F-Page – Shalini Srinivasan

 Shalini Srinivasan


Born July 7th 1985
Place of BirthMadras
City of residenceBangalore/Hyderabad
Books authored


  1. Mother Teresa
  2. Heroes of Hampi
  3. Surjya Sen
  4. Tenzing Norgay
  5. Salim Ali
  6. Srinivasa Ramanujan


  1. Hanuman’s Leap to Lanka
  2. Vanamala and the Cephalopod


Shalini Srinivasan grew up first in Anand and then in Bangalore. In an attempt to not get a job, she spent a lot of time as a student. When she finally gave in to financial pressures, she got the least job-like job she could find, writing comics for Amar Chitra Katha. She is currently working on her PhD thesis at the University of Hyderabad, and hopes it’ll take a nice long time.

Fantastic Five – Five of my favourite books

Jonathan Strange and Mr Norrell – Susanna Clarke This is one of my current favourite books, because it manages to combine a sense of wonder with some very sharp irony. And footnotes! I keep re-reading it just to bask.

Lords and Ladies – Terry Pratchett  Anything by Pratchett, really.

Persuasion – Jane Austen Pride and Prejudice used to be my favourite Austen, but then Persuasion sort of snuck up on me and now I re-read it constantly.

A Suitable Boy – Vikram Seth There’s something very satisfying about its prose, its solidity, and the sure but leisurely way it moves.

Leave it to Psmith – P. G. Wodehouse When in doubt, I read Wodehouse. This one’s ideal because it has Blandings Castle and Psmith.


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

I’ve always liked to scribble and I was lucky to have had parents and teachers who were encouraging and amused, even when I was writing absolute rubbish.

I got serious when I started writing academically, during my MPhil. I learnt a lot from my supervisor, Rajiv Krishnan, most importantly to be very finicky when choosing words. And then I worked with Amar Chitra Katha for some years, and

when you write for comics, you absolutely have to learn to condense and streamline.Tweet

Where do the ideas for your books come from?

All over the place, really.

Vanamala, for instance, began as a joke. It was originally my sister’s second name, which she got rid of. She demanded I write a book about her discarded name.

What does your typical writing day look like?

I’m supposed to be working on my thesis, so I write fiction in the gaps between, or when I don’t feel like being serious and scholarly.

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

I edit. A lot. I read, delete, re-read, delete some more and so on. This makes me effectiveTweet

(I hope), but not very productive, ‘cos it take years to find a version of a story I like enough to not delete

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

Read everything. Read fiction, read newspapers, read shop signs, read poetry, read historyTweet

– you never know when something will suddenly resonate, setting off new characters, or settings or exciting plots.

Tell us something about yourself that very few people know?

I like almost all animals and birds, but I have a strong and completely irrational dislike of chickens.

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

I mostly use a word processor, and this app called Copy which backs up my documents as I type. And google, of course. It’s especially handy for quick research, such as when I’m in the middle of a plot involving dastardly sea-urchins and suddenly panic because I don’t know whether sea-urchins can walk.

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

E-books, e-readers, digital marketing, all make a massive difference to how we read and what we read, even if we don’t yet know what kind of difference and how much.

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

This is far too long to list here! It’ll end up including all the people I talk to and everything I read.

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

I’m a little way through a fantasy for kids. One of characters turned out to be from the past, which means the actual writing’s on hiatus while I scrabble for information about this person’s time and place.

Just in jest, do you have a sister? If so, are the you the seller or the sold?

I do have a sister. But we have both been quite well-behaved and resisted all temptation to sell each other off.

Considering that your blog has some of your illustrations, have you thought about writing and illustrating a book?

Thought, yes, and I’ve tried a bit – but I don’t think my drawing skills are up to it.

Can you tell us something about your interest in nonsense?

Lots of my favourite things to read are nonsense. I love the jangly verse, the cartoony pictures, the cast of strange and sometimes imaginary creatures.

So when I was wondering what to write my MPhil thesis (“Just The Place for A Snark”: Historicising The Nonsense of Edward Lear and Lewis Carroll) on, it seemed the obvious choice. I looked at the ways in which Lear and Carroll – even though we think of them as complete oddballs – were essentially products of their time and place, i.e. nineteenth century Britain.

Find me at

Website: This is mostly defunct but: http://shalinisrinivasan.wordpress.com/

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/shalini.srinivasan.71

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

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