Q: Many writers find works of literature can take months or even years to complete. What was the process like for writing The Destiny of Shaitan? What were some of the challenges you faced during the course of developing the manuscript?
A: It is a constant surprise how much I use Indian mythology as a North Star. I had to trace my memory back to when I was very little, about five or younger, and recall my grandmother telling me stories of the Indian gods and goddesses. My subconscious had soaked this up, using it as a springboard in my writing. My grandmother was an amazingly strong woman. She lost her husband early and singlehandedly brought up five children and various assorted nephews and nieces. In writing this book, I have taken great inspiration from her perseverance.
A chance encounter with a stranger in Hong Kong triggered off the first words for The Destiny of Shaitan. It was like I had landed on an alien planet with the most bizarre things happening to and around me. That experience inspired the idea of character of Tiina landing on an alien planet of Java.
Q: You establish Yudi and Tiina’s feelings for each other right off the bat, yet Artemis appears later in the story as a rival for Tiina’s affections. Why did you choose to explore this relationship of an artificial intelligence with Tiina?
A: Artemis was a curveball. Yudi is Tiina’s first love, but Artemis represents her soul—her need to find herself before she can commit to her partner or soul mate. It also reflects my belief that it is essential to first find your self. I have learnt that you cannot find happiness through someone or something outside you. True happiness is within oneself and how you live your life is in your hands. Will Tiina commit to a real love once she finds herself? Is Yudi that real love? I hope to explore that in a follow up to The Destiny of Shaitan.
Q: As an author, what do you hope readers will take away from The Destiny of Shaitan?
A: That the destination is not important: the journey itself is key. How you go through your life, the adventures you have, what you learn, and how you live in the moment are most important. While we are all influenced by the past and live in the hope of realizing our future, it is the realization that this current moment, the now and what you do with it, holds the key to your happiness. Buddhism also calls this “true spirituality.” This is what I learnt on my journey and is a big theme of my writing. I hope my readers will also take this message away from The Destiny of Shaitan.