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Author Highlight: Sadhna Shanker Discusses her New Book ‘Ascendance’ and Stories from Life

It’s time for another author interview. Today, with us, we have Sadhna Shanker, she lives in New Delhi, India.

Kindly tell us a bit about you.

I am a writer by passion and longing, however in my day job I am a civil servant. With a 25 year old daughter, I am at the phase of life where one starts looking again at one’s own aspirations. I love traveling and I think it is one thing that enhances and strengthens the story teller in a person. As a student, I dabbled in acting, hosting, anchoring etc. on Doordarshan, but with a full time job, I focused my creative instincts towards writing. It is something one can do at one’s own pace and time. I am a PhD by education, and have always kept my learning alive. These days when I have time I do short courses on EdX that interest me.

How do you handle the response of the novel, ‘Ascendance’?

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The book has just been published in April 2018, so the responses are gathering momentum. When I read some reviews and comments it always fascinates me. Readers see so many things in the words written, which probably were not in my realm of imagination as a writer. It is this engagement that is the most rewarding part of being a writer.

Do you think that writing an intense sci-fiction novel is as good as writing a normal novel? Please highlight your thoughts on it.  

There is nothing ‘not normal’ about a sci-fi novel. It is a story set in a different setting that is all. The ingredients are all the same - characters, plot, conflict, resolution and climax. Writing a novel is an enjoyable and immersive experience, whatever be the genre.

Now, tell us what’s your area of interest (genre) when it comes to writing novels? Is it science fiction or something else that you want to reveal later with the upcoming books?

Ascendance took me eight years to bring out in final form. It did not leave me with room to plan about the next book. Now that it is out there, I am toying with the idea of a sequel or something totally different. Let us see, where the mind’s quest leads!

Do you think writing a book from the comfort of bedroom or study room is possible?

Absolutely. How and where you write depends on your comfort zone. I have learnt one thing in the long years of juggling job, family and writing – there is never a perfect time to write. Or do whatever it is that you want to do. Waiting for a time when all other things will be in place is like an economics model – never a reality. The time is now. You have to find order in the chaos around.

Where do you write from? Do you go to some specific place, like beachside or into the hills?

No I don’t have that luxury of time or space. I write in my own home on a desktop. I have not got used to a laptop at all.

Did you do proper research before penning down this book?

Yes I did a lot of reading on the internet. Especially about cloning, the ethics of the rapid changes in bio-technology, the efforts towards Singularity, and life extension possibilities. I kept notes, print outs and roughly sketched out the outlines of the two sides of Elone and each of the characters before starting writing.

What inspired you to write this book? Any tales to tell...

Life, being a woman in India and the rapid changes that are happening around us. As sexuality and gender identities have been getting blurred and more fluid, I really wondered what would be the shape of things to come if the reproductive link between men and women is demolished. I do think we are moving towards that in the future. Cloning and incubation of babies outside the female form will dramatically change the way men and women interact. The idea was something I decided to write about.

What was your biggest learning experience throughout the publishing process?

I am thankful to Kapish Mehra of Rupa of taking the challenge of publishing this different and off-beat book. Science fiction is not a common genre among Indian writers. The biggest learning – be open to what the editor suggests. More often than not, the suggestions enhance the book manifold.

Looking back, what did you do right that helped you break in as a writer?

With this story I believed in it. It was rejected many times before Rupa took it up.

Any best piece of writing advice from your side that we haven’t discussed?

Writing is a discipline, but you have to find your own rhythm to keep it going. I don’t say that each day you should write for three hours or each week. Find what you can sustain and stick to it.

Something personal about you people may be surprised to know?

I dream of going to Mars. The idea of getting to see space and different planets simply fascinates me. If I were to live again I would study to be an astronaut!

Any future books that you would like to discuss now?

Am trying to outline in my mind a sequel to Ascendance.

Connect with Sadhna Shanker:


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