Journalist and travel writer, Priyanka Pradhan makes her debut as a children’s author with Tales from the Himalayas, an illustrated collection of 17 stories to entice children to discover the mountains. The manuscript bagged the ‘Ruskin Bond Promising Writer Award’ at the Dehradun Literature Festival 2019 (October), handpicked by Bond himself, from hundreds of entries by Indians from across the world. Pradhan talks about putting this novel together:
What are the charming attributes of the mountains that city children are deprived of?
Playing barefoot in the soft mud while taking in the warm aroma of pine trees and buttery delicacies slow-cooked in the open, are some of the unique pleasures of mountain living. The joy of discovering shortcuts, picking wild berries on the way to school and finding unexpected sources of fresh spring water, are in contrast to the plastic, digital world that children live in the cities, today. The most incredible aspect of life in the mountains is the ability to enjoy the small pleasures of life — something children from cities can surely be encouraged to imbibe in their daily lives.
Do you have any favourite stories from your own book?
One favourite is ‘Postcard’, about how a little boy deals with his grandfather’s deteriorating condition and eventual demise. This one made me unpack a lot of emotions and revisit the loss of my own grandmother. In fact, my book is dedicated to her because it has been inspired by her stories that I grew up listening to. She was a remarkable person and her death was very difficult for me to process as a grandchild. So, I wrote this story in the hope that it will strike a chord with children everywhere and remind them to cherish their special bond with their grandparents.
What is the role of illustrations in a story?
I think good illustrations have the power to capture the essence of a story and bring it to life. Imagination plays such an important role in reading, especially for young minds. So, a well-illustrated book can feed that imagination and fuel that love for reading. In this book, the illustrator, Mohit Suneja has created magic with his vivid, imaginative illustrations that have turned out even better than what it looked like in my own head, while writing these stories!
Any upcoming books?
I am currently researching and writing the first draft of a young-adult book (tentatively called ‘The Roadtrip’) — this time I will take readers on a journey across the great Indian coastline. I am really excited about it because it’s a very sensitive and impressionable age group to write for. It’s essentially a coming-of-age story, which has a lot of action — adventure, drama and even suspense. It’s going to be a fun ride writing this one!