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Interview with Sadhna Shanker | Author of Ascendence

Hi Friends,

Allow me to introduce Sadhna Shanker. Though, she is a Civil servant working in the Income Tax Department since around 3 decades, we got to know her through her book Ascendance.

Ascendance is a SciFi written by Sadhna. However, it is not the first book penned by her, but it is the first one we got a chance to read. What we like about the book is, in addition to the fact that it is a SciFi and setup somewhere far in the universe in future, is the way she thought of a possible future. Telling more about the concept will not be spoiler free, so I will suggest you to read our Book Reviews for Ascendance at the below given link.

The story and the way it is weaved, made us curious to know more about the author, and we found a fantastic video where she talked a little about herself and the book – Ascendance.

It made us more curious to have a Q/A session with her. And fortunately things worked out as expected. On behalf of our team, I got a chance to have this Q/A session with her, and I am happy for the same :).

We are glad to have a conversation with you. As your book is getting both commercial success and critical acclaim gradually, I can see the flow is started, and obviously you are enjoying it, especially when you spend almost five years to shape it the way it is. Can you share your feelings?

Whenever I read a review or comments about the book on various platforms I feel happy and energized. The perspectives of readers always fascinate me, because often readers find ideas and thoughts in what one writes, which are surprisingly fresh.

It is a kind of cliché question, obviously, you are feeling joyous, accomplished and happy, but, each time we are able to follow our passions the way we want to, we feel, inching more towards completeness. Do you think so?
(Because, in a traditional way of life, often, despite we love doing some stuff, we got busy so much in the hustle and bustle of the life, both personally and professionally, that some of our passions took backseat, in terms of priority).

When I was young trainee officer, a senior had come to our Academy to address us. He had said that always maintain a hobby, something that engages you apart from work. Overtime I have understood the wisdom of his words. In the hustle, bustle, stresses and strains of everyday life, writing is like an oasis for me. When I get down to write, everything else recedes in the background. So it actually works both as a passion and as a place of my own to retreat to.

What draws your interest towards writing books?

Before I joined the civil service I was very active on Doordarshan – as host, an anchor and in acting. Later I found that a full-time job demands a regimen that does not leave time for such artistic pursuits. They require a huge investment of time. At that stage, I turned my creative urge towards writing. It can be done at one’s own time and pace, and is equally engaging and immersive.

We often see that usually an author (when came from a specific field) try to explore his world in his book. For example John Grisham writes Legal thrillers, Ravi Subramanian goes with banking thrillers, Maya Kavita writes thriller about IT industry; can you tell us, why you’ve decided to pen down a SciFi?

Work is only a part of who I am and of life in general. There are so many other stimuli that knock at your intellect throughout life. For me, I guess, they were more attractive, and had much more potential as story material!

Do we see Sadhna writing a thriller setup in the world of economics in future?

Frankly, I don’t think so. But then I try not to say never!

Can you tell us about what are you planning to write next?

Lots of ideas are playing in my head. Sometimes I think of a sequel to Ascendance, at others something totally different. I still have to decide.

Shadhna Shanker - the Author of - Ascendance

Shadhna Shanker – the Author of – Ascendance

What are the major challenges you faced when writing this book?

Writing something like science fiction is both a challenge and an opportunity. Since one can imagine any kind of world, any kind of species, atmosphere, technology etc it is a huge canvas to pick from. However, there is nothing that one can draw from in terms of experience or day to day living. That to me was the biggest issue – keep it real, yet keep it different.

Can you tell which part(s) / scene(s) in the book you enjoyed writing the most / like the most in this book? (Of course, you may want to avoid the scenes which can prove to be spoilers).

Interestingly, what I enjoyed the most was writing about Earth in the 23rd and 24th century, and imagining how life as we know it could be transformed with the rapid change in technology in all fields.

Can you tell us more about your writing regime? Are you a method writer or an impulsive one?

I am a write when you can person. I don’t have the luxury to set aside a prescribed time for writing. Have learnt in the long years of juggling work, home, family and my own passions that you have to make the most of the present time.

The book cover plays an important role in book selling, were you involved in book cover designing process? How much?

Actually a Pune based artist friend of mine Ravi Pawar has designed the cover. We could not meet so I sent him the synopsis and had one ten minute conversation with him. He sent me two options, I loved the one used as cover the moment I saw it.

We all get inspired by the people living around us and incidents happening around us. Writers take a lot of inspiration from these realities and then mix it with fantasies. While writing mythology there is not much scope, however a lot of imagination has to be weaved in the tale, Can you share any of real incidents which helped you in writing this book?

Life, being a woman in India, climate change, rapid advances in technology, and my own fondness for reading whodunits and science fiction.

Every book affects its author in some way. How do you think writing Ascendance affected you.

Ascendance emerged over time within me. When I started out I had nebulous ideas about immortality, gender dynamics and the potential of technology to transform our existence. As I researched for the book. Read numerous and varied articles on the internet, my own ideas changed. We are moving towards a huge change in human life – I don’t have doubts about it anymore.

Can you share your experience of the journey from writing the book to getting it published?

It was one long line of rejections – some outright and others polite. It is not a romance, nor a pure thriller, it is science fiction being attempted by a woman. I guess it was difficult for people to take a chance on it. I am thankful to Kapish Mehra of Rupa Publications for taking it up.

Why should one read, Ascendence, according to you?

If you enjoy a well told story, in crisp language that also makes you think – then this is the book for you.

What is your favorite genre when it comes to reading?

Fiction, especially whodunits, science fiction, and increasingly non-fiction too!

Who are your favorite authors whom you love to read?

Ayn Rand and Agatha Christie.

What is your favorite SciFi book(s)?

Brave New World by Aldous Huxley.

What is your favorite Indian mythology / scripture?

The web of stories in Indian mythology/scripture are fascinating and mind boggling, so very difficult to identify one. I do love reading Devdutt Patnaik‘s take on the same in his various books.

Do you think that it is possible that “Vedas” and “Puranas” are the legacy of a highly advanced earlier civilisation from our pre-historic past?

I have never thought of it like that, but I have often wondered if Earth was a colony of deviants of some other planet. And they perished and we prospered, in a sense.

Which are the book(s) you are reading currently?

A brief history of time by Stephen Hawking

What are your hobbies apart from writing?

I love traveling, seeing movies and theatre.

Can you share your favorite movie name(s)?

Well all time favourite movie would be Gone with the wind.

In contemporary movies I have loved Inception and Interstellar.

In Bollywood films all time favourite is Pyasa, and in contemporary movies I enjoyed Shubh Mangal Savdhan and Airlift.

Trailer of Pyasa:

Trailer of Airlift:

Trailer of Shubh Mangal Savdhan:

It seems that you are a nature lover, what in your opinion we should do to preserve it?

I think each individual needs to be aware and take steps to minimize damage in their immediate surrounding. Shutting lights, closing taps, stopping the car at signals, not using straws and plastic – there are so many small things each one of us can do easily to preserve the environment.

What is your opinion about EBook readers and their impact on the generation overall?

I am not an e-book reader, but I know that younger people often prefer them to physical books. As long as the written word continues to enthral humanity – it really does not matter what form it takes.

Do you love to read traditional printed books more or EBooks?

Physical books. I love the smell and feel of a book.

What is the one thing you want to share regarding time management?

The only time is now. There is never going to be a perfect time when all will be in order for you to pursue that which you want to do. Find the window and the crevices to do it now.

Did you grow up hearing moral and ethical stories from parents/grandparents? If yes, how it affected your persona?

I grew up in a nuclear family, and story-telling happened by way of celebration of festivals. I have tried to pass on all that I know to my daughter via the same route.

Do you think that we are gradually losing the tradition of hearing “moral and ethical stories from grandparents”?

Changing family patterns are bound to change the way norms and values are transmitted down generations. In our time schools taught us moral science, today probably it is the information that is available in the palm of one’s hand that influences the most.

What are your opinions about various social networks and the way it can be used to spread awareness about some important cause around the globe?

Social networks are good for information dissemination, of course fake news has its own downside. Other than that, I don’t think having Facebook friends and twitter followers can replace the simple joy of human interface.

Please share your Social Media/web presence, so that readers and fans can follow/contact you.

Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/zindagitalkies/

Twitter: @sadhnash

Blog: https://zindagitalkies.wordpress.com/

Do you remember the first incident when someone asked you for the autograph for the first time, as an author? Can you share it with us?

To be honest, I have yet to experience it. I have signed books at my book launches/readings.

Please share anything you want to convey to the readers from your end.

If you are looking for a book to read that takes you to another world, has a mystery to solve and interesting characters, try Ascendance. On the other hand, if you are longing to read a story that knocks at your intellect, leaves you wondering ‘can this really be the future?’ , then pick up a copy of Ascendance.

Quick Purchase Links for Ascendence:
Over To You:

Hope you have enjoyed the Q/A session with him. And many of your questions might be already answered. Let us know that what do you think about this Interview session? Do you want us to ask anything else to him on your behalf? Do let us know. Also, let us know which other authors you like us to interview? Do let us know your thoughts and remarks via comments below. Do not forget to share this article with your friends over various social networks via Twitter, Facebook, Google Plus and others. And yes, you may like to subscribe to our RSS feeds and follow us on various Social networks to get latest updates for the site to land right in your mail box.

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