Madhavi became a published author when her adventure novel won first prize in the National Competition for Children’s Writing in her late twenties. Until then, she was happy just writing for her own self in her journal – poems, stories, vignettes about her own life and what was happening around her, exploring both herself and the world around her. But that serendipitous win paved the way to a writing life that has included a series of books including the Doppelganger and now The Kaunteyas.
Madhavi has been a bookseller, an editor and an advertising copywriter among other things, and each of these has contributed to her craft and helped her grow as a writer. Her writer’s journey has been marked by her desire to explore different identities, to learn and engage with the craft, to connect, to make sense of the world around her, to contribute to her country’s literature, and her books embody all these varying impulses. She is fascinated by the constant flow of words around her, the nuances, the cadences, captivated by the stories people tell and how they tell. She confesses to a secret love of eavesdropping.
People, places, things, a stray word, birdsong, a shooting star, a ripe guava, the smell of rain-soaked earth, everything around her sparks her imagination and flows down to the page. Nature, especially, always creeps in, the result of her growing up in the beautiful Doon Valley of Uttarakhand. The memory of its picturesque landscapes and many myths, of ancient sthalapuranas and sprawling colonial-era tea estates still remain with her, influencing her love for atmosphere’ and of timeless myths.
The Kaunteyas was born of this abiding love for myths and the tales from our epics. Re-reading the Mahabharata and thinking about the characters resulted in reimagining Kunti’s story, making manifest a world hidden beneath the veneer of the original epic. But The Kaunteyas is just the beginning and there will be more ‘mythofiction’ coming from this writer’s imagination.