Kanika G – Author of the Month, January 2020

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It gives me immense pleasure to announce the launch of the ‘Author of the Month’ series here at ‘The Tina Edit’.

What adds to my joy is the fact that I have Kanika G on-board, as both Nadine, my daughter and I are huge fans of her work.

About Kanika

Kanika always wanted to be a writer and scientist. So she spent ten years being a physicist. Kanika did a doctorate in theoretical physics from Washington State University.

When her older daughter turned 2, she wanted to get her interested in books. She searched for some children’s books online, but her laziness got the better of her. She gave up on the search, and decided to write books for her toddler instead. Before she knew it, her old love for writing was rekindled.

After having written a few stories, she decided to publish. But, she was shy to start, and so used the pen name Kanika G. But this alternate identity has taken over, and she enjoys having it, so that is how you will know her.

Kanika has explored many different subjects writing over 40 children’s stories, picture books, parenting blog posts, short stories for grown-ups, articles about women’s issues, recipes, poetry, and more.

My tryst with Kanika G

I was determined to pursue my passion for writing when I returned to India in mid-2016. And I had stumbled upon Kanika’s work online, and browsed her social profiles. But, I hesitated to approach her directly or connect with her.

Kanika had this mysterious aura about her for the longest time. No one knew what she looked like. I was intrigued, to say the least, because, in many ways, she was living my ultimate author fantasy – That old-school romanticized author, who no one knew what they looked like in real life.

Her books are like organic, home-made goodies made from the scratch. The cover pages, and illustrations are either created by her, or children, including her own. One cannot help but stand in awe and respect for such grit, determination, and passion for art.

And so I admired her work from far, checking on her profiles periodically, to know what she was up to. I know I sound like a creepy stalker, but there’s a thin line between stalking and admiration, right? I love most of her articles. Some of which are ‘Why the secrecy, shame, taboo and lies?’‘Why do grownups taunt kids?’, and ‘We Create Monsters When We Create ‘Gods’; Don’t Put Them On A Pedestal’.

I was highly inspired by Kanika’s passion back then, and it holds more strongly now that I know her better now.

Thanks to the #AtoZChallenge hosted by Blogchatter, our paths finally crossed in 2018. We followed each other’s #AtoZChallenge posts and social media profiles as well. We hit it off instantly. She had chosen the theme of Women’s Health, and the extent of research, as well as the simple and engaging writing presentation, spoke a lot about her creativity, intellect, and commitment. And the fact that she touched upon taboo subjects with dignity spoke about her courage and empathy as a writer, and individual.

It gave us a chance to bond and know each other as well. I discovered Kanika to be a warm-hearted, generous, and noble person. My respect and admiration for her grew by leaps and bounds. Not only for the writer in her but also for the person that she is.

I gifted my pilot batch of students of ‘The Write Away’ program, a copy of Kanika G’s books according to their age group. Needless to add, they loved it.

I read ‘Growing Pains’, Kanika’s young adult fiction, and thoroughly enjoyed it. It’s a dark subject, but Kanika makes it a breezy, entertaining, and inspiring read. The kids love her, for she loves them first. Her books are such a gift – a thing of pure joy.

Thanks to ‘Growing Pains‘ published by Rubric Publishing, Kanika G has finally come out of her hiding. When she sent me her photograph for this interview, I remarked how she looked like Arundhati Roy. And she was pleased to hear that saying she was amazed because very few people recognize her for a Bengali.

So, there you learned another fact about Kanika G. She’s Bengali.

To more such happy discoveries, let’s dive straight into the much-awaited interview.

1. Why did you choose to write to the children and the young adult genre? And what has been your experience so far? 

A. I started writing children’s books to get my two-year-old daughter interested in stories. She loved picture books but would get distracted when I tried reading stories. Usually, she would run off to play with our cat. So I decided to write a story about her and our cat, hoping it would hold her attention, and she loved it. I got much more than I bargained for when I found myself reading the same story for the 50th time in one week. That’s when I realized I was on to something. She wanted to listen to stories she could easily relate to.

Being her primary caregiver, I had no shortage of material I could use for such stories. Within a few months, I had written a dozen stories in the Tania series.

I noticed there was a dearth of stories with the contemporary, middle class, city-bred little girls for protagonists. So I started posting them on a site called Free Kids Books, run by a pilot mom who is enthusiastic about children’s literacy. Here I found my books were being downloaded and read tens of thousands of times. I got encouraging comments from kids from all over the world, some waiting eagerly for the next Tania story. So I just kept going, thoroughly enjoying the process and the feedback.

I have always loved children’s and young adult literature, and I review lots of books in this genre on my website. But the Tania series will always have a special place in my heart, for that’s where my writing journey began, and I will continue to develop the series as Tania grows up into a teenager.

Growing Pains, my first novel, aimed at young adults, is loosely based on my own teenage experience with appendicitis.

 2. Wow! That is quite some backstory that you shared with us. Please tell us about your books – the various series that you have written and which ones are suitable for which age groups? 

A. I began my writing journey with the Tania series. Tania is a little girl growing up in a typical middle-class housing society in Mumbai, and the stories in the series are about her everyday adventures. Little things, like, visiting a library, learning to ride a bike, helping out in the kitchen, going for a costume party, or an adventurous vacation, can be so exciting and wonderful when seen from through the eyes of a child experiencing them for the first time.

I draw upon my daughter’s, and my own childhood experiences, and some adventures I wish I could have had as a little girl. As the series progresses, Tania grows with her audience, learns new concepts and skills in science, art, culture, and life, and the stories become more complex.

In the latest Tania story, she turned nine and got her periods earlier than her mother had anticipated. The story deals with her shock, fear, and confusion and the honesty and sensitivity with which her mother handles the difficult situation.

The first six Tania stories are suitable for kids under the age of 6; the next 23 are ideal for kids aged 6 to 9. The last 4 are chapter books, ideal for kids aged 8 to 10.

I have written a few other chapter books and short stories for 7 to 10-year-old kids, all available on my website.

‘Growing Pains,’ loosely based on my own experiences with appendicitis, is also about those confusing and hormonal teenage years. You know where friends mean the world, first crushes take us on an emotional roller coaster ride, and support from the family goes a long way towards making it all bearable.

When I was teaching my little ones to read, I wrote a bunch of books ‘learn to read’ books for them, which are available in PDF format on my website. I was so thrilled when my older one read the first one in the series all by herself. It was the first book she ever read on her own, and it did wonders for her confidence.

I also have a Youtube channel with videos to help kids to learn to read.

I have written a Picture book series called ‘The Toast Series’ based on the mischievous shenanigans of my younger daughter. It’s fun for parents to read, and the toddlers are sure to enjoy them too. The humor in the stories can be enjoyed at different levels by both adults and toddlers.

I have also written a collection of short stories for teens and adults. It is a medley of romance, sci-fi, humor, social issues, fantasy, suspense, and fun. It’s a diverse collection of stories to satisfy the many complex hues of human emotion.

3. Kanika, I’m curious to know the kind of feedback that you receive from children, including your own, and parents alike about your books? 

A. I have got a lot of encouraging feedback for my books on sites like Free Kids Books and book review sites like PlusMinus’N’More.

Kids leave some of the comments in their own adorable words, and those are the most satisfying for me to read. One kid once got really angry with me for taking too long to write the 15th Tania story in the series, and I realized that I was doing something really meaningful.

The Tania Quartet, a collection of the first 4 Tania stories, got some lovely Amazon reviews as did Growing Pains on Amazon, which received some encouraging feedback from mom bloggers.

There was a time I was a physicist publishing academic papers in international journals. But the feedback I get from children makes writing for them a far more warm and rewarding experience.

You know what the best moment for me was – As an ex-academic, my head swelled with pride when I learned that an academic research paper analyzing the merits of one of the Tania stories was presented at an international UN conference on child-friendly education.

(https://publikasiilmiah.ums.ac.id/handle/11617/10015)

When you mentioned that your daughter considers me to be her favorite author, I couldn’t stop smiling. Same was true when one little girl from Australia asked for my autograph. Her great aunt is my mother’s friend.

My older daughter has read every story in the ‘Tania series’ at least a dozen times. When her little sister started enjoying stories, she would read them to her, and these were picture-perfect moments for me.

4. What do you believe is your USP as a writer? 

A. I love to learn new things, think about everything I do, see and say, and wonder how things would play out if some aspects of events or actions were tweaked. It’s how I build my stories, as well. I think that’s what children do too when they indulge in role-playing games, and that’s why I think I can relate to them.

The characters in my stories become so real to me; I feel what they feel and imagine talking to them. They grow and take on a life of their own, and I enjoy discovering where they are going to take me and the story.

Often my stories start in one way and end up somewhere I had never imagined they could be. Those are the best ones.

5. That’s fascinating! What are your plans as an author, Kanika? 

A. I plan to continue writing for I don’t think I could ever stop.

In the last year, I discovered the joy of writing short stories and wrote loads of them.

I also had a lot of fun writing the Nina and Nana stories, a web-series I do with Lavanya Srinivasan, based on interesting and unusual facts. But now I am itching to get back to writing a novel, most likely the sequel to Growing Pains.

Another idea I am toying with is writing a novel whose chapters are like TV episodes, each a short story in itself, but all of them connected by a longer story arc. I am curious to see where it goes.

The ‘Tania stories’, of course, will continue as always. I love writing these for my daughter actively participates in the writing process and shares her feedback, which I take into account before finalizing the story. She is credited as editor under her pseudonym Pell G in many of the stories.

I have also stepped out of my comfort zone and started exploring horror, a genre I previously shied away from. I will be publishing a short story in a horror anthology put together by a collective called The Hive, featuring 13 stellar authors. The book is coming out on 13th March 2020, which of course, is a Friday.

6. This news must come as pure joy to your fans, including me. Any advice that you have for our aspiring authors here? 

A. I’d say write what you know and care about. For your passion will carry through into your writing and, eventually, your readers.

As your story moves along, get to know your characters and let them nudge you along to new avenues and explore them together.

Writing is a journey of exploration with a sketchy itinerary and boundless possibilities. As you keep going, you realize that the horizon just moves along, unveiling new and exciting vistas.

Kanika G blogs at https://kanikag.com/.

You can purchase Kanika’s published books in paperback here: https://www.instamojo.com/kanikagee/?fbclid=IwAR24x_7tma9moL_4QferALbYm4_T95walg_dccMWFHQv3fBPRv7KEET58RM

 

 

 

 

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