‘If there’s a book that you want to read, but it hasn’t been written yet, then you must write it’.
This quote by Toni Morrison perfectly encapsulates my journey as a fiction writer. For those of you don’t know me, my name is Priyadarshini Panchapakesan and I am a teacher, writer and researcher. I write on subjects that are usually ignored, brushed under the carpet or side-lined. I like noticing things that are commonly overlooked by others.
All my work is inspired and influenced by my childhood in Kodaikanal, a small hill station in the state of Tamil Nadu. Growing up, I valued the simple joys in life. I enjoyed ferrying across the lake and waiting for the Kurunji flowers to bloom. I lived amidst nature and understood its role in making planet earth habitable for all living beings.
Although I have always loved writing, my journey as an author only began in May 2021, when I released my first children’s picture book “The Postwoman and Other Stories”. The book has a collection of eight simple stories that revolve around small adventures and kind words.
All the stories are strongly rooted in the principles of gender equality and highlight the importance of living harmoniously with nature.
In the story ‘The Postwoman’, a little girl eagerly awaits a letter from her best friend, which also contains a rare Kurunji flower. The little girl assumes that a postman is on his way, but she is pleasantly surprised by the arrival of a postwoman. In my story, I have attempted to subvert gender stereotypes by expressing that even women can have such professions, although the suffix ‘man’ is added to occupations such as postman, businessman, fisherman and policeman. Additionally, all the characters in my stories have quintessential Tamil names, to expose the readers to Tamil language and culture.
After the successful release of ‘The Postwoman and Other Stories’ I began working on my second book, ‘Unsung Sheroes and Heroes’. It was released by Ukiyoto in June, 2022. Unlike my previous book, the target audience was both children and adults. ‘Unsung Sheroes and Heroes’ is a series of descriptive passages that chronicles the lives of ordinary men and women who aren’t recognised for their immense contributions. The very first story, ‘The Jasmine Flower Seller’ creatively describes the life of a talented jasmine flower seller, who strings together jasmine buds with great speed and skills. The book also has chapters dedicated to seashell collectors, tea brewers and mehendi artists to name a few.
Out of all the books that I have written so far, it is undoubtedly my third book that is directly connected to the theme of nature conservation. Titled ‘The Myth of the Wild Gaur’, the book is an illustrated children’s
novella that revolves around the migration of wild gaurs from the Shola forests into the densely populated town. The story revolves around Theni, a member of the honey-collector tribe, who embarks on a journey to protect wild gaurs. During the process she discovers the culprits responsible for damaging the ecosystem and also gets to know more about a certain myth pertaining to wild gaurs. Theni asks herself why such a myth was created in the first place and wonders if it had anything to do with protecting wild gaurs.
‘The Myth of the Wild Gaur’ has an introduction written by Ms Zai Whitaker, a world renowned author,
environmentalist and conservationist. The pre orders for the book begin in January 1, 2023. Although this is my first children’s novella, I am confident that it is not going to be my last!
Other than writing stories and novels, I also enjoy conducting story telling sessions for students, where I read out extracts from my own books and engage in profound discussions. These story telling sessions have been immensely rewarding as I get to interact with children and understand their interpretations of my work.
To learn more about my journey as an author, please visit my website. In the future, I hope to write more
books on unconventional themes, to make the world a gentler and greener place!