PR's Author Page

Prasanna Raghavan's Author Page

I am a fiction as well as an academic author.  The former was more accidental than the latter. 

 How I became a fiction author?

It surprises me how I became a fiction author.  I do not belong to a story writing background.  None in my family wrote a novel, let alone I have come into contact with someone who is a writer to inspire me.  Yet, I got a spark of creative imagination at 7.  I remember sitting in the cosy corner of an open shed behind my home, scribbling my first story in my school notebook using a blunt lead pencil.  It was about our guard dog's cruelty towards our homegrown hen- he pounced upon her--a neighbour's intervention in time saved her.  

What was my source of inspiration?

Though I cannot think of a person in the writing career inspiring me, I cannot reduce the influence of my home atmosphere.  I got plenty of books to read in my home, which was rare as I think of my growing-up time.  My father kept a library.  It was nothing fancy, a shelf where he arranged his books and medical references in a small room.  My father was a medical professional in the field of Ayurvedic medicine.  I began reading the books on his shelf and read almost all.  My interest was kindled by storybooks other than non-fiction.  One story I remember captivated me among them was Vischinnakankanam--broken bangles.

Storytelling was also a familiar pass time in my culture.  I grew up in a tiny village in central Kerala, India.  It was a practice for older people to narrate stories to younger ones.  Every child there grew up listening to the folklore, epical stories of Mahabharata and Ramayana.  I grew up listening to my mother, the storyteller, in my home from a very young age.  She chose to do it on weekends after she was done with the home chores, and we gathered around her.  And as a young girl, I remember our siblings sitting by a fire and listening to my grandma's stories.

But, I had yet to learn about anyone who wrote a story or a book in my village or nearby areas; perhaps their life couldn't afford the leisure to do that.  People were generally illiterate, and primary school education was an outstanding achievement for them.  I was among the first batch of school leavers seeking tertiary education.     

Before English medicines and hospitals made an inroad, my father was the only medical man in our village.  And our village was a beautiful place blessed with nature and noted for its fertile landscapes that rose and fell in soft rhythms.  Streams and brooks softly wound around the landscapes before dashing off to the distant water bodies in the lowlands.   

My mother was delighted to read my story and encouraged me to graduate in science.  In a society formal education is considered a passport to a better life --she was right.  

graduated in physics and education and earned a teaching career.  When I married my teacher-husband, who was working in Africa, I joined him.  Before South Africa, we served several African nations—Tanzania, Nigeria, and Lesotho.

Life in Africa was different from what I experienced in my country.  And there was plenty of nature to inspire me, and the people were friendly.  Life was busy, and I got little opportunity to connect with my home and the people where I grew up.  Most unfortunately, I couldn't keep abreast of my passion for writing. 

I realised in those days that writing was not a solo exercise.  And it involves various steps-writing, sharing ideas, publishing, marketing and so on.  Getting assistance from fellow writer groups was a crucial step in that.

My home community was present in almost all places we lived, but very few were interested in writing.  It was not possible to have a discussion about writing with them for the same reason.  

Then what happened for a change was the advent of the internet, online publications and blogging.  

Her research in Maths Education

I taught physics, mathematics and chemistry at the high school level.  The last country I served was South Africa.  When I got an appointment in South Africa, the country was in the last leg of apartheid.  Apartheid is a heinous crime against humanity; by the way, that is not the only country practising apartheid; some do even now, practising caste discrimination and social hierarchy. 

 During apartheid, the Black population were restricted to certain areas called Homelands.  I taught maths in a high school at Alice, a town in Ciskei, a homeland. 

When you take mathematics, something common among learners worldwide is a terrible inadequacy in the conceptualisation of the subject; in the case of Africa, the matter is the worst, the homeland in particular.  The children get minimalist care from their homes, where only women and men are generally absent at homes from taking proper care and family responsibilities. 

With the frustration I gathered from years of experience, I studied the problem in-depth.  I registered for my master's degree in mathematics education at Rhodes University, Grahamstown.  Fortunately, the campus was very close to where I lived. 

Black learners' poor performance in learning was a point of interest in the education fraternity.  There ran the apartheid racial theory that it was due to racial reasons.  I have heard of similar ideas in India, where I grew up about the so-called Scheduled and backward caste people.   

My research interest made me probe the issue from another angle- how far the nature of the subject, mathematics, contributes towards the classroom problem.  It was a part-time course taking teaching and researching at the same time.  In two years, I completed my studies and published my thesis.

SEALS Digital Commons published her thesis here

How has she fulfilled her childhood passion?

I took early retirement with plans to prioritise my creative writing passions.  Again I needed a writing community or groups to get help and inspiration.  My daughters suggested I join a creative writing course, and I found an online writing service with All About Writing.  I was a science/maths teacher, and creative writing was a different field.  

There is a vast difference between academic writing and creative writing.  In the mathematical and scientific milieu, you seek prescriptiveness.  For example, the displacement between two points is a straight directional line vector.  Creative writing is an expansive narrative, never linear.  You have to make it colourful, enter inside the skin of your characters and make them tell a story to drive interest and passion in others.

Where can you find her?

She is in her kitchen when she is not reading, writing, researching or blogging.  Her husband is also a good cook.  They entertain their daughters and husbands when they visit them, cooking their delicacies.  Unfortunately, Covid has cut short all such good times for them.  They live in Cape Town and visit their family and friends in Kerala. 

Her Debut eBook.

As a non-native English writer, she needed long hours to master her chosen language's semantic and syntax aspects, making her author journey challenging but rewarding.  She got fulfilled when she typed the last line of her eBook-Under the Bakula Tree, and self-published it on Amazon Kindle in August 2021.  Then she needed to figure out the struggle ahead to get it published.    

 Two months and days after she completed the last line, she published, Under the Bakula Tree on 18 December 2021.

The story blurb:

Living in modern, marvellous bungalows, married to globe-trotting husbands, educated, and earning salaries, the female inmates of a luxury residential complex in Kochi, Kerala, must live their lives to the fullest, enjoying each day.  However, the reality is different.  Sara's life is in the gravest peril; a widow, a mother of two—her schoolmate turned the love of her life is waiting for her to join him.  She has no genuine scope to reach him—it's impossible to break out of the surveillance of a stranger her in-laws have entrusted her life with and to chauffeur her around, the church set up, even the gatekeeper. 

 Under the Bakula Tree, away from the family surveillance, they meet and forge an unexpected sisterhood that provides them emotional stability, support, strength, and commitment.  Can it accomplish the impossible for Sara?

 Genre: Fiction. 

The story sheds light on the contemporary women's family life in Kerala, the State in India she was born and raised. 

It is an eBook published in Amazon Kindle, Unlimited.

 Where can you buy a copy of Under the Bakula Tree?

It is available on multiple sites, including,

Her Second Book

Aching Heart is her second eBook, which she published on the publishing platform Blog Chatter, India's top blogger group that offers a beautiful and inclusive forum for writers worldwide in 2022.  Soon, I self-publish this on Amazon Kindle. 

Next Book

She is about to complete her next book, a crime thriller.  Also, some short stories collecting dust in her laptop need shinning up to bring to the outside world.