Thursday, July 20, 2017

How Sameer came to be - an interview with Nandini Nayar, author of the Curious Sameer series

She created the adorable Sameer and his equally lovable mum. The series of four books, all of which have stories that are told in riddle format, are a huge hit with Karadi Tales readers. We interview author Nandini Nayar about what inspired her to write these books.

Our Curious Sameer series is available at 40% off until July 31, 2017 -

Karadi Tales: What was your inspiration for the Sameer series?  

Nandini Nayar: Children are bored very easily and come to you for suggestions about what they can do. My son did this too, but naturally, he did not like any of my suggestions.  This led to my writing a story about a boy who challenges his mother every time she offers a suggestion. When Karadi took the story, they asked me for another to go with this. And since the first one – What Will You Give Me?- had set the question-answer pattern between the boy and his mother, I thought of other questions that the boy could ask. That’s how What Will I Be?, What Could it Be? and Where Shall We Go? came about.

KT: Is Sameer based on anyone you know?

NN: I think Sameer is a mix of all the children I’ve observed over the years, my own son, the children of friends and cousins. What they all have in common is the creative ease with which they find faults in any suggestion made by a grown-up.   

KT: How did you get into children’s writing?

NN: The best way possible- I wrote a story that was published in a newspaper and that was it – my fate was sealed. I was so inspired by that one publication that I wrote and wrote and wrote and continue to write! 

KT: How do you test if the stories you’ve written work for children?
NN: My early picture book stories were made up for my son. He loved them and that gave me the courage to send them to a publishing house. When a story is successfully transferred from your mind to paper, you are filled with a breathless certainty that you’ve just created something good, something that sparkles and lives and breathes. When I experience that kind of certainty about something, I know that children will enjoy it as much as I enjoyed writing it.


When do you find it easiest to write?
When I’ve been thinking, dreaming, breathing a story for some time.   

Your favourite children’s book?
Peppermint Pig, Pinhoe Egg, Howl’s Moving Castle and several others.  

One author you admire?
Diana Wynne Jones

Your favourite encounter with a fan?
A boy who was so overcome at meeting me that he couldn’t speak at all, just smiled and smiled and smiled.

If you could be a book character for a day who would it be?
I’d like to be Apoorva, from my own series titled ‘The Diary of an Indian Schoolgirl’. 

Tuesday, July 18, 2017

Behind the scenes of the Curious Sameer series

The Curious Sameer series is one of Karadi Tales’ most popular series and features a little boy with a thirst for adventure, a strong bond with his ever-patient mother and an active imagination. We interview Francesco Manetti, the multi-talented illustrator of the four books in the Sameer series. He tells us about what inspires him, his creative process and his deep connection with Karadi Tales. 

Our Curious Sameer series is available at 40% off until July 31, 2017 -

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Karadi Tales: What made you take on the project with an Indian publisher?
Francesco Manetti: Karadi Tales was the first publisher that placed their trust in me as an illustrator. I sent my portfolio without knowing what would happen, and after a few days, I received my official job proposal for a collaboration with a publisher. It has been so exciting and great, and I will always be grateful to Karadi Tales for this chance.

KT: What was your inspiration for the illustrations in the Sameer series?

FM: The colours of nature, on a surreal/abstract and imaginary dimension. But of course, the stories I was working on gave me all the elements with which I built the scenarios, both at the emotional and at the fantasy level.

KT: Is the design of Sameer based on anyone you know?

FM: No, I created the features based on pictures and photos.

KT: How did you get into illustrating books for children?

FM: It all started during my studies at the Academy of Fine Arts in Carrara, Italy. When I started in 2005, I was more focused on digital illustration and graphic design, but step by step, I started learning to draw and paint and I discovered how beautiful it is to create images by hand. Then I discovered how pictures can be put alongside words into a book. I also have a big love for colours, and during my studies, I had classes on illustrated books for children: that's the connection. I understood that my love for illustration, colours and composing/layout could be summed up in these magical and poetical art pieces that illustrated books for children are.

KT: What types of media did you use for the artwork?

FM: I have worked on wooden panels, on which I spread a base of white acrylic plaster, creating a sort of background ripple effect. Then, I translated the storyboard through acrylic painting colours and colour pencils. Finally, I made some interventions with the digital illustration software Photoshop, setting the pictures to the text layout requirements.


When do you find it easiest to work?

When I find the right inspiration, for example, after a visit to an art exposition, or after a walk in nature, or after a talk with a friend.

Your favourite children’s book?

“The man of water and his fountain” by Ivo Rosati and Gabriel Pacheco

One artist you admire?

Bruno Munari, a great Italian artist who was a great contributor to children’s publishing and to the science of education and communication.

Your favourite encounter with a fan?

I have never had an experience like this, but if one day this should happen, I would give the fan my complete attention and all the answers he or she is looking for.

If you could be a book character for a day who would it be?

I would be a horse that rides free in an infinite prairie, or a bear walking slowly in the woods or sleeping quietly in the morning sun. 

Wednesday, July 12, 2017

The creator of Bela series on what inspires her stories

She created the lovable little girl from the books ‘Bela Misses Her Train’ and ‘The Wednesday Bazaar’. Karadi Tales catches up with talented author Neha Singh and finds out what inspired her to write these much-adored children’s books.To buy both books in the Bela series at a special discount of 40%, click here. Offer ends July 31, 2017. 

Karadi Tales: What was your inspiration for The Wednesday Bazaar and Bela Misses Her Train?

Neha Singh: I wanted to write Indian stories for Indian children. Indian characters with Indian names and quirks, in spaces that are typically ours. Both books deal with getting lost in public spaces, which is something most children can relate with and it can be an emotionally overwhelming experience. I have also very strong memories of getting lost at a bus depot as a five-year-old, and the relief and emotions I felt when I finally spotted my family. I think that memory was the basis of the two books. I also remember being helped by strangers in such situations, people from varied classes. It is not always 'stranger-danger', many times the community comes together to help children out too. That is why in both the books strangers help Bela reunite with her family. 

KT: Is Bela based on anyone you know?

NS: Yes, Bela is my niece, my sister's daughter. She will turn eight this year. The real Bela is smart, brave, mischievous and a problem solver, just like the character in the book. 

KT:  You are also a theatre artiste and the founder of Why Loiter. How does your activism come into play in your fiction writing?

NS: Why loiter? is a women's movement that I started in 2014 to reclaim public spaces. In my books too, the protagonists are invariably girls, who are in public spaces. They are not scared or timid, they are just having fun. When they get into trouble, they are proactive in finding solutions and take help of others. My characters are neither princesses nor witches, they are regular girls with a desire to engage with the world around them, with curiosity and amazement, not fear or suspicion. 

KT: Do you find the process of writing for adults and children very different. If so, why?

NS: Yes, I maintain that children's books are far wiser than grown-ups' books, and one needs to have a knack of saying unique things in the minimum number of words to make a good children's book. Simplicity and imagination are the two key ingredients in a children's book. Having said that, writing a book for adults can be a very long and lonely process. 

When do you find it easiest to write? 
When I can see the story from beginning to end in my head, like a film, animation film, preferably. 

Your favourite children’s book? 
So many! Roald Dahl's stories, R.K. Narayan's stories for children, Ruskin Bond's books for children. Enid Blyton remains an all time favourite. 

An author you admire? 
Padmashri Vijaydan Detha. 

Your favourite encounter with a fan? 
Shilpa Phadke (author of Why Loiter? the book) who I am a big fan of, her daughter Anamika, has come for my storytelling sessions and bought both Bela books. It’s a beautiful circle of fans. 

If you could be a book character for a day who would it be?
I would be Swami from Malgudi days, and experience what it must have been like to be a schoolkid in pre-independence India.