Times of India’s NIE Mini-interview!

Times of India’s NIE Mini-interview!

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This was such a fun interview to do. Nitya Shukla of The Times of India mailed across some incredibly interesting questions for me to respond to.

The edited version came out in NIE on Nov 15, 2017. Here’s the link to the online version.

And pasted below is the complete email interview! 🙂

Thank you, Nitya!

NS: Please share a list of picture books, authors or books that amazing examples of creativity. 

RJ: Don’t make me do this, please! I have so many sackful of favourites that it’ll be impossible for me to whittle it down to a list.

NS: What’s the most picturesque library that you’ve been to?

RJ: May I tweak this question a bit and make it ‘…some of the most…’?!

David Sassoon Library, Bombay

The NYPL’s Rose Reading Room, NYC

Wren Library, Trinity College, Cambridge

Archiginnasio Library, Bologna

Miranda House, Delhi University

NS: How would your fan moment turn out? If you ever met Lemony Snicket, what would you say to him?

RJ: I will be too tongue-tied to even mumble some fawning-over gibberish. But if I collect my wits in time to ask, it’ll be this: Will we ever have a book by Lemony Snicket on Snicket’s death?

NS: You probably meet a lot of kids, adults at publishing events. For the most part they want authors to sign a book, or express their thoughts. Yet publishing events are a wonderful opportunity to ask the author anything! What are the questions that you wish readers should ask that could help you guide them better?

RJ: a) is there a specific point in your books where you think the reader will get a lump in the throat, even in the funniest, zaniest ones? Do you choke while writing it?

b) which is the part that makes you crack up when reading aloud to a bunch of readers?

c) if this book did not end the way it does now, what would it have been?

d) what are the big tiny sacrifices you have to make in order to get these books out into this world?

e) how many rounds of revision did it take you get this 500-worder to a point where you felt it was done?

NS: Do you want each book to stand on its own, or are you trying to build a body of work with connections between each book?

RJ: Each title is unique with its own set of challenges that my protagonists face. And I want each of them to have a soul that’s hard to miss.

NS: How did publishing your first book change your process of writing?

RJ: It didn’t! I wish it had helped me turn into a more disciplined writer.

NS: What was the best money you ever spent as a writer?

RJ: It’s a multitude of them – from memberships to libraries to going overboard at bookshops, no matter what corner of the world, to shelling out extra baggage charges to cart them home. J

NS: What authors did you dislike at first but grew into?

RJ: Sharon Creech, Philip Pullman, Kenzaburo Oe, Michael Ondaatje.

NS:What did you do with your first advance?

RJ: It was a tiny one, but I withdrew the amount from my account, sealed it in an envelope and put away in my stationery drawer where it still lies untouched (rendered useless post demonetization).

NS: How do you select the names of your characters?

RJ: Always tough for me. I somehow never seem to get it right. But to answer the question, I list down all the possible things that the characters would do, if they were living, breathing beings. I then try and get the other characters in the story respond to them in those imagined situations. My ears can almost hear some names being called out, ringing out loud.

NS: As a writer of picture books I feel it might be great if you could literally write a how to draw their own picture book in five steps or less.

RS: Actually, I can’t! The process for each writer is different, and even with the same writer, every character or story requites a different approach. But if there’s one thing that I would want every book to have, it would be loneliness in any form to envelope the protagonist at some point in the book. Unless the character is allowed to sink into an absolute pit, it won’t desperately flap its wings to fly out of it and emerge a changed, stronger version of its self at the start of the book. To my mind, this is true of even the funniest of books.



Pickle Yolk Books in Publishers Weekly Bologna 2017 Wrap-Up!

Pickle Yolk Books in Publishers Weekly Bologna 2017 Wrap-Up!

Awards and Recognition Blog posts

I am doing my best to sound modest and all, BUT over 1.2k exhibitors, over 26k visitors, etc etc, and who finds a little mention in the Publishers Weekly wrap-up of this year’s Bologna Children’s Book Fair? Guess, guess! My tiny baby Pickle Yolk Books is right up there, standing strong (4th para from the bottom)! Hugs to one and all for always cheering me on through this madness of mine!

Click here for the weblink to the article, or read the PDF of the same here.

My new book with Pratham Books’ Storyweaver is here!

My new book with Pratham Books’ Storyweaver is here!

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Get ready to go to outer space with madam Astronaut Gul! Gul In Space, the latest in the STEM series by Pratham Books’ StoryWeaver is out now. Level 3. Wickedly fun illustrations by Lavanya Karthik! Initiator, motivator and editor, Payal Dhar (website below);


art direction by Kaveri Gopalkrishnan. Pure joy working to a tight brief and an even tighter deadline. 😀

Read GUL IN SPACE here!

Hugs to the entire Storyweaver team!

Two of my books on the LRSIA 2017 recommended list, Yay!

Two of my books on the LRSIA 2017 recommended list, Yay!

Awards and Recognition Blog posts

Just received this exciting piece of news – two of my books, The Unboy Boy (illustrated by Gautam Benegal, Pickle Yolk Books), and Whispers in the Classroom, Voices on the Field (edited by me, Wisdom Tree),  have been selected alongside some other truly awesome books for this year’s Leading Reading Schools of India Awards (LRSIA) 2017! How cool is that!

 Here is the entire list for this year.

Organised by the inimitable author, educator and story teller par excellence Shamim Padamsee and her Young India Books team, this is the fourth edition of the awards. These annual awards applaud and recognise the five leading schools of India for their exemplary work in instilling a love for reading in their students. On the historic occasion of our 70th year of Independence, this year’s programme lays emphasis on INDIA MERI HAI with the objective of creating sensitive readers and aware citizens who care for our land, its people, environment and heritage.

Don’t miss this lovely, upbeat video “India Meri Hai” the team has produced; its peppy zing will have you humming it all day long! It will be shown at the participating schools and other venues. India’s leading wildlife photographers have contributed to making this an inspirational video. The images in the film can be used for further discussion to sensitise students to our environment.

Watch it here!


To know more and/or to participate in the Leading Reading Schools of India Awards (LRSIA) 2017, 

visit the website www.youngindiabooks.com/ or click here

The Unboy Boy goes to NutSpace!

The Unboy Boy goes to NutSpace!

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I am an ardent admirer of Rohini Vij and her crazily creative gang at NutSpace! So it is a matter of sheer delight that ‘The Unboy Boy’ got picked up as one of the books for their 5-day workshop recently. In their words:

“5 Days and 5 Fabulous books came alive. It was such joy to see the participants literally devour books. They read, explored, touched, smelt, soaked five handpicked books in this unique workshop.

There was so much more that happened. Participants practised 21st century skills by collaborating, being creative, communicating, thhinking critically and sharpening their confidence.”

NutSpace, I love you! Here are some pics of the little ones engaging with ‘The Unboy Boy’:

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Painting Words: The World of Picture Books

Painting Words: The World of Picture Books

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It is a matter of great pride for me to be associated with ’Children’s Picture Books in India: Rethinking History, Storytelling and Pedagogy’. It is a year long project being conducted on children’s picture books to understand their understanding and dissemination throughout northern India. The project is under the instruction and guidance of Dr Shweta Sachdeva Jha from the English department and Dr. Mukul Priyadarshini and Ms Archana Kushwaha from the department of Elementary Education, Miranda House, University of Delhi.

It has been an incredibly lovely experience interacting with them. Here’s a warm and crisp film prepared by the team.