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Wonder Words

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(Nominated in the category of Children’s / Young Adult Writing for the REC-VoW Book Awards, 2019)

Excerpts from the interview with Rituparna Sarkar:

By Shweta Kapoor

Your book started as a part of #100day project on Instagram. How would you summarise your illustrating and writing journey so far? Was it ‘finifugal’? Are you planning on writing more such books?
Yes, the story of how the book came into being is fairly interesting. Because it was conceived as a personal project (#100daysofdiscoveringwords) initially, the illustrations are fairly uninhibited and anecdotal. Of course, some new words were added later on specifically for the book – and what makes me happy is most of the readers seem to relate to the content – Indians and foreigners both.
Will I write more books? People have asked me if there’ll be a sequel to Wonder Words – I’m not so sure about that. I have other ideas as well, but we shall see how it goes. Humour comes naturally to me as a designer/writer so any further books would have a generous helping of the same.

Where do you get your inspiration from? What does your home/office work desk look like?
Inspiration comes from my life. Like I’ve said before, I find myself highly optimistic – on alternate days! I do find humour in the direct circumstances, sometimes at the annoyance of my friends – and it is that emotion that I usually transfer to my work. I’m also a Design Graduate from NID and an entrepreneur running my own Visual Communication studio – so my desk is like any other design studio desk I suppose: I-Mac at one end and sketchbooks at the other. Other than that, I have a wine-rack with some plants in it and a pile of stationery (mostly water colours and Posca markers lying round). My desk is lemon green in colour – I love bright colours!
(For the record, this was a weirdly delightful question!)

What is your biggest pet peeve in English? Would you say that online dictionaries are rendering the physical dictionaries obsolete day by day?
Definitely, but more than that, I find our diminishing grasp over the language and grammar a bit startling. We never write (physically) any more unless to sign cheques! We watch more content online than read – so it’s natural that we all rely more on grammar apps online than in trying to retain and increase our vocabulary. Emojis are great, but grammar is great fun, too! Wordplay can be fun! That’s my rather ‘old school’ message to the younger ones.

Being an illustrator yourself, how would you describe the process of working on books alongside various authors? Apart from your book, what other projects have you enjoyed working on most?

To be honest, I guess I’ll always have a bit of an imposter syndrome amongst authors.
Since childhood, ‘authors’ have been these revered creatures much above my league. As a child, I once won an art competition in school, the prize of which was a brunch with Sir Ruskin Bond – and that was so thrilling. So I keep telling everyone that I’m no linguist / I’m not a writer – my love for books, words and art together is what created Wonder Words – and that’s always going to be my identity. Increasingly though, that niche of books featuring illustrator/writers is opening up so that’s a good opportunity for the likes of me, I guess.
Apart from Wonder Words, I’ve illustrated a bunch of children’s books that I’ve enjoyed. I also participated in ‘Indianama’ – an Art Exhibition, where I created a graphic poster narrating the story of the 1962 Indo-China war. That was a lot of fun. But on a regular basis, as an animation designer, I create short films/videos on various topics – that’s another form of storytelling that I enjoy.

Rituparna Sarkar is a graduate of the National Institute of Design in animation film design and an entrepreneur running her own design studio for the last eight years, creating illustrations, designs and films for various brands. She likes colours, colourful people and stories, and creating art by breaking away from all things digital and putting paint to paper. Her biggest strength is bucket loads of optimism on alternate days, and her biggest fear is that the evil Autocorrect will eventually take over Grammarland!
She is currently based in Mumbai, where she heads her own collaborative design studio called Visual Sarkarsm. She lives on Instagram at https://www.instagram.com/rituparna/.

For the complete interview, log onto www.valleyofwords.org