Monday, August 08, 2016

Shabdon Ki Holi: Interview with Children's Book Author Subhash Kommuru



Subhash and Sujata hail from India. They migrated to the United States along with their memories of childhood and youth. Now that they are parents, just like every immigrant they crave to introduce their child to the culture and values of their upbringing. Yet it is challenging to teach something while you are in the midst of adjusting to a different culture yourself.

Subhash and Sujata both work in different disciplines and have different styles and backgrounds, but it is the upbringing of their son that brings them on the same page. That exact place where they meet is captured and reflected in their stories, where Subhash can express in words, and Sujata can illustrate them beautifully. Where he puts it in black and white, she adds color to it. You get the idea!

These stories are their attempt to share a glimpse of their childhood days with their son. He is their inspiration to write short stories that have meaning to them and provide teaching in some shape or form.

Shobhan’s latest book is the children’s book, Shabdon Ki Holi.
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About the Book:

Title: Shabdon Ki Holi
Author: Subhash Kommuru
Publisher: Kommura Books
Pages: 34
Genre: Children’s
Shabdon Ki Holi is a funny story with bright illustrations and lively cartoon written in Hindi.
Ramesh and Suresh are two siblings who love to blabber and find it very funny. But this holi they experience a adventure like never before and meet entertaining creatures/jeevs who are lot of fun but their vocabulary is very limited. See how both siblings go from blabbering to teaching Bandhu, Pratham and his fellow creatures the usage of words - featuring bright and fun illustrations in the backdrop of holi festival.

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Q: Welcome to The Writer's Life!  Now that your book has been published, we’d love to find out more about the process.  Can we begin by having you take us at the beginning? 
Where did you come up with the idea to write your book?

Thank you for the opportunity to present myself on your distinctive blog and exceptional readers. Every book starts with inspiration which leads to an idea that leads to concept and then rest follows. These first few steps are so critical in laying solid foundation. The tough part is execution and staying true to the concept.

I migrated to US from India and brought with me memories of land rich in culture and beliefs. For as long as me and my wife were by ourselves we never took a moment to think about our cultural heritage and our values. But once we had Arya, our son, our perspective changed. He was growing up fast and seeing American culture all around him. That’s when we realized that there is a treasure called “India” which he is not exposed to and will never get to know unless we do something about this. Sure we can take him to local gatherings, temples, celebrate one or two festivals but that simply is not enough. Kids learn a lot from many different channels, One of those most effective channel is books. For Arya any time is story time, no matter how sad or how mad he is a book can always come to rescue.
So that got me into making up stories and morals that we have learned as kids and narrate those stories to him. But I had to pick up a pen when he started to demand that I tell the same stories over and over again and use same immersive words every single time. So I decided to pick up a pen and start writing something with cultural significance, something that he cannot learn anywhere else and put it on paper so every time I read it will be exactly the same.
As part of my most recent release “Shabdon Ki Holi” we bring a festival “Holi” aka Festival of colors and mix it with a very important lesson of using your words. It’s that interesting combination of festival and words that colors this story fun. This is a pain that every mother out there feels and every child growing up practices, bar none.

Q: How hard was it to write a book like this and do you have any tips that you could pass on which would make the journey easier for other writers?

Writing a book is not as tough as you think as long as you have motivation matches your priorities. When you wander from your key goal that’s when hit a rocky spot. Deep inside everyone has a story to tell but not everyone spends time in nurturing it, understanding their audience and most important realizing what is their goal. Sure goal can be blockbuster, income and other such commercial priorities but that’s where things could get complicated. Success cannot be end goal; it can be a Karma meaning a fruit of your effort. 

I feel compelled to pass on writing tips to wannabe, not just because I want to see fellow authors succeed but also because of my singular objective of getting more quality material for kids out there. When you pick children’s book most of them are very good, but you will see a common theme, they are built for commercial perspective to please the audience and generalize them into one category. There is no diversity in books. There is no culture, no tradition and biggest concern is that not many of them challenge children’s intellect.

I would strongly encourage aspiring authors to plan out your simple story. Remember life is complicated but you learn about life one simple story at a time so don’t rush into doing too many things at once. Say if your topic is festivals try to focus on one festival at a time and don’t get immersed in every single detail unless you are writing a text book on them.
For instance our book Bargad, talks about Vat Savitri rather than getting into details of festival, its origin and other details we surround our story around this important festival and bring home the fact the reason behind observance of such festival.

Secondly I would advise you to write something about you care, your story has to bring some value to the table and sky is the limit there don’t have to stick to the populous theme don’t have to restrict yourself to what “cool kids” are thinking today. Who knows your story would be what “cool kids” will be thinking tomorrow.

A prime example of this effort is our title “Chatur(Hindi)”. This story is very straight forward and flow is very simple complimented by colorful illustrations which brings home simple message speaking against greed.

Third piece of advice comes from a writer who rewrites stories numerous times, read your own story over and over again see what needs refinement and polishing.

For instance our book “The Magic of Friendship (Anokhi Dosti-Hindi edition)” talks about a story where two diverse personalities meet and their friendship brings about a change to their environment that completely turns the events from scary to happiness. This story when I first wrote it was simply just that with two diverse personalities sharing their talents. When I was done with the story it turned out to be very good, funny and entertaining, my son would laugh from beginning to the end but I felt that there was something missing in the story, so rewrote the flow where I start the story with a flock of geese migrating and observing the whole story unfold, so the story is being told from a third person perspective and I also take help from geese’s seasonal migration to bring in generations where this story is passed from grandfather-father-son. It tied up so nicely that the book has earned rave reviews from distinguished outlets and very well received by every single reader.

Q: Who is your publisher and how did you find them or did you self-publish?

 Both I and my wife have full-time jobs and our biggest inspiration for writing kids is to bring quality material into kids market. Secondly our goal is to introduce Indian culture to every kid out there and provide more diversity. Diversity in culture, tradition, thought and values. Profitability is nowhere in list of our priority. Although our tax guy keeps insisting on seeing black if not blue J
Finding a publisher feels like a goal in and by itself. And once you do that you will lose their interest in my first objective itself.

Self-publishing has opened up so many doors for us. Creativity flows freely, ideas have no boundaries. It’s a perfect definition of freedom, and direct communication with readers.

Q: Is there anything that surprised you about getting your first book published?

First book is full of surprises. One can imagine all they want before publishing some would get scared, some nervous and others too proud for their own good. But once you release you come face to face with realities. My first surprise was seeing the final product as to how well it came out. I could never imagine that a book I published could look this good. I am a sucker for quality all the way through and when I first took my final book in hand there was this feeling of satisfaction and content. And my pride kicked in when I started to read some of the reviews that is absolutely an ego booster.

Q: What other books (if any) are you working on and when will they be published?

I have about 10 other books in pipeline right now. Its matter of taking out time to decide which one goes first and when. One thing that I am struggling a lot with is getting my timing right. For instance my first title Bargad talks about a festival called Vat Savitri which is observed in May-June but the book was released in December.
Similarly The Magic of Friendship/Anokhi Dosti talks about Kojagiri which is observed in September-October but the book was released in January. The book being about friendship could have been better served to be released around July month also since August 7th is observed as International Friendship Day
Shabdon Ki Holi was the first title every that came very close to hitting the mark but it only came out a week before the festival of Holi which is not enough time. Ideally I would think a month before festival is the best time to grab your audience’s attention.
So my next few titles I will try to collaborate release a little better. My next book promises to be lot of fun and takes me into superhero characters which given my son’s age is perfect.

Q: What’s one fact about your book that would surprise people?

That’s a very deep question. All of my new readers when they pick up my book they have fun in their mind, they have engagement in their mind, they have quality in their mind, they have culture in their mind, they have diversity in their mind. But one thing that surprises all my readers is that diversity in our story is not a typical diversity of culture, it covers multiple angles of diversity, it’s about celebrating diversity of thoughts, diversity of values and prime example of this is The Magic of friendship/Anokhi Dosti because that book brings two of the most diverse character in front of each other, a donkey and a fierce tiger and what happens next is pure magic that takes readers through a fun adventure.

Similary Shabdon Ki Holi is not just about the festival Holi but it’s also an scary but joyous adventure of two brothers which changes their personality and outlook completely.

Q: Finally, what message (if any) are you trying to get across with your book?

Every person hits a stage in their life, where they like to blabber and believe that blabbering is fun. As a parent when you see your young one engage in this it gets very frustrating not just because it is annoying but that habit closes some channel for communication. In a tender age when their young minds are capable of learning multiple languages seeing them wasting it on blabbering is truly frustrating. Shabdon Ki Holi is an attempt to express that concern for the parents. It’s a story that every family every parent has to deal with and Shabdon Ki Holi will provide you required tool to deal with the situation.

In Shabdon ki Holi, Nayan Soni has done wonders for illustration. He is cartoonist and his style is fun and casual and speaks to kid directly. This book in particular is very home for him as far as style goes. He is characterization of Jeevs Bandhu and Pratham is absolutely stunning and true to the nature in the story. It almost feels like he brought his inner self to life in those characters. When you look at expressions of each of the characters they are mind blowing.

Piyush Ranjan has edited 3 other titles for me and Shabdon Ki Holi will be his fourth.
He does a fabulous job in bringing right content to the story. Piyush has a command on Hindi language. I have read some of his poems and this is in fact my 4th book with him. While my stories are simple, keeping language simple is equally important and Piyush does a great job of playing with simple words while conveying important message.
The end result “Shabdon ki Holi” is sure to tickle your funny bone and at the same time bring home a very important message. 
  
Q: Thank you again for this interview!  Do you have any final words?

I am a parent first and then come everything else. But before I became a parent, I was a loved son then a loving husband. So that path reflects in my writing. I promise to write sensible stories that I can tell my son and not worry about filtering anything while narrating story or be afraid that he could learn some unintended lessons. For a kid, life is simple and good is good and evil is evil. The content that I present is simple in those terms. And all those contents come from my upbringing of a happy childhood provided by loving and caring parents, and encouraged by a loving and caring spouse. You can grab any of my books from Amazon or any online retailer and I guarantee you a sensible story that you will enjoy reading to your kids and your kids will enjoy listening to them. Find out for yourself by going to my author page on Amazon http://www.amazon.com/Subhash-Kommuru/e/B00CPT09U0/ref=dp_byline_cont_book_1

You will find similar experience by engaging with me on my facebook page as well where I share contents pertaining to kids. And topics range from nature, diversity, culture to new research on kids development. www.Facebook.com/KommuruBooks
My website is also always up to date with promotions, offers and new releases www.KommuruBooks.com


1 comment:

  1. Thank you for the opportunity to present Shabdon Ki Holi in front of your distinguished readers.

    ReplyDelete