In a conversation with DT Next, author Meera J Pillai discusses her writing process and what readers can expect from the book. “Maya and the Sword of Gringak is a fantasy fiction for young adults that explores the adventures of 16-year-old Maya. This is a three-part series, this being the first opus. The story takes place in an extraordinary parallel universe living in the middle of the human world. For young Maya, the world she took for granted now exceeds her wildest imagination. She overcomes the obstacles thrown at her with the help of her friends, family and the inner strength she discovers along the way. The tale is complete with romance, action, suspense, magical creatures and most of all, finding power within yourself in exceptional situations, ”Meera explains.
A former journalist, Meera grew up reading Lewis Carroll, Enid Blyton, JK Rowling and JRR Tolkien, which introduced her to fantastic fantasy worlds that have remained with her even as an adult.
“I fell in love with the fantasy genre because of them and I chose the subject because of their heritage. I developed this story from short nighttime tales that I use to tell my son. Maya is a character that many young girls will relate to and the epic journey she is on is something we all yearn for. I decided to write it down and as I continued I knew there was something more here than just ‘happily ever after’, ”she adds.
Sharing her experience writing her first book, Meera explains, “I like to write, but I never considered myself to be an author. However, after I had my son, I went through postpartum depression. It was a complicated time and it was extremely difficult to find a passion or a hobby to occupy myself. It was then that I discovered my love for writing stories. Ironically, I wrote Maya and the Gringak Sword without the idea of getting it published. I never really set up a writing process and it was more of a “go with the flow” method! After I finished the first draft I felt there was something worth sharing with the world and decided to move it forward. While all of the writing may have started personally in a dark place, it evolved into something beautiful in the end. ”
Meera has always loved stories and the people around them, which is the main reason she got into journalism. “You meet different types of people and learn their unique stories that stay with you forever. Journalism makes you see the world and people in a whole new light. But as they say, journalism is a “literature in a hurry”, the field of exploration of its creative side is limited. Writing the book responded to my need to expand my creative thinking through words. As a journalist I watched other people’s stories and as an author I created my own.
The author promises the book is a fantasy that will keep young readers hooked until the last word. She says the protagonist, Maya, represents every Indian girl. “Her dark skin or her peer group status doesn’t define her. It’s her innate ability to see the good in people and try to work on herself that makes her who she is. She might be up against a pretty mountainous task, but she stays true to herself and despite times of doubt, she strives to give the best of herself, even if that comes with some shortcomings. I think for readers the main takeaway is that while society may see flaws in you, it’s how you see yourself at the end of the day that matters, ”she adds.
Meera is currently working on the second part of the book as she continues to explore Maya’s journey.