In my novel 'The Pagoda Tree', the main character, Maya, is a temple dancer in India. While these temple dancers, or ‘devadasis’, have been compared to the geishas of Japan, it is their connection to the temples that make them unique. I was fascinated by their role in 18th Century Indian society, when my novel is set. They seemed to operate between the worlds of sacredness, culture and sensuality.
Initially, I planned to write a non-fiction book about these women, but with so few sources available – and a secret desire to write a novel – I decided to take the leap to fiction. This lush portrait of a woman, Dancing Girl with a Hookah in Faizabad 1772, is by the English artist Tilly Kettle. In researching my novel I often turned to paintings by both English and Indian artists, as well as carvings and fragments of poetry, as a way to understand my characters. I reckon all authors need to be good sleuths (and not just those who write crime) to find out what really makes their characters tick.
Join 140 other awesome people who subscribe to new posts on this blog.