You do remember Kavitha Mandana, the author of one of our latest books - A Pair of Twins, don't you? Here, she talks to Karadi about remembering what it's like to be a child; her favourite children's books and her current projects.
Karadi: What made you take up children’s writing? What are the advantages and disadvantages of being a children’s writer?
Kavitha: I really don’t have a clear reason. I sort of drifted into it. I had always wanted to illustrate, cartoon and doodle; so when I gave up being a copywriter in advertising, kids writing seemed a fun way to combine illustrating and writing.
I was lucky that my first story - one that I wrote and illustrated (Bando: The Dog Who Led a Double Life) got serialized in the Deccan Herald’s kids’supplement - Open Sesame. That gave me the confidence to keep going.
Karadi: Do you have to like children to be a good children’s author?
Kavitha: I’m not sure about that. Maybe good children’s writers are those who clearly remember what it was like being a child – the fun parts, as well as the scary or sad parts of childhood. Many grown ups forget that they too loved playing in the rain. Or didn’t do too well in school! AND were scared of the dark.
Karadi: What do you like to read? What are your favourite children’s books? Who are your favourite authors?
Kavitha: I read whatever I could lay my hands on. My parents’ home and both my grandparents’ houses were lined with books, so I was lucky. I read the Enid Blytons, the What Katy Did series, the Little Women and Little Men books. I read my father’s Louis L’Amour westerns and the John Grishams of my teen years – Alistair McLean, Fredrick Forsythe, along with a lot of the classics.
Wind in the Willows is one of my favourite children’s books. Even now, I could quite happily spend an afternoon with Toad from Toad Hall. He is one of my all time favourite characters from literature!
Karadi: Do you follow a writing routine? How do you go about writing a story?
Kavitha: I wish I did, but unfortunately my teenaged daughter and dog manage to turn any routine on its head! I also work full time, so writing for children is an activity I indulge in when my ‘bread and butter’ job is done for the day.
Most of my stories rattle around and take shape inside my head first, sometimes over days and sometimes over months, before I key it into my computer.
Karadi: What are you currently working on?Kavitha: LOTS of half-baked ideas that barely qualify to be mentioned! Other than that, Rupa’s Red Turtle books is bringing out my novel for young adults No 9 on the Shade Card in a few months. The editing has just been done. I am also working on illustrating a story of mine which appeared in the Deccan Herald a few years ago.