Warrior Women: Q and A with author-illustrator Tara Anand
Flashing swords, firing guns, charging on horseback, planning strategies and talking peace… these twelve warriors did it all, and how! Some were royalty and some ordinary, but extraordinary courage and determination was common among these women.
Setting aside stories about men who ruled and protected women, Warrior Women is a slice of our lesser-known history, which the talented Tara Anand (author and illustrator) brings to light with striking illustrations. We spoke to the history buff about her book, her art and her interests. A lot of young people find history boring. How about you? I love history. I will continue to obsessively consume history related podcasts, books, movies and documentaries. What kind of books have had an impact on you? I read a lot, so it’s difficult to pin down just a few that have had an impact on me. Although, the books that I read as a kid like Harry Potter and Lord of the Rings, definitely had the most lasting impact on me! In an interview, you once said that you grew up reading a lot of Tulika books. Any favourites? I still have my first copy of Ekki Dokki. I even took it with me to college in the US! Talking about this book, can you tell us where the seed came from and how it germinated into Warrior Women? It started with a conversation I had with someone, where we were talking about powerful women in history, and I couldn’t name more than one or two Indians. So, I went home and did the research, which turned into my initial series of illustrations (‘I Am No Man’). I think, collaborating with Tulika and expanding the illustrations into a book, gave more dimensions to the stories! What pops out of this book are the bold visuals. Did the look come to you right away, or did you work on it? My favourite part of any piece is the colours, so that was my priority while working on the visuals. I definitely had to work on them a lot, because I wanted to create spreads that were fun, bold and super colourful! Warrior Women is being hailed for its feminist approach to history. Was shifting the male-centric focus your motive? Definitely. I think the version of history that most people know is primarily the story of men. So telling the story of women, especially those with power and agency, restores balance to the narrative. Alongside, it also gives 21st century women an idea about the legacy that they’re a part of! Could you name some gender stereotype defying books that you think are must-reads for young readers? Goodnight Stories for Rebel Girls is an obvious must. Similarly, Like a Girl (that I was lucky enough to contribute a couple of illustrations to) by Aparna Jain, covers Indian women across various fields, and Frida by Jonah Winter and Ana Juan is also really lovely! Outside the children’s picture books realm, I think Little Women by Louisa May Alcott is a timeless story about a very strong, intelligent female character. Also, for the slightly older audience, I’d suggest Marjane Satrapi’s Persepolis and Katie Green’s Lighter Than My Shadow. Who are your favourite illustrators? This list is always changing, but I’m currently loving Emma Rios, Jillian Tamaki and Frances Jetter! Where does your art take inspiration from? Usually, from a lot from fine arts, comics, animated movies, books and the people in my life! The next book with Tulika is on women scientists. Any others in the pipeline? I’d love to work on something about women in art or dance. It’s also my indulgent wish to illustrate a story about a tiger, because I love drawing them!
Want to dive into history with Tara’s dynamic illustrations? Grab your copy of the Warrior Women here!
Tara Anand is a Mumbai-based illustrator, currently doing a BFA at the School of Visual Arts, New York. Her art is influenced by books, history and people around her. In 2016, at just age 17, she illustrated warrior queens from Indian history in the series I am no man, which won her a 'First Ladies' award from the Ministry of Women and Child Development. Picked up by Tulika, it evolved into this book. April 1, 2019