In today's competitive culture, a gentle lesson about mutual support and tolerance is a much-needed aspect of children's literature. In The Magic of Friendship by Subhash Kommuru, the focus is on friendship and its healing effect, particularly for a lonely person. The illustrations are beautiful and the story is easy for beginning readers, but still enjoyable for older readers.
I had a chance to interview the author to learn more.
What inspired you to write children's books?
Thank you Bekah for giving me the opportunity to post on your distinguished site and great readers.
Bekah, I have a philosophical answer to your question.There is a poet in Indian movie industry in his early days he wrote lots of hits movie where central theme has been lots violence and they were mostly based on revenge and resentment. In fact he is credited as someone who brought the concept of angry young man as a lead character to Indian movies. But after he got married his stance changed completely and he started to write romantic songs. Over they years he has written many romantic songs and they are all very touchy. Lyrics are so rich that you can enjoy them without the music.
I want to believe that having a son in Arya, did that to me. It arose a writer in me. I always used to make up and tell stories to Arya, mostly by observing him and then trying to teach him using stories as mode of communication. But as he started to grow older he would remember not just stories but words and every time I narrate a story he would remind me that my story/dialogues have changed. That forced me to actually write it down and then read those stories to him that way consistency was there.
The Magic of Friendship is a very inspiring story in itself. I wrote this story and its core message one afternoon and by the time I was done I knew immediately that I have a great material in my hand. It went through quite a bit of modification since then and I have added quite a few more characters and also family relation but the core theme of the story has always been intact.You write in two languages: Hindi and English. Can you share a little bit about that?
Both me and wife, we speak in Hindi at home. Or I should say that she gives her commands to me in Hindi. The whole idea of book has its roots in Hindi. Arya absolutely loves books so when we were looking for books we would always find English books. We even travelled to India but only to find English books or Hindi instructional books. So we thought if we ought to give him orders in Hindi then we better make Hindi fun for him.
The Magic of Friendship is only in English but I am hoping in next few months to work on a Hindi edition of this book as well.Can you share a little bit about the artwork for The Magic of Friendship?
I wish I could take whole credit for those pictures, those are amazing so much so that first few times when kids look at the book they don't want to read story they just want to look at illustrations. Arul Augragh Ross is very good with drawing. Since objective of the book was to bring indian culture all the illustrations in the book has Indian backdrop to them. All the characters have indian name and even the forest were the whole story is based is “Tadoba” a real tiger preserve in India. All the characters were put to life and has exceeded my expectation of what and how dynamic they should be. I worked with Arul very closely but he really put down all his effort into it so much so that he started to think like those characters by the time book was done.Do you have any advice for someone who wants to become a children's author?
That is a unique way of asking that question Bekah I was often asked the question of How can one become children's author. I will speak to the difference in a minute here ;
Broadly speaking There are really 2 categories one is the professional ones and others are like me who are parents. For parents like me, I would say that you need to focus and spend time with your kid. What matters is 'Why' you want do this once you know that, How does not matter. In fact that is a central theme in my next book 'Mother's love can conquer any fear!'
And for people who use greed as their way and cling to use slangs or bad words to be funny in their books/movies wrapped around racing or such, just know that Parents like me are coming to stores near you!
I would say that if you are parent then there is a author in you. All you have to do is focus. If you are multi-tasking with your family then you will not do justice to anyone. If you stay in the moment with your kids you will know what he needs and how to communicate to him/her.
The Magic of Friendship truly stands out when it comes to writing something meaningful for your own kid. It has a central message of friendship, diversity and strengths of individuals but at the same time it is very entertaining. It does not put any pressure on them to read anything and at the same time does not miss the opportunity to fill up those tiny brains with encouraging message.