ASHA NEHEMIAH

She is a famous children’s author and has written several picture books, chapter books, short stories and mystery novels. Her characters are unique and they are always getting into crazy funny adventurous situations. You might have read her one of these books by her – Mystery of the Secret Hair Oil Formula, Trouble with Magic, Granny’s Sari, Mrs Woolly’s Funny Sweaters. Read on if you want to know more about her… 

When did you start penning such wonderful stories? 

I’ve been writing stories ever since I was about 8 or 9 years old. My first stories for children were published in children’s magazines and in newspapers around thirty years ago. My first book, Granny’s Sari, was published in 1998. 

Was there any author who influenced you?

I’m inspired by lots of authors. I admire what some authors are doing by trying new ways to tell a story. Like Lavanya Karthik has done in her Ninja Nani series where she uses a mix of the comic book format interspersed with regular prose. I am amazed at how authors like Ruskin Bond and Katherine Paterson are still writing new books in their eighties. 

Can you tell us if your family was always happy with this choice you made – that to be a writer?

Most certainly YES. They believe that I do something important. They do not consider writing children’s books to be secondary to writing books for adults.

They do see the children’s writer as a very important cog in getting children to read. And as a family we believe that without books and reading, education can never even begin. 

Tell us a little about the characters you write about. How do you dream up such unique people? 

I love creating quirky characters. I do enjoy giving them exaggerated traits and over-the-top habits and even funny, descriptive names like Khabardar Khan or Bambaram Jones. I am a keen observer of life and people and there’s some invisible filing cabinet in my mind (plus many note pads) into which I jot down and file away interesting details. A person whose fingers resemble a bunch of bananas, a person who is so thin that every joint appears as a knob under her skin …and so on. 

Tell us about your favorite story book written by you and one by
another author.

The book I’m most satisfied about – especially when it comes to the plotting, is my book The Mystery Of Silk Umbrella. There are three or four different storylines with different sets of people wanting the Silk Umbrella for many different reasons. There’s mystery and suspense. It’s also the book on which I’ve touched upon something close to my heart – the inequalities between us. 

My favourite books by other authors keeps changing depending on what I’ve read most recently. I love Deepa Balsaver’s Nani’s Walk in the Park and Kate DiCamillo’s Lousiana’s Way Home. 

 

My favourite tip for writers is ‘Just do it’. It sounds like the Nike slogan but it’s my favourite bit of advice for young writers. Those who want to be writers keep saying they have so many ideas for a story or a book. But unless you write it down and complete the story, it remains an idea and not a story. Never assume that what you have written is the best you are capable of until you have rewritten your story – or bits of your story –

-at least twice. 

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