We got to read some amazing, dramatic and beautiful stories in the Retell Mythology writing contest. It was as if mythology came back to life! The contest was judged by Anuja Chandramouli, author of Rani Padmavati: The Burning Queen and she really enjoyed reading the stories. Here are the top two entries of the contest.
The Prize by Nina
The winning entry of the contest, The Prize is the story of Draupadi’s birth, swayamwara and what happens after that is the author’s imagination! A riveting read indeed.
Editor’s note: Loved the writing which is clean, crisp and concise. Initially, the narrative appears straightforward but the author has cannily crafted a stunning climax. Look forward to reading this talented author’s books in future!
Read the winning story here.
Juggernaut had a little chat with Nina about her work, her winning the contest and her passion for writing.
Your story ‘The Prize’ is the winning entry of the contest. Please tell us more about it.
Draupadi is a major character in the epic. I just wondered what would happen if she wasn’t there. Would it still be the Mahabharatha? Would there be a war or would things have just died down without her. So I wanted to explore that…
And the Swayamwara itself was such a dramatic event – these mighty kings vying for the hand of the beautiful princess and then Arjuna dressed as a Brahmin hitting the target and winning her hand much to the shock and dismay of the kings who were present. So, I wanted to create this scene in my own way and see where it went.
What was the writing inspiration behind ‘The Prize’?
I’ve always loved mythology and grew up listening to these stories about Krishna, Arjuna, Ekalavya, stories from the Ramayana, the churning of the ocean. But I felt especially about the Mahabharatha – the stories within it are truly fantastic – filled with depth and intrigue. So, I wanted to try writing a different version of one of the stories from the great epic.
Do you have any particular rules or rituals you follow as a writer?
I try to write daily even if its just for a short while. I work and rework quite a bit. So I will write a couple of drafts and then send out the final version only when I am completely satisfied.
I meditate for a few minutes (5 -6 ) close my eyes, clear my mind and focus on my breathing before I start writing. I feel ideas come to me and my writing flows well when I do this.
What/who is your writing companion? You know like coffee, tea etc.
I like to take coffee breaks sometimes. But more than anything else I love to have a window that I can peep out of once in a while – some kind of view to pep me up. Put me in front of a bare wall and I just might go blank. So a window, even a small one, somewhere in the room is what does it for me.
What got you interested in becoming a writer? Where do you go for inspiration?
I love to read – one of the greatest joys of life I think. So it seemed like the natural thing to become a writer. I used to write in my journal and would pen down poems or little stories even as a kid. I draw inspiration from the world around me. I also attend literary festivals – hear authors speak about their writing and what their journey has been like – I find inspiration there as well.
What’s that one piece written by you which is your all time favourite?
I dont have one favourite. I have a love-hate relationship with all my pieces. I don’t think I can say I have any one favourite.
The first book you fell in love with and the author you admire the most. Why?
There are so many. But I think the very first was The Lost Girl and the Scallywags. I read it when I was 10 or 11. It is a beautiful tale by Galina Demykina. It has these different shades and levels to it – a much deeper meaning than what was on the surface. I found it haunting and beautiful.
Any writing tips you’d like to share with fellow writers?
I would say write every single day. Its a process and the more you write the better you get at it. Also, do share your work with friends or writing groups. It is important to get feedback on your writing.
Honourable mention goes to The Unattainable Passage by Priya Sood
A captivating story told from Hidimba’s perspective. She struggles to accept her life in the Rakshas clan. She dares to cross over the unattainable passage that transforms her from Rakshas to Devi. An interesting plot indeed.
Read this riveting tale here.