Anshul Dupare was born in Nagpur, Maharashtra and has spent the majority of his life in Madhya Pradesh. He did his schooling from Sainik School Rewa. He has graduated in computer science from NIT Bhopal and his master’s in computer science from The University of Texas at Dallas. He currently lives in Dallas, USA. Creative writing has been his hobby for long. He also writes poems. Some of his favourite poets are Late Harivansh Rai Bachchan and Jalāl ad-Dīn Muhammad Rūmī. He is always up for a game of chess and is fond of basketball. In an exclusive interview with Thousand Miles Team:

  • Thousand Miles: What is the inspiration behind writing your debut novel ‘Ashok and the Nine Unknown’? Was writing a novel like this one your childhood dream?

Author Anshul Dupare:  Writing has always been my primary medium of expression. Expression of my perspectives and observations of things and people around me. As a kid, I used to have a diary where I used to pen down my thoughts and feelings. I am blessed that I had a childhood surrounded by books and I think all those things formed the basis of my inspiration. As I grew up, I realized that I have the passion to do something unique, be it anything, my work, my hobbies, my life, I have always searched for that differentiating factor; something that would help me put the ‘I’ is unique. It was this desire to follow my heart and to bring an eccentric story in front of the world that inspired me to write my debut novel.

  • Thousand Miles: The young generation nowadays is not focussing on their goals and is attached to social media and online games. Your way of looking into the matter.

Author Anshul Dupare: Humans want to be accepted. Social media has fuelled that human emotion and provided a platform that helps fulfill that need. Kids and teenagers usually feel that need to be accepted more than others.  ‘How many likes did my post receive? What are people saying in the comments?’ We all love attention once in a while but when this desire for attention becomes an obsession that’s when things start going south.  Youngsters need to care less about what others are saying and instead they should focus on following what their heart is saying, what their passion is. Likes and comments will give you temporary happiness but following your passion will give you lifelong happiness. When you learn to accept yourself, when you learn to be at peace with yourself, other people’s opinions can’t bother you.

Humans also want to win. Victory in anything gives us a sense of achievement. I believe there is nothing wrong in playing online games but everything needs to be done in moderation. If you’re spending the majority of the day doing nothing else but playing PUBG or Fortnite then you’re just investing the most valuable thing you have; your time, in something that’s not going to give you any fruitful returns. There are people who earn millions by winning in online gaming championships or by posting videos about games on YouTube, if anyone is passionate about that and wants to do that then they should do that. But one should never overlook their passions and priorities due to less important things.

Not everyone can prioritize properly and for that parents need to have effective communication which will help youngsters prioritize things. Parents should also help inculcate the habit of reading in children. The one thing that is common among the majority of the most successful people around the world is that they read books.

  • Thousand Miles: How was the experience when you visited ‘The Broad Art Museum’ in LA? Kindly share it with us.

Author Anshul Dupare: It was definitely a different experience for me. It is a contemporary art museum while I am more inclined towards classical art. There were some paintings that had hidden messages in them and I needed the museum guide’s help from time to time to understand what the artist was trying to express. Overall it was a great experience and I felt like I was living a chapter from Dan Brown’s novel for real!

  • Thousand Miles: Your novel ‘Ashok and the Nine Unknown’ is a perfect blend of mythical characters and the folklores of Kalinga Battle, Amartya’s Curse,  fantasy ride to Mayong: a magical city in Assam and Egypt for Sphinx: a statue of a lion and Ashoka’s entire journey towards Peace. As an individual and Indian, do you truly believe in our ancient mythology and Ashoka’s transformation influencing the political scenario in India?

Author Anshul Dupare: It’s a great question! My writing style is that I mix facts with fiction so that the reader almost feels like they are reading real accounts and not fiction. I believe that Ashok’s transformation had huge influence on the political scenario in India. The effect can be seen even today in the form of our national emblem, Ashok Chakra on our national flag and Ashok Chakra as India’s highest peacetime military decoration award.

My stories do contain mythological aspects and I believe in the message any mythical story conveys, be it the epic of Ramayan or epic of Hercules. I try to write meaningful stories and I hope that readers become better people than they were before after reading my stories. While I aim for that, I don’t want to be too preachy in my writings and that is why I include mythology to make things interesting.

Anshul Dupare

The author of Ashok and the Nine Unknown

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  • Thousand Miles: Are you in support of the statement, ‘Success makes a man looks good’? Kindly explain your perspective into this.

Author Anshul Dupare: Everyone has a different definition of success. My definition of success is that as long as a person is not giving up on their dreams even after multiple failures, as long as the person is trying their best, as long as the person is following their heart, their passion, for me they are successful. And from my perspective, any person who is doing that looks amazing!

  • Thousand Miles: Which famous person living or dead you like to meet and why?

Author Anshul Dupare: There are actually two people I would love to meet, J.K.Rowling and Dan Brown. I would love to learn from J.K.Rowling about how she imagined the incredible world of Harry Potter and from Dan Brown I would like to know how he does his thorough and precise research for his books.

  • Thousand Miles: Any cherished moment from your work or family you want to share with us for your fans to know.

Author Anshul Dupare: I consider myself to be blessed to have met amazing people in my school, my college and at my work. I treasure a lot of memories of the time I have spent with those wonderful people in my life. I did my schooling in Sainik School Rewa, a boarding school. Just like any other boarding school, you don’t usually get fancy food in mess. When I was in the 10th standard, my hostel was close to a marriage hall. It was the time of December and January and at that time a lot of marriages happen in India. We used to dress up and sneak out to that marriage hall via bathroom windows. Since we were kids we could just enter the party by smiling and saying ‘Namaste’ and no one would ask anything. We would enjoy the food and we would also pack some for our friends in the hostel.  At one time we saw our hostel warden at the marriage reception and that was an amazing hide and seek dinner! J

  • Thousand Miles: According to Avenger Amartya, Ashoka was not a king and he was a murderer of many innocent souls and repentance would not change that fact. Do you as an individual agree on the statement by Amartya?

Author Anshul Dupare: Another great question! It’s a matter of perspective. Ashok waged a war not to murder people but to expand his empire. This was not unheard of in those times. People suffer in war, there are losses and people also die. Amartya’s accusation is not wrong. Kalinga War did kill lakhs of people but if Ashok was a murderer, he wouldn’t have repented his actions. Now, one may ask, ‘Should we forgive a person, even for an act of murder, just because that person repents their actions?’ The answer to this question depends on the person’s motives and the person’s actions afterward.

  • Thousand Miles: Would you like to advise to our novice writers who are writing the first novel/book of their lives? As a new writer/author, what are the things one should be careful about?

Author Anshul Dupare: One should definitely be careful about publishing houses that are asking you for an upfront fee. I am sure all the budding authors will encounter publishing houses who would tell them something like, ‘Give us INR 1,00,000 and we will publish 500 copies of your book. You need to buy back 250 copies and the rest we will try to sell.’ My request to the new authors is to avoid such publishing houses and focus on their writing. They should make an effort to find a publisher who is willing to publish their book for its content and not because the author is willing to pay them huge chunk of money.

  • Thousand Miles: Nowadays, the pressure of ‘Hindtuva’ is prevailing in all corners of the society and people of other religions and religious beliefs are forced to chant names of Hindu Lords and goddesses ignoring which lynching is taking place. What is your take on this situation as you being a lover and writer/author on Hindu Mythology?

Author Anshul Dupare: I love reading and writing about mythology in general. As you have already observed in my book, I have not restricted myself to Hindu mythology rather I have mixed it with Egyptian. I am a writer of world mythology.

That said, I firmly believe that any kind of extremism is not good. I see people fighting in the comment section of any random post on social media, ‘Where were you when such and such things were happening? Why did you not say anything then?’ Names being called out like, ‘Sickulars and Bhakts.’ I see a lot of ongoing hate. Social media connects people and for the same reason, it has been used as the prime platform for spreading propaganda. Fake news is rampant and people are quick to react. This problem is not specific to India, it is happening all over the world, even in the USA (case in point, Cambridge Analytica’s involvement in US elections, 2016)

We all need to realize that we are humans first, humanity should be our first religion. Beneath the labels of saffron and green, left and right, Indian or foreign national, we all have the same skeleton. I think a lot of people understand this but what is troubling is not a lot of people speak against hate. “The world suffers a lot. Not because of the violence of bad people. But because of the silence of the good people.” – Napoléon Bonaparte.

  • Thousand Miles: As India is developing at a faster rate and talents from all fields are surfacing at the national and international levels, do you think Indian parents should encourage their kids to pursue their passion for the betterment of the country?

Author Anshul Dupare: Yes. Parents should always encourage kids to follow their passion. I understand that the ability to follow passion is a luxury and not everyone can afford it. But while kids hustle between things they need to do and things they want to do, parents should ensure that kids are balancing both the things. When people do something because they are passionate about, the quality of work produced is outstanding. (Case in point, Virat Kohli, Captain of Indian Cricket Team and ISRO chairperson K Sivan. Their life stories are proof that following passion yields success.) When you are following your passion, you are happy and that’s something everyone should aim to be.

“When I was 5 years old, my mother always told me that happiness was the key to life. When I went to school, they asked me what I wanted to be when I grew up. I wrote down ‘happy’. They told me I didn’t understand the assignment, and I told them they didn’t understand life.” – John Lennon

  • Thousand Miles: Your thoughts on being featured in the ‘September Issue’ of our Magazine.

Author Anshul Dupare: I am honoured. Loved the questions and I hope that readers find reading this interview fruitful.