NEW DELHI: Bijal Vachharajani is a children’s book author and senior editor at Pratham Books (a not-for-profit publishing house that focuses on regional languages books for children). Vachharajani’s books take an enjoyable approach to teach young readers about the environment.
Her upcoming books include 10 Indian Champions Who Are Fighting to Save the Planet (co-authored with Radha Rangarajan), That Night (illustrated by Shrujana Sridhar) and PS How’s the Weather Today?
Your writing schedule?
I am a serial procrastinator and being used to writing to deadlines as a former journalist, it’s the one thing that keeps me on the writing track. When actually writing, my schedule’s quite erratic. I clean, I dust, I (used to) bake, and I stare at my messenger wondering why no one wants to ping me. When all these distractions fail spectacularly, I sit down to write. Then I write nonstop. Before writing, I think a lot, draw out the characters, the settings, the situations, and make weird squiggly notes that nobody else can understand.
Does writing energise or exhaust you?
A bit of both. When I am in the middle of writing, I am charged up and step into another world, even if I am writing non-fiction, because there, the research is also so fun. And then I deflate like a balloon after a birthday party, riddled with self-doubt and angst about what I have written.
Anything about Delhi that inspires you as a writer?
I spent my first seven years in Delhi, and I loved exploring our neighbourhood with my sister and friends, the neighbourhood library in Defence Colony, and the squirrels scampering about. But what stays with me most are the picnics at Lodhi Gardens, and how much I felt like a character from Famous Five, exploring old ruins and picnicking with family.
Writing advice for your younger self?
Trust your editors. They know what they are talking (most of the times). Once you’re done writing, know that they will make it the best version it can possibly be.
Your favourite books?
I am going to stick to children’s books, because they’re pretty amazing. Everyone who knows me knows I love the Harry Potter series by JK Rowling. Other favourites are Moin and the Monster by Anushka Ravishankar, The Lost Words by Robert Macfarlane and Jackie Morris, The Six Spellmakers of Dorabji Street by Shabnam Minwalla, The Rabbit Listened by Cori Doerrfeld, Ammachi’s Glasses by Priya Kuriyan and Ammachi’s Amazing Machines by Rajiv Eipe, The One and Only Ivan by Katherine Applegate. Ok, I will stop here.