Author Interview: Sangu Mandanna

Hey you all! I’m sure you’ve heard me talk about The Celestial Trilogy – A Spark of White Fire and A House of Rage and Sorrow often these past few months and know that I am infatuated with it, and so today, I have a special feature on my blog in which I bring to you, the author of those two fabulous books, among others, Sangu Mandanna!




Sangu Mandanna was four years old when an elephant chased her down a forest road and she decided to write her first story about it. Seventeen years and many, many manuscripts later, she signed her first book deal. Sangu now lives in Norwich, a city in the east of England, with her husband and kids.





I would like to start off by asking you about the moment you decided to be an author! Was it a particular moment or a gradual realisation? 

I’ve been writing stories since before I can remember. My dad still has one I wrote when I was four years old, so I think the passion for telling stories has always been a part of me. That said, I was probably about thirteen when I first started to seriously consider the idea of becoming an Author. I remember that I was fifteen when I started getting my first rejections from publishers!

What inspired you to write ‘A Spark of White Fire’, and the Celestial trilogy in general?

It was a combination of my love for the Mahabharata and other Indian folklore and my toddler son’s obsession with the solar system. I honestly can’t explain how the idea of setting the Mahabharata in space came to me, but I know it was entirely down to the fact that I was eating, breathing and sleeping planets, galaxies and moons at the time!

What are your future writing plans?

I have a few projects in the works at the moment, including a potential graphic novel and a middle-grade fantasy inspired by South Indian folklore, so I’m very excited to see what comes of them!

Ah, that sounds amazing and I can not wait to see what you come up with next!

Being an Indian myself, I know that there are two main epics that we hear – The Mahabharata and The Ramayana. Now that you have a series based on the Mahabharata, do you plan to write one based on the Ramayana as well? 

I don’t have one planned at the moment, but never say never!

What is one weird or funny thing about writing a book that you hadn’t anticipated when starting and slowly got to know through the process?

The weirdest thing about writing, at least for me, is how surprising it can be. I can have an entire novel outlined in detail, months before I start writing, but then when I’m drafting, I’ll have a lightbulb moment and story will take a totally unexpected turn and suddenly I have to deal with the consequences of this new twist! And I think that’s something I wish I’d known sooner. That writing is surprising. That it’s okay for your outline to go completely askew halfway through. That it’s okay to let the story take you where it wants to go!

Which scenes are your favourite scenes to write? 

I love really intense character moments, like a really emotional conversation or a powerful inner monologue or an incredibly sweet, heartbreaking goodbye. These are always the most fun and most satisfying for me to write!

What is one advice you want to give to all the aspiring authors out there? 

Enjoy the time before you’re published! Writing just for fun is a magical, wonderful thing, and it’s so much harder to do once you have a book deal and expectations in place. So enjoy it, make the most of it, and have the most fun you can.


Now, let’s move on to a fun round where we can get to know your characters from The Celestial Trilogy more. 

There’s going to be different situations and you have to choose one of your characters to take with you! 


You’re on a boat and it is drowning. You have to throw someone off. Who is it?

Lord Selwyn, definitely. I would literally push him overboard myself.

Ah, so would I! He’s definitely a character I could do without.

You’re in jail. Who is your one phone call? 

Esmae or Max.

You are going on vacation. Who is coming with you?

Do I have to pick just one? Ideally, I’d take Esmae, Max, Titania, Sybilla, Radha and Rama. Maybe Bear could come too. But if it has to be just one, probably Rama. Or Sybilla. I can’t choose!

You’re stuck on an island with one person. Who is it?

Titania, of course!

A character is dying but you can save them by giving up your life. Who is it that you’re saving? 

Oh, no. I can’t choose between them all! Rama or Esmae, probably.


Lastly, let’s get to know you better! 

What is your favourite childhood memory? 

Lunch at a little place called the Dewdrop Inn. My parents, brother and I would stop there every time we drove from Bangalore to my dad’s farm five hours away and I have the happiest memories of the spicy ginger chicken, the tyre swing, and the ducks on the lake.

Describe yourself using a quote. 

Wolves and girls. Both have sharp teeth.” (It’s from The Name of the Roseby Marjorie Liu.)

Whatis your favourite thing to eat or drink while writing? 

Pepsi or lemonade, with ice. Always with ice.

What’s your favourite read of this year? Because, well, choosing an all-time favourite is definitely pretty impossible! 

Oooh, that’s hard. Maybe An Enchantment of Ravens by Margaret Rogerson! It didn’t come out this year, but I read it a couple months ago and loved it. I also read and loved Spin the Dawn by Elizabeth Lim. It’s probably a tie between those two so far!

What’s one book on your TBR you are very excited to read?

The Queen of Nowhere by Holly Black!


I’ve been so excited about this interview ever since I e-mailed Sangu and she said yes! I hope you enjoyed the interview as much as I did and learnt more about Sangu.

Have you read any of Sangu Mandanna’s books? I have! And I loved them, and if you haven’t read them yet, you should do so! 



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