Meet the SHEROES - Shivani Adib
Shivani Adib ((née Kak) schooled in Princeton and New Delhi, graduated from Jawaharlal Nehru University head of her class in Spanish studies (M.A.), Portuguese (advanced diploma) and Italian (diploma), and won a year's scholarship to the University of Coimbra in Portugal. She has worked as a translator/editor for an electronic newspaper and freelanced as a translator for Instituto Hispania. She also has a Sangit Visharad in Hindustani classical music. Married to Rajeev Adib and with children Juhi and Aniruddh now in regular school, Shivani wields her pen again, this time for children’s stories. Here is her conversation with SHEROES-
Tell us more about you.
My story is a good example of how a good teacher can have a tremendous impact on a student. My family moved to the U.S. for five years when my father was studying for a doctorate in cultural anthropology at Princeton University. I was in the 5th grade when I had my first Spanish class. We had Spanish for half the year and French during the other half to help us choose one of the two in the 6th grade. I enjoyed both languages but opted for Spanish, for the simple reason that I adored my Spanish teacher, Mrs Russel. I did have a flair for language so it wasn’t long before Spanish became my favourite subject under Mrs Russel, my favourite teacher. When I returned to Delhi for the 7th grade I was determined to continue studying Spanish…yes, I’d enjoyed the little I had learnt of the language, but the main motivation was fond memories of my beloved teacher. I didn’t get the opportunity to again start learning Spanish while in school but I never let go of that desire, and when my parents and I discussed options for graduation, we already knew that learning Spanish at J.N.U. would be my first choice. I sailed through graduation and post-graduation in Spanish studies from J.N.U, with Portuguese and Italian on the side. Between B.A. and M.A. I won a scholarship to the Universidade de Coimbra in Portugal and had a wonderful experience of university life there too. I’d begun to freelance as a translator for Spanish and Portuguese alongside my M.A., with most of my assignments coming from Instituto Hispania and, after completing my post-graduation, I joined NewsLink, which is an electronic newspaper for ships. I was translator and editor for their Spain and Venezuela editions for around 4 years, after which I married and opted for the very challenging full-time career of stay-at-home mother! I started writing stories when my younger child joined playschool. It isn’t easy for an aspiring author to find a publisher and, after a year of rejections, I finally hit the jackpot with Mango Books. They liked my writing, published two short stories in their children’s magazine “News ‘n’ More”, and accepted the stories that they've just published as “Detective Gayatri Series”. Of course, having a supportive and encouraging family always helps!
What was the inspiration behind writing a series for kids?
I’ve loved reading and writing since I was a child. I was a voracious bookworm and, in primary school, loved “creative writing” above all else. It was at that young age of 7-8 years that I decided I wanted to be an author when I grew up. Through school-university-office and the initial years of motherhood, I didn’t give much thought to pursuing my dream, but when my younger child began playschool and I started mulling over part-time or work-from-home options, I thought - why not give it a shot? I had some time to myself while my younger one was at his playschool (my older child started regular school the same year). So I started writing stories. Why for kids? I suppose because I want all children to experience the happiness that I found in the very wonderful world of children's fiction. A child who loves reading is a child who will never be lonely. Books and children - both are very close to my heart. I felt I could not do better than make a small contribution to children’s literature in India.
What are the few tips one should follow while writing for kids?
I eventually discovered that it boils down to just one thing: think like a kid! If you’re writing for a six-year-old, BE a six-year-old. If you’re writing for a 12-year-old, BE a 12-year-old. Lose yourself in the characters – YOU are the characters.
A message to all SHEROES out there.
Don’t wait for opportunities, make them happen! Never lose sight of your dreams and never lose hope. Somewhere, sometime, somehow, the door to your dreams will open just a crack. Seize that door and pull it open.