Publishing, Print on Demand, Self-publishing in India from Team

February 19, 2019
by Neelima

That’s the Word for It – Ebullient

An ebullient person is someone who is bubbling with excitement. This adjective originates from the Latin bullire, which means to bubble out. Ebullient also has an archaic meaning which refers to the roiling of a boiling liquid.

Here are some examples of the word found in literature:

“To the Kathakali Man these stories are his children and his childhood. He has grown up within them. They are the house he was raised in, the meadows he played in. They are his windows and his way of seeing. So when he tells a story, he handles it as he would a child of his own. He teases it. He punishes it. He sends it up like a bubble. He wrestles it to the ground and lets it go again. He laughs at it because he loves it. He can fly you across whole worlds in minutes, he can stop for hours to examine a wilting leaf. Or play with a sleeping monkey’s tail. He can turn effortlessly from the carnage of war into the felicity of a woman washing her hair in a mountain stream. From the crafty ebullience of a rakshasa with a new idea into a gossipy Malayali with a scandal to spread. From the sensuousness of a woman with a baby at her breast into the seductive mischief of Krishna’s smile. He can reveal the nugget of sorrow that happiness contains. The hidden fish of shame in a sea of glory.”
― Arundhati Roy, The God of Small Things


“Time and again I, too, have felt so full of luminous torrents that I could burst – burst with forms much more beautiful than those which are put up in frames and sold for a stinking fortune. And I, too, said nothing, showed nothing; I didn’t open my mouth, I didn’t repaint my half of the world. I was ashamed. I was afraid, and I swallowed my shame and my fear. I said to myself: You are mad! What’s the meaning of these waves, these floods, these outbursts? Where is the ebullient, infinite woman who, immersed as she was in her naiveté, kept in the dark about herself, led into self-disdain by the great arm of parental-conjugal phallocentrism, hasn’t been ashamed of her strength?”
Hélène Cixous, The Laugh of the Medusa

February 15, 2019
by Neelima

That’s the Word for It- Onomastic

Onomastics refers to the broad science of naming be it toponomastics (the study of place names) or anthroponomastics (the study of personal names). Onomasticians aid in data mining and study the process of naming of persons and places in myth, literature and film too.

There are names of places that are lived in and not and names for streets, roads and water bodies. Cities are named after kings or politicians, planets are named after mythical characters, and people are named after their parents. Naming conventions differ from country to country- sometimes the family name appears first as in Chinese or the place name appears first as it does in some Keralite names. Naming can be a personal business; in many cultures around the world naming ceremonies exist. Naming can also be a political exercise especially when the names of cities are changed.

I dug around to find how this word has been used and it isn’t used much at all unless you are talking linguistics. Except here in this article which describes Charles Dickens’s prowess when it comes to naming his characters.

“Allow me to introduce Mr Plornishmaroontigoonter. Lord Podsnap, Count Smorltork, and Sir Clupkins Clogwog. Not to mention the dowager Lady Snuphanuph. As for Serjeant Buzfuz, Miss Snevellicci, Mrs. Wrymug, and the Porkenhams… who the dickens are all these people? Why do they have such weird names?

They are the best of names, they are the worst of names, from an age of onomastic wisdom and hypocoristic foolishness, an epoch of… well you get the picture. You may recognize this raggle-taggle cast of minor characters, in all their rich variety, as stemming from the fevered imaginings of one Charles Dickens.”


February 8, 2019
by Neelima

That’s the Word for It – Quid Pro Quo

Quid pro quo is a Latin phrase and is most similar to the phrases ‘give and take’ and ‘tit for tat’. Initially, in the 1500s, the phrase implied substitution such as the substitution of one medicine for the other (the phrase has originally been used in late medieval pharmaceutical compilations). By the late 1600s,  the meaning of the phrase extended itself to personal gain or reciprocity. Today the phrase lends itself to legalese and business exchanges. In his book Think and Grow Rich, Andrew Carnegie has explained that quid pro quo is the law of the marketplace.
The phrase also has its negative connotations. In legalese, quid pro quo is used in reference to sexual harassment when favors are requested in return for a promotion, etc.
Here are some instances of the use of the phrase in literature:

“A pun on the Latin expression quid pro quo, meaning an equal exchange (this for that), and the British word quid, meaning a pound sterling.”

— Ambrose Bierce, The Unabridged Devil’s Dictionary

“To use our individual good or bad luck as a litmus test to determine whether or not God exists constructs an illogical dichotomy that reduces our capacity for true compassion. It implies a pious quid pro quo that defies history, reality, ethics, and reason. It fails to acknowledge that the other half of rising–the very half that makes rising necessary–is having first been nailed to the cross.”
― Cheryl Strayed, Tiny Beautiful Things: Advice on Love and Life from Dear Sugar



February 1, 2019
by Neelima

That’s the Word for It- Ineffable

January 1, 2019
by Neelima

India Public Domain 2019: Seven Indian authors whose works entered public domain in 2019

Over the years (2012,20132014, 201520162017, 2018) has compiled a list of Indian authors whose work has entered public domain at the beginning of this year. The criteria for this year’s names is that the author died in the calendar year 1958 and the work was published before his death. In case the work was published after the author’s death, it will only come out of copyright after 60 years from the date of publication.

We have collected the data from various sources including Wikipedia and other online sources, some which we will be linking here. The information provided is not foolproof, so if you notice any errors or are aware of other writers who died in 1958 and whose names have not been mentioned here, please let us know.

When an author enters public domain, it means that most of his works are now free to be republished, translated, and converted to different formats. This way the long-gone author breathes life again and gains new readership. Help us in our quest to conserve our rich literary culture.

Bhamidipati Kameswara Rao (1897-1958)

He was an exponent of Telugu comedy drama, an educationist and genius, also christened ‘Hasya Brahma’. His humorous plays were inspired by French writer Moliere, many of whose plays he adapted into Telugu, and Gurajada Appa Rao’s works, whose use of spoken regional dialect made a mark on him. He also wrote original prahasanas. His works have been compiled in Bhamidipati Kameswararao Rachanalu-Vols.1 and 2.Other works includeThyagaraja Atmavicaram and Bataa khani. According to his biographer Patanjali Sastry, “Though he wrote comedies, he remained an introvert and never smiled even when some one cracked a joke.” informs Patanjali Sastry. Bhamidipati was greatly influenced by Gurajada Appa Rao’s works, especially for its modernity and use of spoken regional dialect.

Sir Jadunath Sarkar CIE (1870 – 1958)

He was a prominent Indian Bengali historian who specialized particularly in the life and times of Aurangazeb. He was also the Vice Chancellor of Calcutta University. He was honored by Britain with a Companion of the Order of the Indian Empire CIE and knighted in 1929. Published works by Sarkar include The India of Aurangzib (1901). His five-volume History of Aurangzib was a labour of ove that lasted twenty-five years. It took another twenty-five years to finish his four-volume Fall of the Mughal Empire in 1950. His single-volume works include Chaitanya: His Pilgrimages and Teachings (1913) and Shivaji and His Times (1919).

Mafizuddin Ahmed Hazarika (1870-1958)

He was a prominent poet belonged to the Jonaki era of Assamese Literature. He was popularly known as ‘Jnan Malinir Kobi’ among the people of Assam. He’s been called a ‘symbol of national integration’ and a person with great secular thoughts. Some of his poetic works include Jnan Malini and Totwo Parijaat.

Taraknath Das (1884 –1958)

He was an anti-British Bengali Indian revolutionary and internationalist scholar. He discussed his plans with none less than Tolstoy. He was a professor of political science at Columbia University and a visiting faculty in several other universities. He founded the Indian Independence League. He set out for Japan with the project of a vast study on Japanese Expansion and its significance in World Politics which appeared as a book in 1917 with the title, Is Japan a menace to Asia?

Teja Singh (1894-1958)

He was a writer, translator, Principal and scholar based in Punjab who pioneered the Singh Sabha literary movement.  He learnt Gurmukhi, Urdu and Persian from his local gurdwara and mosque, while grazing livestock and doing household work. After his initiation into the Khalsa fold and his formal education, he became more and more anti-British. He worked at Khalsa college, Amritsar and wrote several essays about Sikhism. Some of his books include Growth of Responsibility in Sikhism (1919), Highroads of Sikh History (1935) and A Short History of the Sikhs (1950). He wrote his autobiography Arsi and compiled  English-Panjabi and Panjabi-English Dictionaries. He was also part of creating an M.A. course in Panjabi, which he taught himself.

Vallathol Narayana Menon (1878 – 1958)

This Keralite writer also called Mahakavi was one of the triumvirate poets of modern Malayalam, along with Kumaran Asan and Ulloor S. Parameswara Iyer.  His knowledge of Sanskrit was sound and from a very young age he wrote poems which were published. It was the Mahakavya Chitrayogam based on a story from the Kathasaritsagara  that shot him into the literary foreground. Shortyly after the publication of his eleven volume work commenced. Vallathol wrote on a variety of themes including the injustices that people faced, Christian symbolism, romance, Hindu mythology and his own personal health issues. He was awarded the Padma Bhushan title, India’s third highest civilian award, in 1954.  He founded the Kerala Kalamandalam and revitalised the traditional Keralite dance form known as Kathakali. Many of his books are available at Amazon. Some of them include Abhivadyam, Achanum Makalum, Badhiravilapam, Bandhanasthanaya Anirudhan, Bapuji, Bhaval Sthotramala, Sahitya Manjari – 11 Volumes and many others.

Vidyagauri Nilkanth (1876-1958)

She was one of the first two women graduates of Gujarat and she was an Indian social reformer, educationist, and writer. Along with her husband, she wrote many articles, books and jointly edited a magazine. She was immersed in social causes such as providing adult education and educating women, even widows and dropouts. She founded Lalshanker Umia Shanker Mahila Pathshala, which was later affiliated to SNDT (Karve) University. She was a prolific writer and contributed to women’s magazines such as GunsundariStreebodh, and Sharada. With her sister, she translated R.C. Dutt’s book, The Lake of Palms.

August 10, 2018
by Neelima

Some Indian Magazines/Portals Where you can Submit Fiction and Non-fiction

There are a few places in India where you could consider submitting your fiction and non-fiction pieces. In this post, we explore a few of them; so get submitting!

hilarious kermit the frog GIF

eFiction India

eFiction India focuses on content that is linked to the Indian subcontinent in some way and publishes international writers as well. It is available online and in print.

Terms: Simultaneous submissions are acceptable but each submission should be sent separately through the submission manager.

Rights: One-month exclusivity for your story as well as first publishing rights for unpublished stories.

Payment: None.

Pros: You can submit not just short stories and poetry but also book reviews, interviews, flash fiction and non-fiction. Full-length plays and screenplays, complete with camera/stage directions, are also accepted.


Out of Print Magazine

The Out of Print Magazine is exclusively devoted to short stories and is published online every quarter (March, June, September, December).

Terms: Submitted work must not be published elsewhere. Stories should be between 1000 and 4000 words. Check these guidelines before submitting.

Rights: Copyright remains with the author.

Payment: None.

Pros: A good editorial team featuring many prominent names in the publishing industry.

Submission: Cut and paste the story into the body of an email and send to The subject line should contain the word ‘submission’ only.


Mithila Review is an international quarterly journal on the lookout for literary speculative fiction and poetry with emphasis on the marginal.

Terms: Use New Roman with Font Size 12. doc. And docx formats are accepted.

Rights: First world electronic rights (text), and non-exclusive audio and anthology rights for the planned annual anthology.

Payment: They pay for fiction in their upcoming anthology. If/when Patreon funds permit, $10 for original poetry, essays, flash stories (under 2.5K words), and reprints; $50 for original stories between 4-8K words or longer.

Pros: A good opportunity for speculative fiction writers.

Submission:  As part of a fundraising campaign, MITHILA REVIEW is seeking short stories and comics for ‘India 2049: Utopias and Dystopias’ from around the world. Read the guidelines.

MITHILA REVIEW is also open to poetry, fiction, and film and book reviews. Send one story, essay, film or book review or up to three poems in a single document at a time to submissions[@]

Response time is 2-8 weeks.

Open Road Review

Open Road Review publishes short fiction, including translations, creative nonfiction, poetry, interviews and artwork. Stories with an element of horror, science fiction or stories for children are not encouraged.

Terms:  Different genres are to be sent to separate emails provided in the guidelines. Any inflammatory content will be rejected.

Rights: Rights revert to the author upon publication. Open Road Review holds the right to include the works published on its website in future anthologies.

Payment: Rs 1000 for selected stories.

Pros: Multiple genres are considered.

Submission: Make sure that you go through the guidelines as depending on the kind of writing you are submitting (fiction, non-fiction, poetry, visual art), you will need to send the attachment and in the body of the email to the respective editor.

Are there any Indian magazines that you would like to recommend here?


Disclaimer:  The above-mentioned information should not be treated as recommendations, but only information. The reader should go through the guidelines carefully before submitting.

May 9, 2018
by Neelima

Interview: Gurbir Singh

We spoke to non-fiction writer Gurbir Singh.

Gurbir Singh is a UK-based space writer. He works full time in the IT sector as Senior Cyber Security Consultant for a large IT company. He studied science and computing and holds a science and an arts degree. Once keen on aviation, he has a private pilot’s licence for the UK, USA and Australia. He was one of 13,000 unsuccessful applicants responding to the 1989 advert for the first British astronaut in the UK– “Astronaut wanted. No experience necessary”. Helen Sharman was eventually selected and flew on the Soviet space station MIR in 1991.

He is also the publisher of, a not-for-profit astronomy and space podcast established in 2008. In 2011, he published his first book, Yuri Gagarin in London and Manchester. The book traces the visit of the world’s first spaceman’s visit to England with first-hand accounts from the people who saw and met him. His second book, The Indian Space Programme, published in October 2017, is an account of the origin of India’s space programme, its current capabilities, and achievements and future ambitions. Born in India, he has been living in the UK since 1966, with the exception of one year in Australia.


Your bio is interesting….you explain that you were one of 13,000 unsuccessful applicants to a 1989 advert for an inexperienced astronaut. What is it about outer space that interests you?

Genuine interest in space and astronomy is nothing unique to me. I think a very large majority, if not all of us, have such an interest during childhood. I just never lost it. I was too young to understand the Apollo missions that took men to the moon but perhaps just the right age to be inspired by them. Later as a teenager, I spent many nights observing planets and deep sky objects through my telescope. My curiosity was never fully satisfied. The advert arrived just after I had graduated. In addition to a computing degree, I had some experience in aviation and foreign languages. I seemed to tick all the boxes for a potential applicant. There was a long list and a shortlist. I made neither!

The Indian Space Programme is a heavily researched book. Could you tell us about your writing process? It would help aspiring non-fiction writers when they write their books. Tell us how much time you spend on researching before you write, how you source pictures and conduct interviews (if any) and where you source your research material from.

I live in the UK, so much of my research was conducted via telephone, Skype and email. India’s early space programme relied heavily on international collaboration. I made contact with key individuals in US, France as well as India. I made three research trips to India, each about two weeks in duration. I visited Sikkim, Srirangapatna, Kolkata, Mumbai, Thiruvananthapuram, Coonoor, Chennai, Sriharikota and, of course, Bangalore. For my research, I used the archives at the IISc in Bangalore, the Tata Institute for Fundamental Research, Sikkim State Archives in Gangtok. In addition to material from archives, I was able to secure photos and notes from the personal collections of my interviewees for the book. I interviewed Rakesh Sharma (India’s first astronaut), directors of several ISRO centers and a former ISRO chairman. The face to face meetings I had with the individuals who had first-hand experience of working on the projects I was researching were the most rewarding. Many of these interviews are available online via my blog and my YouTube channel.


Why is so little known about the Indian Space Programme? Did you decide to write the book when you realized this?

Yes. In fact, it was the absence of such information that motivated me to write this book. If a similar book had existed, I would not have embarked on this project. The reason so little is written about the Indian Space Programme is not clear. One is that ISRO themselves do not have a large, effective, fully funded outreach programme. NASA, ESA and other agencies understand the importance and power of modern social media and have developed a sophisticated public engagement programme. ISRO established its Facebook and Twitter account in 2013 after the launch of the Mars mission but the online activity is minimal.

Why did you opt for self-publishing through Tell us how your experience has been.

I had an offer of a contract from a publisher but two issues prevented progress. One was that the publisher (US-based) would not agree to keep the price of the book low in India. Also, I felt embarrassed because I kept failing to meet deadlines for completion, so I never signed the contract. To get the end product as I wanted it took six years. In retrospect, had I signed a contract, I would have probably published earlier but it would not have been the book I intended it to be. Self-publishing offered me the editorial freedom to produce the final product as I wanted it. is an integral part of the story behind this book. With a reliable POD service in India, I was able to meet another key objective, through, to allow readers in India a cost-effective access to this book.

Tell us about your website

It is a website I set up in 2008, initially for blogging and then podcasting. I have just relaunched the podcast after a pause. Podcasting is a fabulous way to make contact and have a shared learning experience. I have been fortunate to meet several astronauts who have been to the moon and engineers and scientists who have designed built and operated spacecrafts. Many of the interviews I recorded during my visits to the ISRO center in India are available online. There are 73 episodes now with another two scheduled.

Cloud computing and astronomy how do these worlds collide?

My day job is associated with information security. I write part-time (another reason it takes so long). Today the security concerns around cloud computing have largely been replaced by a more generic term Cybersecurity – which is now part of my job title. Most of us use cloud-based services without even knowing about it. Online threats to our personal data, online systems used by government institutions, industry and personal devices (phones, tablets, Alexa, even the smart systems built-in to cars) are at risk of attack by someone we have never met who most likely lives in another country. Cybersecurity and astronomy collide only in my diary.

Any future projects you would like to tell your readers about?

I have an idea for another book but it is a much smaller project. beyond that – no plans as yet. I have relaunched my podcast, after the publication of this book. I have received several invitations to speak and write. I have been surprised and delighted by the reviews.


February 6, 2018
by Neelima

Interview: SWMRT (creators of Trashonomics)

We talked to the creators of Trashonomics, a best-selling book at

Tell us about Solid Waste Management Round Table (SWMRT).

Solid Waste Management Round Table, Bengaluru (SWMRT) is a voluntary group of individuals, who bring their expertise as SWM practitioners, waste management solution and service providers, representatives of waste-pickers and waste workers, and individual activists, who are collectively working towards the cause of sustainable decentralized waste management in Bangalore since 2009.

How did the idea of Trashonomics come about?

Children are the best changemakers and the Trashnomics school programme aims to empower them to lead the change. It will transform the way they look at trash and help create a new paradigm.

We had initially done a recce of all books related to waste management, including those in the school curriculum. We realized that none of them gave the true picture of the situation we are in vis a vis waste management, beyond brushing over the basics at a macro level.

Tell us a little about the mascot crow in the book?

The crow is a bird that is well known in the Indian context. Being a scavenger bird it is known to keep the surroundings clean.
It supposedly has demonstrated some intelligent characteristics which we saw through some viral videos 🙂 Hence, ‘Kaagey’ the crow!

Are you optimistic that waste management will become more effective in the future? Or to rephrase that do you think children in India can lead the way forward when it comes to caring for the environment?

Yes, we do have high hopes for the new generation as we aim to not only teach waste management but change the mindset. Unfortunately, our generation never thought about garbage as a problem until our landfills started overflowing. We hope that the future generation is more sensitive to the environment and good practices of SWM is inculcated as a habit. Also, we hope that these core topics of waste management addressed in Trashonomics, become part of the state and national curriculum.

You also run workshops. Tell us about the activities there.

The Trashonomics workshop is conducted in three sessions for groups of not more than 50 students in a classroom setting. We chose to conduct it for a smaller audience at the time since we wanted the sessions to be interactive. Also, the students perform practical hands-on activities to help assimilate the subject better. Through these students, we hope to spread the message of responsible waste management.

The book has been translated into multiple languages as well. This is great as the book has more reach across states in India. You could talk about the translation process.

The book is currently available in English, Kannada and Hindi. For Kannada, we hired a professional translator and Hindi was translated by a volunteer. Once translation was complete, we had several volunteers check the content and finally we had the book re-illustrated.

Your experience with self-publishing?

We are very happy with self-publishing since a lot of logistics are under our control. Also, we were able to keep the cost of the book low which was our primary concern and we are pleased that was able to help us with this.

A quick waste management tip?

What is not generated doesn’t need to be managed so our #1 tip is to reduce waste as much as possible. Also, look at your waste as a valuable resource that should reach the correct destination for processing.

The next project you are working on.

Specifically for Trashonomics, we are looking to translate it into many more languages, train more volunteers to conduct sessions and start a student program that can recognize their contribution to sustainability. Our ultimate aim is to include sustainable solid waste management as part of the school syllabus for middle school.

January 24, 2018
by Neelima

India Public Domain 2018: 17 Indian authors whose works entered public domain in 2018

We have a tradition at Over the years  (2012,20132014, 20152016, 2017), we have compiled a list of Indian authors whose work has entered public domain at the beginning of this year. The criteria for this year’s names is that the author died in the calendar year 1957 and the work was published before his death. In case the work was published after the author’s death, it will only come out of copyright after 60 years from the date of publication.

We have collected the data from various sources including Wikipedia and other online sources, some which we will be linking here. The information provided is not foolproof, so if you notice any errors or are aware of other writers who died in 1957 and whose names have not been mentioned here, please let us know.

When an author enters public domain, it means that most of his works are now free to be republished, translated, and converted to different formats. This way the long-gone author breathes life again and gains new readership. Help us in our quest to conserve our rich literary culture.

Bhai Vir Singh (1872-1957)

This distinguished Punjabi poet is considered as the orchestrator of the Sikh literary Renaissance. He dabbled with lyrics when he was young and went on to invest his energies in pamphleteering. His work is a treatise on renunciation, piety and sacrifice. Rana Surat Singh is a famous poem he composed. Vir Singh played an important part in the renewal of Punjabi literary tradition by merging it with ideas he picked up from English. Some of his major creative works such as Sri Guru Nanak Chamatkar and Sri Guru Kalgidhar Chamatkar were originally serialized. He was an exponent of the romance and philosophy; some of his books are SundariBijay SinghSatwant KaurSubhagji da Sudhar Hathin Baba Naudh Singh. He also dabbled in shorter poems and lyrics. He was honored with the Sahitya Akademi Award in 1955 and the Padma Bhushan Award in 1956. More about this prolific writer and creator of The Punjab & Sind Bank here.

Aleixo Clemente Messias Gomes (1873-1957)

Better known as Prof. Messias Gomes, this secondary school teacher, writer and Goan journalist was the author of several works on historical themes and co-founder of the daily O Heraldo, the first daily to be published in Portuguese India. More here.

Brajendra Kishore Roy Chowdhury  (1874-1957)

This Zamindar was a patron of the Indian national education movement and was also a renowned classical music maestro who hailed from Gouripur, Bengal. Marxism and the Indian Ideal and Indian Music & Mian Tansen are two books by him.

Jagadish Gupta (1886-1957)

An Indian poet, novelist and short story writer, Jagadish Gupta was one of the major exponents of modern Bengali literature. His style was original and he dealt with realistic and psychological themes. His stories and poems had been published in periodicals like BharatiBijoliUttaraKali-Kalam, Prabasi, Bharatbarsha, Sonar Bangla and Kallol. Some of his other notable works include Asadhu SiddharthaKashyap o Surabhi, BinodiniUdaylekhaMeghabrito AshaniDulaler DolaNishedher PatabhumikayLoghu Guru, etc. In 1954, the Government of India granted him a ‘Distinguished Man of Letters Allowance’. Read this.

S Shripad Mahadev Mate (1886-1957)

Mate was was a Marathi writer, educator and a social reformer from Maharashtra, India. The Dalits dubbed him Mahaar Mate as he worked against caste discrimination. Some of his works include Rasvanthichi Janm KathaSanth-Panth-ThanthUpekshithanche AntarangParasuram Charitra, etc. More details here.

Karmegha Konar (1889-1957)

Also known as Chennaa Pulavar, Konar was a popular Tamil poet and educator. He was the Chairman of the Tamil department at The American College in Madurai.

Narahari Dvarkadas Parikh (1891-1957)

Parikh was a writer, Indian independence activist and social reformer from Gujarat, India. Influenced by Mahatma Gandhi, he was associated with Gandhian institutes throughout his life. He wrote biographies like Mahadevbhainu Purvacharit on Mahadev Desai, Sardar Vallabhbhai Part 1-2 on Vallabhbhai Patel and Shreyarthini Sadhana on Kishorelal Mashruwal. He also edited works of his associates and translated some works. Manav Arthshastra is his work on human economics. His writings on economics education, politics and Gandhian thought include Manav Arthshastra, Samyavad and SarvodayVardha Kelvanino PrayogYantrani and Maryada, etc. Read more about him here.

Venkata Krishna Rao, Bhavaraju (1895- 1957)

He studied law, was the founder-secretary of the Andhra Historical Research Society and edited its journal. He organized the 900th celebration of the coronation of the King Raja Raja Narendra, patron of Telugu’s best adikavi. His publications include History of the Early Dynasties of the Andhradeshas (200-625 AD) and a sequel of this work called History of the Eastern Chalukyas of Vengi, which was posthumously published by the Andhra Pradesh Sahitya Akademi. He wrote numerous historical monographs in Telugu including Rajaraja NarendraduPrachina Andhranauka JivanamuAndhradeshamuvidesha Yatrikulu. Some of his historically themed stories have been published in the Telugu journals of the time. Read an encyclopedic entry on him here.

Nanduri Venkata Subba Rao (1895–1957)

This famous Telugu poet who practised law was the author of the famous work Yenki Patalu (an anthology of songs on a woman called Yenki) that ended up influencing eminent writers and thinkers like Adavi Bapiraju, Sri Sri, Chalam, Devulapalli and Krishna Sastry. More here.

Ram Babu Saxena (1897-1957)

This polyglot civil servant from Uttar Pradesh was learned in English, Persian and Urdu literature. He wrote a book in English called Modern Urdu Poetry. Only the Urdu translation of his work History of Literature by Muhammad Askari is available.

Bose Sunirmal (1902-1957)

He was a pioneer of Bengali juvenile literature, his output consisting of poetry, rhymes, stories, drama, and travelogues. He wrote prolifically in journals of the time like PrabasiSandeshRamdhanuAlpanaKishorAsia, etc.  Some of his books are ChhanabadaBade MajaHai ChaiMarener DakSahure, etc.

J. Friend-Pereira  (1907-1957)

He was an Anglo-Indian academic and author.  Some of his poetry publications include Mind’s Mirror. He contributed to journals in India like the Modern Review and the New Review, besides translating works on the Islamic philosopher Avicenna as well as poetry from French and Latin.

Bhuvaneshwar (1910-1957)

He was a pioneer of the western style one-act play in Hindi and was heavily influenced by Ibsen, Shaw, Lawrence, Freud.  His first piece Shyama (Ek Vaivahik Vidambana) was published in 1933. Some of his works includShaitan,  Ek SamyahinSamyavadiPratibha ka vivaahRahsya romanch. He also wrote plays that dealt with other dimensions besides relationships such as MrityuHum Akele Nahin HeySava Ath BajeStrikeUsar, Roshni aur AagKathputlian, Photographer ke SaamneTambe ke KireItihaas ke kenchul, etc. His plays including Azadi ki NinuJerusalemSikandarAkbar, and Chengiz Khan have also dealt with historical themes.

Mahadevan or Devan (1913-1957)

Devan is a popular Tamil writer, a veteran Charles Dickens of the south, known for his witty and humorous stories. He worked as a teacher and also as a sub-editor at Ananda Vikatan That way Devan resembled Charles Dickens. He explored various genres of writing including the short story, novel, travelogue, drama and reporting. One of his novels, Justice Jagannathan has been translated into English. Some of his novels are MythiliMalathiCID Chandru, etc. Unlike other authors, there are various commentaries on this author. Check out the wiki entry.

Bakulesh (1919-1957)

Bakulesh is the pen name of Ramji Arjun Gajkandh. Born in a Gujarati Kutchhi family, this journalist and writer composed stories about the common man. His style has been described as poetic and down to earth. Recently a collection of his short stories called Bakuleshni Vartso was published.  Other works include Kharan Pani and Kadavnan Kanku.

Krishan Nair (?-1957)

He was a Malayalam scholar and critic and author of Kavya Jivitha Vrtti(vols 1& 2), a treatise on Indian poetics and commentaries of attakathas.

Lala Laxman (?- 1957)

This satirist was inspired by the writer and satirist Habibullah. His compositions have the element of Shahrashob (which is an Urdu genre of writing that deals with unrest for socio-political reasons and is a kind of lamentation for urbanity).


January 5, 2018
by Neelima

Interview: Richa Jha

We got to talk to picture book publisher Richa Jha!

Richa Jha is an Indian children’s author and picture book enthusiast. Her books have been shortlisted for prestigious national literary and industry awards, won a popular award, and entered the Limca Book of Records. She hosts the country’s first online critique platform and runs the only website dedicated to reviewing Indian picture books (Snuggle with Picture Books). She is a former editor for children’s books at the New Delhi based Wisdom Tree, and the Kids section editor at Time Out Delhi. She’s an active member of the kidlit community, SCBWI and IBBY, and regularly attends conferences, webinars and book fairs, including Bologna and Frankfurt. She now runs her independent publishing house, Pickle Yolk Books. She is a keen solo traveler having backpacked across 31 countries, and counting. She lives in the NCR with her husband and two children in a house filled with picture books, photographs and plush toys.

Writing children’s books is picking up in India. How did you start?

The picture book landscape in India seems to be gradually coming of age and there cannot be a happier soul in this country than I! It is heartening to see the kind of interesting, exciting books that are beginning to get written and published now. I feel we are all set to welcome a glorious phase of picture books in India!

I have been writing for over 20 years now, but my children’s book writing journey began only about seven years ago. This was a natural, organic extension to my passion for picture books. The love began in earnest once my first child was born in 2002 and I began buying books for him by the dozen when he was less than four months old. I didn’t look at age appropriateness. It was the sheer act of snuggling together and reading aloud to him that kept us both engrossed and took our bonding to another level. That’s when I began to appreciate the power of picture books. It has been (and continues to be) an amazing journey of discovering some of the greatest stories from around the world ever told in a format most engaging and complete. So when I began writing my own stories, it was like my mind had been prepping itself up for it all these years.

You’ve started a publishing house called Pickle Yolk Books and you also have a website called Snuggle with Picture Books. What has your publishing journey been like so far?

Unplanned, straight from the heart and deeply satisfying. I enjoy creating books but am yet to feel comfortable with the ‘publisher’ tag resting on my head, mostly because I am unable to get myself to ‘think’ like a publisher or see my Pickle Yolk Books like a business. In a way, it acts both as my biggest strength and my weakest link. By seeing myself only as a creator, I make sure I don’t allow the market/ selling dynamics to influence my choice of subjects. But brave books don’t sell; brave picture books, even less so.

Then there are the additional ‘age-appropriate book’ perceptions of the parents to battle with. Parents in India are loath to seeing even their 5-6-year-olds with a picture book in their hands. In a mad rush to get them to read ‘real’ books the weaning off happens early. So by definition, picture books in India get slotted as books for under 5-year-olds. Given the kind of books I publish, therefore, it’s like creating books for a non-existent reader! My biggest challenge as a publisher is to get parents, teachers, children to warm up to the idea that picture books can (and should) be read by older children too, alongside anything else that they are reading.

The themes of your books are unique and brave. Be it bereavement, gender, friendship or embarrassment, you talk about tough issues to little people. How do you zero in on these ideas? 

I have always believed that our children lead difficult lives that we adults often gloss over. We tend to sugarcoat it as an innocent idyllic life-stage. But in reality, they are faced with constant rejections and varying forms and degrees of loss. They struggle with finding acceptance in an adult world, they fight hard for their thoughts to be heard, they are negotiating a rude, mean dynamics among the peers and are battling all kinds of fears that are new to them, in additions to getting weighted down by academics and parental expectations. All this, without the hindsight of experience. It’s not easy for them. And that is what my books are all about. About tough personal challenges in some form that the children themselves figure a way of navigating around and triumphing over. So it’s not about issues but about the real demons they face within and without.

How long does it take for you to write a 400-word picture book?

Sometimes, as many as five years! But for most books, it is about a year. I go through several (about 50, on an average) rounds of revision, spread over months/ years. Because I also publish most of what I write, I have the luxury of keeping them in a constant state of revision until the final printed copies are out. Actually, in that sense, they never quite end up not being works in progress.

You’ve collaborated with artists Gautam Benegal and Ruchi Mhasane. What’s the most important thing to remember when you are collaborating?

Trusting and respecting the illustrators’ artistic process and their creative space. Which also means that unless I am struggling to meet a critical deadline, I try not to rush them through the artwork. What I love about working with both Gautam and Ruchi is that they act as my creative conscience-keepers; in moments when I am beset with self-doubt about the story of the WIP, they help me get back my clarity. And they never shy away from pointing out the flaws and weaknesses in my story. In many ways, learning to welcome and respect feedback (without taking it personally) is the first step in any healthy collaboration.

What are the tools an author and illustrator need to know about while creating a picture book? 

I am not sure if these would qualify as tools, but here are the essentials.

  1. First and foremost, there is the need to rid oneself of the perception that a picture book is easy to write; it looks deceptively simple. And read hundreds and hundreds of good books in this format before attempting one of your own.
  2. The author needs to think visually. So even though, in most cases, the illustrations are done by another person, by thinking visually, the author is able to get the pacing, page turns and punches right.
  3. A picture book is very different from an illustrated storybook; the latter follows a somewhat similar narrative like the oral stories we are used to hearing from our grandparents. But a picture book is different. The interplay of the text and visuals is what forms its core and soul.
  4. The illustrators need to go way beyond what the text says when planning out their visuals. In a picture book, the illustrations have as much role to play as the text. So a parallel visual narrative or two over and above what the text says is non-negotiable.
  5. Where most picture books fail is getting the ending right. Without a deeply satisfying ending, the reader feels cheated.

Favorite picture book?

That’s impossible to respond to! I have countless favorites. I once compiled a list for my blog (but this too was a couple of years ago; I’ve discovered so many gems since!): A Monster Jamboree of my Favourite Picture Books.

Sneak peek into your next project.

I could fill reams talking about my works in progress! These days I am working on the story of a blind boy negotiating the crowded streets of Calcutta (Maccher Jhol, illustrated by Sumanta Dey) and on a funny story of a dad-daughter duo.

All the best with your future projects, Richa!