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Archive for the month “February, 2013”

Q&A with Rahul Srivastava

Author Rahul Srivastava spoke to us about the inspiration for his riveting murder mystery What Happened to Regina That Night, his writing process and about books that spill over labels—

Your book is one of the first titles to be released under Nova, Scholastic’s new YA category. A number of other publishers have also started imprints that cater exclusively to children and young adults. Do you think the YA publishing scene in India is finally picking up?

Rahul: Well, the young adult publishing scene is making a more marked presence felt for sure these days. The readership on the other hand, has always existed. I believe that passionate readers from the age group of 13 + read voraciously. Such readers may even be put off by the category young adult fiction. One must be careful not to slot things too neatly. For me young readers are serious readers and in fact read with intensity and enthusiasm, which, more often than not, starts to fade away as the years go by.

You’ve trained as a social anthropologist. How did writing fiction come into the picture?

Rahul: I realised quickly that fiction provides a more sensory and multi-dimensional space to express ideas and engage with the world than social science writing. If social anthropology opens up worlds for you, it does not fully allow you to express yourself in a wholesome way. On the other hand the discipline stimulated my imagination hugely – more than a formal training in literature would have. For me the interplay of the two – writing fiction and engaging with the world through anthropology – is spontaneous.

What kind of research did you do for the book? How did the plot evolve?

Rahul: In terms of the setting, the book derives a lot from my childhood spent in railway colonies in small towns all over India. The theme and the plot is based on my fieldwork among missionaries in tribal India and my admiration in particular of their adventurous, large-hearted spirit. The emotive trigger was the burning of Graham Staines and his children in Orissa and the poise that his wife Gladys showed when she visited my college in Mumbai, where I was teaching in the early 2000s. The plot evolved in the process of writing and as characters came into their own to shape the story. I myself did not know who the killer was, till the very end.

Tell us a bit about how you created Antarpur.

Rahul: Antarpur is composed from a mosaic of memories. Colonial railway towns in the north where I spent a few years as a child; the edge of forests regina coveraround coal mines in Chattisgarh, where I had once visited my cousins; tribal hamlets on the outskirts of Mumbai city and all over Maharashtra where I did fieldwork. Essentially by traversing the sub-continent on trains, and being fascinated by all I saw. There are worlds within worlds in there, not all immediately discernible. Different time-zones are layered over each other. A late nineteenth century Church in a tiny town in the middle of nowhere, a tribal hamlet at the edge of a gigantic metropolis. Antarpur was inspired by all of them.

 

 

Who are your favourite mystery writers? Would you say that crime fiction is a relatively new territory in Indian publishing?

Rahul: Oh, I used to read very indiscriminately  – and crime fiction was definitely one of my favourites – along with sci-fi and historical fiction. From Umberto Eco to Agatha Christie, if there was a twisted tale, it had me hooked. Yes crime fiction is definitely new in India– once again as a category. Books continue to have a habit of spilling over labels though. My favourite genre-defying thriller remains Amitav Ghosh’s The Calcutta Chromosome. For many of us in India, who love stories beyond categories, have lived a particular kind of life in our crazy cities, have experienced the world through a mongrelized imagination, that tale touched a special chord, in a way that is difficult to explain. It continues to haunt and is firmly entrenched in my head.

What are you working on at the moment? Is there another book in the pipeline?

Rahul: Yup, it is the complete version of a short story I had written some years ago – called The Secret Lives of Billy Billimoria, set in Bombay and Mumbai.

Scholastic Junior Classics

Ideal for young readers, the Scholastic Junior Classics are a set of beautifully done adaptations of literary classics and some of the world’s most beloved fables and fairy tales. The series owes its smashing new look to cover designer Pooja Pottenkulam.

Here’s the complete list:                                                                      Gullivers Stories Front

Beauty and the Beast and other Stories

Alice in Wonderland

Gulliver’s Stories

Heidi

King Arthur

Robin Hood of  Sherwood Forest

The Jungle BookRobinson Crusoe

The Little Mermaid and other Stories

Twelve Dancing Princesses

The Wizard of Oz

Beauty and the beast Cover FrontThe Wizard of Oz Cover Front

Scholastic Early Science

A lonely little turtle wants a friend who looks just like her, and so sets out to find one. On the way, she meets some fascinating creatures—a crusty crab, a silly seahorse, a sleepy starfish, a jolly jellyfish and many others who become her friends.  Tiny Turtle inside pages

Tiny Turtle Wants a Friend is an exquisitely illustrated book that introduces young children to some of the amazing creatures that live in the ocean and also teaches an important lesson about friendship.

The Scholastic Early Science series is designed to help acquaint children with various facts about the world through a combination of vivid, captivating pictures and smart storytelling. Many of the books revolve around different aspects of the animal kingdom.

Silly Dilly, a delightful story about a frightened duckling, familiarises children  with numerous animals while Small Piglet Looks for Mommy revolves around baby animals and birds.

Silly Dilly

Small Piglet Looks for Mommy

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

In Mouse Sees the World, an adventurous mouse sets out to discover the world and meets many creatures en route. Sadly nobody has the time to accompany him because they are all busy foraging for food. The book teaches children about the eating habits of animals, birds and insects.

Little Koel finds His SongLittle Monkey Gets Lost is a similar title which tells children about where different creatures live and what their homes are made of. Little Koel Finds His Song is a charming story about a baby koel in search of someone who can teach him to sing, that helps children learn about birds.

The Scholastic Early Science books make excellent teaching tools for children who have started to read and are ready to grasp basic information about the world around them.

There’s also a board game that comes free with the new box set which includes all the titles so far!

Board game back

And watch out for the newest title in the series, Little Rabbit Learns About Rain, written by author Kuntie Ramdat Balkaran.

Comic Con India Awards 2012

Scholastic India is proud to announce that the Comic Con India award for the Best Cover Art of 2012 has gone to Garima Gupta for When Crows Are White.

Way to go, Garima!

crows

Launch of Scholastic Nova!

CM3_0686Make way for Scholastic Nova!

Our new YA category has finally been unveiled. Scholastic Nova was launched at the New Delhi World Book Fair on February 6, with our hot-off-the-oven YA titles—short story collections Saleem on Earth and other Stories, Music of the Stars and Other Love Stories, and Rahul Srivastava’s murder mystery What Happened to Regina That Night.

Popular author Anuja Chauhan read from Nandini Bajpai’s forthcoming novel Red Turban White Horse, and moderated a stimulating discussion on Young Adult literature. The panel included some of the most well-known writers of YA fiction in India today—Payal Dhar, Paro Anand, Rahul Srivastava, and Sampurna Chattarji, whose YA offering Ela will hit the stands in a few months.

Here’s to new beginnings and more outstanding books!

Nova1 Nova2 Nova3

The Mudskipper

The Mudskipper—award-winning playwright and writer Ovidia Yu’s first book for children.

It’s the story of Lizhi, a ten-year-old girl of mixed heritage, who arrives at her father’s home in Singapore after his death to meet his family. Lizhi realises soon enough to her dismay that she’s an unwelcome guest there. Her frosty Aunt Mona makes no secret of the fact that she considers her niece nothing but a nuisance.

Lizhi’s only friends are Bwe Bwe, the young Indonesian maid and the mysterious old man in the garden with whom she feels a strange sense of kinship. One day while exploring the house, Lizhi finds a beautiful stone carving of a mudskipper, a fish-like creature she identifies with. Little does she know that there are many more secrets to be discovered in her father’s old home.

Ovidia Yu takes the reader through little-known nooks and corners of Singapore with her wonderfully vivid descriptions while telling a gentle, heartwarming story.

The Mudskipper was the second runner-up for the Scholastic Asian Book Award, 2011.

The Mudskipper Cover.indd

We caught up with the author for a quick chat about the book—

What inspired The Mudskipper? How much of it is drawn from your own life? 

Ovidia: I travelled a lot as a child with my parents, my earliest memories are of camels in Egypt, snow in England, of standing on a dock in Bombay and my mother getting me to read the names painted on the sides of ships and of an enormous jasmine bush (I wish I could remember where) which you could stick your face and arms into after rain and the water droplets left jasmine scent all over you. But that also meant constantly making new friends. I didn’t go to kindergarten so when I started in school in Singapore the other girls already had friends but I didn’t know anyone. Some of that ‘outsider’ feeling is in Lizhi in The Mudskipper. Lizhi in the book also shares my curiosity about places, love of exploring, love of food, love of animals and the house in the book is very roughly based on my late grandparents house where I used to be taken to stay… which is how I know you can climb out of the windows!

Tell us a bit about how you got into writing. ovidia yu

Ovidia: I got into writing through reading. I really loved reading and used to get so caught up with the characters in books that I hated to let them go when the book was finished and I started to write ‘continuations’ for myself. I remember wishing that I lived in England or America where most of the books I read were set. For a long time I assumed that all real English books had to be set in England/ America and I felt very subversive when I secretly started writing stories for myself that were set in Singapore.

You’ve written extensively, but this is your first book for children. How different was the process? Did you have a specific age group in mind while writing? 

Ovidia: The process was much easier than writing a play because I didn’t have to worry about casting and staging locations and deadlines! But then without a producer looking over my shoulder I also had to be more disciplined, otherwise I would just have gone on producing material indefinitely and never stopping to craft it into a book.

But no, I didn’t have a specific age group in mind. I tried to write for myself—the self I was when I first discovered a love for reading and wished there were books that explored where I was—and then I tried to write a book that ‘me’ would have enjoyed reading!

The Singapore you show in the book is very different from how one usually perceives the place. Would you like to tell us more about that? 

Ovidia: I was trying to show my favourite sides of Singapore. I think countries are like family homes in how we have the sparkling clean, well-decorated spaces that impress visitors and where good children are allowed to play politely as long as they are clean and careful. But where we are happiest is in our back rooms or void decks, wearing comfortable old clothes, playing with friends and exploring.

When I was growing up my grandfather had a huge garden that I thought of as a jungle. (I think it was a former plantation. The grounds have since been bought over by the government and turned into a school) There were chickens and feral dogs and cats and occasionally a wild pig and I loved it even though I was afraid of going too deep in. There were rambutan and mango and chempadak and even durian trees and we always knew where fruit was ripening because the birds and the monkeys would be staking out the area.

Today most of the ‘wilderness’ is artificial but created to replicate original conditions. The Sungei Buloh Wetlands, the location The Mudskipper is set in, is one of my favourite places in Singapore.

Who were your favourite authors when you were growing up? 

Ovidia: When I was growing up–well I’m still ‘growing up’, so when I was around the age I would have liked to read a book like The Mudskipper, some of my favourite authors were—Noel Streatfeild, Frances Hodgson Burnett, Laura Ingalls Wilder, Madeline L’Engle, C.S. Lewis, E. Nesbit, Philippa Pearce. There was a backlash against Enid Blyton books in Singapore at the time and my mother wouldn’t let me read them though she wouldn’t or couldn’t say why they were ‘bad’, so though of course I read them on the sly most of my books at home were ones my mother had herself grown up reading… and they were lovely, lovely books though looking back I can see the Colonial influence was very strong!

Scholastic Nova

Don’t miss the launch of Scholastic Nova, our new YA category, at the New Delhi World Book Fair this week!

Details below:

Scholastic Nova launch

 

regina cover

saleem

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Scholastic India at World Book Fair 2013

We’ll be launching our brand-new YA segment, Scholastic Nova at the World Book Fair in Delhi next week!

There will be a panel discussion on Young Adult fiction moderated by popular author Anuja Chauhan. Panelists will include some of the leading lights in Indian YA fiction– Paro Anand, Payal Dhar, Sampurna Chattarji and Rahul Srivastava, the author of our newest YA title.

Check out the poster below for more details:

Launch invite

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