Our country is resplendent in culture and history. When an author takes a masterpiece and translates it to available for all book lovers, we must respect and cherish it. Ponni’s Beloved is the first part of a five-part series and we all are eager to read more.
Today I welcome Sumeetha Manikandan, author of three bestseller books. She talks about her motivation and love of writing. A classic, much-loved book by Kalki Krishnamurthy has been translated by her to rave reviews and much love. She is currently working on Vol 2. Those familiar with my blog would know how much I appreciate her strong characters and deep stories with great social messages. Her earlier books, These Lines of Mehendi is a short, spirited novella while The Perfect Groom is on the Women’s web list of best debut books in recent years. Welcome to the blog.
1.When did you decide to become a writer? Why do you write?
I was a voracious reader right from my childhood. I was never without a book to read at any point of time. Sixteen years ago, right after his demise, I needed a distraction. To keep myself occupied I started reading Ponniyin Selvan again and as I read it I started translating it. That’s when my colleague Vidya Sigamani who ran a small website called Zine5 offered to publish it online and we published around 40 chapters of volume 1 on their site. But sadly, due to work pressure and many other issues, I couldn’t continue the work and I kept it aside. It will take ten more years of working on other stuff before I would take it up again. I am glad that this time around I went ahead with the publication despite many odds.
Why do I write? I write because that’s how I express myself perfectly. I write because I have many stories to tell and the thoughts keep swirling through my mind until it forces my hand to shut down mundane work and start writing. Sometimes certain stories that are in our mind, start acting on their own and want to come out on the paper (or the computer screen). That’s how it was with Perfect Groom and These Lines of Mehendi. These were stories that I was compelled to write because I couldn’t keep them bottled up inside me for a long time.
2.Give us three “Good to Know” facts about you. Be creative.
Fact#1 – I love science fiction movies and books. I have watched every episode of Star Trek (original to latest one). I have seen every movie of Alien franchise and have read the books as well. I love the idea of ancient aliens, Erik Von Denikan’s books, Egyptology, Atlantis… and all the other mysteries that come along when you explore this idea.
Fact#2 – I want to write my own fantasy series someday. And since I am a slow writer you can expect them to get published in a couple of years
Fact#3 – I am true blue Aquarius.
3.What has been your motivation for translating and writing this book, “Ponni’s Beloved” after penning two romances – The Perfect Groom & These Lines Of Menhdi?
After publishing ‘The Perfect Groom’ I started reviewing books on my blog. That’s when I came across Author Venkatesh Ramakrishnan’s book ‘Gods, Kings and Slaves’. As we got talking, he asked me whether I was the same person who used to publish Ponniyin Selvan translation in Zine5 and share it in the Ponniyin Selvan Yahoo groups. I was in shock because I didn’t know that my maiden attempts in writing were even noticed. One thing led to another soon I went back to the group and found to my astonishment that my translation was being discussed among the members for a very long time. Many had even posted reviews about it! I guess that’s what made me start this project again. This time I am determined to not only finish the translation but also publish it as novels.
4.Of all of the aspects of this project/ translation of the epic by Kalki, which is your favorite and why?
I love the humour of Kalki in Ponniyin Selvan. That’s what makes us read the book again and again. While translating, it is a challenging prospect to retain the same humour in a different language. What might seem like a joke in Tamil can fall flat when you write the same in English. That’s a challenge that I relish in this project.
5.The cover is worth a thousand words, how much of the cover designs for the book did you choose or did someone else design it?
I have very definite ideas of what the cover needs to look like. There are five volumes in Ponniyin Selvan and I know exactly how they need to look. The Book Cover of Volume 1 of Ponni’s Beloved was designed by Book Bakers. It was a pleasure to work with them. Suhail Mathur who runs the company was very receptive to what I had in mind and was able to replicate it exactly!
The Book Cover worked wonders with the audience because hardcore Ponniyin Selvan fans would recognize the scene. It is the pictoral representation of one of the most pivotal moments in history of Ponniyin Selvan. Kalki himself describes it most eloquently. It’s the scene of protagonist and hero Vandiya Devan entering the Thanjavur Fort with the Pazhuvur signet ring in hand.
I knew I wanted this scene for my book and when I presented the idea to Suhail, it worked out beautifully.
Thank you for sharing with us, I look forward to reading many more books from you. Keep writing.
Buy her books at Amazon