If you’re looking for something short, sweet, and fun to read, Love, Pride, Virtue, and Faith is the book for you. This collection of Hindu short stories will capture your hearts with its evocative prose and adorable illustrations, and have you wondering: Just how is Bharat Krishnan this good an author?
We had the opportunity to invite Bharat to In the Margins to talk about his new book (and his other books) and we’re so excited to share all his answers with you guys! In our interview, he talks about his favorite books, the inspiration behind writing LPVF, and his writing process. (He also just got married! Congratulations Bharat!)
[Related article: Read our review for Love, Pride, Virtue, and Faith.]
First of all: Welcome to In the Margins! Thank you for taking the time to do an interview with us.
To start off, why don’t you introduce yourself.
Thanks so much for having me! I’ve now self-published three books, with many more on the horizon. I love reading and writing across all genres, which is one of the reasons I love self-publishing. I got married this year! That was and remains the most exciting thing I’ve ever done.
There’s so many ways to take this question, so I’ll keep it strictly to my writing life. My favorite books are probably The Godfather, 1984, The Outsiders, and a political nonfiction book called What it Takes. I’ve read 31 books this year so far (I had plans to hit 50 but that isn’t happening), and my favorites have been The Song of Achilles, The Storyteller’s Secret, and A Spark of White Fire. My first book is a political memoir based on ten years a democratic campaign manager. My second book is a desert-fantasy novel that borrows heavily from Final Fantasy, Aladdin, and Dragonball Z. This latest book is a collection of Hindu mythology.
Describe your book using five words.
Hindu values distilled succinctly. I only needed four words. 🙂
What inspired you to write Love, Pride, Virtue, and Fate?
I wrote Love, Pride, Virtue, and Fate because stories matter, and for too long I didn’t know the stories of my heritage. Growing up in America, I’d never had the chance to watch cartoons of Krishna and Rama on Cartoon Network India as a toddler and by the time I learned they existed I wasn’t interested in watching something meant for a 5-year-old. When I thought about my own culture and fielded questions about Hinduism from school friends and their parents over the years, I felt ashamed at worst and ignorant at best about my lack of knowledge and enthusiasm for Hinduism. This book is borne of a deep need to make sure no Indian-American child feels that way.
Hindu lore is so vast and, on top of that, there are so many different versions of many of its stories. How did you decide which stories to include and which versions to pen?
It started with agreeing on a title and trying to find a narrative arc. Once I identified the four grand themes: love, pride, virtue, and fate, I thought about what stories from my childhood displayed those values most prominently. From there, I read a few different versions of each story and settled on the ones that would be easiest to draft into a narrative.
Out of all the short stories you write, which one is your favorite?
I’m a hopeless romantic (I just got married too!), so it has to be Love, the story about Krishna and Radha. My dedication to my wife will make sense after you read that story.
Were there any stories you didn’t include that you came across in your research?
Two stories intrigued me, one of which I actually wrote down and am happy to send to anyone who reaches out to me here or via email. It’s a really sweet story about the origins of Holi; the holiday is actually rooted in dispelling racism. Krishna, like so many other Hindu gods, is often depicted with blue skin, but one of his names is Shyam which literally means black. It was important for me that he has black skin in the illustrations for my book. I learned that, as a result of British colonialism among other factors, Indians started portraying Krishna as blue-skinned rather than black-skinned. Holi has been my favorite holiday for decades, and it turns out it’s rooted in a desire to show the world that the color of one’s skin doesn’t matter where love is concerned.
The other story is highly sexual so I didn’t include it. I write about how Kali was actually once a witch who outsmarted Indra and the rest of the gods to attain immortality, but another version of the events surrounding her involves her having a lot of sex. The story is all about prioritizing female pleasure, which I feel was typical pre-colonialism, and that’s always been interesting to me. I guess if your readers are super curious they could email me and I’d be happy to tell them that too, lol.
What does your writing process look like?
I am definitely a plotter and not a pantser. In general, I will spend a few weeks putting together a 15-20 page outline of a book, breaking it down into acts, chapters, and finally scenes. Plot comes first in my process, so once I have that written down I can start researching what types of characters would drive this plot and how would they react in this situation and this setting. That character research might last another two weeks. So after about a month of researching and outlining, I’ll put pen to paper and actually start writing, and I’ll aim to knock out a first draft within a month. Then I’m liable to spend anywhere from 2-8 months editing depending on what the story calls for. During this time, I’m also working with a cover artist. I pay a little more than market rate for my cover artists, but that’s because I insist they read the manuscript and get a real feel for the material. I am really proud of the cover for Love, Pride, Virtue, and Fate. And once the cover is done, I might take another 2 months to set up a marketing campaign. That brings us to 6-12 months total to churn out a book.
I also think it’s really important to read across genres because you can’t really create authentic worldbuilding, in my opinion, unless you understand themes and important elements across a span of genres. The amazing political structures set up in the Green Bone Trilogy, for example, require a firm understanding of the corporate world that you can get from a few business books or, in Fonda Lee’s case, her career as a corporate strategist.
What do you want readers to take away from your book?
I would love for readers to come away with a greater understanding that many of the world’s myths are all remarkably similar to each other. Stories matter, and the fact that we share so many should be evidence that we’re a collaborative people by nature. The world needs so much love in today’s world, and I really do think the entertainment industry has the most influence when it comes to spreading that love.
About Love, Pride, Virtue, and Fate
You might know that Greek gods interfered on both sides of the Trojan War, but did you know that Hindu gods fought alongside both the Pandavas and Kauravas in the Mahabharata? In the same way the ancient Egyptians worshipped Ra above all else, did you know that the monkey-god, Hanuman, gained his wisdom from the sun? Did you know that Krishna and Hercules are often linked to a past that includes Alexander the Great’s conquests? And just as Noah had his ark, one of Lord Vishnu’s avatars had a similar tale for Hinduism. All of us share the same stories because the things that unite us are far greater than the things that divide us.
I wrote this book because I wanted my loved ones to hear about Rama and Krishna and Saraswati as they also learned of Thor and Hercules, of Horus and Ra, of Noah and Moses. In these twenty-five tales, you will be immersed in Hinduism in a way that highlights the traits I found most compelling in my research – tales of love, pride, virtue, and fate.
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About the Post Author
Surina is an avid reader who spent most of her childhood buried in books, and who hopes to spend more of her life doing the same. She is perpetually tired and likes to spend her (nonexistent) free time complaining to her dog. Some of her favorite books are Aru Shah and the End of Time, Timekeeper, and The Priory of the Orange Tree. You can find her on Twitter and Instagram.