Home   News   Article

Subscribe Now

Ambika’s fantasy trilogy wins over top publisher

Ambika Vora-Nagino, an alumna of Cambridge Judge Business School (MBA 2018), has had a new fantasy trilogy of novels snapped up by Penguin Random House.

The young adult series is based on magic and creativity, and “was forged through her meticulous eye for logic as a management consultant” for a pharma company in Japan.

AA Vora (Ambika), CJBS alumna and author-to-be
AA Vora (Ambika), CJBS alumna and author-to-be

The first volume of ‘The Fifth Realm’ series, titled A Spin of Fate, is due for US publication in summer 2024 by GP Putnam’s Sons, an imprint of Penguin Young Readers Group, which views the trilogy as a young adult title with clear adult crossover appeal.

The book features “a hard magic system” inspired by Indian philosophy and Japanese manga, or graphic novels.

“When crafting the trilogy’s magic system, I was essentially in the role of a make-believe scientist studying make-believe particles and their make-believe interactions,” Ambika explains. “But I had to create rules that followed a logical consistency within themselves and also enabled the magic system to drive the narrative forward in a compelling way.”

Asked whether she had created this system or whether it was adopted from another source, Ambika told the Cambridge Independent: “It’s my mix! I drew from various inspirations to create a system that operates with logical, and at times almost scientific, rules. Make-believe science, of course, but it contains elements that are grounded in real life scientific and spiritual principles. The magic has limits and risks, and influences the characters’ storylines, personalities and motivations.”

Cambridge Judge Business School
Cambridge Judge Business School

Creative writing for Ambika was a catharsis of sorts, a place for Ambika to freely express herself in English outside a challenging client-facing work environment that was almost entirely in Japanese.

Writing under the name AA Vora, Ambika has secured a pre-emptive US book deal with an advance “in the mid six-figures” – a substantial sign-on fee for a debut fiction deal. So will she become a full-time novelist?

“At least for now, I intend to continue with my career in pharma – for one, I truly enjoy the work,” she replies. “And I feel writing needs to be my hobby, my escape from reality. I am scared that if I were to focus solely on it, it would begin to feel too ‘real’ and lose its charm. Fortunately, my company has been extremely supportive and has enabled me to juggle two jobs.”

She adds: “The consulting mindset helped me refine my storyline and magic system because there’s a practice at the firms I worked in of questioning everything.

AA Vora, CJBS alumna and author
AA Vora, CJBS alumna and author

“You develop the habit of constantly asking ‘why, why, why?’ until you get to the essence of why something is the way it is. So every magic system rule, plot point, and character decision or action was dissected to its root cause until I felt it robust enough to make both logical sense and engage the reader in the story.”

A native of Mumbai, India, Ambika studied economics and Japanese at Princeton University in New Jersey, and went on to pursue consulting jobs with Deloitte and McKinsey, both in Tokyo. She earned an MBA at Cambridge Judge Business School, which she credits with helping her compartmentalise – an essential tool for a management consultant dreaming up fantasy plot lines in her spare time.

This site uses cookies. By continuing to browse the site you are agreeing to our use of cookies - Learn More