Mahtab Narsimhan is the award-winning (Silver Birch Fiction Award, 2009) author of The Third Eye, a fantasy-adventure based in India. Her middle-grade novels and pictures books are critically acclaimed. Mahtab is also one of the fantastic faculty members who will be joining us at this year’s WXR at SiWC. We sat down with Mahtab (virtually, of course) and asked her a few questions about writing, relaxing, what she’s working on and her favorite myths.
What do you love most about writing?
I love the process of creating interesting characters, twisty plots, and (sometimes) fantastical settings from my imagination. Over the course of writing the novel, these elements become real to me and my readers. It’s a process that never fails to amaze and delight me!
What’s the most helpful piece of writing advice you’ve ever received?
I love Stephen King’s book On Writing. When I first read his book, over ten years ago, I was inspired by the discipline he had while writing. He wrote about 2000 words a day, seven days a week when working on a draft of a new novel. This is a habit I’ve picked up and it serves me well even though my daily quota is about 1500 words.
Whenever I’m overwhelmed with the size of a project, I remember King’s words. A journalist once asked King how he managed to be so prolific. His answer: “One word at a time.”
What is your favorite way to recharge, relax, and recuperate?
I love to read, walk, hike, and cook. I’m often experimenting with various cuisines and searching for simple yet healthy and flavourful recipes. For more information about writing tips, reading recommendations, and recipes, subscribe to my newsletter Cooking The Books.
What are you working on right now?
I’m outlining a middle-grade sci-fi trilogy. The working title is Mars Wars.
Your work often touches on the mythological. What’s your favorite myth and what makes it so special to you?
I love the Greek myth about Pandora’s Box. Zeus, the king of Gods was upset with Prometheus for stealing fire from the heavens. To punish him, Zeus presented Pandora to Prometheus’ brother Epimetheus who welcomed her to his home and heart. Pandora opened a jar given to her, despite warnings not to, and unleashed Evil, Sickness and Death into the world.
The idiom “opening a can of worms” or, an action starting a chain of unforeseen events are derived from this myth. To a writer, where conflict is the engine that drives the story, this myth is rife with plot possibilities!
Last but not least, where can people find more information about you and your books?
Mahtab’s latest novel, Embrace the Chicken, is out now from Orca Book Publishers.
More from Mahtab Narsimhan
You And Me Both is a preschool-age book inspired by a story that went viral, about two boys, best friends (one Black, one white) who asked for the same haircut so they could look like twins.This picture book is a joyful take on friendship and respect, and shares central characters who represent a variety of identities and perspectives, and in whom a wide range of kids will see themselves