Indian twin sisters take on Europe with bestseller

April 4th, 2008 - 8:57 am ICT by admin  

Weinfelden (Switzerland), April 4 (DPA) The Guptara twins have already proved two heads are better than one when it comes to writing a bestseller. The 19-year-olds have made their name as authors in India and are now poised to conquer Italy, Germany, Austria and Switzerland. In fact the pair, born in India, and who came to Switzerland with their family at the age of seven, saw their 700-page epic “other-world adventure” soar to number two in the fiction bestseller list in India.

Now the “Conspiracy of Calaspia” has gone on sale in the German-speaking world published by Rowohlt and should be available in bookshops in Italy this month published by Mondadori.

The brothers Jyoti and Suresh, who live in Weinfelden in eastern Switzerland, have worked hard to get the book published.

Jyoti told DPA: “We finished the first draft of our book at the age of 11 and had to rewrite and edit it ten times before it was finally accepted for publication six years later when we were seventeen. Whether it would be published or not was not a question to us, it was simply a matter of time.”

“Naturally we hoped it would be a success,” he added. “It was very gratifying to see it reach number two on the Indian fiction bestseller list and clinch such great foreign publishing deals. But we never took it for granted that it would sell.”

Set on another planet, the hero is an adolescent called Bryn who leads the fight to save his tribe and world from an evil enemy.

The Guptaras who speak fluent English, German and Swiss German learned to read and write at the age of three and used to invent stories for each other that they acted out.

“It was only natural to want to write down our own stories. Like most children, though, we had too little patience to get anywhere and never wrote more than 15 pages. Aged 11, however, we set ourselves a goal to finish writing an entire book. Calaspia emerged and evolved, drawing on our previous characters, stories, worlds and maps.”

The twins shrug off comparisons with Tolkien: “Needless to say, we can only dream of being as popular and important to literature and culture as Tolkien,” said Jyoti. Calaspia was about good versus evil but the focus was more on the internal struggle between light and dark in the human soul.

“There’s an ice-berg like plot with a lot of twists and reversals - nothing is as it seems. After each revelation one has to reinterpret what one’s read so far and assumed to be a certain simple way.

“The twins have no set pattern of working. They generally discuss the ideas and plot together. Since we both know the characters and plot, each of us can write a scene or chapter alone,” said Jyoti.

Sometimes they write together. “Of course we always read through what the other has written, and give it an edit if necessary.”

German printers Rowohlt appear confident of their young authors’ success. They have authorized a 100,000 print run. A spokesman said 10,000 would be more usual. Sales in Germany are reportedly going well.

The twins are now full-time authors. Jyoti gave up school at the age of 15 to pursue his writing passion. Suresh went on to finish his exams (A levels) last summer before devoting himself to a writing career.

The writing is now broken up by book tours and signings but there are always domestic chores to keep their feet on the ground. “Well we’re often home alone, so it falls to us to cook and clean as well,” Jyoti said.

The boys are now looking at potential US and Britain publishing deals for their work, which they describe as the first in the Insanity series. Despite sales so far, they are remaining confident but cautious.

Jyoti reckoned: “Even when publishers pull out all the stops to promote your work, there’s no guarantee it will fly.”

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