Early on during the book writing process, I was told the book would have illustrations. Me, being me, assumed that it would be picture book like with glossy pictures and text that flowed around the pictures. Clearly, I had no idea about the MG book market.
I found later that that the illustrations would be pencil sketches, sparse, one or two per chapter. I felt deflated, that is until I got the first draft of the illustrations. I remember poring over the pictures looking at how well the tiny details were captured, how the pictures breathed life into the characters and how the body language jumped out of the page and made me feel everything on the page. This picture below is my favorite. The way Radha hugs Avantika is everything!
I made it a point to look up the person giving life to Avantika and Radha. Her name is Niloufer Wadia. She lives in Pune with her daughter. She, like me is an adoptive mother. I asked if I could call and talk to her. She agreed. We spoke about the book. We spoke about parenting our daughters. We spoke about the creative process. I made myself a promise that I would go visit her when I visited India next.
I want you, my readers, to know this fabulous person as well. So, I asked if I could send her interview questions and she graciously agreed. So, here goes:
What prompted you to illustrate this book?
I had formally worked with Vidhi on another book when she was at Scholastic, and it was a very pleasant experience. Added to that, when she mentioned the book was about adoption, I was particularly interested as I have a 13 year old who is also adopted.
Who is the target audience for this book?
I’m not sure if I was told at the time, but, 8-12 year olds was my estimation. Mostly girls.
What do you like about the protagonist? Favourite character?
I absolutely love the way Avantika writes a diary. I truly believe this should be encouraged; a diary can help most people clarify their thoughts, and in retrospect, re-assess how important or unimportant things are. I wrote in diaries almost till my late 30s – of course they were private and a great outlet for all my angst, and reading some years later was actually hilarious. And then I began a diary for my daughter when I brought her home. This of course is meant for my daughter to read whenever she wants, and I now include a few photographs, lots of sketches and cartoons, and hopefully someday she’ll treasure it or understand things and situations better. She herself unfortunately hates writing!
I also like Avantika’s character – loyal, sensitive, and mostly sensible. She’s definitely the best character. I also love the mother-daughter relationship.
I’ve just done a very quick and current storybook on Virus and Corona with Tulika Publishers – already out in ebook. I’m almost at the end of illustrations for a storybook with a publisher in Quebec, – my first done completely digitally. Right now, believe it or not, I’m doing some scientific drawings for a cosmetic surgeon’s book – a first for me.
This sounds boring but I would love to learn new art techniques and technologies really quickly! (I have a tough time changing my tried and tested methods and hate exercising my brain when it comes to reading instructions of programs)
More interesting maybe, I’d love a magic carpet to travel everywhere uninterrupted.
If like me, you enjoyed getting to know her, go check her out. Her instagram handles where she shares her work:
If you are a picture book or middle grade author looking for an amazing illustrator, here is her bio. Reach out, you will not be disappointed.
After 20-plus years in advertising I quit to follow my first loves, – illustration and fine art painting.
In 2015, a lucky break in an online competition from Pratham Books gave me my first children’s picture book. Since then, picture books and chapter books fill the largest chunk of my illustration assignments and I have been lucky enough to illustrate over 25 picture and chapter books for a wide selection of publishers and several illustrated covers too; a few for adult novels too.
I usually work in pencil and watercolor, though occasionally I use the digital medium.
Publishers I work with include Pratham Books, Karadi Tales, Tulika Publishers, Scholastic India, Random House New York, Amazon Westland, Amazon Red Panda, Bloomsbury, Duckbill.
Apart from illustration, I also paint in acrylics, though not as much as I should.
I live in Pune with my almost-14 year old.