Mosquito and mice poetry and why you must keep writing

In 2010 I wrote a bunch of poems, collectively titled Tadpoles On My Toes and Other Experiences of a City-fied Kid. My first book Icky, Yucky, Mucky! wasn’t even published back then. The collection of poems centres around the thoughts, experiences and interactions with the world for a child growing up in urban India. It grew to close to eighty poems and I hoped and prayed that someone would turn the lot into a book. It hasn’t happened so far. I’d started off with the knowledge that publishing poetry can be notoriously difficult. But that’s the thing about being a writer. You have to write what you want to and often need to. You have to get the thoughts out of your system and onto paper. You hope that it will all come together and turn into a book. Sometimes, it works out. Other times, it doesn’t. While you hold onto the hope that a publisher will love what you’ve written, that it will fit in with their publishing direction and list, that publishing poetry will really not be as difficult as you are given to believe, you have to keep writing alongside. You don’t wait for your piece to get signed on before moving on to writing the next thing. You especially don’t stop writing if a piece doesn’t make it into a book. I filed away Tadpoles On My Toes and got on with putting pen to paper/fingertips to keys. Ever so often, I opened up the file and tweaked a word here, a line there. Five years and eleven books later, two poems from that collection titled Mosquito...

The joy of home turf

There is something special about reading in a familiar space, on a familiar platform – home turf, if I may. My reading this Saturday at Kitab Khana bookstore as a part of the Children’s Literature section of the Kala Ghodha Arts Festival was one such. With the excitement of limited edition early release copies of my fourth History Mystery, Razia and the Pesky Presents and accompanied by a very tall, very crazy fellow writer, Parinita Shetty as the Wazir and my enthusiastic daughter as a stable hand as we enacted one scene, it was a session I thoroughly enjoyed. From the efficient trio of Lubaina, Parinita and Rukhsar there with hugs of encouragement to knowing my space for the next hour – where I need to leap off an elephant back (a chair stood in for it), the placement of the makeshift palki, where partners in crime need to run to in order to pinch my nose… the stage is familiar ground. There are usually a few known faces amongst the children and new ones who bring much joy with an opportunity to introduce them to my books. From Mr.Jagat and other sales staff who wave out and tell me which books are moving well, always encouraging, always supportive, to the promise of cheese toasts and sweet and sour apple tea as a reward to self at the cafe, Kitab Khana and the Kala Ghodha Arts Fest brings much joy, year on year. I’m hoping to have another juicy book to tempt them into inviting me again next year. And while non-Mumbaikars need to wait till June for Razia and the Pesky...

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...