Wednesday, June 27, 2012

TBR welcomes Vasant Davé

TBR: Welcome to TBR, Vasant Davé. Will you share a little bit about yourself?
Vasant: I was born and schooled in Kenya where my parents had emigrated from India before WWII. Although English isn't my mother tongue, I could gain considerable mastery over it with the help of some very dedicated teachers. I graduated in Engineering from the University of Bombay and served in both Electrical and Electronics fields for 24 years. Then for another 8 years, I executed industrial market research contracts for consultants based in Singapore and Hong Kong. I retired in 2008 to devote full time to historical research and fiction writing.

During one of my frequent official tours in remote parts of India, I happened to visit an archaeological site named Lothal. It was a port in the Indus Valley Civilization during the Bronze Age, and I was awed to find that it traded with Mesopotamia. That set me on a course that culminated in writing my first novel Trade Winds to Meluhha.

TBR: Tell us about Trade Winds to Meluhha and where it's available.
Vasant: Set in pre-historic times, it is story of a young Mesopotamian named Samasin who gets caught in a whirlwind of swift events and lands up in the Indus Valley 3,000 Km. across the sea.

Currently Trade Winds to Meluhha available in e-Book format at the following outlets:

TBR: Please tantalize us with a story blurb or excerpt.
Vasant: The Protagonist, Samasin, is implicated in a foreigner's murder. He is saved from a gory sentence by a rare event which is actually recorded on clay tablets excavated in ancient Babylon. He flees to 'Meluhha', Indus Valley Civilization, in search of Siwa Saqra whose name was uttered by the alien before he died. There besides Siwa, he also meets two damsels. Anu is a Sumérian who poses as a Meluhhan because she is on a lookout for a couple of faceless men for revenge. Velli, who wins his heart, is still devoted to a person who had jilted her. Interactions with all three lead Samasin on the trail of a diabolic trade that is ruining the lives of youngsters and women back in Mesopotamia.

The narrative throws up suspense after suspense, such as:
- Why a native of Meluhha was brutally murdered in Mesopotamia?
- Why was a powerful Babylonian afraid of an orphan on the run?
- Why did a beautiful damsel eagerly await a coded message from an old man?
- Why did a comely hairdresser want to kill a gentleman who would never hurt a fly?
- Why did a wealthy merchant embark upon a long sea voyage after a stranger called on him?
- Why did an indignant woman seek pardon for an unscrupulous man who had exploited her?
- How did fate throw these individuals together?

TBR: What inspired you to write about the theme?
Vasant: I was so thrilled by the ancient port of Lothal that I made it a point to visit other Indus Valley sites as well as museums with rich collection of artifacts of that period. My bookshelf, hard disk and diary started filling up with random facts about the life in the Indus Valley and its contemporary civilization of Mesopotamia with which it had had cultural and trade links.

As I studied it at leisure and visualized the Bronze Age, it struck me that a lot of that information could be used to create an exotic background for a story. Gradually, a rough plot emerged in my mind. Perhaps I could create a protagonist, who belonged to one ancient culture, and make him go through adventure and strife, and fall in love in another ancient culture.

Once while visiting my son Sachin and daughter-in-law Nitasha, I mentioned it casually. Both are working with leading Indian newspapers in Mumbai, and are voracious consumers of English novels and films. While Sachin's response was gentle, Nitasha was excited. "With that plot, you'd give J. K. Rowling a run for her money!" she said. I laughed it off - family members have a tendency to blow your miniscule success out of all proportions. However, the mere faith that the girl had in my narration ability made me take a shot.        

TBR: Are you a plotter or pantser?
Vasant: A hard-core plotter. While studying English Literature at school, I had grown fond of those authors who fired off on all engines from the word 'go', not wasting either their words or my time. Several years later, after I failed my first year engineering, reappeared in and passed the exams, I had six months in my hand before another academic year commenced. While others of my ilk used that period to learn technical courses like radio repairing, I could not keep myself away from pursuing a course in story writing. It taught me the concept of 'Problem-Conflict-Solution' which fitted perfectly with the sort of fiction that I enjoyed reading. Working on that line gave me immediate result when the late Shankar Pillai, one of the earliest political cartoonists in India, published a couple of nonsensical stories that I wrote.

TBR: How do you develop your characters?
Vasant: In Trade winds to Meluhha, I simply followed the fundamental requirement that my readers should love the Protagonist and his friends, and hate the Antagonist and his cronies. The characters themselves started morphing as the plot developed.

However, since I was writing about a Bronze Age civilization, it was essential that I ‘hung’ a couple of characters from some well-recognized ‘pegs’ of that period. I selected two unique artifacts discovered on Mohenjo-daro site in Pakistan. One was the bust of an aristocratic man and another was a bronze statuette of a nude teenage girl. The character of Siwa Saqra, the merchant of Meluhha, evolved from the former and that of Velli, the female Protagonist, from the later. Interested readers could get to know more about them in my article 'Creating Pre-Historic Characters' at .

TBR: Do you have a favorite quote you’d like to share?
Vasant: Success is one percent inspiration, ninety-nine percent perspiration. - Emerson

TBR: Which of your characters would you most/least like to invite to dinner, and why?
Vasant: I wouldn't want to invite my antagonist Nergal to dinner because he simply doesn't value human relationship and trust. I would feel very insecure in his company because I would never know how his evil mind would be working to further his interests at my cost.
On the other hand, I'd go in my car to escort home Chief Bel of Babili and Siwa Saqra, the merchant of Meluhha, because both are gentlemen par excellence.

TBR: While creating your books, what was one of the most surprising things you learned?
Vasant: While researching for Trade winds to Meluhha, the most surprising thing that I learned was that there was a controversy around almost every aspect of the ancient Indus Valley civilization. It existed in the land that we now know as Pakistan and India. We are perhaps the two most argumentative nations in the world. There were wide differences over the geographical spread, the language, the religious practices followed, the existence of the river Saraswati and that of the horse. I have deliberated about 'Navigating through Controversies in writing Pre-Historic Fiction' at

TBR: Tease us with one little thing about your fictional world that makes it different from others.
Vasant: Your women readers might like this one. My fictional world is created around what the Middle East and South Asia were 4,000 years ago. Surprisingly, the women in Mesopotamia and the Indus Valley were more emancipated during that period than most of their great great grand-daughters in Iraq, Pakistan and India are today. Readers interested in details could read my article 'Women in my Bronze Age Novel' at

TBR: What's next for you?
Vasant: If readers like Trade winds to Meluhha, I intend to write a sequel wherein Meluhha, i.e. Indus Valley features along with ancient Egypt. Some of the characters would reappear in the new adventure in a new setting.

TBR: Any other published works?
Vasant: I have written a small booklet about my experience of writing Trade winds to Meluhha. Entitled How I wrote a Pre-Historic Novel, it discusses the various aspects that I considered in order to be true to the ancient period and the location of the narrative. It could be downloaded free from Smashwords at

TBR: What’s the most challenging aspect of writing? Most rewarding?
Vasant: Writing a Pre-Historic novel, I was faced with the question 'How to entertain the Reader while not diverting too much from historical evidence?'. I was forced to stick to several inconvenient facts in order to recreate the ancient period convincingly. At the same time, it was essential to make the narrative interesting. For instance, in a setting where horses were yet not widely used, I found it quite challenging to create a fast-moving plot.
The most satisfactory aspect was when Trade winds to Meluhha made it to the Quarter-Final list in Amazon Breakthrough Novel Award contest, 2012. Seeing my debut novel among the top 5% of 10,000 entries made me feel that my efforts over three-and-a half years were well-rewarded.

TBR: What’s the most interesting comment you have received about your book?
Vasant: During the ABNA contest, my manuscript was read by Publisher's Weekly and here's how they found it: "A sprawling story of murder, rape, intrigue, bloodlust, and religious piety, set in the Bronze Age, this work of speculative fiction generally keeps its reader engaged. The novel’s epic scale and focus on ancient Mesopotamia are immersive."

TBR: Where can readers find you on the web?
Vasant: Website:

TBR: Is there anything you’d like to ask our readers?
Vasant: Readers of Historic Novels would have read fiction based on Egyptian and Mesopotamian civilizations. Trade Winds to Meluhha is the first novel that explores their contemporary but lesser known culture of Indus Valley and its links with Mesopotamia. Would the readers now like to read fiction based on Indus Valley and Ancient Egypt together?

TBR: Readers, Vasant Davé will give away an ebook of Trade Winds to Meluhha to one lucky commenter. He'll pick a winner next week and announce the winner here. Be sure to leave your email address so he can contact you. 

Thanks for visiting TBR, Vasant. All the best to you.


  1. Thank you, Cate, for the opportunity to meet your readers. I'd be delighted to answer any further queries they might have.

  2. Happy to have you at TBR, Vasant. I love your book cover, btw.


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