Vaibhav Anand’s bestselling book, The Great War of Hind, is a unique Indian mythological fantasy — although it features Ram, he is a mortal, and a general of a warring land, before the events of the Ramayana occur. This is Ram like you’ve never seen before! We asked him how he thought of the premise, and what goes on in his mind when he’s writing:
It wasn’t, and isn’t, my intention to write mythological fiction. It just happened. I tend to be fairly ambidextrous when it comes to writing; I need to train for a particular genre if required, which takes months, but primarily involves reading the masters of that genre and noting their techniques. You learn a lot from masterpieces, but you learn more from the bad books of a particular genre’s masters. For example, one of the books in the Harry Potter series (the fourth one, if my memory serves me right) or Douglas Adam’s Dirk Gently series are both written by masters, but have significant flaws compared to the authors’ other works.
For an author like me, it is absolute gold to read mediocre to bad books by great authors…it’s like seeing an elaborately constructed building with the foundations and the wiring revealed; it makes understanding how to write the genre much easier.
My natural voice is cynical, which is where my first book If God Went to B School fit in. Over time, as I started reading satirical articles on Faking News, I discovered I could easily slip into writing satire (which led to my 300+ posts for Faking News so far). But reading the novelized history of the Mughals (by the husband-wife duo going by the pseudonym ‘Alex Rutherford’) made me realize I wanted to write historical fiction. I enjoyed the books so much that I wanted to write in that genre! Which is how The Great War of Hind was born.
The idea behind the book is about how we believe epics written by Valmiki and Ved Vyas to be about gods and real men. To me, Valmiki and Ved Vyas were the Stan Lees of their generation, who wrote these stories to regale people. In parallel, I had been toying with a simple logical idea of creation – God creating man and animals – and I saw no better way to tell the story than to choose mythological characters everyone knows, and plug them into a story of the origin of mankind and animal-kind, how and why it all happened, and what happened after. The Great War of Hind and The Legend of Ramm series are built around this kernel.
When writing, I spend a significant amount of time in establishing the skeletal structure of the plot. This takes a month or more (sometimes, much more). Writing for me is about threading the needles I have laid down as the plot. But it gets complicated at times. You might have a great idea while writing that completely muddles the plot, or find it impossible to stick to the plot structure. So it’s a tedious bone-crunching process.
I write best when I am constrained for time, when I am tired and stressed. There is no particular time for me – I just try and get in a little bit of writing everyday.