UnCommon Bodies, a new short story anthology edited by Pavarti K Tyler will be released on November 24. My short story, Phantom Pain, is featured in the book alongside some great authors. I’m working my way through the book at the moment and so far, every story has been a winner.
It’s been a while since I posted any interviews on the site so I got in touch with the other UnCommon Bodies authors and put together a series of Q&As that all be posting here in the run up to the release of the book.
First up is Laxmi Hariharan, whose story, UnTamed, is a coming of age tale with a twist.
What attracted you to the UnCommon Bodies project?
I actually saw a call for entries from Pavarti Taylor, specifically she was looking for a wolf girl story and something clicked there for me.
Tell us about your lead character, what makes them UnCommon?
Wolf girl Leana Iyeroy, the first hybrid in her family, only ever wanted to be 100% human. When she inherits her grandmother’s ancient sword, she decides take it back to Bombay; to the temple where her grandma had touched the sword to the altar and set off a tsunami that had changed the course of mankind, and discover the truth about her origins. Along the way, the sword is stolen and she is beaten up and left for dead; when an unexpected encounter with the Hugging Saint of Bombay, forces Leana to face the wolf inside her. Will she finally make peace with herself? This is a magic-realist, coming-of-age story, interwoven with Indian mythology and set in a not too-far off future, the human race has been forced to mate with other species to survive.
What are you most proud of about the story?
I am going to quote a reviewer Jule Owen, who amazingly got so much of the subtext in this story.
“Laxmi Hariharan’s ‘Untamed’, one of the tales in this collection, reminds me of a more mainstream Angela Carter. It’s not just the magical realism it’s the alchemy of combining myth and the modern world to create storytelling gold. In this case, the mythical framework is not the gruesome fairy tales of the brother’s Grimm and other tale-spinners of cold northern climes, but the ancient, rich tapestry of India.
The chaotic markets, port and temples of this world are vividly imagined. Hariharan knows how to play with names. There’s something about using the old colonial Portuguese-given name for a post-apocalyptic re-imagined Mumbai that lights up little neurons of satisfaction. The Hugging Saint is also a wonderfully named creation and a perfect meshing of the ancient and modern world. What could be more modern than a hug? There’s even science behind why it is good for your health. What could be more ancient than a saint?
There is a wonderful vivid tale of a giant fish that saves the people of Bombay from a tsunami that could be Indian or ancient European in origin. But it is the main story of Leana Iyeroy, a teenaged girl with an animal within, her gloriously bloody, violent transformation and the wonderful surprising twist in the end of this story that most reminded me of Carter.
There is just so much going on in this story: Leana is an all too human monster, with weaknesses, failures of judgement and hesitations. Her situation, a living hybrid of a human and wolf, isolated amongst full humans who probably hate her, wrestling with the animal inside, is positively freudian and calls to something dark and anxious in all of us.
Are there any other stories in the anthology you particularly enjoyed/are looking forward to reading?
All of them. I am really proud to be in such great company and more so because this book is in the magic-realist-surrealist-speculative fiction genre which I believe is the future.
What do you hope readers will take away from the story?
When Leana asks why there are so many temples in Bombay, she is told, “We love our temples, it’s where we come together to not only pray but to reassure ourselves that we are together on our shared journeys. That we are not alone.” This is the crux of the story. That we are not alone, we just have to reach out and ask for help sometimes.
Once readers have read your story, which of your books/stories should they read next?
UnTamed is set in the year 2060 and Leana Iyeroy is the granddaughter of Ruby Iyer and Vikram Roy, the protagonists of the Ruby Iyer series, which sets up the world for Leana. So the next book to read after this would be The Ruby Iyer Diaries. Set in 2014 this is Ruby Iyer’s story, where it all starts.
About Laxmi Hariharan
She had an awesome time launching TV channels for MTV and NBC Universal (Syfy) around the world, when a near death experience convinced Laxmi Hariharan that she had to get writing. NOW. A one time journalist with The Independent, she is now the author of the multi award winning fantasy adventure, The Ruby Iyer Series.
She also blogs for the Huffington post, has written for The Guardian and has been featured in publications including The Economic Times, The Times of India and Verve.
Married to a filmmaker and fellow author, her life often resembles a dramedy of errors film script. Born in Bombay she now lives in London, where she writes while listening to electronica and is an avid street art photographer. She is also the proud owner of a mononym Twitter handle @laxmi
Receive a free copy of THE RUBY IYER DIARIES when you sign up to her newsletter at http://bit.ly/NewsletterLH
Reach Laxmi, on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/laxmihariharanauthor
on Twitter https://twitter.com/laxmi
on Instagram http://www.instagram/com/laxmiwrites
Suggested reading order in The Ruby Iyer Series (Each is a standalone book)
The Ruby Iyer Diaries
Many Lives (of Ruby Iyer)
First Life (of Vikram Roy)
Inside Dark (The Elusive Life of Kay Braganza), coming soon
Second Lives, coming soon
Secret Life, coming soon
Stories set in the Ruby Iyer universe
UnTamed : Leana the Wolf Girl (Part of the UnCommon Bodies Anthology)
Check back tomorrow for the next UnCommon Bodies interview.
You can find out more about my upcoming releases, and get four FREE books by signing up for my newsletter here.[UnCommon Bodies Q&A: Laxmi Hariharan by Philip Harris first appeared on Solitary Mindset on 9th November 2015]
One of the things I like most about “UnTamed” is that the reader doesn’t know what Leana is going to do because Leana herself does not know. Hariharan captured the confusion about oneself very well; it’s something we can all identify with, even though so few of us are trans-species.
One of the things I really like about “UnTamed” is that the reader doesn’t know what Leana is going to do because Leana herself doesn’t know. The author captured the self confusion very well, and it’s something we all can identify with, even those of us who are not multi-species.
Deanne – thanks for the great feedback and Philip thanks for hosting me 😀
I personally love how you can get into the mind of characters with Laxmi’s writing. This kind of writing makes me feel as in I am an intimate observer of the story playing out.