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New Member Spotlight: Vanitha Sankaran

By Linda Ulleseit
January 17, 2023

What would you like readers to know about you?

I am a medical strategist and author based in the San Francisco Bay Area. I have a deep passion for folklore and myth, which drives a lot of my writing. While I have tried to be “all scientist” or “all writer” at different points, I have come to realize I need both in my life.

Can you tell us what you’ve written?

My debut novel, Watermark, came out over 10 years ago. Since then, I have focused on my scientific career but am currently working on different historical fiction and young adult manuscripts.

Did you choose historical fiction or did it choose you?

I definitely did not choose historical fiction—I was a casual student of history for much of my younger years! Honestly, it has been the study of comparative myth that led me to look at similarities and differences in cultural history across the world.Can you share three books on your night table right now?

Can you share three books on your night table right now?

I just finished Greywaren by Maggie Stiefvater, who writes books inspired by myth and is one of my absolute favorite contemporary authors. Currently, I am deep into An Atlas of Impossible Longing by Anuradha Roy, which is a sweeping epic set in India in the early 1900s and is both foreign and yet familiar to me at once. Next up is Illicit Worlds of Indian Dance: Cultures of Exclusion by Anna Morcom, research for my WIP.

Is there a message in your novel that you want readers to grasp?

The stories I write about, and which I connect to as a reader, are ones that explore the human experience from different angles. We all live wildly different lives and increasingly are hearing from more new voices (yay!), but we all have some common basic human struggles. I aim to explore those through my particular lens.

What brings you great joy as a writer?

The moment when my characters are solid enough and unique enough that I could put them in any situation and know exactly how each would react. That’s when the magic starts.

What was the inspiration for your most recent book?

I took a literature class on Gothic novels and started thinking about how a Gothic novel would be told in India. Turns out there is a Gothic tradition in Indian literature, but largely from places more northern than where my family hails from. That got the gears turning!


Vanitha Sankaran holds a BS in Optical Engineering, an MS and PhD in Biomedical Engineering, and an MFA in Writing from Antioch University. She has authored numerous prose pieces published both online and in print, served for 9 years as a founding editor of the journal flashquake, and chaired the 2013 Historical Novel Society Conference.

Watermark: A Novel of the Middle Ages, published by HarperCollins/Avon A in 2010, is her debut book of fiction. She is currently working on another historical novel, about printmaking in Renaissance Italy, and a YA fantasy.

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Linda Ulleseit

Written by Linda Ulleseit

Linda Ulleseit writes award-winning heritage fiction set in the United States. She is a member of Historical Novel Society, Women’s Fiction Writers Association, and Women Writing the West as well as a founding member of Paper Lantern Writers. Get in touch with her on Instagram (lulleseit) and Facebook (Linda Ulleseit or SHINE with Paper Lantern Writers).

View Linda’s PLW Profile

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