My latest book is The One Who Swam With The Fishes.

"A mesmerizing account of the well-known story of Matsyagandha ... and her transformation from fisherman’s daughter to Satyavati, Santanu’s royal consort and the Mother/Progenitor of the Kuru clan." - Hindustan Times

"Themes of fate, morality and power overlay a subtle and essential feminism to make this lyrical book a must-read. If this is Madhavan’s first book in the Girls from the Mahabharata series, there is much to look forward to in the months to come." - Open Magazine

"A gleeful dollop of Blytonian magic ... Reddy Madhavan is also able to tackle some fairly sensitive subjects such as identity, the love of and karmic ties with parents, adoption, the first sexual encounter, loneliness, and my favourite, feminist rage." - Scroll

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31 December 2017

Newsletter: Year end recap edition

December 31st, and tomorrow is both a Monday and the beginning of a new year. It seems a bit silly to set so much store by a calendar date, but I'm sort of swept up in the global excitement. It seems like a new year is like a blank page in a brand new notebook: anything could happen. Anything could also happen on the first of September for example, but you know what I mean. It's also the day when you look back on the year that passed and do a report card for yourself. Ends of years are useful for taking stock, especially on a cold morning like this one, when the sun is weakly pushing through the fog, and your hot water bottle is warm against your belly.

I had a pretty good year. Some self-doubt crept in re: my writing, but I hope to conquer the little critical voices in my head and move on in 2018. After all, as a writer of fiction, you should exist only to please yourself and not the sales figures or literary festivals or what have you. Maybe there will always be self doubt, because there's always someone you compare yourself to, and we all, ultimately, want to be JK Rowling or Neil Gaiman, or failing that, Margaret Atwood. I'm grateful to my readers though, and everyone who has sent me a message or an email saying that they liked my books and what I do, it's very heartening, especially when you think you're going it alone. A few things will be recalibrated for me in 2018, but they are all baby, nascent ideas, and I'll tell you all about them when they are actually in practice. I will be finishing the next book of my Girls Of The Mahabharata series early next year and I have an essay out in a Penguin anthology which will be released in February, so I'm still writing, and writing makes me happy. (It's only post publishing that all the doubts start to creep in.)

Anyway, that's the bitterness of the pill, here's the sweet!

This year in life events: We got married! We were never very marriage-y people, but we came to the decision with the same certainity we've approached most things in our relationship: it's the right thing for us to do at this point. The boring reason: we wanted it to be easier to live and work in each other's countries. The romantic reason: love and all those other things. Our wedding was almost exactly how I wanted it to be (the only thing I would change was not being so tired after three days of partying--despite the fact that we had a "low key" wedding, we wound up having three parties anyway. Small intimate parties, but parties nonetheless.) Life has... not changed a bit. Most often, we forget we're married, except when we're using wedding presents around the house.

This year in bucket lists: I loved my month in Europe, even though now, five months later, it's taken on the dreamy quality in my memory of someone else's life. We went from Germany to Spain, from Spain to France, from France to Luxembourg, from Luxembourg to the Netherlands (via Belgium.) I got to see Europe by road, by train and by plane. I got to have expensive meals (at the beginning of my trip) and two euro steak and wine (at the end) and I loved all of it, even being broke, a little bit. Through my entire trip, I had this vague feeling of standing outside my body watching myself: pinch me, this is real, this is happening.

This year in writing: Many MANY freelance assignments. A few of my favourites: fancy book launches in Mint, how The Handmaid's Tale is relevant in modern India for Scroll, re-examining Marilla Cuthbert for Indian Express, on children's literature for Mint again, on reading the childhood memoirs of your favourite authors for Open, on why myth-lit is so popular for Deccan Chronicle. This plus several columns made my year one of heavy reading.

I also had a new book (The One Who Swam With The Fishes) out last summer, and read a lot more about the Mahabharata than I ever expected I would, and now I can rattle off back stories and sub-plots and literary analyses like a pro.

This year in little luxuries: My favourite money spend this year was hiring someone to do our garden for us. It was a bit expensive setting up, all the pots and soil and what not, but Ram Lal is a genius and I love that we barely ever buy veg anymore, since we have a steady crop of things to eat around the year. It has really changed the way I live my life, just the simple fact that we're growing FOOD. I now know the colours of the aubergine flower (purple, like the fruit), how pretty the lauki flower is in the hot sunshine, and how everything tastes so much better when you can just reach out and pluck it.

This year in habits: Getting K a compost bin for his birthday was changing the way we process trash in this house. We still put out a lot of paper and plastic (I blame Amazon and their easy next-day deliveries), but no wet waste at all, it all goes into our bin. He liked it so much, he bought a second one, and while I still find it somewhat icky, it doesn't smell, and the gardener uses it in our plants so it's all very circle of life.

This year in life lessons: A project that seemed super definite and like it was going to be a Thing, did not, finally wind up happening the way I expected it to, so I have learned to, um, curb my enthusiasm, so to speak. This is the year my optimism started to fade, just a little bit, and become tempered with realism. I think I'll always be a rose tinted glasses kind of person, but every now and then you have to take your glasses off and really look at the world.

And that's my report card! Let me know how the year worked out for you in the comments at the bottom of this. Happy New Year, and I'll see you all on the other side.

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