The Diary Of A Rolling Stone

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May 2017

“One of the biggest challenges that any author has to face while writing a historical novel is to hone the language to match the period.” – Sumeetha Manikandan
Today on our guest post we have Sumeetha Manikandan, one of the top

Sumeetha Manikandan

bestselling romance author whose novellas ‘Perfect Groom’ and ‘These Lines of Mehendi’ (which was published as a paperback novel called ‘Love Again’) have been on the top of Amazon India charts ever since its publication. A bookaholic, thinker, feminist and a daydreamer, she reads across genres and is a crazy fan of history, romance and science fiction novels.

Her latest release Ponni’s Beloved is the work of English translation of one of the best classics of Tamil literature, Kalki Krishnamurthy’s Ponniyin Selvan.

How difficult it was for you to do the translation because recreating the same magic with words in a different language is not easy especially when the book has stayed with book lovers for generations?

The first thing that anybody ever told me about translating was that ‘how can you write this classic in English?’ ‘How would you capture the nuances of one language into another?’ Speculation was endless as was criticism. Even today, I tend to read some passages and wonder whether I could have written them differently. I guess it’s a struggle that all translators undergo.

One of the biggest challenges that any author has to face while writing a historical novel is to hone the language to match the period. That said, one needs to be careful that they do not go overboard with their ‘thy’ and ‘thou’ (especially if you are writing a dark age or medieval novel) because today’s reader would find it disruptive. The other extreme of this argument would be to write novels where well-known historical characters utter words such as ‘dammit’ ‘bloody’ ‘What the F@#$’ which totally spoils the book for the reader.

Finding a middle ground here is very important. The language needs to be formal and yet must not be too archaic and nor it must be too modern. It needs to be fusion of neutral and formal – perfect enough to remind the reader that they are in a certain era in the historical timeline.

As a reader, I had to abandon many a book for this reason. The only times I have really persevered is when the plot is good enough to stir my curiosity that I chose to endure the bad language just to find out what happened to the protagonists in the end.

Ken Follet’s Pillars of Earth makes a great example here. Basing the plot in 12th century, the author doesn’t use archaic language (the kind for which you need a dictionary to consult for every other word) and yet he cleverly ushers us into medieval England and soon we are worried as to who would rule over the Kingdom.

While perfecting the language was just half the struggle but getting the humour right was important too especially in Ponni’s Beloved.

Ponniyin Selvan’s hero is a muti-faceted character. He was not only brave, courageous, daring and rash but also quite funny. His interactions with the rest of the characters results in situational comedy, eliciting peels of laughter from the readers.

That was the biggest challenge that I had to face. What might seem funny in tamil might just fall flat in english so I had to work around the language a lot and write many versions until I could get it right.

I will be the first to admit that much is indeed lost in translation. So those readers who can read Tamil must enjoy this classic in its original language.

The Schedule of the Tour can be seen here 

Ponni’s Beloved 

Volume 1. New Floods 


Sumeetha Manikandan




Kalki Krishnamurthy’s Ponniyin Selvan is a masterpiece that has enthralled generations of Tamil readers. Many authors have written phenomenal books in Tamil literature after Kalki Krishnamurthy, but Ponniyin Selvan remains the most popular, widely-read novel. It has just the right mixture of all things that makes an epic – political intrigue, conspiracy, betrayal, huge dollops of romance, infidelity, seduction, passion, alluring women, unrequited love, sacrifice and pure love.

Grab your copy @

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“I have brought important information for all of you. That’s why I asked the noble Sambuverayar to invite us all here. Maharaja Sundara Chola’s health has been steadily deteriorating. I secretly asked our royal physician, and he says that there is absolutely no chance of his health improving. His days are numbered. And it is up to us, to think about the future of the royal throne.”
“What do the astrologers say?” asked one of the noble men.
“Why ask the astrologers? Haven’t you seen the comet that has been appearing in the sky, for the past few weeks? They say whenever a comet appears, there will be death in the royal family,” said another.
“I have asked the astrologers as well, and they say that the king might live for some more time. Anyway, we will have to decide who should ascend the throne next,” said Pazhuvetarayar.
“What is the use of discussing that now? Aditya Karikalan was made the Crown Prince two years ago,” said one of the noblemen.
“True. But before he took that decision, did Sundara Chola consult any of us? We all have stood by the Chola Kingdom with loyalty and have sacrificed our sons and grandsons in the battlefield. Even now warriors from each of our clans have gone to Elangai to fight for the Chola Kingdom. Don’t you think we deserve the right to be consulted about who should be the next heir to the throne? Even King Dasaratha asked his council of ministers, before deciding to crown Rama. But our Sundara Chola didn’t think it necessary to consult anyone…”
More about the author
An avid reader of historical novels, she has been translating Kalki Krishnamurthy’s classic Tamil novel Ponniyin Selvan for the past ten years and hopes to translate more of his novels to English.
Sumeetha is married to filmmaker K.S. Manikandan and lives with her nine-year-old daughter in Chennai.”
You can stalk her @ 
      Climbing The Charts

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‘Start marketing your book way before it is published,’ says author Paromita Goswami

Paromita Goswami

The following post first appeared in

What are the challenges of a debutante author in marketing their first book? And how to overcome them?
Okay, so you wrote a book. Congratulations! The hours of sitting and plotting out your novel, the sleepless nights with your character’s conflict and the tons of times your family and friends might have looked at you with disapproval are finally going to vanish with the new book baby in your hands. There is no doubt that your family and friends will be the first one to shout on top of their voice that we have a new author in the rising. You will be more excited when your book’s sales start rolling in and your book ranking is pacing fast towards the bestseller chart. Wow! You made it. Yahoo!
Is this what actually happens? I am afraid to say no. We all would love to…

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