The author of the popular Mahabharata Quest series, Christopher C. Doyle, has a new offering for his fans -- The Pataala Prophecy Son of Bhrigu. The book was published last week and much like Doyle's other works it promises adventure, fantasy, and mystery.
Doyle, who has a knack for weaving together mystery and mythology says that in Pataala Prophecy he has "tried to connect the ancient texts of India to our modern lives, not in a philosophical manner or lecture based way but in a more realistic form."
Pataala Prophecy is a story of two 15-year-olds, Maya and Arjun. Their simple lives are suddenly disrupted by the brutal murder of their favorite history teacher. Meanwhile, a mysterious stranger reappears after 5,000 years and strikes a secret society called Sangha. In order to save mankind, Arjun and Maya must join forces with the Sangha to fight the stranger who has returned from the 'depths of pataala'.
Will they succeed? You will have to buy the book to know, however, Doyle promises that the book will take the readers back to a world that they have encountered and loved in his hit Mahabharata Quest Series.
The author spoke to CNN-News18.com on the occasion of World Book Day about his latest book, writings, creative process and the art of blending mythology, history, and science. Excerpts:
Always a voracious reader, Doyle said that he dreamed of becoming a writer since the age of 10. "I grew up reading a lot of science fiction, fantasy and suspense books," said the author. He revealed that he was captivated by Mahabharata as a child. However, when he finally decided to write about it, he knew that his books based on Mahabharata had to be fictions. "It is very difficult to deal with Mahabharata as a non-fiction because there is absolutely no archaeological evidence backing it. In The Mahabharata Quest series (which isn't concluded yet) I have taken events and concepts from the epic and tried to find scientific theories or explanations to back them," said the author.
Doyle claimed that his literature is scientific and not science fiction. "I do not want to write science fiction. The theories in Mahabharata may be fictional but the scientific explanations I have used to describe them in my books are vetted by experts," he said.
Doyle said that he used real science in The Mahabharata Quest series which cannot be contested. "I ensure that the reason behind my explanations is correct. I can challenge anyone to contest the theories in my books," he added.
Walking The Line Between Mythology and History
The line between mythology and history is generally blurred and Doyle uses this to his advantage in his books. He often introduces characters that we have known from history or mythology in his works and builds up situations and events around them with imagination. In the process, he makes myths out of history and sometimes he makes myths appear historical. "If you look at king Ashoka, till 1837 he was mythology because he was too good a king to be historical. It was only in 1837 when the first edict was deciphered that they realized that Ashoka was actually a historical figure. On the other hand, if you think of Alexander, he is a historical figure. But, there is no archaeological evidence that he ever existed. We just have stories written by three reputed historians to prove his existence," said the author.
The Writing Process
Doyle has been extremely productive in his short career. The author started his career in 2013 and has already written several successful books. However, writing isn't his full-time profession. Doyle also owns a corporate firm. Talking about his writing process the writer revealed that he doesn't have a fixed schedule for writing and writes as often as he can make time. "I still have my corporate job, it isn't easy to strike a balance... but, it is a matter of prioritizing what is more important at a particular point in time. Now, I have a book launch, so the first ten days have to be for the book. I'm lucky in the sense that I own my own firm so I can afford to take ten days off. I don't have a boss to take written permission from," said Doyle.
"I think I also make use of the so-called free time. When I am traveling in a car, from South Bombay to North Bombay, it is an hour and a half drive. There is a lot you can do in 90 minutes, be it researching or writing. So, I try and make use of all this, when I am on an international flight and it is a five or six-hour flight, I write. I don't watch movies on flights, I write," he added.
The author revealed that when he switches on his writing mode, he gets really engrossed in it. Doyle doesn't write too many drafts, however, he confessed that he meticulously works on all the edits and rewrites suggested by his editor. Apart from his editor, people who get to read his books before they release are his wife and daughter.
Not Just a YA Author
For Pataala Prophecy, which is a book with teenage protagonists, Doyle revealed that his 19-year-old daughter gave him very useful feedback on how teenagers behave, respond and communicate. While Doyle hates the tag of being a young adult fiction writer, his biggest fans are teenagers. "This whole young adult categorization is not something I agree with. Kids are interested in reading stuff that interests them," said the author.
"It's an interesting thing, in typical young adult books characters are anywhere between 10-18 years old as a protagonist and the whole focus of the book is on them. If you look at The Mahabharata Quest series my characters are all 28-32 and there is one main character who is in his forties. That's a series that is phenomenally successful among the age groups of 13-18. It is by definition not a young adult book but whenever I go for school interactions, they just love these books," he added.
The author also has adult fans, and his work is often compared to that of Dan Brown. In fact, the world that Doyle has built for The Mahabharata Quest series has been compared to JK Rowling's Harry Potter and while these comparisons may be flattering to some, Doyle feels any comparison (whether good or bad) is not fair to the authors he is being compared to, or to him. "Each author has their unique style and until and unless anyone is plagiarizing, I don't think comparisons should be made," he said. However, Doyle confessed that "it is good to think that people think I write on an international level."
(Doyle's latest book The Pataala Prophecy Son of Bhrigu has been published by Westland Books. It costs Rs. 399)