• Tulika Publishers

‘Shabana and The Baby Goat’ is here! Q and A with the writer Samina Mishra

The adorable Shabana and the Baby Goat written by Samina Mishra and Roshini Pochont is hot off the press! The sweet story about a girl and her goat. We took this opportunity to talk to Samina Mishra about her book, her world of writing, films and more.

What draws you to children’s writing?

I think children make sense of the world through stories and I want to share my understanding of the world, my experience of the world with them. So I tell them stories, in words and pictures and sound.

When did Shabana and Kajri appear in your imagination? How long did it take for you get the story together?

I love baby goats - I’ve written one more story featuring a goat, The Goat that Got Away. Shabana and Kajri came together in my head one late afternoon as I was thinking about how we need more stories for children set in villages, stories that are not about villages but about things that all children experience. How they play, how they make friends, what they feel, the trouble they get into – things that children who don’t live in villages will also recognise.

Were there any characters in the story that were influenced by people from real life?

I think everything we create has something of our real life in it. We draw from the world around us. So, there are traces of people I have encountered in all the characters I create. And of course, there are names taken from real life.

You are a filmmaker and writer. How does making films connect with writing for children? Are there points of intersection which impact either of them?

I think working in film has made me think more visually and it has also made me more open to experimenting with the form of storytelling. My last book, My Sweet Home, was a lot like making a film – bringing in different points of view, how sometimes it is images that push the narrative and sometimes it is the text.

Some writers say they are writers and some say that they are rewriters. Which of them are you?

Sometimes, like with Shabana and the Baby Goat, the story just comes in one go. But then you work at the words and make the story better – tighter, more rhythmic. And sometimes, the story is a struggle - you know what you want to say but how do you turn that into an engaging story… So I guess I am both writer and rewriter.

Which children’s books are your favourite and why?

Can I please just direct you to this link?

One of the books in that list is an old Tulika favourite!

Is there a special place where you write books? Tell us a bit about it.

Nope. I have written in many different places – at home, in a library, on a holiday in the hills.

When not making films or writing books, what do you do?

I teach. And I turn into a witch when my students don’t turn in their submissions!

What does a typical day look like for you? When do you write in a day?

I teach three days in a week and those days begin very early. I am very disciplined on those days - I teach, I give feedback on my students’ work, I eat lunch at 12.45! But on the other days, there is no typical. It depends on what other projects I am working on. And no, I am not a disciplined writer who writes everyday – sadly.

What book/s are you working on now?

I am staring out of a window and thinking of a film idea that involves the window and the tree outside it. So, not a book at the moment.

Samina Mishra is a documentary filmmaker, writer and teacher based in New Delhi. She has a special interest in media for and about children, and in the ways that the arts can be included in education. She believes that stories help children make sense of the world.

October 25, 2018