Author of the Week | Mallika Ravikumar
Hey everyone! I hope you had an amazing time with your friends and family on Holi. I know it’s really difficult to get shake the festive inertia off and get back to routine life but worry not, it’s weekend time. Also, it’s time to drop a hint about the next theme so I’ll tell you, it’s a festival.
Without further ado, let’s talk about this week’s author. A lawyer turned children’s author, she decided to get into writing due to her long-time affinity with writing as a hobby and the desire to write something that her own children, along with many others, would read and enjoy. She is Miss Mallika Ravikumar.
So, what was the first book you ever read? How old were you then?
The first book I remember reading was ‘The day the clocks stopped’, a Reader’s Digest series of books for young readers. I must have been about
How many Books/Short Stories/Poems have you written? Which is your favorite? Are there any that ended up getting shelved for the time being?
1. Of Revolutionaries and Bravehearts, published by Puffin
2. Tracing Roots, published by Karadi Tales
3. Disability and the Law by Universal Publishing
1. Not From Mama’s Tummy by Juggernaut
2. Janaki on Pratham Story Weaver
3. The Compassionate Crow on Pratham Story Weaver
4. Not like Maa on Pratham Story Weaver
3. Petu Ganesha on Amazon
There are so many I have lost count
Do you hear from your readers much? What kinds of things do they say?
Yes, I get to hear from readers through social media. It is heartening to hear direct feedback from children as they are always honest. Most people are appreciative and encouraging. They often want to know more about the book or the writing journey.
When did you write your first Book/Short Story/Poem and how old were you?
I may have been about 8 when I wrote my first poem. It was called Chacha Nehru.
When did you first realize you wanted to be a writer?
There was always an interest in writing and writing had been a hobby for a long time. However, after my children were born, I gave up the legal practice because I wanted to spend more time at home. I then started writing stories for them. This is how my journey as a children’s writer began.
What would you say is your interesting writing quirk?
Don’t over-think it!
Where do you get your information or ideas for your Books/Short Stories/Poems?
I read a lot. In particular, I love reading ancient Indian literature and classics translated from Indian languages. That is a very enriching experience and leads one to many interesting ideas.
I also find observing children and listening to their conversations a good source of ideas.
What was one of the most surprising things you learned in creating your Books/Short Stories/Poems?
When I began, I was wracked by self-doubt. I often wondered whether anybody would read what I wrote or whether I’d find a publisher. I was pleasantly surprised when within 2 years of writing, I had signed publishing contracts with Puffin and Hachette - 2 of the big 5 in the world of publishing.
What does your process of writing look like? What is the hardest part?
It starts with a spark which leads to more detailed ideating, followed by plenty of research. This takes up a large bulk of the time.
Writing, re-writing, editing, and so on, follow from here.
The hardest part for me is editing. It is tedious…but it must be done.
What do your family and friends feel about your work?
My family, including my children, are incredibly proud and very encouraging of my work. My friends have been a great source of support, constantly giving honest inputs and feedback, which is very essential for a budding writer.
What is your advice for aspiring writers?
Most good writing is re-writing. So, don’t give up if the first cut of your draft looks disappointing. Keep at it! Polish your work and a sparkling gem will emerge.
Who is your inspiration in the field of writing?
For Children’s writing, it is Ruskin Bond, Ranjit Lal, and Roald Dahl.
For historical non-fiction and travel writing – it’s William Dalrymple.
For historical fiction, it is Kalki Krishnamurthi who wrote in Tamil, Khushwant Singh, Amitav Ghosh, color, and Ken Follet.
Has your writing style changed since you first started writing? If yes, in what ways has it changed?
Yes… To some extent. I am less focused now on pleasing or catching the eye of an Editor/Publishing House as I know my work is capable of finding an audience. To some extent, it makes me free to experiment.
What attracted you to the genre(s) you write in?
I have always loved history but also found that the history taught to children in schools is most often drab and listless. Making history interesting for children is something that excites me.
Mythology and ancient stories about nature is another niche area that I find very interesting, based on my studies in comparative mythology and interest in nature/tree walks.
Would you consider yourself a planner or a pantser? Or both? Is your current system working for you?
I am a bit of both. I don’t plan too much. But at the same time, I also don’t begin writing without a broad structure or outline in my head.
What do you love the most about your writing process?
That I can work anytime or anywhere I want, and work it around my children’s schedule!
Does music help or halt your writing process?
Depends on the kind of music. But I don’t particularly fancy listening to anything when I write.
Are your characters often inspired by real people?
Yes… In the historical stories…mostly based on real people. In the other stories – it’s a mix of real and imaginary characters.
Are there any specific ways that help you out of your reader’s/writer’s block?
Not face the problem so far… So I can’t tell.
If you could tell your younger writing self anything, what would it be?
The world will judge you by your talent, not by the color of your skin!