Tag: devadasi

Embracing the chaos

by Claire Scobie Trust the process. If I learned anything writing The Pagoda Tree, it is that. Except, like with any lessons, it’s easy to forget. Over the past three weeks I’ve written about the fun stuff: planning, dreaming and researching a novel. The actual writing is much thornier. From the start I knew I needed to get the scenes down, however rough. Louis de Bernieres confirmed that approach after telling me how bogged down he became researching his epic Birds without Wings. If you research first and write later there’s a danger of getting lost in the morass of…

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Week Two: History with my feet

by Claire Scobie On my second visit to Thanjuvar, I interviewed the current Prince, Babaji Rajah Bhonsle, in his palace with its air of fading grandeur. I was hoping for pomp and ceremony, but he arrived in beige slacks and a pressed white shirt. He’s a modern Prince – he’s on Linked-In. As we sat drinking chai in a dark room hung with chandeliers and portraits of his royal predecessors, he mentioned we were sitting in the original harem. I felt a frisson of excitement. My character, Palani, is based on the real Muddupalani, a royal courtesan and poet who…

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In search of The Pagoda Tree: a four-part series

by Claire Scobie Over the next four weeks I’m writing about the process I went through thinking, dreaming, researching and writing my novel, The Pagoda Tree (Penguin). Set in eighteenth-century India, this is largely told through the eyes of a temple dancer, or devadasi, named Maya whose life is transformed by the arrival of the British. After my first book, Last Seen in Lhasa, was published I suffered from second book syndrome. As with many first-time authors, my first book, a travel memoir, was a labour of love, a story I felt compelled to write because of my years going…

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