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Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Passion for Picture Books, Priya Iyengar, Interview

I remember the day when emails passed in cyberspace and a relationship was born that would change my writing career forever.   It was the day that the Founder of Pens & Brushes, Priya Iyengar connected with me about forming an online critique group.  From that moment, Priya meaning beloved in Sanskrit, put out love to individuals who had no clue where  this diverse group was going.  Priya’s passion to bring forth this group was key.  Priya is our cheerleader and a storyteller from a land where the culture is steeped in story and celebration.  Those are a few of the nuggets of gold which she has given to this group.  It is with pleasure to have Priya on my blog this week.

Priya what brought you into the world of writing picture books?

As a reader and a writer, I have been always fascinated by Picture books and aimed to write at least one.  Picture books are the doors that open to a world of dream, fascination, emotions, reality, and knowledge.  The best part of writing a PB is sometimes less is more.  No doubt, it’s a difficult art to master.  But, all you need are  thoughts  and  to learn how to string those thoughts together.

Can you please share the area of the story making that you get the most satisfaction in developing and exploring?

I love colors and I’m a devotee of nature. My area of satisfaction is setting, theme, character, story, point of view in that order. Whenever I have a plot lingering in my mind, I first think of a suitable place for my idea to match, and then create a theme that will gel well with my setting. Later I mix and match the other factors to decide and finalize the point of view and tense.  Climax is another area that gives me more satisfaction.

For me, an ending that dovetails with all my above factors and culminates into an unimaginable or striking climax gives immense satisfaction.

Priya is there an area you find the most frustrating or difficult to develop?

There are three, dialogue, point of view, and tense. These are like step-siblings that  give me a hard time to come together. I save this part as a last task to battle with.  It’s like, in a test, attempting all the easy and known questions first and leaving the trying ones for the last to arm-wrestle. So far this pattern has worked well for me.

If you could choose one pb author to spend a day with, who would that be and what would you want to receive from your time with them? 

I would choose SCBWI Founder, Sue Alexander. I like her style of writing. Her story telling makes me laugh, cry, and amaze me.  I wish I would have had an opportunity to be her student and learn some of her skills.

Priya, what was your favorite picture book as a child or your favorite one to read aloud as an adult?

My all time favorite is Sue Alexander’s, One more time, Mama. But I don’t want to miss mentioning the literary master piece, Charlotte’s Web by E.B. White.  I can read these books any number of times, at any age.

Priya, I am grateful for all you have given me and our writing family.  I am learning more and more about you and your writing even after being together for so long.  Thank you for sharing.  Namaskaar.

After practicing Corporate and Labor & Employment Law in India, Priya moved to the United States with her husband and daughter. Her daughter was two and the life in Indiana was a different universe for her.  She felt like a human on Neptune.  Priya could not go to work, lived in a new neighborhood, shivering in snow with no sidewalks.  She cooked, cleaned, ate, stared at the frozen pond, and read stories to her baby.   No matter how helpless, Priya felt, she had her inner writing buddy with her.
As a student in India, Priya wrote a lot but secretly. Any conversation that she couldn’t make with her elders and teachers, any song that she couldn’t sing, any anger that  couldn’t be vented , any toy that Priya couldn’t play with became a story that jumped onto her notebook. Her biggest regret is that she could not save the notebook of stories.
Priya’s new life opened an avenue for her to pursue her passion.  She started writing stories for her daughter. Priya took a writing course at the Institute of Children’s Literature and continued her journey as a writer with published articles in newspapers, cultural magazines,  and e-zines. Since moving to California, the world became wider for her. Priya has taught creative writing to children at summer camps and from her home. Priya has two picture books in pipeline and several articles on her desk going through revisions.
In addition, Priya is an ADR (Alternative Dispute Resolution) professional. She enjoy both her roles - a writer and a problem solver.  
You can read Priya’s blog at Priya's Blog


Tina Cho said...

Lovely interview, Diane & Priya! I like the introduction, Diane. I'm so thankful you started this group, Priya! I'm proud to be a part of it.

Ellen Jackson said...

Very nice interview, Diane and Priya. Priya, I was struck by your comparison of writing problems as being similar to bringing step-children together. Interesting metaphor!

I'm enjoying these interviews, Diane.

Nancy I. Sanders said...

What a great interview, Priya and Diane! Best wishes with your writing. Hugs, Nancy

Evelyn said...

I'm sorry I didn't realize this interview was here until today. I really enjoyed reading it. Thank you for sharing, Priya, and thank you for hosting, Diane. I, too, am so glad you started the Pens & Brushes group, Priya. 'Beloved' is definitely a good name for you--you are so loved by our group. And I, too, am sorry you weren't able to save your notebook of stories. I would've enjoyed reading them.

Mirka Breen said...

Great to also see Priya here! Even after all the years critiquing together, I learned a whole lot more from this interview. Thumbs-up!

BarbaraB said...

Diane and Priya, sorry I missed this when it was posted.
In case some of you didn't know, Priya and I were in another critique group together, so I have been priviledged to see the growth and development of her writing and her mastery of English. I was thrilled when she invited me to apply to Pens and Brushes and am very thankful to the rest of the group for accepting me. I think it's wonderful that the internet can bring like-minded people together no matter where in the world they live. Priya, you are so very Beloved; I think your name chose you.