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Women's Day: If I were a punctuation mark, I would be an ellipsis, says Bijal Vachharajani

An author of children's literature believes that there is always something more she had wanted to say.

March 08, 2022 / 11:06 AM IST
Bijal Vachharajani is partial to picture books.

Bijal Vachharajani is partial to picture books.

When Bijal Vachharajani is not reading a children’s book, she’s editing or writing one. She’s the author of multiple planet-friendly books including A Cloud Called BhuraSavi and the Memory KeeperKitten Trouble and PS What's up with the climate, a picture book illustrated by Archana Srinivasan. A commissioning editor at Pratham Books, she’s a certified climate worrier.

The first book you remember reading

Winnie-the-Pooh by AA Milne, and my mom reading Hariprasad Vyas’s Bakor Patel to me.

Read also: Women's Day Special coverage

The first book you wish you'd read

How to be a Lion by Ed Vere

Your hands-down favourite writer

Maurice Sendak.

A genre you're partial to

Picture books! Green books.

A book you outgrew and grew into again

I don’t think I ever outgrew it, which I realised when I revisited it recently– Charlotte’s Web by EB White.

A classic you'd like to have written
Little Women by Louisa May Alcott

A character you wish you'd met
Hobbes, so that he can cheer me up or prod me to do (more) outlandish stuff.

Inside jokes or references that found their way into your writing

Terrible puns from the Potter and Percy Jackson world, such as Team Greenfydor for anyone who is eco-friendly (much lesser now from the Potter universe).

Not-subtle mentions of titles I love such as Shabnam Minwalla and Rohan Chakravarty’s books. Rohan’s still sad that Savi in Savi and the Memory Keeper could not buy his latest book.

Your most unconventional workspaces

Brainstorming a paper on a beach in Unnawatuna, making a last-minute edit while standing in the middle of Dubai Expo, reading digital ferros next to Nigeen Lake.

As you work, you listen to

Team. Apart from that, everything else gets tuned out.

Writer or editor: how you switch modes

I use different notebooks – a planner for my day work, and a notebook for my writing. I also keep different hours for writing, which are completely outside my work schedule. The problem is they are still a giant peach cobbler in my head.

Exclamation marks are

!!! By that I mean, ! is enough.

If you were a punctuation mark

I’d be an ellipsis, always thinking what else could I have said.

If Archana wrote and you illustrated a book, it would be called

PS How Cool is this Illustrator, Her Dog and Cats

The book(s) you've gifted most

The Lost Words by Robert Macfarlane and Jackie Morris

Your personal mad tea party guests - and the chai you'd serve
Of course, masala chai.
Guests would be Roz from Peter Brown’s The Wild Robot;  Charlotte from EB

White’s Charlotte’s Web; the crow from all of Priya Kuriyan’s books; Puchku from A Book for Puchku by Deepanjana Pal and Rajiv Eipewhich means Boltu and Dodla will also come, and Ivan the gorilla from The One and Only Ivan by KA Applegate.

I will stop because there’s no more place at the table.

I’ll have called Badger from The Wind in the Willows but of course he’d decline.

Ever fallen in love with a character? Whom?

Roz, The Wild Robot by Peter Brown, made me want to eat up the book.

Your favourite tree(s) to hug

So many, but I recently met a ginormous ficus close to my house and hugged them.

A book-based movie you liked better than the book

Runs away screaming.

A female character you think an author did disservice to

I think I’d rather celebrate the female characters who were given the space to be who they truly are – awesome.

(This is a multi-part interview series with women writers.)

Chetana Divya Vasudev
first published: Mar 8, 2022 11:06 am