Young author Yamini Prashanth makes her debut as a writer with Mishti, a humorous account of the happy-go-lucky life of a pre-teen girl, to be launched on October 18
“Mishti is the in thing in this house now,” says Yamini Prashanth, pushing a slim yellow book across the table. Written and illustrated by her, Mishti is a chapter novella on an 11-year-old's happy-go-lucky ways and is about to be launched officially. “I'm overwhelmed,” says the pre-teen.
A couple of minutes into the conversation, you know Yamini Prashanth is a book reader of the serious kind. She speaks in well-formed sentences with none of the choppiness of “er”s and “you know”s and “like”s. Her replies are precise and at one point she volunteers information she feels I may want to add. Mishti is dedicated to the “group of nine”, friends she hangs out with when she is not in her Odissi or Carnatic music classes, she says. At the launch, the group will do a skit, the characters resembling the ones in the book. “It's my way of acknowledging them.”
“During the 5th grade summer holidays I had nothing to do — finished movies, shopping, books and summer camps — I was pretty much jobless,” she starts brightly. “I would pull out my laptop and write.” Mishti, named after Mishti Patel, a character in the Phineas and Ferb series, took shape, blunt cut and all. She had a perfect childhood, did things Yamini so wanted to do. “I could see Mishti and others in the episodes,” she says, “the images were floating in my mind.” She is happy she was allowed to do the illustrations. “The story includes the experiences of my grandpa and mom. The cow episode actually happened to a relative.”
In bits and pieces, she completed the story in six months. More than fashioning a story, it was an opportunity to use the different words and phrases she came across in books. “Someone says something, and I wonder how can I develop it into a story?” She loves words, especially those expressing humour. “Humour makes my book. If people say your book made me laugh, that makes my day.” Her parents took it to an author friend who felt it should be published. “Many publishers rejected it,” she says straight-faced. When Unicorn came forward, “I was ecstatic, though publishing was not why I started writing; it was a hobby which grew into a passion. A stress-buster, especially during exams.”
Dad is responsible for my love of reading she says. “He nurtured my interest in books, read a lot to me, spent time choosing books.” When they lived in London, he would take her to musicals and movies based on books. “Through me he is also writing, can't thank him enough.” Books by Ruskin Bond and Enid Blyton are a huge part of her life, she says. “I grew up on Mallory Towers and St. Clare's. I pull them out when I am tense and soon feel relaxed.”
She wants to write “simple, normal, day-to-day stories” because those are the ones she likes to read but never finds in bookstores. “Enough fantasy and sci-fi out there,” she feels. “What I write is child fiction.” She is attempting all genres — her second is Granny Bumble's collection of short stories, the third is on four horses — slightly tragic.
Yamini writes to a plan, crafting her lines crisply. The first-person journal format works very well — Mishti gets space to assert herself and argue her case, and comes through as a loveable character. Yamini's ability to look at the life and adventures of someone like her with a comical eye should open a new domain of expression for young authors waiting to take off.