Santhini Govindan is a widely published, award-winning author of children’s literature in English. She has written more than fifty books for children of all ages, and her work includes poetry, picture books, and short stories. Santhini has been awarded two Fellowships in Literature from the Ministry of Human Resource Development, Department of Culture, Government of India for research projects connected to children’s literature in India.
In October 2018, she was awarded a Lok-Sabha Fellowship to write a book to introduce children to the role and function of the Indian parliament. Santhini Govindan has authored and edited several English language readers that are widely used in schools across India, the Middle East and South East Asia, and has taught Creative Writing at the under-graduate level at Mumbai University. She loves animals and enjoys doing amigurumi, embroidery and gardening, and is an inveterate collector of bells and angels.
We asked Santhini a few questions to get to know her better. Here’s what she had to say:
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I have been writing since…
I was a child. I won my first prize for an original poem that I had written when I was six years old, and a student in grade one.
My favorite author(s) and book(s)?
- A.A. Milne – The House at Pooh Corner
- C.S Lewis – The Chronicles of Narnia
- The Gruffalo – Julia Donaldson
- Han Suyin – A Many Splendored Thing
- James Herriot -All Creatures Great and Small
- Gerald Durrell – My Family and Other Animals
My journey as a writer:
My journey as a writer is similar to the long morning walks I relish. Sometimes I set off briskly and energetically, but at other times I just amble along comfortably at a slow, gentle pace. Occasionally I stumble or slacken my pace, because something has distracted me, but I always resume the course of my walk, because it invigorates me and helps me to pluck an idea from nowhere and turn it into magic!
Why should we read you?
I am a widely published author of children’s literature, and many of my books are set in my favourite place – the wonderful, amusing land of make believe, where anything and everything is possible!
My favorite genre to read / write
Poetry and stories for children
What advice would you give young and aspiring writers?
Keep writing! The writing muscle has to be exercised like any other muscle, and gets stronger the more its used. Rejections are a part of being a writer – they go with the territory – and don’t take them to heart.
Here’s an excerpt from Santhini’s winning story Mambally Bapu takes the cake that’s now published in Wafting Earthy:
It was mid-morning on a sunny November day. Mambally Bapu bent low, was busy tossing coconut shells into his borma (cob oven) when his young nephew came running up to him.
“The carriage of the big saip* from Anjarakandy is coming this way,” he announced breathlessly.
“What? Really?” Bapu straightened up with a quick jerk.
“Bring me a clean thorthu,” he snapped, as he dashed to the water tap to wash off the soot that caked his hands. “Hurry!” Bapu made sure that he was quite presentable by the time the saip’s horse drawn carriage clip clopped into his premises. He was well aware that he really needed the patronage of the British saips to make a success of his fledgling business venture. Three years earlier, in 1880, Mambally Bapu, a businessman, had returned to his hometown Tellicherry in the north of the Malabar district, from the British province of Burma where he was engaged in shipping milk, tea, and bread to British troops stationed in Egypt. While he was in Burma, Bapu had learnt how to bake bread, buns, and a variety of biscuits. These food items were in great demand among the white sahibs who ruled the British colonies. Bapu, who was tired of living in Burma, and quite homesick too, decided to go back home and establish a small bakery there. He was confident that he would find enough customers among the small contingent of British soldiers stationed in the Tellicherry Fort, and in the town of Cannanore, eleven miles away, which was the British military headquarters on India’s west coast.