Thursday, February 11, 2010

Introducing Sowmya Rajendran

Introducing Sowmya Rajendran. This young writer, all of 24 years, has published two books under Tulika- Aana and Chena and The Snow King's daughter, and six in the very entertaining Forgot and Kattabomman series for ThinkBig books.

What made you take up writing?

I've been interested in writing since childhood. I wrote my share of 'angsty' poetry and slowly graduated into prose writing when I got to college. I did consider options like doing medicine or dentistry for a career but I was cured of that pretty soon. Writing was what I was good at and I was lucky enough to end up doing just that. And I'm making enough money doing it!

I love walking into book stores and seeing my books on the shelf. It makes me happy.

How do you go about writing a story?
I choose my subjects from the everyday and the ordinary. As a reader, I love reading writing in which I'm able to say 'Hey, I know exactly what you're talking about!' It is that sense of identification with the story that I try to create in my stories for the readers. If you look at people and what they do with a fond eye, you will find plenty of things worth writing about.

I form the story as I'm writing. In most instances, I don't plan the conclusion. I try and let the story lead to it. Once I'm done, I read it, add, delete, edit...or sometimes close the file without saving it!

How do you weave humor into a story?
When I started out writing, I usually chose heavy subjects that bordered on the morbid. Somehow, writing about profound things seemed to be more important than being funny. My brother made a huge contribution to my life by laughing at me at all the right moments. He told me plainly that being whiny didn't make good reading...I was not very inclined to take his feedback at that point, but as I grew as a writer and as a reader, I began to understand that the saddest things in life are often tragicomic. And when you add that bit of irony to your tale, it rings genuine. It's the tone I'm most comfortable with since it's the tone I look for in the books I buy.

What kind of work do you want to do? Which is your next project?
I love doing picture books. I love the simplicity of it and the delight that these books are capable of providing. They are fun to write and hone your writing skills- you learn to appreciate the beauty of saying the minimal in the most entertaining way possible.

Two picture books with Tulika are in the pipeline.

How is children's writing different from writing for adults?
Writing for children teaches you to not be a bore. It's an audience that doesn't care how big a writer you are or how intellectual is the subject matter you've discussed. I like the sense of honesty that this genre gives one. It's a great learning experience.

Children's literature has traditionally been didactic. Moral stories and instructive tales have been the average fodder. But the trend is changing. Maybe not fast enough, but I definitely see more books around me that I wish I had when I was growing up!

Is there a lot of opportunity for amateur writers now ?
The more number of publishing houses there is, the more opportunities there will be. So yes, there are more opportunities. But if you want to graduate from amateur to published, you have to be willing to do the groundwork. Write, refine, send, wait, wait some more, pester your publisher, be open to editing...and finally relish the moment you see your first book!

What advice would you give to aspiring writers?
If writing is what you want to do, don't aspire to write. Just write. Don't wait for the Muses or for inspiration to strike you...choose what you see around you and write. Telling a story that you know really well, that you see around you every day, is difficult, fulfilling, and rewarding.

Sowmya is a BA in English from Stella Maris College, Chennai, and an MA in Gender Studies from the University of Sussex, UK. She also happens to be my editor at Chandamama, where she manages the English edition.


Poppy said...

So talented and so young! Wonderful interview Art - thanks!

Unknown said...

Sowmya Rajendran's interview will inspire more upcoming writers. I'm happy that I'm working with this cute little girl. Praying to god (as she doesn't believe in god), give her long life

Choxbox said...

Many wise words - thanks for a great interview Soumya and Art!

sandhya said...

I've told myself I should stop threatening to write and do it!

Tharini said...

Such an engaging interview. Loved Sowmya's down to earth take on everything. You're write, aspirations are important, but so is the action that must come forth!

Thanks Art!

Meera Sriram said...

Great dialogue, Sowmya and Art, thanks! Sowmya, I particularly liked your take on humor in children's lit. Good luck with everything!

sathish said...

wonderful to read - thank you Art and Sowmya.

Artnavy said...

Glad you guys enjoyed it.

Sowmya is very witty and sharp but also tender in her observations of people, which make her stories a pleasure to read

They have a high "identifiable with " quotient as she says...

sandhya- u must

Sowmya Rajendran said...

@Poppy- Thank you, I'm glad you enjoyed it :)

@Vaasugi- Hello, colleague! Thank you for your wishes.

@Choxbox- Thanks. I enjoyed all the attention :P

@Sandhya- Please do. And when you manage to finish it, ask Art for mail id and send it to me...we need more stories for the magazine!

@Tharini- Thanks. Keep writing!

@Meera- Thank you, it's a pity I read Roald Dahl's books for children only as a grown-up. I love his brand of funny.

@Sathish- Thanks :)

@Artnavy- Thank you for the opportunity, I shall consider increasing the pages for Mister Muthu ;)

ranjani.sathish said...

I really enjoyed reading this interview ! Thank you Sowmya and Art Navy.

Artnavy said...

Glad you liked it Ranjani.

oops!! that would not be an incentive- u know how difficult it is for me to elaborate right...:-))

Vibha said...

Interesting interview and so true -do not wait ... just write !!!

Thanks ArtN

Artnavy said...

Vibha- yes, so often we wait for that magic moment... except on our blogs of course...:-))

B o o said...

Is Sowmya the blogger - GB?!!!!!!!! Oh My God!! Today is my exclamatory day, I suppose! Discovering so many blogger turned authors! Congrats GB!! Im a huge fan! *bows*

God! Too many Tulika books to buy! I got to plan an India trip soon! ;)

Artnavy said...

You r right Boo- GB it is ...

Praba Ram said...

Art - thanks for a wonderful interview. Great questions.

Loved Sowmya's genuine tone and plain and clear answers. Not to miss the matter-of-factness in humor - "or sometimes close the file without saving it!" :)

Enjoyed every word. Thanks again to both of you! Must be really fun to work in the same office.:)

Artnavy said...

Praba- undue credit to me but thanks

btw i have never been to Chandamama's office... Mister Muthu is all done using the magic of email and internet ..... i hold a full time job as a fragrance sales person

GB said...

@Boo- Sorry for the late reply. My laptop crashed :) Yes, I'm GB wonly! You made my day :)

@Praba- Thank you! Good luck with your book, I'm going to get it on my next trip to Landmark!

Artnavy said...

Just got the news- Sowmya's The Snow king's daughter has been longlisted for the Vodafone Crossword book award

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