Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Meet the Authors - Sowmya Rajendran

Karadi interviews Sowmya Rajendran, the author of our latest title: The Dog Who Wanted More: A Rulebreakers' Club Adventure.

Karadi: What made you take up children’s writing? What are the advantages and disadvantages of being a children’s writer? 
Sowmya: It wasn't a conscious decision to write for children. I've been blogging for many years now and a publisher who had newly entered the market wrote to me asking if I wanted to write children's books for them. Niveditha Subramaniam, my friend from college, and I had already discussed writing and illustrating children's stories together among other things, so we worked on this project as a team.
Being a children's writer is a tremendous opportunity and responsibility. You have to be careful about what you say but you can't be so careful that you become a crashing bore. Children are honest readers and they will not read you if you are not interesting - that kind of genuine feedback is very useful to a writer! I also think writing for children has freed me of many writing constraints. The obvious disadvantage is that it doesn't pay. You can't pay your bills being a full-time children's writer in India.

Karadi: Do you have to like children to be a good children’s author?
Sowmya: Not necessarily. But you have to like many of those wonderful characteristics that most children and some lucky adults have. The ability to imagine, make leaps of faith, enjoy a funny joke, celebrate nonsense, feel kinship with non-human creatures and objects, be sensitive to the world around you. I was never the type of person who went around kissing random babies (I have exhibited this tendency after my daughter came along though!) but I've always enjoyed writing for children. And I also happen to like adults who can still enjoy a good children's book. 

Karadi: What do you like to read? What are your favourite children’s books? Who are your favourite authors?
Sowmya: My favourite books are all ones in which I've learned something about my fellow humans that I had not realized earlier. They are books that have made me understand and like the world around me a little more. This doesn't mean they are books with happy endings or that they are comedies. Some of these books are quite dark, even tragic, but they have taught me well. My favourite authors are JD Salinger, Zadie Smith, RK Narayan, Virginia Woolf, Marjane Satrapi.
My favourite children's books are No, David! by David Shannon, If You Give a Mouse a Cookie by Laura Numeroff, The Seed by Deepa Balsavar, Puffin Peter by Petr Horacek....there are so many! And I've only mentioned picture books.

Karadi: Do you follow a writing routine? How do you go about writing a story?
Sowmya: My current writing routine is my daughter's nap-time routine! I write when she sleeps - for about three hours a day.
Sometimes the story comes easily - an idea that comes from something someone said or did. Then, I just get started with the idea and allow the story to flow as I write. Sometimes, I work out the plot beforehand and write. Especially when I'm writing on a tight deadline or writing for a certain purpose - for instance, I write many picture books and illustrated stories for children for education programs, so there, I have to submit my ideas, get approval and then work on them. It's more clearly defined. 

Karadi: What are you currently working on?
Sowmya: I'm working on a graphic novel for young adults for Penguin. It's a funny, possibly feminist, take on romance as the movies show it and romance as it is in real life. I'm also working on a collection of short stories for adults.

The Dog Who Wanted More
 is the first book in the exciting four-part Rulebreakers' Club adventure series by Sowmya Rajendran and Arun Kumar Kaushik, and it can be purchased on www.karaditales.com. 

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