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Ahona Das

~ON A CHAT SESSION WITH SHREYAS BHAVE, THE AUTHOR OF 'THE PRINCE OF PATALIPUTRA'~

Ahona Das Book reviewer and editor

1. Tell us more about your love for history.


I like to go by this quote by icero: "To know nothing of what happened before you were born is to forever remain a child."


2. Your work is unique.

Tell us what drove you to rewrite history in a fictional manner? : I have always been fascinated by histo-political dramas, like HBO’s Rome and Boardwalk empire and CTV’s The Borgias. Going gaga over these for some time, I realized that thousands of such dramas are present in our own history. That is why I took on this genre. The prince of Patliputra is not just a Historical fiction. It is a histo-political thriller which will race the reader’s mind just as much as it shall race the reader’s heart.


3. I have one confusion though. Is it 'Bindusar', or is it 'Bimbisar'?

In this modern age, I call something a confusion if it can’t be resolved in one single Google search. And indeed, the confusion expressed in the question fits this mould and is a very common confusion. Both, Bindusar & Bimbisar were different persons but the confusion stems from the similarity in their names as well as the fact that both of them were Rajas of the same region: Magadha, though in different eras and of different dynasties. Bimbisar came first in time. He was the father of Ajatshatru and was a contemporary of the Buddhha. Bindusar came later and was the father of Asoka and the second Emperor of the Maurya dynasty.


4. Among all those chapters from history, why did you particularly choose to write upon the 'Mauryan' empire? 

I was visiting a mountain pilgrimage called Girnar in Junagarh district few years back. It boasts of a vast Jain temple and also the highest point of Gujarat state. When I enquired who had built the Jain temple, the answer I received was it was built by Chandragupta Maurya. The question which came to my mind is why was a king from Patliputra faraway, building temples at the edge of his empire? Afterwards I visited a underground network of Buddhist caves nearby. I was impressed by its architecture. “Who built these caves?” I asked and the answer that came was “Samrat Ashoka.” This was the incident that drove me to find out more about this great Grandfather-grandson Maurya duo and the outcome is the Asoka trilogy.


5. If you have to explain to a person who hasn't read your book yet, what would you say about 'The Prince Of Patliputra'? 

The Prince of Patliputra is the book 1 of the Asoka trilogy. It is story that begins 272 years Before Christ when Bharathvarsha (India) is in a state of turmoil. Bindusar, the second Samrat of the Maurya dynasty rules over the subcontinent at that time and he is dying, riddled by unknown diseases. His foremost enemy, Avarak the one eyed has used this opportunity to incite the province of Avanti to a rebellion and has captured the city of Ujjain. Asoka is the least favorite son of the Samrat and has been sent to break down this rebellion. The story begins with an assassination attempt on Asoka’s life as he marches against the rebels of Avarak. From them on, it is a speedy thrilling ride which shows how he defeats the rebels, finds his assassins, falls in love and faces betrayals and solves puzzles. The book also has a flashback story, which tells how Asoka’s grandfather, Chandragupta established the Maurya rule in India. More lore of the book is present as The book trailer and a blog post about The Characters of the book.


6. Tell us more about the other two books from the trilogy.

The next book of the Asoka trilogy shall be called The Scourge of Taxila. I have already uploaded sample chapters from this book athttps://authorshreyas.wordpress.com/…/the-scourge-of-taxil…/ The second part will detail the great siege of Patliputra by Sushem in 270 BC as well as by Chandragupta 50 years ago and will end at Asoka’s coronation as Samrat. The third book then will venture into the times during and after the Kalinga war.


7. Is there any particular personality you would like to mention as your motivator?

Napoleon Bonaparte.


8. What were your 1-2 biggest learning experience(s) or surprise(s) throughout the writing-publishing process?

I learnt Almost all of the 8 rejections that I faced from Big Publishers and Literary Agents in India told me the same things repetitively: 
1] I had no by default reader base (I was never a blogger, wasn’t writing in any magazine or Newspaper and was a happy engineering student totally disconnected with the literary world until this novel happened.) 
2] My story has alternating chapters in different time periods which they claimed will make the reader lose interest. 
3] Historical fiction has very less takers unless it is written by a big name. Now, I couldn’t really do anything about the last point but I did work on the first two and after submitting to more publishing houses out there, I finally found a taker in LEadstart Publishing: The Publisher who launched Anand Neelkantan of Asura.


9. Tell us more about your favorite books and authors.

 This is a tricky question as there are so many great souls to choose from! (Yes, souls! Because the top ten of my favorite authors are now dead.) In Fiction, I love the work of Alistair Maclean, Michael Crichton, Robert Ludlum, Ayn Rand. In Nonfiction, I’ll mention the great biographer Emil Ludwig.


10. Share with us, a few lines from your favorite song.⁠⁠⁠⁠ 

Bob Dylan sings this in one of his songs.
You must leave now, take what you need, you think will last
But whatever you wish to keep, you better grab it fast
Yonder stands your orphan with his gun
Crying like a fire in the sun
Look out the saints are comin' through
And it's all over now, Baby Blue.


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