F-Page – Deepa Agarwal



Deepa Agarwal


Facts

Born on23-12-1947
Place of BirthAlmora, Uttarakhand
City of residenceDelhi
Books authored

BOOKS FOR CHILDREN OF THE 9-12 AGE GROUP

  1. A Capital Adventure, Children’s Book Trust (New Delhi, 1990)
  2. Three Days to Disaster, Ratnasagar Publishers (New Delhi, 1990)
  3. The Hunt for the Miracle Herb, Puffin Books, India (New Delhi, 1995, reprinted Navneet Publications, Mumbai, 2006)
  4. Everyday Tales, Harper Collins, India (New Delhi, 1995)
  5. Traveller’s Ghost, Harper Collins, India (New Delhi, 1994, reprinted Navneet Publications, Mumbai 2006)
  6. Ghosts Everywhere, A’n’B Publishers (New Delhi, 1996)
  7. Adventures in the Hills, A’ n’ B Publishers (New Delhi, 1996)
  8. Katha Ratna 3, (Hindi), Ratnasagar Publishers (New Delhi, 1995).
  9. Folk Tales from India, Macmillan India Limited (Chennai, 1997)
  10. Myths and Legends from India, Macmillan India Limited (Chennai, 1997)
  11. Animals and Birds in Myth and Legend, Macmillan India Ltd. (Chennai, 1997)
  12. The Hilltop Mystery, Vikas Publishing House (New Delhi, 1998)
  13. What’s Right, What’s Wrong, Save the Children Fund, (New Delhi, 2001)
  14. Anita and the Game of Shadows, Scholastic India Pvt. Ltd. (Gurgaon, 2002) reprinted as The Game of Shadows (2012)
  15. Not Just Girls!, Rupa & Co (New Delhi, 2004)
  16. My Book of Creative Writing, Scholastic India Pvt. Ltd. (Gurgaon, 2004) reprinted as Write Right (2011)
  17. King Vikram and the Riddles of the Vetal (Current title The Tricky Tales of Vikram and Vetal), Scholastic India Pvt. Ltd. (Gurgaon, 2005)
  18. Caravan to Tibet, Puffin Books, India (New Delhi, 2007)
  19. Folktales of Uttarakhand, Children’s Book Trust, (New Delhi, 2008)
  20. Rani Lakshmibai, the Valiant Queen of Jhansi, Puffin Books, India (New Delhi, 2009)
  21. Rajula and the Web of Danger, Hachette India (Gurgaon, 2012)
  22. Ghost Stories I, Pratham Books (New Delhi, 2012)
  23. Chanakya, the Master of Statecraft; Puffin Books India (New Delhi, 2013)
  24. Spinning Yarns: the Best Indian Stories for Children (compiled and edited); Red Turtle, children’s imprint of Rupa Publications (New Delhi, 2013)
  25. The Wish-fulfilling Cow and Other Classic Indian Tales, Scholastic India (Gurgaon 2015)
  26. Go, Girl Go! Ratnasagar Publishers (Delhi, 2015)
  27. 100 Great Poems for Children   (compiled and edited); Red Turtle, children’s imprint of Rupa Publications (New Delhi, 2015)          

PICTURE BOOKS FOR 3-8 YEARS

  1. Ashok’s New Friends, Children’s Book Trust (New Delhi, 1990)
  2. Lippo Goes to the Park, Frank Educational Aids (NOIDA,1994)
  3. Lippo Goes to a Party, Frank Educational Aids (NOIDA, 2000)
  4. Squiggly Goes to School, Frank Educational Aids (NOIDA,1994)
  5. Squiggly Goes for a Picnic, Frank Educational Aids (NOIDA, 2000)
  6. Cheeko and the School Bag, Frank Educational Aids (NOIDA, 2000)
  7. Flippi the Flying Pup, Frank Educational Aids (NOIDA, 2000)
  8. The Tree, Frank Educational Aids (NOIDA, 1994)
  9. Momo’s Capers, Frank Educational Aids (NOIDA, 1994)
  10. Birthday Gift, Frank Educational Aids (NOIDA,1994)
  11. Hoppity’s Song, Frank Educational Aids (NOIDA, 1996)
  12. The Toy Horse, Children’s Book Trust (New Delhi, 1997)
  13. The Walking Tree, Children’s Book Trust (New Delhi,1999)
  14. Birju and the Flying Horse, National Book Trust (New Delhi,1999)
  15. Bamba and Pinky, Frank Educational Aids (Noida, 2002)
  16. Flippi the Doggieangel, Frank Educational Aids, (Noida, 2002)
  17. Tango Goes Camping, Frank Educational Aids, (Noida, 2003)
  18. Bamba and the Apple Tree, Frank Educational Aids, (Noida, 2003)
  19. Stories from the Panchatantra, 1, 2, 3 Frank Educational Aids, (Noida, 2003)
  20. Greek Mythology 1 & 2, Frank Educational Aids, (Noida, 2003)
  21. Latula the Dancing Top, Rupa & Co. (New Delhi, 2003)
  22. Shanti’s Friend, Pratham Books, (New Delhi, 2007)
  23. The Mango Birds, National Book Trust, (New Delhi, 2009)
  24. A Real Giraffe, National Book Trust, (New Delhi, 2009)

Bio

Deepa Agarwal was born in Almora, Uttarakhand and received her master’s degree in English from the University of Allahabad. She taught English in S.P.M. College, New Delhi for some years. Currently she writes fiction and poetry for both children and adults and translates from Hindi into English. She has around fifty books published in English and Hindi. A frequent contributor to magazines and journals in India and abroad, she has edited and compiled several anthologies too. Among other awards, she has received the N.C.E.R.T. National Award for Children’s Literature in 1993 for her picture book Ashok’s New Friends, while her historical fiction Caravan to Tibet was on the IBBY (International Board on Books for Young People) Honour List 2008 as the best book from India and translated into Korean. Five of her titles have been listed in the White Raven Catalogue of notable books brought out by the IYL Munich.  Her work has been translated into several Indian and foreign languages.

Her poetry and short fiction has been published in journals like Indian Literature, Indian Horizons and Manushi among others and featured in anthologies. Both her short story collection If the Earth Should Move… and her poetry collection Do Not Weep Lonely Mirror have received critical acclaim as has her translation of Chandrakanta, Devakinandan Khatri’s famous Hindi classic.

Recent titles include Chanakya, the Master of Statecraft (Penguin India) in the Puffin Lives series, The Wish-fulfilling Cow and Other Classic Indian Tales (Scholastic India) and 100 Great Poems for Children an Anthology of Poetry for Children compiled by her (Red Turtle). A non-fiction How Many Steps to Lhasa? (National Book Trust) is forthcoming.

Deepa also researches children’s literature and has received fellowships from the Austrian government and the Ministry of Culture, Government of India. She has presented her own writing as well as scholarly papers on different topics in many seminars and conferences, both, in India and abroad. She is active in reading promotion, and is a resource person for Scholastic India, National Book Trust, India and Ratnasagar Publishers, conducting creative writing workshops and storytelling sessions.


Fantastic Five – Five of my favourite books

The Graveyard Book – Neil Gaiman This is a fantasy novel about a little boy, Nobody Owens, who is adopted and raised by the supernatural occupants of a graveyard after his family is brutally murdered.

The Inkworld series – Cornelia Funke A series of three fantasy novels written by German author Cornelia Funke, comprising Inkheart (2003), Inkspell (2005), and Inkdeath (2007). The books chronicle the adventures of teen Meggie Folchart, whose life changes dramatically when she realizes that she and her father, a bookbinder named Mo, have the unusual ability to bring characters from books into the real world when reading aloud. Mostly set in Northern Italy and the parallel world of the fictional Inkheart book, the central story arc concerns the magic of books, their characters and creatures, and the art of reading.

Charlotte’s Web – E.B.White The story of a pig named Wilbur, and his friendship with a barn spider named Charlotte. When Wilbur is in danger of being slaughtered by the farmer, Charlotte writes messages praising Wilbur (such as “Some Pig”) in her web in order to persuade the farmer to let him live.

The Little Engine that Could – Watty Piper A long train must be pulled over a high mountain. Larger engines are asked to pull the train; for various reasons they refuse. The request is sent to a small engine, who agrees to try. The engine succeeds in pulling the train over the mountain while repeating its motto: “I-think-I-can”.

Heidi – Johanna Spyri The classic novel about Heidi, a young girl living in her crusty grandfather’s care, in the Swiss Alps. She wins over everyone with her affectionate nature.


Face-to-face

Tell us about your earliest attempts at writing. When, where and from whom did you learn the nittygritties of writing?

When I was in school, (I) used to make up stories for myself. I wrote a couple of short stories when I was in college, but didn’t try to get them published. I did, however, compete in essay competitions frequently and often won prizes. My professional career actually began with a middle I sent to The Hindustan Times and luckily for me it got published.

About learning the nitty-gritties of writing, it was just the way school education was in my time. Also, being an avid reader I have unconsciously absorbed the fundamentals of writing, I feel. I’ve also had the good fortune to work with editors who discussed revisions in detail.

Where do the ideas for your books come from?

A lot of ideas come from real life incidents, overheard remarks and wayside scenes Tweet

A lot of ideas come from real life incidents, overheard remarks and wayside scenes that leave an impact on me. I have based some of my stories on my childhood experiences too.

What does your typical writing day look like?

A typical work day can begin at 11 am and go on till 5 pm with a break for lunch. This includes my correspondence, research and preparations for workshops. I used to work in the evening too, and sometimes late into the night, but not so much any more.

What is one habit / trait of yours that makes you effective / productive as an author?

Well, one habit that is effective I feel is that I revise endlessly. This slows the pace of my work but I need to be satisfied. I could be more productive because I keep getting ideas but I always seem short of time.

What is the one thing that you recommend every aspiring author should do?

I would say that you should be true to the story you are best suited to tell, rather than follow trends blindly.

Be true to the story you are best suited to tellTweet
Tell the story that stirs you strongly and it will resonate with the reader.Tweet

Tell us something about yourself that very few people know?

I’m not sure what that would be! I can mention that I was a very difficult girl in my teens, always getting into scrapes. In retrospect, I am very thankful that I had such loving and understanding parents.

Does technology (the Internet, software tools) help you in your writing process? If yes, can you tell us about them?

Oh yes, technology is a big help. I use the Internet a lot for information, but always double check since sometimes there are discrepancies. I have tried out writing software a friend recommended once, but since I tend to sort out things in my head beforehand I didn’t use it very much. I do feel such software can be useful in organising your work, especially if you are writing a long novel.

Is there any other way in which technology can help you in your work as writer?

Well, to repeat, to organise my work, get a quick overview if it’s a complex storyline. I was thinking of using PowerPoint to keep track of my chapters, and I make tables for the timeline and characters.

What people have influenced your thinking and might be of interest to others? (include websites, blogs or Twitter profiles, etc).

About the way I approach my work—Rosalind Wilson, who edited the children’s magazine Target, gave me many insights into story writing. Working with another editor, Deborah Vetter of Cricket magazine has also been very helpful. Off and on I garner tips from writing blogs like crimsonleague.com

Can you tell about what you are currently writing and other works in the pipeline?

I am trying to complete a book that I’ve been working on for a long time. There is another fantasy novel that I began and left that I need to get back to. I have non-fiction book on the exploration of Tibet in the pipeline with NBT and hope it’ll be published soon.

You have compiled quite a few anthologies. Tell us about them.

Well, recently I am doing more anthologies on demand. Earlier, I put together some short story collections on themes like peace, or just mystery stories or folktales for different publishers. There is also a collection of stories by women writers (for adults) translated from Hindi. The more recent anthologies are Spinning Yarns and 100 Great Poems for Children published by Red Turtle.

Writing prose and poetry – What is the difference, in your opinion?

Where I’m concerned, poetry is a more concentrated response. Most of my poems have come to me quite suddenly, or the beginning stanzas have. You focus on distilling your thoughts into a few highly expressive words and pay more attention to their sounds and rhythm.   Prose is more straightforward and direct. It’s a slower process, both, in the writing and the impact on the reader. You put in more detail, explain more, and if it’s fiction you need to develop your characters and plot, and work out the events.

What do you think about awards and recognitions? What role do they play in the career of a writer? What did you feel when your book Caravan to Tibet made it to the IBBY Honour List or when you received the NCERT National Award?

Awards and recognition help to promote a writer and get her/his work a wider audience. They also provide motivation in a field like children’s literature, where the rewards are limited. All the same, one must not forget that awards are dictated by the judges’ subjective opinion and many deserving works get passed over. I was, of course, very delighted when my books received recognition. Unfortunately, however, I feel awards are acquiring more weightage than the actual quality of a work.


Find me at

Site: http://www.deepaagarwal.com

Linked in: Deepa Agarwal

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/DeepaAgarwal.books

Twitter: @dipuli

Amazon: Deepa Agarwal

Goodreads: Deepa Agarwal


PlusMinus’n’More: Thank you Deepa, for being our guest on F-pages and sharing with us your experiences as a writer, translator and editor.


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