From fiction, I’ve time-travelled to writing a science book for kids! I’m thrilled to announce my upcoming flipbook with Hachette India.
Since it’s a book on science and Indian scientists written by a, umm, science-fiction author, expect more than a few laughs, a lot of activities and quizzes, and a rollercoaster ride through the stories of modern India’s contemporary scientists working in physics, biology and chemistry.
More about the book on science
They Made What? They Found Whatis a fun flipbook that retells stories of contemporary Indian scientists, their struggles, their work lives and why they push the boundaries of science and of themselves to discover or invent something (I suspect the brainwave happens when you wear a shiny white lab-coat).
The book comes loaded with activities, quizzes, experiments and a galaxy of knowledge. It’s written for kids and most adults. And you get two books in one. Of yes, you heard that right. Ek ke saath ek muftmuftmuft.
The marvellous covers, let me show them to you again, are created by Sharanya Kunnath, who is also responsible for the artwork of two madcapped characters that converse with these scientists in the book.
So, taadaa, here are the covers! Aren’t they wonderful?
How to order this science book
TMW? TFW? launches on 28th February, India’s National Science Day which marks the discovery of the Raman effect by Indian physicist CV Raman on 28 February 1928. Cool, right? I’ll tell you more behind-the-scene story in another blog on the launch day.
Meanwhile, you can preorder a copy on Amazon if you’d like by clicking on the photo below, or better still, wait for me to announce it and buy it at your neighbourhood indie store. I’ll try to list down all the stores that have it!
Yes, I had a great 2020 and I wish you a happy new year.
This post is about all the little thankful things that come into our brains, bodies and soul, while the world is churning viruses. It was while developing a talk for my alumni network at Lady Sriram College, that I realized I had a great year.
Since the past few years, I had been in a kind of a slump. Possibly self created. Everything was going well in my life. I was physically fit, I had just moved to a new country (my idea) and in 2018-2019 travelled like flights would freeze in 2020 (ahem).
However, all through these two years, through mostly ups and some downs, the slump, this feeling of being low niggled at my heart, dousing everything marvellous I did was a rancid aftertaste. I sold a movie option to Anantya Tantrist Mysteries to a big producer. Nada. I founded a Swiss startup with amazing colleagues, earned well, and travelled to Dublin to speak at the WorldCon. Nada. I even waved at JRR Martin. Nada. I wrote short stories – a few of which were translated and published in French and Romanian and Dutch. Nada.
I was in some sort of a constant rut – constantly feeling like something was amiss when everything was perfect. Maybe it was a midlife crisis. Maybe I had finally changed too much, too frequently. I don’t know. And it’s not someone I am! I used to be the person who celebrated every little milestone – a piddly salary increase, finishing of draft 1 (followed by finishing of draft 2, 3…), on an invite to talk at a literary festival. I love being joyous! And here I was, with a perfect life, but chugging through it.
This new year, take risks
And then the virus-created pandemic and the government-created lockdown hit us. As the world went into a crazy spur, I for some reason jumped out of mine. Early in 2020, we had settled in our beautiful home, I had a study. I became happy (though not always. My country’s people who had to walk back homes because of government-induced mismanagement was horribly tragic). All through April, I was in a flurry, writing my new book – a non-fiction which comes out in January – something I had never attempted. I was so busy, I had no time to see the Covid tickers that were everyone’s favourites or read those endless Whatsapp analysis.
As lockdown opened up, I took on new hobbies and new way of life. I tried my hand at planting. In June, I started playing squash and lawn tennis – both games were new to me. In August, I bought a cycle, started cycling 25-30 kilometers, make a girls group for cycling in my community. All through the year, I was also working on a new science fiction novel (finished draft 1, which I celebrated just before Diwali!).
I don’t know what happened to flip it, to get me out of that mood I had been in for a few years. Maybe it’s the fact that when tragedy comes knocking, really knocking – for the world – you stop feeling sorry for yourself and live your life as you were meant to do.
As we tumble into 2021, I wish this happiness and realisation and newness to all you wonderful folks. Keep travelling, keep taking risks and don’t forget that whatever you do, it’s the small joys that stay with you. Happy new year, folks!
Milind Soman and I almost met at the Bangalore Literature Festival this year, a hybrid festival.
It was a cool Sunday evening. I was to speak in the last session at the festival – a panel to launch a fantastic anthology on Bengaluru’s history, Eleven Stops to the Present: Stories of Bengaluru with Meera Iyer, Menaka Raman with Kartik Venkatesh. Formidable, sweet company. My story in the anthology is a rollercoaster tale of Salma, a fiesty 11-year-old who lives in the Shivajinagar area in the 1930s (See the walk that inspired this story).
Milind‘s panel was in audi 1, mine in audi 2. I decided to pop into his, swoon a bit, before sitting in mine. On the second flood of the Bangalore International Centre, I waved a hello to Milind’s larger-than-life screen version.
Talk on writing historical fiction
The hybrid festival version was as good as it gets considering this year. Still grinning, I headed to my panel, facing a camera and 30 odd people in the audience (sitting in real life) and more than a 100 people attending virtually (livestreamed through the camera).
There were three questions at the panel, all of them from the audience that attended virtually. Frankly, I’m a bit old fashioned and looked beyond the camera towards the attendees who sat masked, having navigated virus exposure and Bangalore traffic – I was all about giving them precedence –however they were okay letting the virtualees ask questions.
The unseen, listening audience
We waved a cheery goodnight to the audience and the camera and stepped off stage to go into the bar downstairs. Before that, to say a last bye to my time-sharer at the festival, I headed to the third floor, where the BIC office is and met Lekha, Raghu and Ravi, the wonderful team who was the hands behind the camera, making sure all us could entertain the attendees without any faux pas like glitches, frozen screens, or author-mutism. I hugged them all from a distance and clicked this photograph.
Because, as in the hybrid event, this part, that happens in the background is important. Our lives are populated by the machines, the phones, the cameras, the audio-listening devices and soon the drones and bots. We’re living the science fiction dream, yo. Hybrid events are here to stay as both the virtual and real attendees become important.
Hybrid’s here to stay, but meeting pals is fun
It was marvellous. The crowds were limited as most people could attend online. The fact that I was attending a festival in Bangalore after such a long time, the fact that I met all my wonderful friends (all duly masked, except for the brief moment we took the photograph below) and the fact that 2020 so comfortably has made us slide into hybridity.
Beginning of 2021, I’m launching a new book and I’m already planning both physical events and hybrid ones. Will keep you posted on that one folks. Till then, happy virtual lives.
What do biryani, wrestling, Russel Market and children have in common? A fantastic ride through 1920s in Bangalore! My new short story ‘The Biryani Choke’ is a rollicking tumble set around the opening of the Russell Market in Shivajinagar of the 1920s.
The story is being published in an anthology by INTACH Bangalore appropriately called Eleven Stops to the Present: Stories of Bengaluru. If you don’t know, INTACH Bangalore are folks who are known to conduct terribly entertaining heritage walks in the city. The anthology is the brainchild of Meera Iyer (who wrote Discovering Bengaluru: History. Neighbourhoods. Walks, a must-have book if you like discovering history by foot) who has also written a story in it. Other amazing writers in it include: Aditi De, Anirudh Kanisetti, Anitha Murthy, Edgar Demello, Meera Iyer, Menaka Raman, Nagaraj Vastarey, Sandhya Rao, Shruthi Rao, and of course Zac O’Yeah.
Upcoming anthology by INTACH
Eleven short stories for children, by eleven awesome writers who take you on a journey through Bengaluru and Bangalore, from about 2000 years ago to the 1980s
The book is an ambitious idea to introduce the city’s history to children through fiction stories set in different periods of Bangalore (or Bengaluru, that’s also history now). When Meera asked me to write a story, I knew the place in Bangalore I wanted to write about. I had already been there….
This is surreal at a serious level. A short story I wrote a couple of years back, The Daughter That Bleeds was translated in French as ‘La Fille qui saigne’ by Mikael Cabon and published in Galaxies magazine, an SFF fanzine in France. This happened last year and I was gleed at that point and then forgot about it.
I just found out that the translated short story has been selected for the Grand Prix de l’Imaginaire Awards of 2020 in France. It has a hilarious tale attached to it.
Woah. I am in a list of Top 50 Startup Women in Switzerland. What most of you don’t know if that I founded a startup in Zurich in the #FinTech space in 2018. The idea was to do new projects and to meet people and to earn money so I could feed my mainstream career – fiction writing.
So this accolade, is completely daze-inducing and glee. I’m surprised on how the little paths we choose to walk on, send us somewhere we hadn’t planned upon at all. Life is so beautiful.
The startup, Cooby, is a global cooperative and I’m one of the co-founders. We are developing blockchain-based SaaS products, which are open source. We also create technical and white papers for clients. It’s quite fun for the geek part of me as I get to meet people and listen to stories in the crypto, blockchain and fintech spaces.
Never thought it would get me in a Top anything list. This was something I started for fun. Isn’t that the most important? I tell this to myself as I see another rejection for my fiction in my inbox. Such is life. A constant rollercoaster.
It’s this week! I have some exciting news from my end. I’ve been invited to Dublin for WorldCon 2019, the biggest convention for the speculative fiction industry in the world, to give a talk on my work and on the work of emerging speculative fiction authors from South Asia.
My talk will explore science and fantasy fiction voices from the South Asian community that are reworking the genre, playing with its tropes and redefining it by inverting colonial motifs.
I’m hoping to give this talk again in India sometime later this year or early next. Let’s see.
Follow this thread for updates
This is where I’ve listed my evil plan during my talk to introduce them to the wonderful work being published in South Asia. Mhahaha.
It’s a fantastic collection that brings together authors writing on feminism from across the country, including powerful voices like Kiran Manral, Krishna Udaysankar, Sujatha SV, Trisha Das, Samhita Arni and may powerfu others.
A weaver is initiated into the ancient art of bringing a universe into existence. A demon hunter encounters an unlikely opponent. Four goddesses engage in a cosmic brawl. A graphic designer duels with a dark secret involving a mysterious tattoo. A defiant chudail makes a shocking announcement at a kitty party. A puppet seeking adventure discovers who she really is. A young woman’s resolute choice leads her to haunt Death across millennia. . .
A compelling collection of stories that speak of love, rage, rebellion, choices and chances, Magical Women brings together some of the strongest female voices in contemporary Indian writing. Combining astounding imagination with superlative craft, these tales will intrigue and delight readers in equal measure.
Continue reading for excerpt from the story. Order a copy on Amazon.
Interview in Economic Times on how Bangalore’s slow pace gives Shweta Taneja time to weave stories.
Having grown up in Delhi and working there as a journalist, working there as a journalist, Taneja was drawn to India’s software hub through what she read about it and heard from people who had travelled there. It was also Bengaluru that Taneja thought would be a great place to start her career as a novelist. “At that time, I didn’t know anyone in Bengaluru.I had never visited it. But to me, it was a city with a relaxed pace, beautiful weather, a vibrant music scene and friendly people,“ she says .
From the capital city to Bengaluru
As she went on with her life in the national capital, moving to national capital, moving to Bengaluru remained a distant dream. “By 2008, I was tired of living in Delhi. I got married and it was when my spouse gave me the option of trying out life in another city that I chose Bengaluru,“ she says.