F-Page – Devika Rangachari



Devika Rangachari

 


Facts

Born 25th December (hence the halo!)
Place of Birth(Safdarjung Hospital) Delhi
City of residenceDelhi
Books authored

  1. Queen of Ice, Duckbill Books, 2014
  2. Fruit Time, Children’s Book Trust/ CBT, 2014
  3. I Can—Twenty Ideas that Changed the World, Amar Chitra Katha, 2012
  4. I Can—Stories of how Children are Changing the World, Amar Chitra Katha, 2011
  5. Swami Vivekananda—A Man with a Vision, Puffin/ Penguin Books, 2011
  6. The Weather and I, CBT, 2011
  7. How to Get Your Child To Read—99 Easy Things To Do, Scholastic Books, 2010
  8. Harsha Vardhana, Scholastic Books, 2009
  9. Colours in my World, CBT, 2009
  10. A Hundred Cartloads, Karadi Tales, 2009
  11. The Merry Mischief of Gopal Bhand, Scholastic, 2007
  12. The Wit of Tenali Raman, Scholastic, 2007
  13. Stories from Kathasaritsagara, CBT, 2003, 2005
  14. When Amma Went Away, CBT, 2002
  15. Stories from Rajatarangini—Tales of Kashmir, CBT, 2001, 2004
  16. Growing Up, CBT, 2000, 2004
  17. Company for Manisha, CBT, 1999
  18. Whitey and the Monsters, CBT, 1998

Academic book: Invisible Women, Visible Histories—Gender, Society and Polity in North India (Seventh to Twelfth Century AD), Manohar Books: New Delhi, 2009

Bio

Dr. Devika Rangachari is an award-winning children’s writer whose book, Growing Up (Children’s Book Trust), was on the Honour List of the International Board on Books for Young People in 2002. Her other books include Queen of Ice (Duckbill), Swami Vivekananda—A Man with a Vision (Puffin Books), Harsha Vardhana (Scholastic), The Merry Mischief of Gopal Bhand (Scholastic) and The Wit of Tenali Raman (Scholastic).

Devika conducts book-related/ creative writing sessions in schools on a regular basis and has also presented papers on various aspects of young adult literature in several international conferences. The Oxford Encyclopedia of Children’s Literature (vol. 3, Oxford University Press, 2006) includes an entry on her works.

Devika is also currently engaged in post-doctoral research on gender in Indian history at the University of Delhi. Her doctoral research was published under the title Invisible Women, Visible Histories: Gender, Society and Polity in North India (Seventh to Twelfth Century AD) (Manohar Books, 2009).

Additionally, she has published several articles in distinguished academic journals, and participated in conferences on history in India and abroad. Devika has also been the recipient of several academic fellowships from the University Grants Commission, as well as the Charles Wallace India Trust.


Fantastic Five – Five of my favourite books

The Six Bad Boys – Enid Blyton One of Blyton’s most well-written books where she deals with the relationship between upbringing and character with great sensitivity.

The School at the Chalet – Elinor M. Brent-Dyer This is the first title in Brent-Dyer’s wonderful Chalet School series that is set in different European locales and deals with a central group of characters.

Touch Not the Cat – Mary Stewart A gripping tale of romance, mystery and a hint of the supernatural.

The Code of the Woosters – P.G. Wodehouse Delectable, intelligent humour. What more does one say about a Wodehouse novel?!

Up the Down Staircase – Bel Kaufman A hilarious account of a teacher’s travails in school. It’s as hysterically funny as Jerome K. Jerome’s Three Men in a Boat!


Face-to-face

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

I started writing at the age of five in a diary—poems, stories, anything that came to mind.

I come from a family of readers and writers–and I was (and still am!) a voracious reader, so writing came naturally to me, I suppose.

Where do the ideas for your books come from?

My historical fiction is based on my research; Tweet

my other stories spring from my memories of school and growing up.

What does your typical writing day look like?

I spend the mornings at the library doing historical research. The rest of the day goes in reading books. Writing, too, but only if I have a deadline for a manuscript!

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

The ability to walk in my characters’ shoes?Tweet

I’m not exactly sure—you need to ask my publishers about this!

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

Read, read, read and read. There are no shortcuts, in this regard.Tweet

Tell us something about yourself that very few people know?

I talk to animals, particularly dogs, in Tamil. And I like chocolates.

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

Only insofar as typing the manuscript goes—and so MS Word would be the answer..

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

I am a technophobe, so my answer would be ‘no’. Unless, of course, it can help publicise my books on social media!

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

I’m not sure about this because I haven’t been radically influenced by anyone as far as my thinking/ writing goes. I read a lot of historical fiction, though, and some of the writers I admire are Philippa Gregory, Elizabeth Chadwick and Conn Iggulden.

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

My next book, to be published by Scholastic, is a collection of love stories from Indian history and legend. It is currently being illustrated. I have several other ideas for works of historical fiction but haven’t decided on a particular one yet. Will do so soon!

You are a researcher. You are an author of children’s books. You write research papers and story books. How easy is to put on a “facts only” hat and move over to a “fact-based fiction” hat? Do you find your imagination wanting to take the reins when writing a research paper?

I find it fairly easy to keep the two kinds of writing separate. When I am writing academic papers, I am serious and grave and profound, and keep my imagination under severe control. When I am writing for children, I am equally serious and grave but I allow a measure of humour and creativity to creep in.

The issue of “feeling ashamed about wearing our traditional clothes” that you have touched upon in “When Amma went away”.
Do you think this feeling is common in Tamils?
For example: Why do our brides want to drape the Sari the North Indian way and our grooms want to wear the Sherwani in their weddings?

It is easy to feel somewhat alienated if your clothes, language and traditions are different from those of the others that you deal with on an everyday basis. ‘When Amma Went Away’ deals with my feelings of alienation and confusion as a Tamilian living in Delhi but could equally apply to anyone from any other community who struggles with issues of identity and belonging, in any context. I can’t really comment on dress preferences at weddings but the example you have cited could either be interpreted as an attempt to ‘fit in’ or to adopt traditions from other cultures in a subtle process of amalgamation.

When we have a story of strong persons / personalities, one is faced with a dilemma – whether they are to be portrayed as role models (given that their success to a large extent depended on their not so exemplary traits) or not. Queen Didda was successful in part due to her ruthlessness. What do you think?

Didda’s ruthlessness definitely helped her at certain points in her life—and I have not tried to gloss over this fact. My attempt, in ‘Queen of Ice’, was not to portray Didda as a role model but, rather, as a remarkable figure with a realistic blend of black and white in her personality.


Find me at

Facebook: Devika Rangachari


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


Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *