A Crouching Tiger Hidden Zebra cake sort of year-end

A Crouching Tiger Hidden Zebra cake sort of year-end

With two books out in quick successions – Vikram and the Vampire and Princess Easy Pleasy (to reach bookstores soon), the baking bug has been buzzing around. And while I have been baking every now and then over the last few months, my Facebook page has seen evidence of it, this time cookies and cupcakes wouldn’t be enough. I was just back from Bookaroo in Pune after sessions with these books and with the latest History Mystery from earlier in 2015, Razia and the Pesky Presents. A cake was definitely called for. A cake that had never been attempted by me before. I settled down before the telly with my lunch, switched channels scouting for a cooking program that would make me look even more sorrowfully at my simple bowl of yogurt and pomegranate and chanced upon Lorraine Pascale. There she was with her brilliant smile, just starting off on a new recipe – Crouching Tiger, Hidden Zebra cake. I was sold at the name. THIS! This is what I would bake! Something that lived up to the joy of new books. A fitting nod to my husband’s love for martial art movies and his multi-prowess, kung-fu like support at my readings. A nod also to Princess Easy Pleasy’s travels through much of South East Asia in the new picture book. And a sure winner with the kids if it actually turned out stripy when cut. Woo hoo! Take a look! Not bad, I say. As I set off for my winter break, tremendously pleased with how the past year turned out, here’s a wish for you: May 2016...

Superglued fingers, travel and a new season of MasterChef Australia; reasons for hitting pause on my writing.

Summer break begins in ten days. The kids’ school calendar for these last few days looks ready to burst, packed as it is with project submissions, PTMs, book-day preparations and global perspectives day amongst others. I have glue in my hair, superglued fingers and am snipping paper in my sleep. There’s the travel planning, packing and repacking amidst growing anticipation of cooler climes and lovely beaches. Baking urges are back despite the terrible heat resulting, fittingly, in chocolate lava cakes (that turned out awesome). It’s utterly distracting. To add to it all, MasterChef Australia has begun a new season that really seals the deal on giving up on plots and characters and simply putting away my writing tools until my return to routine in August. My ten and eight-year-olds sit glued to MasterChef, drawn in not just by the astounding delicacies that the amateur cooks seem capable of but also by the thrilling rounds of winning and elimination. Weekend re-runs of the show result in hectic, chaotic bouts of cooking by the kids. This weekend, the eight-year-old was yelling out for basil and pepper as the didi rushed about as sous-chef. I was banned from the kitchen. Delicious and healthy plates of bruschetta emerged for evening snack, much to my delight. The ten-year-old (TYO) has his observations and bits of wisdom. As I whipped batter for the lava cakes, he nodded approvingly. TYO: “What are you making?” Me: “Chocolate lava cakes, though this is the first attempt and I’m not sure we’ll have dessert for the guests tonight.” TYO: “We’re making white chocolate and cornflake rocks with bits of gooey marshmallow as well...

Post Manuscript Syndrome and other joys of writing

Post Manuscript Syndrome: Symptoms include twitchy fingers, hand cramps, sleepless nights (nightmares of piles of rejection letters), glazed eyes as you await a revert, fleeting smiles to convince yourself and others that all is well in your world (other than the fact that months of thinking, writing and rewriting now hangs in the balance), acidity and a desire to run each time anyone asks you about your writing. There is no other moment in my writing life as joyous and terrifying, all at once, as the moment I declare to myself that I have a complete manuscript that is ready to submit. I usually drive myself to that point through sheer exhaustion post multiple edits, tweaks and hand-wringing. I hang on to that last line, that last word, that last restructure, that last deletion, addition, substitution… that very last tweak for as long as I can. There’s a finality to the declaration even though the story will go through multiple edits and possible restructures before it takes on its final form. I put it aside for a few days/weeks/months before I take another look at it, all the while biting my nails off and opening and closing the file multiple times. I’ll do all manner of things to fine tune the writing – storyboards, story arcs… even a “state-of-mind graph” (new tool and a rather fun one to do) before I am convinced that I’ve caught inconsistencies and that it is indeed ready to be seen by an editor. There will be the all-important reading by my kids when I’ve learnt to sneak around and watch their expressions as they read, to gauge their instinctive reaction to the...

A swishfizzing Saturday at Bookaroo

Swishfizzing Saturday. Snadoodly Saturday. Superbilify Saturday. I had, what I can say without doubt, the most fun I have ever had at readings last Saturday at the Bookaroo children’s literature festival in Delhi. Bookaroo is above all a wonderful time to catch up with authors, illustrators and editors who remain an email address for most of the year. There were a couple of firsts of putting a face to a name. Squiggle Takes a Walk (or was that a leap, hop, screech, yelp…) The afternoon had me as Squiggle, alongside three lovely ladies from Zubaan – my editor Anita Roy, Meghna and Ishani – as punctuation marks. As we enacted the book, we leapt off a knee-knockingly-high stage with wild abandon, pummelled into each other as Squiggle and Exclamation Mark, got looked down the nose by Colon and got dragged back up on stage by the annoying Quotation Marks. And this was just a bit of the mad romp through the session. Since no party can be complete without some games, this punctuation party had its very own version of Punctuation Dumb Charades followed by the children and me attempting to do justice to Vikram Nandwani’s artistic Squiggle. AND we did a count down to throw four free copies of the book into the crowd to officially launch the book! She’s here and I love her 🙂 ‘Who am I?’ wondered Squiggle Some of the lovely punctuation Getting hooked by the rather annoying quotation marks Doodle time! Some of the lovely illustrations Book signing time!  Going hysterical with the History Mystery series The Duckbill platypuses and I went hysterically historical...
To whom do you dedicate a book on thumb sucking?

To whom do you dedicate a book on thumb sucking?

There is something about dedications in books. Even before I published a book, I never skipped reading the dedications that start off a book. It is that little glimpse into the author’s emotions, thought process… their voice – a glimpse into their real life, possibly. Authors write dedications related to the encouragement and support that the concerned person has provided in the writer’s life, possibly been a source of inspiration. It could be a wish that something conveyed in the book comes true in turn for the people the book is dedicated to. An expression of love, respect, acknowledgement in the writer’s most precious currency – words. Every dedication that I put in, means a lot to me. I like to connect the content of the book, to the person I am dedicating it to … well, in most cases other than in my first book, Icky, Yucky, Mucky!. The dedication, to Sidhant, Antara and Sunish is for their encouragement to my writing and their tolerance for hearing the same story over and over again, in its many forms. It wasn’t inspired by them (just making sure we are quite clear, given the content of the story). However, what does one do when a story such as Anaya’s Thumb is indeed inspired by one of my offspring? It becomes a rather delicate matter. Do I say, ‘For ______ for inspiring me with your lip sucking? May you stop soon!’ or ‘For _________. I’ve tried everything! I’ve even written a book on it! NOW STOP!’? I thought it best instead, to include a lip sucking hippo calf in the story and dedicate...