Author, mother-of-two, and a Japanese-English translator-to-be, Malavika Nataraj, who has been writing for nearly two decades, visited Chennai for the launch of her first book, Suraya’s Gift at Starmark, Royapettah. The story revolves around Suraya, a girl with a big imagination and powerful writing.
The Singapore-based author who grew up in Chennai said that launching her book in the city was a milestone. “My loved ones are still here and having people I haven’t seen in 20 years attend this occasion is very special,” she said. Her next story will be on The Story Catcher children series, as it says on the cover. “The stories are not a girl or boy-centric series. It is for anyone and everyone,” she added.
Writing, the author recalled, has always been a natural process. “I was always interested in writing even as a child, and remember writing a story about elves and pixies. My 13th birthday present was a typewriter,” she reminisced. “Though, becoming a published author was something I never imagined.”
Malavika, who received an award at the Wimbledon Book Fest for her short story Waiting, said that taking up writing as a full-time job is a unique experience. She shared that every step — from writing feature articles to authoring a book — had been a learning experience. “Feature stories or assigned stories have no scope for creativity. Writing a book puts bits of me out there. People who know me will find my personality in the story I narrate,” she shared.
What has the response to her book been like? “The children love it and the feedback has been amazing,” she said. As a writer whose target audience is children, Malavika is more than aware of the responsibility that comes with it. “The perception of a grown up should not creep in. There are a lot of bad things already happening in the world and in no way do I want to add to them. The message should be positive. There can be ups and downs, but the bottom line should be positive,” she emphasised. “I don’t like to be conclusive. It takes out the element of mystery. I leave it to the reader.”
However, like many people of her generation Malavika pointed out that kids need to read and write more. “They have a lot of platforms to showcase their work, unlike people from my generation. Though technology has made things easier, it has also made one duller. But writing is different. It involves just you and the brain. The thinking process makes it exciting,” she explained.
Pointing to young writers who criticise their own work from a young age, she said that there is no such thing as bad writing. “Writers have a tendency to write and then scratch words out. It is important to let thoughts flow, as they can be edited later. Thoughts have to flow,” she said.
Malavika’s other passion is reading Japanese books and studying their culture. “I would love to translate a book from Japanese to English,” she smiled and shared that she is also preparing to be a Japanese-English translator.
When asked about the current trends among writers, she said, “Initially I did cave in and get myself a Kindle, but that didn’t work very well for me. I miss the leisure of wandering and browsing books. Nothing beats the feel of holding a book...You never know, the trend might come back!” she said hopefully.
(To view Malavika’s work, visit www.inkypencil.com)