Hey! I happened to win the Juggernaut Children’s Writing Contest 2018.
For my coming-to-age story about a girl Tanya and how she makes her peace after knowing she is adopted.
An extract of the Interview is pasted below.
Reading all the entries sent for the kids writing contest was really fun. Short, humorous, simple, sweet, funny – in other words everything that a child would enjoy. However, the winner could only be one. Our judges have chosen Not From Mama’s Tummy by Mallika Ravikumar.
Not From Mama’s Tummy by Mallika Ravikumar
The winning entry of the contest is the story of a girl named Tanya who has just found out that she is an adopted child. After gaining this knowledge Tanya gets restless and her teacher decides to put her mind at rest and help resolve the conflict she is going through by telling her a story. The story does it’s magic and Tanya discovers that being different is actually quite cool! An enchanting tale explaining a matter so sensitive, with such simplicity and ease. Definitely worth a read!
Editor’s note: Not From Mama’s Tummy by Mallika, is a story about an adopted girl who learns she is adopted and tries to come to terms with it. Her teacher helps her in this regard by telling her stories from nature where birds and animals look after the offspring of other species, and also a story from possibly one of the epics. It also contains a strong message about how parenthood is something that manifests through deed and not merely through blood. The use of stories from nature seemed a good way to offer a little bit of trivia to young readers and a convincing way to drive the message mentioned before.
Read the winning story here.
Juggernaut had a little tete-a-tete with Mallika about her work and her passion for writing.
Your story ‘Not from Mama’s Tummy’ is the winning entry of the contest. Please tell us more about it.
The story explores the emotional turmoil in the mind of a young child who has just found out that she has been adopted. Little Tanya is confused about why all her friends are born from their Mama’s tummy while she is not. The story traces how she makes her peace and gains a new-found confidence about being the odd one out.
What was the writing inspiration behind the story?
My children have several friends who are adopted. Having overheard their childish conversations about the subject of adoption, I wanted to write the story for them, drawing from both Indian mythology and natural history, to help them understand that adoption and foster care are common phenomenons.
Do you feel writing for kids is different from writing for other genres? Why?
Yes… definitely. Writing for kids is more challenging as one must limit not just the vocabulary and word count but also make sure the story engages the short attention span of a child. To communicate a complex idea to a child through a short story is certainly more nuanced than writing for adults.
Do you have any particular rules or rituals you follow as a writer?
I don’t over-think it. This ensures the writing flows naturally. Also, I edit my piece over several days. Sometimes I don’t look at the story for a few days and return to it after a break. That helps me look at it more objectively with detachment. I think it improves the overall output.
What got you interested in becoming a writer? Where do you go for inspiration?
I have been writing ever since I can remember. I started with poetry as a child and then moved on to travelogues, diary writing, story writing and more. I gave up my practice in law to become a full time writer after my children were born. Most of the children’s stories I write, are written primarily for them.
Mythology inspires me. I find it offers a vast canvas of archetypes in terms of characters, plots, setting and more. Nature inspires me as well. Observing and reading about the life cycles of insects, birds and trees helps me draw many interesting lessons. In this story, one can see a blend of both.
What’s that one piece written by you which is your all time favourite?
Two poems that would count amongst my all-time favourites are:
- Oh Laburnum!
You can read them at www.mallikaiyer.com
Your bestselling authors and books list. Why do they make it to your list?
Any writing tips you’d like to share with fellow writers?
One of the first challenges to overcome is to accept and openly acknowledge that one is a writer. That process takes time. I think it’s an important step nevertheless, as it helps one gain greater confidence in writing. The only other tip is to write from the heart, without worrying too much about whether the content will find readers or be popular.
Lawyer-turned-Writer, Mallika loves History and Mythology and explores their depths to weave stories for young and old. She has a special affinity for Stories about Trees and spends a large portion of her time learning more about these giant sentinels! You can read her books here.