Sometimes an idea will pop-up as a concept. For example, the monsoon rains were a big part of my growing up. I used to be terrified of getting lost in the rain in the dark. But at the same time, I loved the rain from inside the safety of my home. I loved listening to the thunder, the coolness it brought to the hot Indian days and the feeling of nothing is more important than this torrential downpour at this time.
So when I wanted to write about thunderstorms, I first wanted to figure out what I wanted to say in the story. What is the point of writing about thunderstorms – am I trying to say it’s a dangerous weather phenomenon or is it good? Is it evil or is it critical for lands parched?
Then I have to think about how does this apply to a child? Why do they care about a thunderstorm? What do they see? Can I look at this phenomenon from their viewpoint? This became the book You’re Safe With Me.
The emotional truth of the story was important in understanding what went into the story. I understood children’s fears (and went back to revisiting my own fears) and wondered about how as a grown-up I would reassure a young reader that a raging storm is good for the planet?
The title came towards the 10th rewrite over two years. At first I always thought of it as fable-esque. I wanted Mama Elephant in the story to be telling stories about the elements of a thunderstorm. But again, the emotional truth was – by making unfamiliar things simple and familiar, Mama Elephant was reassuring the animals. And hence, You’re Safe With Me just happened on the page. Then it became a refrain and then it became the title.
When you’re writing your story – whether it was derived from character (based on someone you know and love) or whether it was derived from a concept (it’s a story that explains evaporation) – think about how this touches the reader in relevance and in an emotional way. Place the camera on your young reader’s shoulders and view this world.