I was born in the capital city of the largest democracy on the planet* with two irrefutable signs of greatness--untameable hair and a permanent frown.
* In case you're scratching your head, the largest democracy is India, closing in on almost one and a half billion people.
Right from the beginning, my brother tortured me...but I learned how to fight back. (Perseverance against all odds is key to being a writer and I learned early.)
By my first brithday, I had a few likes sorted out. Cake was not one of them. I HATED CAKE--period! Pass the bread, please.
I couldn't stand dresses either.
But, I was perfectly happy being in the entertainment business, especially when it included famous people.*
*Lest we forget, Indira Gandhi, first and only woman Prime Minister of India.
In my tween/teen/YA years, I never tired of being in the limelight. I acted, sang, compered, presented on the radio,
But most of all...
...I was about the biggest bookworm, ever.
Don't believe me?
Get a load of my honking, ginormous glasses. That's what comes of reading with a flashlight under a blanket, or more often than not...forgetting the flashlight altogether. How do you explain needing that many batteries to the parents?
I read Enid Blyton and Georgette Heyer in the bathroom, Victoria Holt and Barbara Cartland under the bedcovers, Charles Dickens, Tagore, and Shakespeare in the living room, Rosemary Sutcliff and JRR Tolkien under the lid of my desk at school, Tintin and Amar Chitra Katha between the pages of my text while "doing homework..."
I read for inspiration. I read to escape my way too boring life. I read when I needed help making sense of things because growing up biracial in a mostly uni-racial world was terribly confusing and often painful. I read to be someone else--someone who could fight dragons and win, solve crimes, have adventures, fall in love, fly.
Unlike so many of my colleagues, I did not write when I was a child. I was too intimidated by the creative people around me. My father was the consummate storyteller and had a passion for Urdu poetry. My mother was a linguist, musician, and poet, with a penchant for Puritanical perfection.
My brother grabbed all the looks and smarts and height the family genes had on offer.
So, when my hair stopped standing straight up on my head, I realized I was not destined for greatness, after all. I figured, my best bet was to live vicariously through the stories I read.
Yes, I was a typical teenager addled by angst.
Are you feeling sorry for me yet?
Luckily, all that reading and all that angst provided a reservoir of stories and emotions to draw from as I now write fiction for young readers.