about the events I had experienced as a child. Since I was living alone in Mumbai at the time, these dreams had a great emotional impact on me. I desperately tried to distract myself and focus on my mental health. I started reading a lot and keeping a diary, I made notes of how many times a certain dream repeated itself. That was when I started thinking about exploring more, and here we are.
Q2. The protagonist, Aadya, possesses a range of extraordinary abilities. How did you approach developing her character and crafting her unique attributes? Did you draw inspiration from any existing myths or legends?
Asha: Yes, I have been inspired by the great female protagonists of our Hindu epics. The list is long, but I would like to mention in particular Sita from the Ramayana and Draupadi from the Mahabharata as the main sources of inspiration that helped me to elaborate on Aadya’s character. Sita represents patience to me, and Draupadi is the epitome of courage, resilience, and willpower – qualities that also characterize Aadya. I am a lover of Indian mythology and an avid reader, my interest in this genre runs deep. In our Hindu epics, there are some of my favorite female characters who I do not think have been given enough credit. In developing Aadya’s character, I had a clear picture in my mind of the different qualities of these characters that I wanted to blend into one. I also wanted Aadya to have some of the characteristics of a real-life girl in today’s world.
Q3. If you could spend a day exploring Swarna-Sarsika, which location would you most like to visit and why?
Asha: My favorite place is undoubtedly the golden pond because when I was designing the ambiance around the mystical pond in the city, I fell in love with the aura and beauty of the place; moreover, it reminded me of some of my fondest childhood memories. I wish I could visit a similar place soon so I can start writing the upcoming sequel.
Q4. Are there any particular books, movies, or songs that you found inspiring while writing this book? What were some of your go-to sources of inspiration?
Asha: I have read the amazing books by Kavita Kane and Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni. The way they have portrayed the strong female protagonists of Indian mythology is simply outstanding and inspiring. The Shri Hari Stotram – Jagajjalapalam is my favorite song. I remember the first time I heard it, I wrote four chapters in one go. I also enjoy watching Hindi mythology shows.
Q5. Are there any funny or interesting anecdotes from your research or writing process that you can share with us?
Asha: Switching genres from Karan Johar to Mani Ratnam and S.S.Rajamouli was really difficult. I am a Bollywood fanatic and a proud Millennial child; my affinity for movies is unparalleled. I have enjoyed some of the best romantic films and raved about them to my friends for months. I love to immerse myself in fantasies for as long as possible. While writing the book, I rewatched all my favorite movies and researched the topics I wanted to know more about. I enjoyed naming the characters and structuring the story arc. My husband supported me to the best of his ability and is my long-time critic. I want to give him all the credit for establishing the title of the book.
Q6. Are there any particular messages or feelings that you hope readers will experience while reading “The Princess of Swarna-Sarsika”? What do you want readers to take away from the book?
Asha: My message would be: We all have a purpose to fulfill in life. On the way to our purpose, we may encounter obstacles and hindrances, but that should not stop us from abandoning the right intentions and being a good person. Anything done with the right intentions will lead to positive results. I want them to enjoy the book and teleport to the beautiful city and become part of Aadya’s journey. I want them to fall in love with the characters.
Q7. The city’s lost treasure and Aadya’s mission to restore it play a significant role in the story. Could you discuss the symbolism and importance of the treasure within the context of the larger themes explored in the book?
Asha: The lost treasure in the book is described as a significant key to the historical events connected with the foundation of the culture and tradition of the inhabitants of the city. It also symbolizes the spiritual and cultural beliefs of the inhabitants and is one of the most valuable aspects for which the city is known. The plot also introduces different cultural groups that have different claims of the treasure based on their personal beliefs and their plans for the future. Aadya’s journey to recover the lost treasure explains the purpose of her birth into the family and the responsibility that awaits her. The mystery of her rebirth hints at a greater secret that is yet to be revealed.
As we conclude this captivating interview, we can’t help but be enthralled by the magic that “The Princess of Swarna-Sarsika” brings to the literary world. Drawing from childhood memories and rich Hindu epics, Asha Priyadarshini weaves a tapestry of courage, resilience, and purpose in her protagonist, Aadya. This fascinating journey through a mystical city, driven by a quest for a lost treasure, uncovers hidden meanings and timeless messages that resonate with readers. So, dive into the pages of this remarkable tale and be transported to a world where dreams and reality intertwine, leaving you spellbound until the very end.