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Out of the ordinary

Asha Nehemiah. Photo: K. Murali Kumar

Asha Nehemiah. Photo: K. Murali Kumar   | Photo Credit: K_Murali Kumar

Meet Asha Nehemiah, creator of many popular, wacky, hilarious characters

Meet Asha Nehemiah. This popular Bangalore based writer is the author of a melange of wacky, quirky, and hilarious stories for elementary and middle school children.

Her characters are usually ordinary people who find themselves in extraordinary situations. For instance, have you ever met a grandmother who nabs a thief? Or two friends who invent something new while meddling with things? Or a grandmother who outsmarts an evil scientist from laying his hands on her secret hair oil formula? This is how she conjures up her stories and characters: “I love making story-maps and plot-webs. This works well at unblocking every creative pipeline in my head and ideas tumble out faster. But I don’t spend too much time on this because every single time that I’ve started writing, better and better ideas keep flowing in as the book or story progresses. I keep my mind open for these.”

When asked if she ever slips into one of her characters while figuring out their next move, pat comes her reply. “ I try to imagine what my characters feel. How would they react if they were on a dangerous river, sitting in a boat, which has a hole in the bottom . . . when . . . oh no. . .they have no oars, and water is rapidly filling the boat? Or how a younger brother would feel if he had a sister who bossed him around all the time.” Her favourite character, and someone with whom she closely associates, is Shanthi  athai  from her book  The Mystery of the Silk Umbrella. “ Untidy, wearing mismatched clothes, possessing odd and exotic objects, and whipping up the strangest and yummiest foods like Chikki French toast and Pancakes topped with grated coconut, cinnamon and honey.”

Aside from writing for children, she loves reading, watching movies and baking. Her favourite books growing up included The William book series by Richmal Crompton.  Little Women by Lousia May Alcott and  To Kill a Mocking Bird by Harper Lee.

Nehemiah tells us that she has a special writing place “ I travel a lot by train, so if you spot a grey-haired lady on a train scribbling furiously into a note-book, that’s probably me. When I’m at home, I usually write at my study table near a window.

So, what was little Asha like? “ I was a very dreamy child – living an action-packed adventurous life in my imagination – but the one who was always getting into trouble with the teacher for staring out of the window lost in thought rather than looking attentively at the blackboard – or being the last one in class to take my book out of the bag.”

Currently she has ideas for another book for very young readers filled with illustrations and little or no text.

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Printable version | Feb 17, 2020 5:49:23 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/in-school/signpost/1/article7077338.ece

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