Friday, September 11, 2015

Interview with Anushka Ravishankar, Star Author of 'Weave-a-Story' Campaign

Pratham Books launched StoryWeaver on International Literacy Day (September 8th) with Anushka Ravishankar's clever and delightful story 'It's All the Cat's Fault!' Naturally, we wanted to involve writers and illustrators whose work we admire and when Anushka agreed, we were thrilled to bits. Anushka is an award-winning children's author and also a co-founder of Duckbill Publishing House. Read the wonderful story she wrote for StoryWeaver.

Illustrated by popular illustrator Priya Kuriyan, 'It's All the Cat's Fault!' is almost touching 1300 reads already and was translated into Hindi, Marathi, Kannada, Odia, Tamil, Sanskrit and Malayalam on StoryWeaver within just 2 days of the launch.


StoryWeaver catches up with Anushka for a little chat:

We're incredibly excited that StoryWeaver launched with your story 'It's All the Cat's Fault! How did this story take shape and form?

I struggled a bit to find a story, as you know. Then I had a sudden urge to write a story where one thing leads to another and then another ... So I started with the cat on the tree (I'm a bit obsessive on the subject of cats, ever since one came into my life) and then kept going. I did take a couple of wrong turns along the way, but finally, the idea of playing on the ''dog ate my homework' cliche amused me. Also it was fun writing it with the negatives: if this hadn't happened that wouldn't have happened ... it gave the story it's particular rhythm and quirkiness, I thought.

You are one of the co-founders of Duckbill, a well regarded children's publishing house. What would you say was the main reason for agreeing to be a Star Author for StoryWeaver's launch campaign?

The main reason is that I greatly admire what Pratham Books does to get books into the hands of children who would otherwise never get books to read. And when I heard about StoryWeaver, I felt it was a wonderful initiative. I'm happy to have been a part of its launch!

What do you think we could do - as a large community of people who care about reading - to ensure that reading becomes a more inclusive experience for children in India and around the world?

We're all - publishers, authors, parent bloggers, people interested in children and reading - working in our own different ways towards this end, and we should continue to do so. We need different kinds of books and different experiences of reading. The Creative Commons, for instance, is a fascinating idea and will go a long way in filling the gaps. Perhaps we should also involve children in the endeavour in some way. The lines in our society are drawn so clearly, that the difference of class often trumps the sameness of the experience of childhood. We need to have books - and many of them - that blur these lines.

You're known to be fantastic with humour and rhyme. Are there certain things that you find yourself going back to while writing children's books because they tend to work - words, phrases, themes, and so on? We'd love to know what some of these are.

I do tend to go back to animals. Many of my books are about animals (Tiger on a Tree, Catch That Crocodile, Elephants Never Forget ...). I think animals are amazingly entertaining. The fact that we don't know what's going on in their heads makes them interesting to write about because all fiction writing is, in a way, speculation. I also tend to go back to rhyme, partly because I'm addicted to it and also because I find that occupying my left brain with writing rhyme frees my right brain from the tyranny of its logic.

And funny seems to be my default style. Writing serious stuff bores me (and therefore my readers).

What do you do and where do you go when you desperately need inspiration to write? Yes, we're asking you to spill your secrets.

I find that lying on my bed and watching the fan go round and round usually works. But I do need a lot of time (sometimes days) of ceiling-gazing before I can start writing. There, now you know.

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Anushka's story is also part of the Weave-a-Story campaign. Find out how you can join the campaign.

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