Frequently Asked Questions
which inevitably means: Frequently Given Answers.
(Warning: effective 2008 and hence in urgent need of adult attention. The authors were too busy writing fiction and hope to improve their PR someday. Meanwhile, read on at the risk of alienation…)
Can you do the laundry?
This really is one of the most FAQ! – The family is always asking. And the washing up. And the post. And the shopping… As for the answer: I can, but would rather pass.
How old were you when you began to enjoy writing?
Do any specific authors inspire you?
Jyoti, when are you going to get an education, get a job, and get a life?
How much do you pay?
Now to some “real” FAQs – perhaps what you’re looking for.
Where can I get your books?
With over 100,000 copies in print in four languages, the Insanity Saga / Calaspia trilogy was moderately successful. But every book, other than the Bible and perhaps Harry Potter, finally sells out. Our first three books are out of print and pretty hard to come by. German books can be ordered over this site. Perhaps the Netherlands are still selling the Dutch version. You can always order secondhand on the interwebs.
We don’t even have e-books yet. Yes, we are old-fashioned. But stay tuned! Many of the rights have reverted to us, and when our literary agent has placed Jyoti’s new series, we will explore making our previous works available again.
You published your first book aged 17. How?
At the age of eleven, we were tidying our room when we stumbled across a dusty pile of story fragments – first chapters, character sketches and world maps we had been working on from the age of six. Of course, we’d never finished anything; the longest story we’d written was ten pages. But finding this questionable treasure inspired us to an insane ambition… to finish writing a whole novel. Six months later, we had 100 A4 pages. The next challenge was to find a publisher, which took another six years! Finally, at the age of 17, version 10.6 of Conspiracy of Calaspia was published and our agents got us some international contracts including a six-figure deal for three books in Germany.
Most important lesson you learned in those six years?
There are so many things wrong with most current educational models. For instance the lack of real-world experience. Young people should get their hands dirty, and at the same time learn from the masters of their field. We cut our teeth writing and submitting manuscripts from the age of eleven, but were sixteen before we started learning about the craft and structure of fiction. It’s always worth spending time to sharpen your tools.
I wish we’d spent less time obsessing over getting published and focused on quality writing for its own sake. Ironically, this would have resulted in earlier publication! You shouldn’t give yourself goals that are dependent on others. It’s fine to have the goal of publishing a novel, but focus on the measurable and attainable goal you can actually do something about, which is, for example, writing a better book than the last, in less time.
What is your inspiration?
If we read bad writing, it inspires us to do better; if we read an amazing author, we strive to reach that level. The very idea of authorship inspires us. The fact we can write something that influences how someone feels, however briefly, and perhaps even change the way someone sees the world.
Best author moment?
When after a school reading (with mandatory attendance!) a few students bought our entire trilogy — over 2,000 pages — and confessed they don’t normally read!
Jyoti, you’ve been a full-time writer since the age of 15. What advice do you have to little people with big dreams?
Don’t sacrifice excellence on the altar of ambition. And don’t make an idol of ambition in the first place. With the technology-driven explosion of knowledge sharing, it’s never been easier to develop a skill and get things done … Conversely, there have never been more distractions and there’s never been more competition. The most important thing in this environment is not to be your own worst enemy! To succeed, we absolutely must sort out what we believe about ourselves by dealing with our fears and exposing the lies behind them. This is more important than honing the skill itself, because it’s what’s between our ears that holds us back. With this mindset, it doesn’t matter if you don’t achieve one particular goal (say, professional author) because the experience of learning a craft with perseverance – having wrestled with the world and the self – will make you a better person with a richer life. This is my take on ‘the journey is more important than the destination.’
Wow, you’re serious guys. I’ve seen pictures of you with heavyweights at the United Nations and stuff. So why do you write fantasy, which is escapism and has nothing to do with reality?
We strive, with Shakespeare, ‘to hold, as ’twere, the mirror up to nature’. At its best, Fantasy can be just as suited to mimesis. If not better — at times, it’s only by putting the everyday in exotic setting that we learn to truly appreciate the all-too-familiar. Fantasy evokes a sense of wonder and epic purpose. This is missing in the world today. If that sounds escapist, let us remind you that the financial crisis got underway because bankers lost touch with reality! (We’ve addressed managers and diplomats on ‘escapism and its alternatives in education and economics’.)
Our society needs to examine anew such fundamental concepts as truth. One reason literary giant Rowohlt picked up the trilogy as their first-ever Fantasy title was because they recognised the maligned genre’s capacity to be more than mere escapism. One such reflection they find in our concept of Insanity, the corrupting energy that seeks to twist everything into a perversion of its original intention. ‘Insanity’ may be more difficult to visualise than Milton’s Satan, but has turned out to be great at raising civilisational issues for discussion. That is the power of story, that is what makes the pen mightier than the sword.