Shveta Thakrar is a writer of South Asian–flavored fantasy, part-time nagini, and full-time believer in magic. Her work has appeared or is forthcoming in Flash Fiction Online, Interfictions Online, Mythic Delirium, Uncanny, Faerie, Strange Horizons, Mothership Zeta, Kaleidoscope: Diverse YA Science Fiction and Fantasy Stories, Clockwork Phoenix 5, Beyond the Woods: Fairy Tales Retold, A Thousand Beginnings and Endings, and Toil & Trouble. When not spinning stories about spider silk and shadows, magic and marauders, and courageous girls illuminated by dancing rainbow flames, Shveta crafts, devours books, daydreams, travels, bakes, and occasionally even plays her harp.
What sparked the inspiration for your retelling of two tales from the Mahabharata for this anthology?
I’ve always loved “Savitri and Satyavan” and wanted to retell it someday . . . but I’d never found the right way. Then Ellen and Elsie approached me to write for this anthology and needed an idea right away for the proposal. I immediately picked “Savitri and Satyavan,” but in the actual drafting process, I realized I needed an anchor for Satyavan’s particular situation, and blending in the conditions from “Ganga and Shantanu” worked perfectly.
What do you love most about reading and/or writing fantasy and speculative fiction? What is the most challenging part?
What do I love most? Magic! Always magic, and the sense that there is more to this universe than what we can see–and the possibility I might one day stumble onto it.
The challenging part: writing to evoke that same sense of wonder and magic in readers. Hopefully I’m succeeding, but you never know.
Why is retelling parts of mythology important to you?
Myth sings in all our bones all over the world–it speaks truths we can’t really otherwise give voice to–but thanks to colonialism, we tend to focus almost exclusively on Western mythology, and I want to see that change. I can help by sharing bits from the mythology of my heritage in my work, so I do that.
Which character (can be from your imaginary worlds or a myth you know) would you take with you if you had to face a monster?
Princess Uloopi (the nagini) from the Mahabharata. She’s got a venomous bite, but also, if I died, she could bring me back to life with the gem of the nagas.
Are there any South Asian SFF or poetry writers you’d love to share?
Oh, wow, so many! But I’ll share three you might not be that familiar with: Mimi Mondal, Sukanya Venkatraghavan, Krishna Udayasankar. Definitely check them out!
What are you working on now – or – what should readers look out for in the future?
Novels! Young adult and middle grade both. 🙂 Hopefully I’ll be able to share them down the line. I’m also going to be contributing to a forthcoming middle grade anthology of “Snow Queen” retellings which I’m really excited about.