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Tales Of Adventure

Thursday, December 17, 2015

Sara Shah speaks to Bhakti Mathur about her latest addition to her children’s series Amma Tell me about Hanuman!

Author of popular children’s books Amma Tell me about Hanuman!, Bhakti Mathur recently launched the third installament of to her trilogy. The book talks about Hanuman’s adventures in Sri Lanka after he finds Sita and aims to give out a heartfelt message of love and devotion to young children. She tells us more about her book, what goes into writing for children, and how she juggles writing with her job.

You’re a private banker. How did you find the time to write an entire series of books?
I think concentrating on one task at a time works for me. The issue is to find time and that is where I have been lucky! I have a supportive husband who is also a doting father — happy to take care of our kids when needed. My patient domestic help is also a great support and it reduces the time I have to spend on household chores.

The motivation to write the Amma Tell Me series was to share the fascinating stories from Indian mythology that I had grown up with, with my sons. However, it’s difficult to find resources that are simple and still capture the rich imagery of mythological India well. So, I started writing the stories in a style that was fit for children — fun and non-preachy. Also the illustrations helped me to bring my imagination to life. I set up my own publishing company called Anjana Publishing to publish the books. 

Do you think that authors of children’s books have far more responsibilities than those writing for young adults and adults?
I won’t say far more responsibility, but I would say as much responsibility if not more. Children are smart, intelligent and perceptive and just like adults, don’t like being preached to. It’s challenging to write for kids in an interesting manner that will successfully convey the message.

Your books are usually centered around mythological characters. Do you see yourself moving on from that concept any time soon?
For the moment, I’m focussing on mythology. I have a few more books planned under this series. There are a few reasons for that; as a mother of two hyperactive young boys, I know that the only way I can hold their attention is with a good story. And, stories from Indian mythology never fail me in this regard. How can they? What modern tale can boast of characters of the stature of mythological ones — the gods incarnate, the mighty kings, the learned sages and the fearsome demons, placed among the most memorable and momentous of settings? What modern stories match the substance of the plots that invariably involve a challenge faced, an obstacle overcome or a difficult question resolved? These are perfectly crafted stories, which is why they have survived time and, passed on from generation to generation. The biggest reason I find myself going back to Indian mythology is that the stories serve as a wonderful parenting tool to highlight the values that we want our children to imbibe. These are the universal values of courage, determination, perseverance, generosity and morality.  There is a big difference in showing someone the way and telling them the way; and these stories show the power of  values in a manner that is easily apprehensible and not preachy in any sense. And, these stories are equally applicable to adults who in their busy lives often fail to think about the things that really matter.

Do you plan to write books for adults as well?
My children have been my inspiration for my writing journey. I would like to continue to write for them and follow their age. So, I would like to try writing for young adults once my kids reach that age. I haven’t thought about writing for adults as of now, but who knows!

Tell us about your latest series, Hanuman’s Adventures in Lanka.
Hanuman is a favorite with children! He is definitely my favourite character. In fact, the inspiration of the name of my publishing company, Anjana Publishing, sprung from his mother’s name!

As a child I was fascinated with Hanuman because he was a naughty monkey who tried to gobble up the sun. I grew up to realise that we find the perfect example of devotion, courage, discipline, humility, selflessness, intelligence and strength in him. The first part of the Hanuman trilogy — Amma Tell Me about Hanuman! talks about the fact that actions have consequences and that we are all responsible for our actions.

The second part of the trilogy — Amma Tell Me How Hanuman Crossed the Ocean! talks about overcoming challenges in life and the resources that we can use towards the same just like Hanuman did.

My latest book, which is the third part of the trilogy — Amma Tell Me About Hanuman’s Adventures In Lanka! talks about Hanuman’s antics in Sri Lanka after he finds Sita and his devotion to Rama. It ends with a message that we never part from the people we truly love, for they always live in our hearts.

Do you have any future projects lined up for your readers?
Plenty! I am in the process of writing about Durga. Next in line are books on Saraswati, Shiva, Lakshmi and the avatars of Vishnu. Our mythology is so vast and fascinating that there are endless things to write about!

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