Do you slurp when you eat/ dig your nose/ bite your nails? (With Icky, Yucky, Mucky)
My grandfather used to drill good table manners into his grandchildren’s heads. No slurping, no elbows on the table, no chewing with your mouth open, don’t talk with food in your mouth and all that. No, I do not dig my nose. I used to bite my nails as a child (I don’t do that anymore).
Do you have a dog? (With Bonkers)
I grew up with four dogs at most times and a litter of five puppies added on, every now and then. I’ve recently adopted a 6-year-old cocker spaniel mix named Molly. As recent as February, 2020, in fact! She has us on our toes and we love her to bits!
Do you always write funny stories? (with most books)
I’ve discovered that my natural writing voice tilts towards humour. I love writing funny stories and most of mine, even when they are action-packed historical fiction, are funny (I hope). I even turned Vikram and Betal into a funnier version called Vikram and the Vampire.
Where do you get your ideas and inspiration?
From the world around. A word, an action, a memory, a photograph, an event – anything can lead to a character or a plot. Writers keep their antennae up to what’s going on around them.
Princess Easy Pleasy began from my daughter’s fussiness over milk, my carrying her favourite brand around the world and a moment of thinking, well, I might as well take the cow as I stood packing milk into my suitcase.
Icky, Yucky, Mucky had origins in my nail nibbling days and my constantly nagging my children about good table manners.
The History Mystery series, began on the other hand, in a writing workshop with a sock (yes, you read that right) for inspiration.
How long does it take you to write a book?
Every story has its own life. The History Mystery series need a lot of research so anything from 6 months to a year. The Squiggle book took me over a year to write! Some book ideas arrive a lot more ready and most others need lots of thinking to be done. The shortest time it’s taken me to write a story would be a month.
Did you always want to be a writer?
No, I didn’t. Or at least, I didn’t know that I did. Does that make sense?
I was fairly confused about what I wanted to be when I grew up and I studied and did many different things along the way. The one constant though was writing all through. I used to write poetry, short stories and more such.
I majored in Math in my graduate studies, did an MBA, worked as Brand Manager in various companies including Titan, Barista and Yum restaurants (for Pizza Hut). And I finally figured out that I wanted to write children’s books for the rest of my life, somewhere in 2008. My first book, Icky, Yucky, Mucky was published in 2011.
Are you Squiggle? (With Squiggle Takes a Walk)
Yes! She’s me. I’m her! Figuring out my spot in the world, being different and comfortable with myself – it’s been a journey of discovering myself and what brings me greatest joy. And that’s really what Squiggle’s journey is through her book.
What's the favourite book you've written? (Every time!)
It’s quite impossible to say, just like it would be hard for your parents to pick between your sibling or you as their favourite! (I know you’re sure you’re their favourite but still -it’s hard for the parent.)
Are there any new books in the works?
I’ve finished writing the sixth History Mystery and it’s with my publishers now.
I’ve also written a series of picture books recently that I’m hoping will find a home at a publisher soon.
I’m currently scribbling ideas in my notebook in the hope of turning them into a middle grade story at some point.
Was history your favourite subject in school? (With the History Mystery series)
No, actually it was not! I never enjoyed history while I was in school and I think it was because history was taught to us at the time as a subject where we had to mug up dates and names and never saw the fun in it.
I grew up to enjoy reading about history A LOT! I love that I get to read such interesting stuff while researching for a History Mystery. The stories are historical fiction but I love to dig up interesting facts about the emperor, the period, the setting, their clothes, food and more such and weave it all into my story. There’s a chapter at the end called Fact or Fiction and it tells you that while you thought everything was fiction, here are the fun facts that appeared in the book.
Umm... why do you have skeleton hands around your neck?
Read my book, Vikram and the Vampire and you’ll understand why I have a skeleton aka corpse infested with vampire hanging on my back! (Hint: Eveer heard of the over 1000-year-old stories of Vikram and Betal?)