“At the end of the long and arduous journey , the hero realises that the journey was preparing them for the destination… and that the journey was a gift in itself.”
Right from the time we are born, our journey into the mystical world begins; and sometimes even before that when the mythical cosmos guides the soul towards its destiny just before its birth. And as one steps into this journey, they are bombarded with several difficulties, dilemmas and agonies through which one has to struggle to emerge victorious and discover the hero within.
Author Dipa Sanatani introduces this journey of the hero through her book “The Little Light” where the Little Light embarks upon the journey to fulfil its destiny with trusted guides by its side and eventually emerges as the hero of the story.
In this exclusive interview, Dipa Sanatani shares the journey of the Little Light, what it symbolizes and how mythology is deeply connected to the realities around us. She talks about the core elements of weaving mythological fiction as well. Here is what author Dipa Sanatani reveals about the inspiration behind her debut novel and the background behind “The Hero’s Journey!”
“Writing mythological fiction allowed me to tap into the various myths I’ve heard over the years, breathe fresh life into them and make them my own.”
Q. What is your inspiration behind taking up mythology as one of the key theme of your book ‘The Little Light’?
A: This is the essence of every myth in a nutshell. A character is born with a great destiny. He or she encounters a problem and numerous complications. At various junctions, a guide (or numerous guides) steps into their life and pushes them forward so they can realise their destiny.
The Little Light is a story about a wise and curious soul that meets the planets before it’s born. But the Little Light doesn’t want to be born. In my book, Little Light is the protagonist and the planets are the guides. The protagonist is embedded with tremendous potential that is yet to be realised. The guide in the story is the ‘been-there-done-that’ character (or characters) that prods the hero along. And as the protagonist goes on this journey – with these trusted guides by his or her side – the protagonist eventually emerges as the hero of the story.
We may call it ‘mythology’ but even modern storytellers are using this age-old formula.
Q. What about mythological fiction excites you?
A: In The Little Light, I chose astrological myths because every culture I’ve encountered has its own stories regarding the cosmos.
Despite the various scientific theories and myths I’ve read over the years, I haven’t found anything conclusive about the great unknown – the sojourn in between life and death. Writing mythological fiction allowed me to tap into the various myths I’ve heard over the years, breathe fresh life into them and make them my own.
Q. What, in your opinion, are the most important elements of writing good mythological stories?
A: In Mythos by Stephen Fry he writes, “Greek myth is replete with infants cast into the wilderness or abandoned on mountaintops to die… Such outcasts seemed always to survive and return to fulfil the prophecy or win back their birthright.”
Whilst the details of the story are up to the author’s imagination, you see this same formula playing out again and again in our most beloved stories. The Harry Potter series. The Ramayana. The Mahabharata. The Alchemist. And the list goes on.
Something that ‘rightfully belonged’ to that person was taken from them only to be returned after a long and arduous journey. And at the end of it, the hero realises that the journey was preparing them for the destination… and that the journey was a gift in itself.
Q. What are the ethics of writing about mythological characters?
A: In Neil Gaiman’s Norse Mythology, he writes, “If anyone tells me that I have got the stories ‘wrong’ I believe I am justified in replying that they are after all, fictions. In tinkering with the details, I am doing what people have always done with the myths. In that sense, I feel I am doing my bit to keep them alive.”
I’m not an academic. I don’t believe in a puritan approach to retelling myths. Discover the gems of wisdom in the stories. And then retell them in a way that’s meaningful to you.
“We may call it ‘mythology’ but even modern storytellers are using this age-old formula. “
Q. How hard it is to weave a fictional story around mythology?
A: Do your research. Read a lot. And then use your imagination to bring it to life in your own unique way.
Q. Do you think mythological tales have certain realistic stories hidden in them?
A: Of course. Despite all our so-called technological progress, I simply can’t shake off the feeling that modern humans have much in common with the ancient ones that first roamed the earth. Sometimes it can be hard for us to relate to these stories given the language and the context. And so many people call these old stories ‘myths’ – which is synonymous with calling something fictional or imaginary.
I think this discredits the wisdom that our ancient ancestors were trying to pass down about the universality of the human experience. When I wrote The Little Light, I wanted to ‘update’ these themes for the modern reader so they could feel that same connection to the ancient ones that I feel whenever I read the old stories.
Our ancestors were not primitive. They were wise.
Q. What, according to you, draws the readers to mythological tales?
A: Before movies and modern-day entertainment, we humans used to sit by the hearth and listen to stories. These days we sit by the television and do the same thing.
We’re trying to make sense of the human experience and escape from it at the same time. When I really stop to think about it, it’s incredulous.
Q. What is your message to the budding writers of mythological fiction?
A: Discover the myths that are meaningful to you. And then re-tell them using your own imagination. The magic is always in the re-telling.
For we are all heroes… and a good storyteller is the best guide you’ll ever get.
“We’re trying to make sense of the human experience and escape from it at the same time.”
We wish Dipa Sanatani all the best for her novel “The Little Light” and all her future books that would reveal the hardships, pains and finally the victory incorporated in the Hero’s Journey through the mythical world of mythological tales.
“Discover the gems of wisdom in the stories. And then retell them in a way that’s meaningful to you.”
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About the Author:
Hailing from the city of joy, Kolkata, Sanchari Das is currently pursuing her masters in English just for the love of the subject after successfully completing her creative writing course and also doing a job as a part-time content writer. She has contributed to multiple anthologies besides publishing her book of poetry, “Leisure”, along with her debut novel, “Not Just a Love Story”. She aspires to become a great author someday and inspire millions of readers through her writing. Presently, she is a part of a writing community named “Scribbled Feels”. She loves writing articles, book reviews, travelogues and interviews on her blog. Apart from reading and writing, she also loves to paint, dance and travel, and feels an intimate connection with music.