Chitra Soundar is an internationally published author of over 50 books for children.
She is also an oral storyteller and writer of many things. Chitra writes picture books and fiction for young readers.
Her stories are inspired by folktales from India, Hindu mythology and her travels around the world.
Her books have been published in the UK, US, India & Singapore and translated into Chinese, German, French, Japanese and Thai.
Alice Sutherland-Hawes at ASH Literary.
Before the pandemic, Chitra traveled across the world to visit schools, run creative writing workshops and share her stories in literary festivals.
In 2019, she was invited to talk at the Hay Festival, Emirates Lit Festival, Texas Book Festival, Oxford Book Festival amongst others.
Until it’s safe, Chitra is visiting schools across the world via video links – like Skype, Facetime or other streaming broadcast tools.
Find out more here.
Here are some questions Chitra is often asked by her young readers...
I was born in the year 1972. I’m sure you can work it out how old I am now.
I know now that on the day I was born, Ceylon became a republic and became the country of Sri Lanka. The largest diamond The Star of Sierra Leone was unearthed on this day.
I was born in India, in a seaside city called Chennai (the British called it Madras). I grew up in Chennai, studied there and went to work there.
Chennai has the second longest urban beach in the world and is home to the Tamil movie industry. Chennai is also the biggest economic centre of South India with many automobile and technology firms making their home here.
Well it depends. I used to say Blue for a long time. I still stand still watching a clear blue sky. I love the indigo of the night sky too and the orange and reds of the rising and setting sun.
I love burnt orange in clothes – almost like the colour of giraffes.
I love colours – I love the contrast of white to the colours. I wear bright coloured clothes most of the time.
I realised that your favourites could change as you grow up. I had never eaten anything other than Indian food for a long time and then I left India and experienced foods from many countries. I travelled a lot and managed to find something to eat everywhere I went.
I’m a vegetarian – so I love countries with fresh vegetables. I seek out fresh food market, cheese and fruits.
I love chickpeas, freshly baked bread, potatoes and pasta. I love cooking, so I’m always experimenting with the foods I like.
I was a bookworm growing up. I’m still a bookworm now. I’ve read so many books that sometimes I can’t remember them all.
I used to read a lot of comic books – Tintin and Asterisk and Amar Chitra Katha comics and the list is endless.
I always dreamed of being a teacher. I used to sit my family down in front of a blackboard and teach them things. I tutored younger kids since I was ten years old and taught Computer Science for 7 years. And then life happened, I have been a programmer and a project manager in an office.
I love going into schools because it allows me to be a teacher for one day and meet with children and inspire their imagination.
It varies. Some have required days of rewrite and some have been compressed into weeks. A picture book has to tell a story in 12 scenes and 400 words and that’s not easy.
There are some books which I’ve worked on for many years, edited them, revised them, changed them completely and still I couldn’t get them to work.
So, yes, it varies.
Nope! I have wonderful illustrators that my publishers choose. Check here for interviews with some of the illustrators.
I write long-hand for most stories at the beginning. That means I write in a notebook.Then after the first two drafts, I copy them into my computer and then continue on them. Longer stories almost always get into the computer quicker.
I usually write in my study in my flat.
But I can write anywhere – in a coffee shop, in a library or a bus. The rule is I must not have an obligation to talk to anyone – if I have family in the next room then I can’t write. I can’t write to music or to the TV. I have to write when all I can hear are the voices of my characters.