An author, illustrator, orator and a mythologist - all rolled in one. Yes, this is Devdutt Pattanaik for you. His books - 'Jaya', 'The Pregnant King', 'Myth=Mithya' and many more are much acclaimed in the literary world. He has also penned down some wonderful children's books, a great way to introduce mythology in contemporary context. He has more than 20 titles to his credit including the children's books.
After having read his book 'Jaya' (reviewed here), I so wanted to know about the author's views on varied topics hence availed the opportunity of conducting an e-interview with him. Its my pleasure to be sharing his views with you all.
You are an esteemed author, an orator, a brilliant illustrator and well read mythologist. How would you like to be known as?
Mythology is the core; the rest are expressions of that mythology. And no, I am not a well-read mythologist. That assumes that what I am writing is merely regurgitating what others have written before, and there is nothing original. I feel I am finally expressing what mythology, especially but not just Indian mythology, is all about. Too long have we been fettered by mediocrity imposed by European and Amercian academicians and scholars who have never taken Indian wisdom into account.
How do you manage your time between these different vocations and which interests you the most? Do you ever feel that one of these gets lagged behind because more time and energy being spent on one of the other things?
Not really. I just go with the flow and do what takes my fancy.
Which is your favourite piece of writing among the ones that you have penned so far or do you feel the best is yet to come?
The one I am writing currently. There is no best. There is just bettering…
When did you start feeling that you do have something unique to offer in the literary world and should start writing?
After I passed out of medicine, somewhere around the age of 25. I never realized that what I took for granted and understood very easily was not very common.
What are research work has gone behind the written work that we see in your books? How long has been this journey? What has been your learning curve and where do you see yourself ten years from now?
No research. This is just natural for me. I keep learning as I write/draw/speak on the subject.
What is more fun and fulfilling - writing books for children or for adult readers? How do you make a balance between the two styles of writings? What comes naturally and easier to you?
Both are the same actually. The idea is the same. The method and vehicle changes with the audience.
Why and how did you pick mythology as your main area of interest?
Mythology picked me. I know nothing else. I am student of medicine and science and yet I understood this subject very effortlessly.
There are many versions of Mahabharata offering different perspectives and unique points of view, what do you think 'Jaya' offers which no other interpretation does?
It looks at the whole story with fresh eyes and not based on assumptions that are often based on Western linear templates.
How did 'The Pregnant King' happen?
I wanted to try my hand at fiction and the story just fell into place. I had finished two non-fiction books, one on women (Five Faces of the Divine Feminine by Inner Traditions) and one on queer tales (Man who was a woman, Haworth Publications) and I realized there were so many tales that people did not know and I wanted to create an age that people never could really visualize.
What do you see as the next step - as an author, an illustrator and a mythologist?
Nothing…just doing what I have always been doing….
Thanks Mr. Pattanaik!
Please check his site for more information.