The Pagoda Tree

By Claire Scobie

An epic novel set in eighteenth-century India about love, loss and exile, and the fate of individuals when two cultures collide

Friday, 29 April 2016

How an author gets closer to her characters

While researching my novel, ‘The Pagoda Tree’, I made four research trips to India, starting with a visit to Thanjavur in the south. On the exterior walls of the 11th Century ‘Big temple’, the names and addresses of 400 devadasis (temple dancers) are inscribed – the novel’s main character, Maya, is one of these dancers. My guide, Mr Rajah – a slight man with grey hair, his buckteeth blackened from smoking – started reading out some of these women’s names. I loved the fact that the presence of these women is still evident today. This made them feel even more real. As a writer, you are always looking for ways into your characters... this was one of the ways I used to learn more about my main character Maya.

 

 

Caption: Writing in Tamil from Thanjavur's Big Temple

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