Sarah Roberts: What’s that piece you’re playing?
Miriam Blaylock: It’s Lakmé by Delibes. Lakmé is a Brahmin princess in India. She has a slave named Mallika.
Sarah Roberts: Mallika…
Miriam Blaylock: In a magical garden they sing how they follow the stream to its source, gliding over the water.
Which is largely irrelevant, but today’s guest post is all about vampires, India and a girl called Mallika. Take it away, M.P. Sharma…
When I was asked to contribute to a guest blog on how Indian cultural perspectives have influenced my debut vampire novel, I jumped at the idea. As a journalist, getting to write on something that truly means something to you is a rarity and even more unexpected, so the far and few opportunities that do come your way are exciting and nerve wracking all at once.
A few days ago, I wrote about the insecurities I face writing fiction, a debilitating aspect of my endeavours as a fiction writer. The crux of my editorial fear has reached its peak with the availability of my book at major online retailers last week.
This guest contribution has been cathartic in many ways for me because it forced me to uncover old wounds on why I went down the self-publishing path in the first place, and more pertinently, my motives for telling a story I strongly believed I had to let loose.
The Last True Blood (LTB) Series is close to my heart for many reasons; firstly, I have been absolutely obsessed with vampires since I was (gratefully) subjected to Bram Stoker’s Dracula in my first year of Journalism studies at University. Secondly, as a proud Indian often classified as an “International citizen”, having being born in the United Kingdom and having grown up in the Middle East, Australia & sporadically in India, it has been difficult (dare I say it – nearly impossible) finding literature with a strong, albeit, any sort of, Indian presence.
My preliminary discussions with Literary Agents internationally tended to resonate one skimpily cloaked, yet obvious fact, Mallika (my main protagonist) just wasn’t stereotypically Indian enough! As an Indian female, I myself was perplexed at this notion, which led me to ponder, what exactly is an Indian?
After bashing my head against a brick wall for the better half of a weekend, and a few bruises later, I realised that the very notion of a stereotypical anything is bizarre in itself. So I was left with two choices – the first one, to create a character that was more “Indian” than my ideas of what an Indian female is about (how would I know, I only have my entire life of having living as one to go off?), or two, to stick to my guns and share a story that I believed could be understood by “real” people out there – Indian or not, because irrespective of our many differences, we all know that at an organic level, we are exactly the same.
So, in case you haven’t guessed yet, I went with the second option, because I believed I wouldn’t be able to live with myself had I selected the first option, and because often, as a journalist, we are subtly “encouraged” to tell a story that shows an “unbiased” viewpoint (as with regards to certain major players, cough, cough – large corporations – but that is another story).
Mallika is a young female of today (even if she is a couple of hundred years old), facing the trials and tribulations of what most people are facing in today’s times, with a twist – she’s a vampire.
Strong, and fiercely independent, Mallika provides a backdrop to a strong Indian element in my novel. In addition to drawing on the obvious territorial nuances of India and her hometown, Mallika is also a representation of the more subtle aspects of Indian perspectives as brought forth by her complex relationships with her brothers, her blatantly biased adoration for her father, Dracula, as well as her ideas on what others may consider cultural restrictions, but what she views as a way of life.
My novel is different in so far as that most readers (I believe) wouldn’t expect to touch on the Indian attributes that are evident in this story – being Indian is a pivotal part of the story, however, it is unlikely to be the focal point.
Obvious popular cultural representative elements of Indian-ness (such as crude landscapes, immense poverty, unbearable pollution, bursting at the seam populations), are absent (or at least minor, even when they do make an appearance), but I do sincerely believe that The LTB does portray an interesting, newish type of India for those hard-core “Indianophiles” out there, or those who find the mysticism of the East a little tantalising.
Vampires & werewolves are surreptitious, dark creatures, and I definitely played with the idea of the seductive, exoticism of the East blended with the enigmatic ideal of these paranormal creatures – and best of all, I had fun doing it!
If you would like to sink your teeth (or fangs, whichever you prefer really) into my book, The Last True Blood, please visit the major online e-book retailers and please do share your thoughts by connecting with me on Facebook, Twitter or/and my Blog.
A special, grateful mention to Francis as well, and his magnificent blog for allowing me to share my thoughts with you on his stage. Happy Reading & I hope to see you around soon as well – thanks!