Monday, August 17, 2015

Growing up with Tulika books

In February last year, I had quit my job just after 7 months of work. I had decided to take a short break to do certain things that really interested me and made me happy. I love being around children and realized that writing short, funny stories for them would be something that I could possibly do. It was during that time that my mother, who had always bought Tulika books for me when I was younger, insisted that I try writing for Tulika. It seemed to me like a great idea – like something that I would definitely be happy doing.  Subsequently, I had also started taking music and French lessons. This gave me a lot of energy, and motivated me to experiment with new ideas.

Tulika has always been a very interesting publisher that has given so many books that I have been reading ever since I was little. I still re-read books like Ekki Dokki, Magic Vessels, Eyes on the Peacock’s Tail, Mazzoo Mazzoo, Suresh and the Sea, Eecha Poocha etc. I also read newer books like Siri’s Smile, Mala’s Silver Anklets, Catch that Cat! and Our Incredible Cow.

The main thing that prompted me to write for Tulika over other publishers was the fact that I felt familiar with the style of writing. In a way it was like coming back home – a comfort zone that I could go back to; the closest I could get to being a child again. Authors and storytellers like Jeeva Raghunath, Sandhya Rao and Vayu Naidu were my favorites.

I remember reading Ekki Dokki as a child one evening and it was the best thing that happened that weekend! I re-read the book and others many times, and my mother read it aloud when I would go to bed (even though I was old enough to read the books at the time, I preferred my mother to read them out to me at bedtime!) Tulika books are perfect for reading out loud – they give the ultimate storytelling experience.

So, having decided to write for Tulika, I thought I could start with something really small – something ‘ant sized’ which would hopefully, over time, turn into something bigger. I began to think of stories where children did mischievous things or small acts of kindness. However, curiosity, as a feeling, is something that children can relate to. We all like small things, and children are almost always picking up small objects around them. I realized that writing a story also meant creating the visuals, and I was as excited about the visuals as I was about the writing. And so, what started out as individual doodles, became a story in itself.

I knew that I wanted to keep the stories simple, as those are the kind of stories that really appeal to me even today. I doodled some more, wrote some more, and, eventually, I mustered up the courage to send some of these stories to Tulika. Soon after that, I joined my present job which I enjoy very much.  

Excatly a year later (February this year), I was pleasantly surprised by a mail from Tulika on publishing ‘the ants’ manuscript! This meant that I was going to be a Tulika author!! My happiness grew by infinite proportions and I was more than excited. Before I knew it, my story, Follow the Ants, was published and translated into 8 Indian languages.

So far, I have absolutely enjoyed the experience of being an author with Tulika – it has still has not sunk in. Be it the storytelling sessions, signing the books, visiting the Tulika bookstore, interacting with the Tulika team - everything has been absolutely brilliant J

I really hope to continue writing small stories that little kids can relate to, and maybe stories that slightly older kids can read as well. Like the ants, I think I too need to continue marching towards things that make me happy - and right now, it is my passion to write and doodle, and try to create something that everyone can enjoy.

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