Born 12th April 1971
Place of BirthCalcutta
City of residenceNew Delhi
- The Magical Adventures of Skinny Scribbles
- The Stupendous Timetelling Superdog
- Missing: A Magnificent Superdog
- Talking of Muskaan
Himanjali grew up in Kolkata, completing her schooling from Loreto House and BA honours in English Literature from St Xavier’s College. She has a MA and MPhil in English Literature from the Centre of Linguistics and English, JNU, New Delhi. Her MPhil dissertation was titled “Women Outside the Domestic Space: From the Courtesan to the Prostitute in Indian Fiction”. She taught a credit course “Spoken Communication Skills” to undergraduate students at the Jawaharlal Nehru University. She later taught as Adjunct Faculty in the English Department at the University of Indianapolis, USA, for two semesters.
As a full-time Editor, Himanjali has worked with Katha, Eicher Goodearth and Scholastic India. She was also a part-time Editor for a year with the Centre for Women’s Development Studies for the “Indian Journal of Gender Studies” and for the research project “A Century of Women’s Expanding Horizons”. She has also worked as a freelance journal editor with Sage Publications for the journals, “Psychology and Developing Societies”, “International Studies” and the “South Asian Review”.
Himanjali’s short story titled “Granny’s Parapsychological Services” appeared in the anthology, Behind the Shadows: Contemporary Stories from Africa and Asia, edited by Rohini Chowdhury and Zukiswa Wanner, October, 2012. She published a prose retelling of Twelfth Night with Scholastic India in May, 2012, as well as a nonsense poem for the anthology titled This Book Makes No Sense, edited by Michael Heyman, published by Scholastic India in June, 2012. Her essay titled “Besides Jimmy Porter: The Function of the Peripheral Characters in Look Back in Anger” was published in The Lost Temper: Critical Essays on Look Back in Anger, edited by GJV Prasad, Macmillan, 2004, India.
Fantastic Five – Five of my favourite books
Blind Assassin – Margaret Atwood Incisive, thrilling, intense. Quintessential Atwood.
Disgrace – JM Coetzee Disturbing, political, a must-read of our times.
Middlemarch – George Eliot A classic that needs no introduction.
The Portrait of a Young Lady – Henry James A late 19th century masterpiece. Profound in the way it explores the ideas of freedom and personal responsibility.
Norwegian Wood – Murakami Quiet, solitary and a modern classic.
Tell us about your earliest attempts at writing. When, where and from whom did you learn the nittygritties of writing?
Earliest attempts would have been in kindergarten, egged on by my mother who even saved this silly little poem I wrote called ‘Rain’ – I found it in her cupboard recently and quickly averted my eyes. I suppose as a student of literature in college and university I would have learnt some of the nitty-gritties, and later while working as an editor.
Where do the ideas for your books come from?
– something I read in a newspaper or something that I hear that tickles my fancy.
What does your typical writing day look like?
I have a regular job as an Editor so I write in the in-between times – between dinner and bedtime, between taking the dog for a walk and taking a bath, etc.
What is one habit / trait of yours that makes you effective / productive as an author?
– I don’t have to be a participant necessarily, just the one listening and recording. And if the conversation is not relevant for me in any way I know how to tune out and go into my own inner world.
What is the one thing that you recommend every aspiring author should do?
I don’t know –
Tell us something about yourself that very few people know?
My husband has always wanted to out me on this one – I am not as non-judgemental as I pretend to be!
Does technology (the Internet, software tools) help you in your writing process? If yes, can you tell us about them?
Apart from typing as I am doing now and random net research I don’t like to use technology – I have an irrational hatred of technology actually. Though I like the way it enables me to stay in touch with people I like.
Is there any other way in which technology can help you in your work as writer?
Innovations in publicity and marketing could be useful, I say grudgingly!
Can you tell about what you are currently writing and other works in the pipeline?
I am toying with the idea of a YA psychological thriller but not made much progress so far.
Where did the idea for “Talking of Muskaan” come from and how? Did you expect it to be received so well?
I was planning a YA book with a peripheral character who would be gay. Then 377 happened and it bothered me and I wanted to make the character more central. And class hierarchies have always made me uncomfortable so that forms an important part of this book, too.
I didn’t really think of how the book would be received while writing it – very happy with the good reviews, of course!
Your earlier two books on Rousseau, the timetelling superdog fall under humour. “Talking of Muskaan” is serious, dealing with differences in sexual orientation and social status.
Humour or Cause – What do you prefer to write on?
Ideally, I would like to merge the two – a funny book with a political edge like a RK Laxman cartoon but I’m not sure if I would be able to carry it off.
When you wear your Author hat, does your job as an Editor help? Or does it interfere?
I think being an Editor helps me to write a sharper narrative. It doesn’t interfere in any way. An editor works with language too, but, really, it’s a very different job from that of an author.
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PlusMinus’n’More: Thank you Himanjali, for being our guest on F-pages and sharing with us your experiences as a writer.