Enriching lives through story telling | Sunday Observer

Enriching lives through story telling

31 January, 2021

The books and stories that a child grows up reading and listening to, play a major role in moulding his or her future personality. Authors of these stories, therefore, play a significant role in the shaping of the younger generation’s lives. Amani Uduman is one such young author, who’s passion for creating stories for today’s children, has led to her living her dream of encouraging the practices of reading and learning. In today’s chaotic and disarrayed world, Amani Uduman’s stories are a much-needed element that instill values and broaden the imaginationof today’s young.

Speaking to the Youth Observer, she shared insight into her inspiring life as a young children’s author.

Q: What inspired you to be a children’s author?

A: I’ve always enjoyed writing, and creating stories is something that I’ve loved since primary school. In grade three, I remember having my stories typed on a typewriter by some of the parent helpers who came into our grade. We were given a coloured piece of paper as a front cover to our storybook and asked to illustrate our own work. Our published books were displayed in the classroom and we could take them home as a home reader. I think this was the initial spark for my love of writing.

Q: How do you think of characters and stories to base your books on?

A: Sometimes, I create a character in my mind’s eye and develop a story around the protagonist. During other occasions, I may have the story first and create a character that will best suit the narrative. It really depends on what inspiration comes to me first, the character or the story.

Q: Can you tell us about your writing method? Are you a plotter or a pantser?

A: I’m a bit of both. If need be, I can create a story around a particular brief, theme, or subject. I usually try to work out the problem or conflict in the story first and base the beginning and end around it. This method is helpful when writing for the educational market, where I need to create pitches for a particular project. I also use the same process for chapter books.

I also find that inspiration may come to me spontaneously, especially when I’m undertaking monotonous tasks like cooking, or folding laundry. And from there, the story unravels in my mind’s eye like a movie.

Q: What does a typical day of writing look like for you?

A: I wish I had a set routine. I have three children, so my writing is generally undertaken when I have some time to myself. Writing is something that I find grounding and relaxing and I endeavour to write or edit my existing manuscripts daily.

Q: How long does it usually take for you to complete a book? Do you have a critique group who review it?

A: I always value constructive criticism as it allows me to put myself in the shoes of the reader.

Q: Do you use your own childhood experiences or personal experiences as a mother and a primary school teacher to add colour to your stories and characters?

A: Definitely! My experience as a primary school teacher has assisted me with books related to the classroom. And I’ve written many stories that revolve around school life.

And in terms of my childhood experiences, some memories I do include in my writing if they are still relevant. However, with today’s digital age, many of the activities that I participated in as a child will probably not resonate with children today. And as for my experiences as a mother, I think I try not to wear the ‘parent hat,’ when I’m trying to write stories for children. However, I do incorporate some of the scenarios and phrases that my children use into my work.

Q: What was your journey to becoming a children’s author like? Were you inspired by another author or any other person in your life?

A: I have been writing for about ten years. As my children became older and more independent, I was able to immerse myself into the children’s literature industry. The world of publishing is a competitive market to crack into and you need to have patience, persistence, and a little bit of luck. I acquired my first trade contract with Midnight Sun Publishing a few years ago, after spending much time attending writing workshops and courses to refine my writing. It’s an ongoing process and I enjoy participating in professional development.

My favourite authors include Enid Blyton, Jon Klassen, and Aaron Blabey. I also find Jen Storer to be an inspirational author and mentor, and I regularly participate in her writing courses and workshops through her Scribbles Academy and her Facebook group, The Duck Pond.

Q: Can you tell us a little bit about your previously published children’s books?

A: I have written many titles including early school readers and picture books for a non-profit organisation called Library for All, Australia. They have a catalogue of eBooks on their free digital app and printed copies can also be purchased online at all good retailers. All proceeds from sales are invested into the organisation to improve the education and a love of literacy for all children across the globe. Some of my stories have also been translated into Lao/Laos and Tetun.

I’ve also been included in a few children’s anthologies within the trade and non-profit markets.

Q: What can you tell us about your exciting upcoming picture book, The Plastic Throne?

A: The Plastic Throne is my debut picture book by MidnightSun Publishing in Adelaide, Australia. It is officially released on March 16 (Tuesday) and I’m extremely excited.

The story is about a little boy called Denver who flushes all kind of things down the toilet but doesn’t stop to think about what happens to them once they are gone. One night, as he sleeps, the ocean begins to stir, no longer able to suppress its fury over how it’s being treated. Can Denver and his sister, Maisy attempt to make things, right?

My story touches on the concepts of sustainability and the protection of our natural environment and includes a tongue in cheek ending.

Q: What do you hope to achieve through your career as a young and talented children’s author?

A: My dream is to become an established children’s author with published literature across the trade, educational and non-profit markets.

Q: What advice can you offer other aspiring authors such as yourself?

A: Write for the love of writing, first and foremost. Secondly, try to participate in as many writing workshops and seminars as you can as this will help you network with other industry professionals and gain insight into current trends and publishing opportunities. I would also recommend joining a writing group or have someone who could provide you with honest feedback regarding your work.

When you feel comfortable to do so, you may send your work out to competitions and publishers. As mentioned previously, it is a competitive market and rejection is common. However, it’s important to dust yourself off and continue your writing journey without feeling too dejected.

If you receive any feedback regarding your work it should be treated as gold, as an industry professional has taken the time to review your work. Most of all, keep a positive mindset as you never know whether your work could be ideal manuscript that a publisher is looking for at that given moment of time.