There and back again – blog update

I have a confession. I’m a serial abandoner of blogs. I’ve had two (or was it three?) blogs over the years, all of which I’ve eventually left to languish. It’s a definite problem. Since I stopped updating this blog about three and a half years ago, I’ve been up to quite a bit book-world-wise (all of which slowly but surely contributed to the abandonment) so I thought I’d post a quick update as I attempt to Frankenstein my blog back to life (in the hope that it won’t someday turn against me and bay for my blood):

1) I wrote another book! It’s called The A – Z Djinn Detective Agency and was out in January 2017. It was a lot of fun to write but I’m forever feeling guilty that I haven’t promoted it enough and I’m forever promising myself I’ll do better.

the a to z djinn detective agency
Psst! How does one talk about one’s own books?

2) Actually I wrote more than one book. I wrote three picture books too – none of which are out yet but all of whose promised existence fills me with both delight and disbelief. I never thought I’d write a picture book and I still don’t think I’ve quite gotten the hang of writing them yet but experimenting with a new format has been all sorts of wonderful.

Screen Shot 2018-08-21 at 6.35.15 PM
When I saw this spread for my very first picture book about a pig with a runaway tail, I may or may not have spent the day bursting out into excited squeals

3) Another excellent experiment experience (say that five times fast!) was the year I spent developing a reading programme for a school I fell in love with. I had no prior experience with education but being wildly enthusiastic about books was enough for them to bring me on board. Every week, I met students from standards 1 to 8 and we explored books in lots of creative ways. I learned so much from my time with the kids and can’t wait to do something of the sort again.

4) I helped a primary school in Mumbai – one that was unfamiliar with contemporary children’s books – set up a library and conducted workshops with the teachers to help them incorporate books into the curriculum in fun ways. Working with adults instead of kids for the very first time made me feel very grown up.

teacher workshop
I had to conquer my public-speaking phobia (which only comes into effect in front of groups of adults) but the teachers here made it really easy

5) To balance this feeling of grown-upness I also got to do a bunch of mad workshops with kids. These included fantasy writing, mystery workshops, retellings of old myths, fairy tales and popular stories in new formats (all of which led to some hilariously inventive and brilliant narratives) but my favourite one was the time I got to create a board game with a group of kids based on elements from our favourite children’s books.

All the elements were homemade
I know I look super-serious explaining things here but I also got the kids to call me Overlord all morning

6) I moved to Scotland and discovered and fell in love with the public libraries in Glasgow (a detailed love letter to them is coming up in my next post).

7) I moved to study for an MEd in Children’s Literature and Literacies. The plan was to study for a year and then move back to India. I did move back to India but realised that a year was much too short a while to spend studying something I loved and that I missed university life very much.

One of my first sights at the wonderful, ridiculous, beloved University of Glasgow

8) Which brings me back to my last update. I returned to the UK a little over a month ago to be a student again – this time as a PhD researcher studying children’s books. (I know!)

When I returned to India, I was instantly welcomed back – in different capacities – as a member of the children’s book world I had left behind. That’s when I realised that while I had loved the intellectual stimulation offered by turning an academic gaze towards children’s literature when I was in Glasgow, I had missed being a part of the non-academic children’s book world. The one filled with reading-for-fun and creative conversations, and children’s books enthusiasts like myself. These are things the academic world is also full of, of course, but I had unknowingly managed to separate both these identities (being a Master’s student is intense you guys, so I don’t entirely blame my past self).

I’ve heard rumours that being a PhD student is marginally easier (let it not be a lie, universe!). So I’m reviving this blog in part to remedy my tendency to separate my academic life from my reader life. I plan to fill this space with a mishmash of all my different-yet-connected bookish identities so that I can keep reminding myself how lucky I am to be able to do all the things I love.

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