BornSeptember 10th 1957
Place of BirthAgra
City of residenceBangalore
The early years were dedicated to short stories, which appeared in The Illustrated Weekly, Caravan, Femina, etc., and were also broadcast on BBC Radio. During a one year break between editing Tinkle and Amar Chitra Katha, I wrote three books on the environment for TERI, the Woofus series, and a book on Monuments of India (for children). Also a couple of children’s books on mythology.
Reena has the enviable job of creating comics for a living. As she says, “This cannot be called work. I have just been having fun for the last 25 years of my life.” A writer by instinct, she started her professional career as a journalist and feature writer in two newspapers and a magazine. In 1991 she joined ‘Tinkle’ as Asst. Editor and has stayed with the group ever since.
Reena has one other passion which tends to overtake writing sometimes, and that is her love for animals. She was co-founder of the NGO, Save Our Strays, in Mumbai. Her mornings and evenings are spent tending to street animals of all sizes and shapes.
Fantastic Five – Five of my favourite books
The Railway Children – E. Nesbit My favourite childhood book. It talks about a family that lives near a railway line, and the adventure connected with it. I could identify very strongly, as I too lived near a railway line and had my own adventures!
The Illiad – Homer I read it when I was in school, and the story-telling had a huge impact on me. My love for mythology, I think, started with it.
The Agony and The Ecstasy – Irving Stone I can read and re-read it. I love biographies, and the power they have to lead you into the lives and minds of great people.
American Gods – Neil Gaiman A mind-blowing book that straddles both myth and the modern world. Gaiman’s take on mythology is unique, to say the least.
The Wildlings – Nilanjana Roy Set in the world of cats, eagles, dogs and other creatures, this book had me hooked. If I have a favourite heroine, it is Mara.
Tell us about your earliest attempts at writing. When, where and from whom did you learn the nittygritties of writing?
I started putting my thoughts into words at the age of 7. My father influenced me greatly. Till the age of 5 he used to create a new story, for me, everyday at dinner time. The characters are vivid in my memory even today. Later, it was my mother who preserved all my scribbling and encouraged me. By the age of 12, I was writing 200 page stories in notebooks and stashing them away. My younger sister discovered them, and would share them with her friends!
Where do the ideas for your books come from?
I have spent most of my life editing. Stories come mainly from the imagination, and secondly from life around me.
What does your typical writing day look like?
I’m up at 5.30am and spend the next 2 hours with my cats and dogs, walking and brushing them. It’s my sacred space! I leave for work at 8.30 and then it’s a morning of looking at the work for the day and coordinating with my team. The afternoons are for answering mail and attending to visitors and calls. I get home normally by 7.30pm.
What is one habit / trait of yours that makes you effective / productive as an author?
I rarely get distracted when I am involved deeply in any work.
What is the one thing that you recommend every aspiring author should do?
I haven’t been able to do that and truly regret it.
Tell us something about yourself that very few people know?
I talk to animals 🙂
Does technology (the Internet, software tools) help you in your writing process? If yes, can you tell us about them?
Yes, it does. Not in the thinking and planning, but definitely in the final putting down of words.
The internet also keeps you asking questions. You can be a child all your life and admit to your machine that you don’t know the answer!
Is there any other way in which technology can help you in your work as writer?
It helps make communication so much easier. For an editor of comics, it is indispensable in the realm of art and writing.
What people have influenced your thinking and might be of interest to others? (include websites, blogs or Twitter profiles, etc).
Rachel Naomi Remen. She is a physician and a psychiatrist. An amazing person who is a source of deep comfort and strength.
Can you tell about what you are currently writing and other works in the pipeline?
I am editing Ayodhya Kand, and working on some scripts which I cannot really talk about.
How did the idea of the Woofus series happen?
It was just an exchange of thoughts between Savio and Divya (our publisher) and me. Very simple books which Savio brought to life with his art.
When and what triggered your interest in comics?
I have always loved comics. My brothers and I used to read The Beano, Phantom, Commando Comics and all the other publications which were available during the 1960s. Later, my interest got rekindled after I met Anant Pai.
Can you tell us about your work/association with Uncle Pai? Any interesting incidents/anecdotes?
I worked for 15 years with Anant Pai. My understanding of children and comics is greatly influenced by him. He is my true guru. He was a wonderful human being, who taught without imposing. Even if I had made a mistake he would explain it to me through stories and shlokas. Words will never be able to express the gratitude I feel towards him.
Find my work at
Facebook: The Amar Chitra Katha Studio
PlusMinus’n’More: Thank you Reena, for being our guest on F-pages and sharing with us your experiences as a writer.