By J. H. Bográn
For thousands of years, the wisdom of the Nine has protected mankind from destroying itself. But a vengeful ancient spirit has returned to shatter the peace. With the help of magical powers, he has possessed a young man and mobilized black yogis to destroy the Nine. Plucked from their ordinary lives, empowered with special abilities, Tara, Akash and Zubin are swept into an occult world of kala yogis and siddhis to fight an ancient warrior spirit.
And so begins NINE –CURSE OF THE KALINGAN, the newest release from author Shobna Nihalini. I had to privilege of interviewing her for the August edition of The BIG THRILL. Let’s dip into her world, shall we?
What inspired the premise of NINE?
Several ideas form the basis of the plotline: Super-humans exist. They possess secret knowledge of ancient powers. And they are capable of destroying the world.
References to super powers and advanced scientific knowledge are commonly found in Indian mythology and ancient Indian texts. One such reference is to the legend of the Nine Unknown Men, which has been around since 273 BCE. This secret society was founded by the Indian Emperor Ashoka – one of the greatest rulers of his time. The Nine has often been cited as one of the oldest secret societies in the world, and is believed to still exist today, with its members holding tremendous powers and knowledge that were handed down through the ages.
Please describe the protagonist, Tara.
Tara is one of three protagonists. The others are Akash and Zubin. Tara is a nurse in India, Akash is a DJ working in London, and Zubin is a forensics expert based in Minneapolis. Their destinies lead them to join the ranks of the Nine, replacing three members who were killed by the antagonist, the ancient Kalingan spirit.
So Tara, Akash and Zubin have to deal with a bloodthirsty Kalingan warrior hell-bent on destroying them. They must also face the challenge of protecting the chintamani, a crystal that holds all worldly knowledge.
The members of secret society of the Nine Unknown were men, but in my book I have made one of them a woman – Tara.
What can you tell us about the antagonist?
The antagonist is the spirit of an ancient Kalingan warrior, who died at the hands of King Ashoka. The Kalingan spirit takes possession of a strong-willed human called Vayu King to help achieve his goal to destroy the Nine. Vayu King, a martial arts instructor, has a disciplined mind and is familiar with dark energies. Possessed by the Kalingan, he has mobilized an army of kala yogis (black sorcerers) to find the Nine and their source of power – the chintamani crystal.
What kind of research did you do for this book?
I did a lot of reading, both from history books and online. When I started my research, I already knew quite a lot about the history of King Ashoka, as Indian history and mythology have fascinated me since I was a child. However, information on the secret society of The Nine Unknown Men is sketchy at best. I used whatever references I could find to the secret society, and where information was unavailable, I have taken some creative liberties.
As NINE is the first in a trilogy, when can we expect the next book and what can you tell us about it?
Sometime in 2014. In the next book the antagonist will be a woman. As for the third book, I plan to make it a prequel to the first.
Any tours or book presentation, or writers conferences that you will be attending?
I will be attending literary festivals in Hong Kong, Thailand, and India.
Would this book appeal to non-Indian readers, and how do you make a historical legend exciting?
Non-Indian readers are unlikely to have heard of the legend of the Nine, and I believe it would fascinate anyone of any origin. I’ve also created characters from many different backgrounds, for example, Asian and Dutch characters and ethnic Indians who have grown up outside India – hopefully non-Indian readers will relate. As far as history goes, I’ve taken my fascination with the legend of the Nine Unknown Men and combined it with conspiracy and the paranormal. To make it appeal to modern day readers, I’ve added action, adventure and thrills in global locations.
Shobha Nihalani writes fiction, especially stories that involve murders and mysteries, mad chases, and fiery personalities, all seasoned with the spices of Indian culture. She writes novels, blog posts and a humor column. She also has a day job and lives with her family in Hong Kong… and outside of her everyday routine; she is locked in a struggle to control her wild characters.
To learn more about Shobha, please visit her website.