Writing books for children is not a child’s play even though the author has made it sound like a breeze but it takes a lot of hard work and in-depth research. I saw the book #MyLittleSikhHandbook and immediately picked it for my son. Finding a good to book to share our religion and culture with our kids is never easy. This made me request the author Artika Aurora Bakshi to share her writing insights with us. Welcome to Eloquent Articulation.
- Why do you write? When did you decide to become an author?
I write because it seems to come naturally to me. I feel I express myself better when I write. Thinking back, I don’t think there ever was a time when I didn’t write- rhyming verses when I first learnt rhyming words in school, my diary when I was growing up, a little bit of poetry, and even today, a diary with memories- the happy ones and the ones which I just wanted to get out of my system. In 2012, I starting blogging and contributing to different websites- sikhchic.com , sikhnet.com , talkingcranes.com , and then came book reviewing and manuscript help with thegoodbookcorner.com .
Becoming an author just happened. I know it sounds too cliched, but it’s true. I had an idea for a story and I started writing. The story, “All She Had Left” was published in July 2017 on storymirror.com. This year, I published a series of stories, “Hold On To Me”. Now I am compiling them into a book. “My Little Sikh Handbook” also happened the same way.
- How difficult or easy is writing for children and getting it published?
Writing for children requires more care, especially since the young readers are very impressionable. When I was working on My Little Sikh Handbook, I was thinking of my boys, when they had been 6 or 7 years old, when I used to tell them stories of the gurus and talk about Sikhism with them. Baisakhi time used to be fun because we would draw and paint khandas etc. They have never lived in India and growing up in Sri Lanka, outside exposure to Sikhism was very limited. For Guru Nanak Dev Ji’s Gurpurab, we always went to the Sindhi temple in Colombo. So basically, I wrote with my children in mind and that made it special for me.
Getting published was the tricky part, but again I will look at it as divine intervention that I met Anuj Bahri. I just decided to go into Bahrisons in Khan Market, Delhi and introduce myself. Anuj is a friend of a very dear friend of mine and since my friend always spoke highly of him, and the fact that he owns Bahrisons, the most famous bookshop in Delhi, or even India for that matter, I just thought it would be nice to meet him and ask him for his advice. The idea for My Little Sikh Handbook had already germinated in my mind and I had a rough draft. And then, Anuj grilled me- he asked me why I wanted to write this book and what did I want to achieve from it. That’s when I realized how passionate I really was about this project. And then once the book was done, everything just fell into place with his support.
- This book is about the Sikh religion, culture and values. What research did you do for this book?
Sikh religion, culture and values have been an integral part of my life. From regular visits to the Golden Temple in Amritsar, since I belong to the city, to doing sewa, my parents get credit for bringing me up the Sikh way. I knew quite a bit to start with. For cross-referencing, the internet was very useful. My first readers were my sons, my husband, my sister and my friend/partner in The Good Book Corner. Their inputs were valuable and helped refine the content of the book. And because religion is such a sensitive topic, extreme care had to be exercised. The result of all the effort and care put in is My Little Sikh Handbook, my passionate offering to Sikh families.
- What has been your motivation for writing this book, “My Little Sikh Handbook”?
My motivation has been my children and the memories of bringing them up the Sikh way. It’s been a memorable experience and I wanted to share it with other families. The book is meant for parents and children. The storyline and activities encourage family interaction.
- The cover is worth a thousand words, how much of the cover design for the book did you choose or was it designed by someone else?
I knew what I wanted and Priyankar Gupta understood the idea completely. The book designer Bhavi Mehta and Anuj were also a part of the selection process and of course, my husband, my children and my sister, as I have always discussed every aspect with them.
- How did you decide on the illustrator since it is a crucial aspect of any children’s book?
For My Little Sikh Handbook, I looked for someone who would understand the sensitivities of Sikhism, while appealing to the young children. Priyankar understood what I wanted and has illustrated the book beautifully.
- What can your readers look forward to next? Kindly share some details about your WIP?
I am working on another book with Himmat and Nanki, with Sikhism as its central theme again. The idea is to expose the young readers to the history, culture and values of Sikhism in an interesting manner. Himmat and Nanki will introduce the readers to another important aspect of Sikh culture and the engaging activities in the book will encourage parent-child interaction and make the experience fun and memorable.
- How can readers discover more about you and your books, Artika?
The readers can follow me on The Good Book Corner and on WordPress
- Who are the writers that inspire you?
Every time I read, can be a book, a story, an article or even a blog or social media post, I tend to think of the writer and what the writer would have been experiencing at the time of writing. They all inspire me because it takes a lot to write and put it out and be open to comments and opinions and judgement. As far as novelists go, there are so many. I cross check facts, especially when reading Historical works- fiction and nonfiction. I marvel at the skill of a writer who can build a story around historical events.
- Who are your favorite children authors or books?
I devoured Enid Blytons as a kid. Apart from western literature, my sister and I got a healthy dose of Amar Chitra Kathas. Our parents used to gift us books for birthdays, Diwali, gurpurabs. Even the tooth fairy brought us rolled up Amar Chitra Kathas.
My children and I have bonded over J K Rowling. We were super-excited when the Harry Potter books were coming out and there used to be a race to finish the book the day after it was released. And then we waited for the next one to come out.
Thank you for this interview and I wish all the best for the future books. My son and I are eager to read more in the series of #MyLittleSikhHandbook
My dear readers,
Do look out for a detailed review in the near future.
You can grab your copy of the book here