Readers' Favorite

August 17, 2012

Friday Fun with Laxmi Hariharan

Who is glad it's Friday? Though I only worked 4 days this week, it has felt like a very long week. My first thought every Friday when my alarm clock goes off is "Tomorrow I get to sleep in." Today, author Laxmi Hariharan shares the role sleep plays in her writing. Laxmi Hariharan is a London based writer, technophile & futurist. She is inspired by Indian mythology. Her debut novel The Destiny of Shaitan recently won the Summer 2012 Readers’ Pick Award. See below how you can win a free copy.

What I think about, when I think about sleeping
(Title inspired by Haruki Murakami)

Tiina wakes with a start.

She does not scream, though. Save her heightened breathing and an increased pulse, nothing gives away the horror and dejection the dreams evoke. Swept along by a tide of the inevitable, she faces her destiny.

Yep! A perfect start to a novel written by a sleep obsessed me. For as long as I can recall I have needed eight hours sleep at night; not counting that I can fall asleep in moving vehicles of any kind. Trains, planes, automobiles… I’ve even been known to fall asleep in the back of London’s black cabs. Really!

Some of my deepest, most satisfying, slumbers have been on long-distance overnight train journeys across the Indian subcontinent. The constant moving, shaking, rattling and rolling provided by these esteemed denizens of the Indian Railways—from the Rajdhani’s chair cars, to the Shatabdi’s second-class, three-tier sleeper cars where I would immediately lay stake to the top berth, pretending to be on top of the world while my mum & dad peered up anxiously to make sure that I would not fall out—have lulled me to sleep on many a night as I wandered from youth-festival to festival, on various university campuses across India.

The warm embrace of the sleeping berth—probably the closest I have come to recapturing the comforting cocoon of my mother’s womb. Would it surprise you, if I were to say that I actually remember being in the womb, being clad in layer upon layer of affection shot through with strands of fear, delight and an absolute terror of the unknown. No, I didn’t really want to be born, I don’t think. No wonder, my Mum maintains to today that I never stopped crying during the entire first year of my birth.

So as I raced to complete my first novel—The Destiny of Shaitan—the last one-hundred-and-fifty pages of which were written in three weeks, it came as no surprise that my power naps were the most powerful well-spring of imagination.

My normal routine was to write fifteen pages in a spurt, at which point I would feel my life-energy leach out of me. By this stage no amount of sweetened-masala-chai would help keep my eyes open either. So then, I would use my last conscious thought to crawl down to my basement bedroom, slip in-between the covers, and setting my mind to work on the puzzle of the plot, I would let myself drift into the upper realms.

Suspended between the dimensions above and anchoring my feet firmly on the ground below I would wait…for the visions to come; the dreams from my childhood intertwined with memories past, all shot through with futuristic inklings, my instinct going into overdrive, I would sit up awake suddenly—to realise that my fifteen minute comfort snooze had taken me on a trip to outer-space from which I had returned with an Eureka! That was it! Resolution, at least for now and for this act moment. So, being a sleeper does have some advantages. Its quite helpful to just let your sub-conscience take over and help solve some particularly sticky issue with the plotline.

Growing up, as I had struggled to stay up late into the night, swotting for exams and dozing over my books, I would often want to be one of those super-people who could survive on just four or five or six hours sleep. But now in adulthood I realise that it is perhaps being able to drift almost instantly into that dark space from where I can plumb the depths of my sub-consciousness that makes me a writer after all.

Your turn: What about you? How many hours of sleep can you survive on? Are you like me, a super-sleeper who needs eight hours (twelve is ecstasy!) or are you an insomniac who can’t soul more than four. Do tell me, I really want to know.

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YA epic fantasy novel The Destiny of Shaitan is a delicious blend of gods & humans, offering a glimpse into your own power. This coming of age story is painted against the backdrop of a post-apocalyptic world. When Tiina accompanies Yudi on a mission to save the universe from the ruthless Shaitan, she seeks more than the end of the tyrant; she seeks herself. Driven by greed and fear for his own survival, Shaitan bulldozes his way through the galaxy, destroying everything in his path. Tiina wants Yudi to destroy Shaitan, thus fulfilling the prophecy of Shaitan being killed by his son. But she finds that Yudi is hesitant to do so. The final showdown between Tiina, Yudi, and Shaitan has unexpected consequences, for Shaitan will do anything in his power to win the fight, even kill Tiina. The stakes are high and the combatants determined. Will Shaitan's ultimate destiny be fulfilled?
Find The Destiny of Shaitan at Goodreads and Amazon

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  1. Hi Donna, thank you featuring me on Friday Fun. I wondered if it would be a little quirky to write about 'sleep!' Have always been one of those people who is asleep before my head hits my pillow normally. And yet my best writing is done at dawn. If only I could always drag myself out of bed at 5 am, and then write non-stop till 10 am, wow! Life would be great!

    1. In college I got 10 hours every night. Now I'm good most nights with 8.5 - 9 hours. I do my best thinking in the morning, too, but I don't want to get out of bed.